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Article Specs

VxAcct: 1

Article ID: 2844

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Posted: June 25th. 2000

Views: 19456

A Real Reason To Vote

by Wren

Think that Gore is a bore? That Bush is really more of a shrub? Love Ralph, but really don't know enough about his politics? Buchanan, a loose cannon? When you size it all up, are you left wondering why you should even vote at all this November? What difference will it really make if you do vote or if you don't?

Well, here's one reason to vote that you may want to consider carefully: Whoever ends up sitting in that nice plushy Oval Office next year also will get to pick out the next set of Supreme Court Judges.

Someone real soon is going get to choose for you who rules on First Amendment issues for the next decade or two. That WILL affect you and your children whether you understand the process or not. There are those in this country that never go to bed at night without praying that a way (divine intervention would be nice) will be found to circumvent or even abolish the First Amendment in order to impose their collective religious will upon you. I get nightmares just thinking about it. I also get more determined than ever to use my one very important vote to stop them.

The Big Issue of This Year's Election?

To slightly butcher a well-known phrase- "It's religion, stupid." That became evident early on the campaign trails as every major party politician who wanted to be considered for any sort of office went out of his or her way to make sure that you knew that they were "people of faith." If there was any doubt at all that religion was going to be the main hot button on the political power station grid, the answer to that question came into crystal clear focus this past week as the Supreme Court handed down its 6-3 decision in the Texas School Prayer case. ( Santa Fe Independent School District V. Doe

Hostile to Whom?

Chief Justice Rehnquist, joining with Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, wrote in his dissenting opinion in the case:

"The Court distorts existing precedent to conclude that the school district's student-message program is invalid on its face under the Establishment Clause. But even more disturbing than its holding is the tone of the Court's opinion; it bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life."

Hostile-now that's a word you'll be hearing a lot in the months to come. 'Bias' is another one.

Tom Delay, the House Majority Whip, stated, "This decision reflects a growing bias against even the presence of religion in public life. I am dedicated to reversing this trend."

Well, now we know what three Supreme Court Justices and little Tommy pray for at night, don't we?

But just who else besides these guys really thinks that upholding the ideal of religious liberty-equally and fairly for all-is a bad rule of law? Are ALL 'people of faith' convinced that religion in America stands on hostile ground?

I Sense Some Hostility Here...
  • Gary Bauer (Family Research Center)-" This decision drips with hostility to public religious expression. In my mind, it proves that a majority of the Court is at war with the religious tradition of America. The sad fact is that of the six justices who were in majority, four of them were appointed by Republican presidents. This underscores that my Party has got to be more serious about the men and women we put on high bench."

  • Concerned Women For America - "Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, dissented not only with the ruling but also the attitude"... "This ruling, in a key election year, points out how critical the next choice of president is for appointing Supreme Court justices who will uphold the Constitutional right to freedom of religion."

  • National Clergy Council - "We will pray and work for the day when students and parents have their religious liberties restored. This is a bad decision for students, a bad decision for schools and communities, and a bad decision for America."

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)- "While we would not support school-imposed prayers, we agree with Justice Rehnquist's dissent in which he states that today's decision 'bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life.'"

  • American Center For Law and Justice - "Thanks to this decision, school districts face an impossible bind. If they do not take steps to stamp out the possibility of religious speech at school events, bullies from the American Civil Liberties Union, waving the decision, will claim a violation of the Constitution's clause against establishment of religion."
Well, that's it then, isn't it? People of faith really do think that this ruling was a very, very bad idea. Those Supreme Court Justices just have to go!

What's that? You say that YOU are a person of faith and that YOU think that the Supreme Court ruled correctly? Hey! Are you smilin'?

A Round of Smiles For Everyone!
(Except for those already mentioned above, that is)
  • The American Jewish Committee - "The Court's decision signals a reaffirmation of the appropriate role of religion in public schools -- one in which private religious expression is constitutionally protected, but officially sanctioned religious observances are not."

  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL) - "The Supreme Court's decision that student-led prayer over the public address system at football games is unconstitutional and exclusionary is an unequivocal endorsement of the protection the First Amendment provides for religious freedom for all Americans. In its decision, the Court was keenly aware that America is a land of many religions and that no American should be subjected to religious coercion of any kind. Public schools bear a special responsibility to avoid even the appearance of endorsement of any particular religion or religious message. This ruling underscores that no public school can make a student feel excluded or outcast because he or she is not of the majority religion."

