Liberty Legal Institute

A recent comment indicates that some people are under the impression… well, I’ll let the comment speak for itself:

Characterizing the court battles of religious symbols in public as “prohibiting the free expression of Christianity” is highly disingenuous, however. The court battles have been about government sponsorship of such expressions, not about individual expression of any religious belief; whatever you think about those decisions (I have mixed feelings about them myself), your description of them is rather misleading.

Ah, if only that were the case. I can certainly understand objecting to a government sponsored religion; I’m sure the brand of Christianity that the government would promote would have little to do with my beliefs. But most of my objects come from public supression of an individual’s right to a freedom of religion. A group called Liberty Legal Institute is an organization dedicated to fighting for First Amendment rights; here’s a summary of cases they are currently fighting.

  • Removal of a Ten Commandments display donated entirely by private individuals
  • A public school teacher denied a promotion because she placed her children in a Christian school
  • A monument paid for by a Christian organization includes a bible as a symbol of the recipient’s faith and LLI is fighting a lawsuit to have the bible imagery removed
  • A christian fellowship being required by a city to include non-christians before the city will rent facilities to them
  • A city that prohibits religious meetings in a private home
  • Senior citizens denied the right to pray over their own meals because the location was on public property

Many, many other examples, too, of government agencies denying the right of private individuals to express their faith. And that’s what the First Amendment was designed to prevent.

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Liberty Legal Institute

  1. More evidence that the pigs are on the ladder again.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Hmmm. We never seem to hear that part….

    Like

  2. Thanks, Gayla. I find as I get older I enjoy defending my position more. Those that oppose me often resort to name-calling to make their point, and that’s when I know I’ve won the argument.

    Sean, you’ve identified precisely why the LLI exists. 🙂

    Like

  3. How many lawsuits has LLI filed involving non-Christian religious symbols? I’m guessing the answer is zero.

    The six lawsuits described above involving LLI don’t tell me enough facts to convince me whether the Exercise Clause is invocable or not. On one side of the spectrum, the Ten Commandments display, if in a public setting, would violate the Establishment Clause even if it were paid for with private funds. Of course, it is also an exercise of religious belief. So which clause trumps which? There are are many arguments why the Establishment Clause should take precedence over the Exercise Clause, but the simplest is every act that tends to establish a state religion is a religious exercise; if the Exercise Clause controlled the Establishment Clause, the latter would be a nullity.

    Back to the list; the third case is obviously the Mosher case in Houston, Texas. I’ve seen the monument and I think the Fifth Circuit was wrong; the monument is primarily a memorial to Mosher. But Judge Devine is the type of Christianist who poses the greatest danger to religious freedom in this country, alongside Roy Moore of Alabama.

    The other fact summaries seem incomplete to me; admittedly, they seem that way because they’re written to evoke outrage. I would equate senior citizens praying over their meals with schoolchildren praying before lunch at a public school cafeteria — such an activity does not approach the Establishment Clause and must be permitted under the Exercise Clause — but I wonder if there’s more to it then what the LLI bullet points are telling us (if that’s where you got the list).

    Like

  4. A search for “Muslim” on their website yields 3 hits, so the answer does not appear to be zero. I don’t disagree that LLI primarily fights Christian descrimination, but I have observed that liberal groups go out of the way to suppress Christianity and reward alternative faiths, perhaps in an effort to make the “equal”.

    I shall pass on commenting on your legal observations other than to note that your portrayal of Devine and Moore as “the greatest danger to religious freedom” is also written to evoke outrage. There are far greater dangers, both from people and from groups, than these two.

    I did indeed get the list from LLI, and they have a search box at the top of their web page, and you can find their case histories for each of the bulleted points above.

    Like

  5. None of the three hits involved an LLI lawsuit filed on behalf of a Muslim. Two were the same story — a formal offer of assistance to San Antonio, Texas to defend against a lawsuit claiming that the city council’s invocations were unconstitutional. Among the grounds offered that the invocations were permissible was that a Muslim priest had lead one. The third hit was a suit to prevent the INS from forcing a Christian to return to Sudan, after his father had been murdered by Muslims.

    I’ve not observed liberal groups trying to oppress Christianity (since many liberals are Christians) so much as trying to oppress the establishment of Christianity, or Christianism, as the state church of the United States. By the same token, I haven’t seen them reward alternative faiths, though all of them would be unequal if the US recognized Christianity as the official religion of the country.

    I wasn’t able to find all the cases connected with the bullet points, but the case summaries I did find were also incomplete.

    Like

  6. Even if there aren’t, nothing wrong with defending Christianity, is there?

    I’ve not observed liberal groups trying to oppress Christianity

    The ACLU and the NEA, numerous examples. The LLI is full of examples of trying to fight those two groups.

    since many liberals are Christians

    That’s a whole ‘nother topic.

    so much as trying to oppress the establishment of Christianity, or Christianism, as the state church of the United States.

    Fearmongering. Judeo-christian values have been the foundation of the United States of America. It’s only been the last 30 years or so that groups like the ACLU have found success by arguing with that “separation of church and state” clause that does not exist in the US Constitution. Christians don’t want to establish a Theocracy; they just want to stop the government from oppressing their right to worship. When it’s mandated that children attend a purely secular school and abridging their right to say harmless things like “Christmas,” that’s oppression.

    if the US recognized Christianity as the official religion of the country.

    Strawman, fearmongering. There is no push to do that from any credible source, and that’s precisely what the First Amendment prevents with the “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” clause. Those last 5 words, by the way, are key.

    Like

  7. There is nothing in the Constitution about defending, or fighting, Christianity. From the constitutional perspective, it is neither wrong, nor right, to defend it. It is proper, under the Constitution, to defend against the establishment of a state religion, and against the state’s interference with the exercise of religion.

    The ACLU does not oppress Christianity, though it frequently fights against Christianism. The ACLU exists to defend the Constitution. I don’t know what you mean about the NEA oppressing Christianity.

    “Fearmongering” and “strawman” are just ad hominems. “Judeo-christian values” is a phrase of recent vintage to suggest a unity between Judaism and Christianity that historically was non-existent until only recently. I have never heard any Jewish outrage about banning the Ten Commandments, etc. but will stand corrected if you can show me some examples. For the majority of this country’s history, Christianists worked as hard to discriminate against Jews as they did against blacks, foreigners, and other minorities different from them. I agree that Christians don’t want to establish a theocracy (and I wish more of them would make this clear). Theocracy is the goal of the Christianists. Their right to worship does not include forcing their religious beliefs on others. I don’t know of a school that keeps children from saying “Christmas”, though I’m sure there are some that do, probably in a good faith belief they are complying with the law (legal issues surrounding religious freedom in schools are very difficult).

    I agree that no credible source would want to establish Christianity as the official religion of the US. Several incredible sources would do just that. Other, more incredible sources maintain that this country has been a Christian nation all along. They include former Justice Devine (“putting Christianity back into government” and former Judge Moore.

    And those last five words are subject to the first ten.

    Like

  8. I agree with your first paragraph. I strongly disagree with you on paragraph #2, but I don’t expect we’ll agree as it is subjective to interpretation.

    Those were not “ad hominems”. I did not attack you personally. By “fearmongering”, your argument is appealing to an emotional level as I never argued for a theocracy. Similarly, “strawman” is a debating term that you setup an argument I didn’t make and then knock it down.

    Just because “judeo-christian” as a term only came into lexicon within the last 150 years, the idea behind it is not. Jews and Christians share many cultural values that are not shared by Muslims, Wiccans, New Age, etc. Our nation was founded on this moral system.

    I think you’ve come here with a preconceived notion of my ideas and are proceding to knock them down. I have little problem with the government not promoting religion and I am not advocating either a theocracy or “Christianism”, not have I ever said so. I can recognize that could be used both for and against my faith. I have a *lot* of problems with a government that has setup a social/taxation system that practically ensures my child goes to school in a secular school, and then changes the names of a Christmas Tree to a Holiday Tree. Is there another religion that is celebrating with a tree? The 6 bulleted examples above are uncontitutional restrictions on religious freedom.

    Like

  9. I would like to expound on Paragraph 2. In 2001, a high school deleted a girl’s message in her senior yearbook because it contained a religious reference. Her lawyers were able to get the school to include the message. In 2002, an Operation Rescue pastor was prohibited from participating in a parade because he wanted to display an aborted fetus. Lawyers intervened on his behalf (though I don’t know whether they prevailed). In September 2005, a 2nd grader (!) was prohibited from singing “Awesome God” at a school talent show until her lawyers sued the school district. Would it surprise you to find out that each of these persons was represented by the ACLU? There is one other common thread: none of these situations involve the Establishment Clause. Absent Establishment Clause issues, the Exercise Clause is very powerful. Though I can’t say I think any good faith religious belief compels displaying images of dead fetuses, I am outraged by schools interfering with schoolchildren’s exercise of religious freedoms, such as praying before lunch, meeting on school grounds on the same basis that other groups meet, distributing candy canes with religious messages, and so on. It’s when these activities turn into the suggestion that there is only one religion — compulsory prayer, recitation of the modified Pledge of Allegiance, forced attendance at a football game where a Christian prayer is read over the loudspeaker — that the Exercise Clause has to yield to the Establishment Clause. This is especially true in the public school setting.