  • Americans United -"Religious Right groups that complain that the court has censored prayer are dead wrong, " Lynn said. "The court has reaffirmed the principle that prayer cannot be imposed on young people against their will. Mob rule on religion has no place in our public schools." (see footnote)

  • American Civil Liberties Union - "This decision comes as welcome relief for the families who were ostracized and harassed because they did not care to participate in the majority's choice of prayer. ... Though alarmists claim that prayer is banned from school, student religious groups are thriving nationwide, with an estimated 10, 000 Christian clubs operating in high schools across the country."

  • National School Boards Association (http://www.nsba.org - "A public school sanctioned event such as a football game is not the proper forum for religion. This kind of sanctioned prayer intrudes on the rights of students who may feel compelled to participate or feel excluded because it may be contrary to their beliefs or their religion."

Whose Faith? Whose Religion?

So, people of faith, whatcha think? There seems to be some disagreement here. The perception of the 'goodness' of the current state of the wall of separation between church and state seems to differ quite a bit from group to group. Why is that? I'd guess that it all comes down to how one defines 'religion' and 'faith'.

Politicians speak of both words-religion and faith- in blanket terms on all sides of the issue. Listening casually, you perhaps could assume that they were all talking about the same things. They aren't.

If you turn your political hearing aid up, you can readily discern that religious fundamentalists use the terms 'religion and faith' to mean only one thing-THEIR particular religion or faith. Sure, 'religion' and 'faith' sound inclusive as polished and prepped speakers gloss over the words and keep on moving through their smog of rhetoric, but believe me, if you are religiously anything except like them rest assured that they are NOT talking about YOUR religion.

Another Decision That Must be Made: The Supreme Court last week handed down their decision. Now it is time for you to make yours. We here at TWV cannot-would not- tell you who to vote for or against in any election. But we can bring issues to the table for your consideration. This is one such issue for you to think about.

The highest Court in the land will soon be playing the political equivalent of musical chairs as at least two and possibly as many as four currently seated Supreme Court Justices consider retirement within the next decade.

Most of the decisions handed down on separation of church and state issues- such as school prayer and religious course instructions- in the last twenty years have been carried by a narrow margin-indeed often settled by one moderate swing vote.

Now religious fundamentalists are publicly declaring (and covertly planning) to break that precarious balance and begin to load the Court with men and women of their own persuasion.

The next President of the United States will determine who will get the nominations. Whichever party controls the Congress will give the nod or the axe to these chosen few candidates. We, the people, have only one card to play in this entire process.

The people elect the members of the House and the Senate. The people's delegates elect the President of the United States. If you not part of either process, then your interests will not be heard. Realizing too late that you may have thrown away your one chance to help preserve your own religious freedom by not being vigilant may well be cause for great regret. If the wall of separation between church and state falls via a religious coup carried out by a militant majority religion, it will be a tragedy from which America-as we know it- may never recover.

November 7th. The date is set. The deadline for making a choice to make YOUR choice is rapidly approaching.

Check with your town and city for voter registration deadlines. Pay attention to what the candidates, their parties and their supporters are saying about religious freedom. Bring the issue out into the open and challenge the candidates to define what they mean when they use the words 'religion' and 'faith.'(Did you ever notice that even though the word 'candidate' has the word 'candid' in it that these people seldom are?)

Become involved and become aware. It's YOUR choice. If you still cannot make a decision for any one candidate, then make one in favor of preserving the First Amendment and the Constitution of the United States.

Please vote!


June 25th, 2000
The Witches' Voice
Clearwater, Florida

Footnote:
Americans United reports: In addition to legal support from Robertson's ACLJ, briefs in favor of the prayer policy were filed with the Supreme Court by lawyers working on behalf of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, John Whitehead's Rutherford Institute, Jerry Falwell's Liberty Alliance and Wallbuilders, a Texas-based Religious Right group founded by David Barton. Twenty-one members of the House of Representatives signed onto the Wallbuilders' brief, including House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Reps. Bob Aderholt (R-Ala.), Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho) and Bob Barr (R-Ga.)

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