    With regard to the other religions worshipping trees, the Christmas tree was borrowed from Druids. Oddly enough, a popular version of the origin of the Christmas Tree was St. Boniface’s chopping down an oak tree (the Druid’s tree of choice) to prevent the Druids from worshipping as they chose. A fir sapling evidently grew in its place. At any rate, the Supreme Court has held that a Christmas tree is a secular, not sacred, symbol, so there’s no Constitutional basis for prohibiting — or compelling — their display anymore.

    And, again, with regard to the bulleted examples, some of them may be unconstitutional. LLI’s site doesn’t seem objective to me, so I can’t tell whether there is more to the stories than they have told. It would obviously be an Exercise Clause violation to make a principal withdraw her children from a religious school to get a promotion, or to prohibit senior citizens from praying before meals. I just wonder if there’s more to it than that. The Ten Commandment story I find singularly unpersuasive; the source of funding for a religious monument is only one factor to consider in determining whether it tends to promote religion, and it’s a factor I discount heavily, more so than the courts. Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument was paid for by private funds, but its unconstitutionality was a no-brainer. As for the Mosher monument, I’m on record above as saying I thought the Fifth Circuit was wrong on that case.

    And while the government may have been founded on a moral system that reflected “judeo-Christian values” (I can’t use that phrase without quotes, given the long history of Christianist anti-Judaism in this country), it was also founded on the idea of religious freedom. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” You know who said that, right?

    Like

  10. The ACLU does far greater persecution of Christians that can be offset by a couple of charity examples. From the ACLU policy guide, they have halted the singing of Christmas carols like “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger” in public facilities, denied the tax-exempt status of all churches yet maintaining it for themselves as well as for various occult groups, eliminated nativity scenes, crosses, and other Christian symbols from public property, removing the words In God We Trust from our coins, and purging the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. You might disagree on the constitutionality of these issues, but the ACLU is by far more active is suppressing Christianity that supporting it, to the extent that groups like StoptheACLU have sprung up to oppose them. No doubt if there were any druids in my son’s high school, they’d fight to protect “Druid Trees,” and oppose “Christmas Trees.”

    Like

  11. Unless you define “persecution of Christians” to include litigationg to prevent Christianists from violating the Establishment Clause, I am unaware of what you mean. Please note, by the way, that the ACLU is not a tax-exempt organization, although the ACLU Foundation is.

    Wny not purge “In God We Trust” from our currency? It’s an endorsement of a monotheistic religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause.

    Why not purge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance? It’s an endorsement of a monothestic religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause. The Congressional Record establishes the unconstitutionality of Congress’s motive in adding those two words — to establish that the United States was better than the “Godless Communists” — as does President Eisenhower’s signing statement.

    Christian symbols on public property frequently serve the purpose of establishing Christianity as the state religion of the United States. They should be removed in that case. I’m sure the ACLU would do the same thing if Wiccans started to paint their iconography on the sides of municipal buildings, but so far, all the attempts I’m aware of to establish a theocracy in this country have been made by Christianists.

    I know next to nothing about StoptheACLU, but I’m sure a lot of people disagree with the ACLU’s goals, and some of them have probably formed groups. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong, or that they persecute Christianists.

    Your speculation about Druids may be right, but we don’t know so far since it hasn’t happened yet. But I am curious:

    “I can certainly understand objecting to a government sponsored religion; I’m sure the brand of Christianity that the government would promote would have little to do with my beliefs.”

    Is there any ACLU resistance to state-sponsored religion that you agree with? If not, how about non-ACLU resistance?

    Like

  12. Unless you define “persecution of Christians” to include litigationg to prevent Christianists from violating the Establishment Clause, I am unaware of what you mean.

    Nope, we won’t agree. I don’t know anybody who claims to be a Christianist. If the Consitution allows free expression of religion, the Establishment clause shouldn’t trump it.

    Wny not purge “In God We Trust” from our currency? It’s an endorsement of a monotheistic religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause.

    What we won’t agree on is that recognizing a religion is not establishing a religion. The history of our country dating back from the first settlers through the founding of our nation is based on a recognizing a monotheistic religion, yet it’s only been in the past 30 with the help of the ACLU that this recognition is being purged.

    Is there any ACLU resistance to state-sponsored religion that you agree with? If not, how about non-ACLU resistance?

    I opposed government funded faith-based initiatives, but not exactly for that reason. Receiving government funds is a foothold into letting the ACLU mandate how faith can and cannot work. For instance, Catholic Charities in California lost a court battle a few years ago and the health care they provide must include contraceptions according to state law, even though the Catholic faith opposes it.

    Like

  13. Nope, we won’t agree. I don’t know anybody who claims to be a Christianist.

    Me neither. No one claims to be a Christianist. They claim to be Christians. Actually, that\’s a good definition of \”Christianist\”.

    If the Constitution allows free expression of religion, the Establishment clause shouldn’t trump it.

    I couldn\’t disagree more. Every act — EVERY act — that tends to establish a religion is, itself, an exercise of religion. If the Exercise Clause trumps the Establishment Clause, the Establishment Clause no longer exists.

    What we won’t agree on is that recognizing a religion is not establishing a religion. The history of our country dating back from the first settlers through the founding of our nation is based on a recognizing a monotheistic religion, yet it’s only been in the past 30 with the help of the ACLU that this recognition is being purged.

    I agree that merely recognizing a religion is not establishing a religion. I disagree about our country has ever been based on recognizing a monotheistic religion. No monotheistic religion is acknowledge in the Constitution. Moreover, Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by a unanimous Senate in 1797, proclaimed that the government of the United States was \”not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion\”. By the way, those first settlers were usually refugees from Europe escaping their own religious persecutions.

    I opposed government funded faith-based initiatives, but not exactly for that reason. Receiving government funds is a foothold into letting the ACLU mandate how faith can and cannot work. For instance, Catholic Charities in California lost a court battle a few years ago and the health care they provide must include contraceptions according to state law, even though the Catholic faith opposes it.

    So, to clarify, you agreed with the ACLU on this California case?

    Like

  14. I changed the html code in your last post to use the greater-than / less-than signs. I hope you don\’t mind.

    No one claims to be a Christianist. They claim to be Christians. Actually, that\’s a good definition of \”Christianist\”.

    Then there\’s no difference. Might as well call them Christians instead of giving them a label they don\’t recognize or claim to be.

    I couldn\’t disagree more. Every act — EVERY act — that tends to establish a religion is, itself, an exercise of religion. If the Exercise Clause trumps the Establishment Clause, the Establishment Clause no longer exists.

    And vice versa. \”Make no law respecting religion\” then becomes worthless.

    I disagree about our country has ever been based on recognizing a monotheistic religion. No monotheistic religion is acknowledge in the Constitution.

    I didn\’t say the US Constitution claimed that. Pilgrims, Anglicans, etc founded this country, and our laws are derived from the countries they left.

    By the way, those first settlers were usually refugees from Europe escaping their own religious persecutions.

    Ironic that their descendents have reinstated it. Instead of religious freedom, they get state-mandated secular humanism.

    So, to clarify, you agreed with the ACLU on this California case?

    No, I opposed the initial government funded faith based initiative. The ACLU argues that Catholic Charities\’ faith is not substantially burdened by paying for insurance for health care opposed by Catholic theology, a claim they had no right to make on another\’s faith. I strongly oppose the ACLU.

    Like

  15. A “Christianist” is (a) one who claims to be a Christian, but isn’t, or (b) a person who exalts Christian society and Christian civilization. The latter definition was constructed by Remi Brague; the former is a logical counterpoint to the use of the term “Islamist” to describe fanatics who have cherry-picked Islam to find textual support for terrorism. My last post was unclear; hope this clarifies the first definition.

    While every attempt to establish a religion is a religious exercise, the converse is not true. Praying in your own home is a religious exercise; meditating in mine is too. Giving to religious charities, meeting and praying together, preaching to others about your religion are all religious exercises, and are all protected by the Exercise Clause.

    Secular humanism has not been mandated by the state. That’s just a lie. There is more religious freedom in the United States now than in any other time in history; here than in any other country. The greatest threat to that freedom comes from the right, not the left, in the form of associating Christianity with the government and using the government to promote the message that Christianity is the best religion there is.

    And my original question about the ACLU was whether you agreed with any of their resistance to establishment of religion. I’ll assume you have no problem with their litigating on behalf of their Exercise Clause clients (the girl who wanted to write a religious message in her yearbook; the child delivering candy canes; and the second grader who wanted to sing “Awesome God”.

    Like

  16. Your definition of “Christianist” is insulting as not only is it not accepted by those you label, but (a) and (b) are far apart on the spectrum. I disagree with your points on the establishment of religion and mandated secular humanism, your contention that the ACLU is Christian-friendly, and especially your assessment that the right poses a far greater threat to freedom than the left. However, your posts have lead me to conclude your mind is closed on these issues and further discussion would be pointless.

    Like

  17. Well, there hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion. That usually involves asking and answering questions, for one thing. Three posts ago, I asked if there was any resistant to state-sponsored religion that you agree with, whether it was by the ACLU or not. Your answer was a case that invoked the Exercise Clause, not the Establishment Clause.

    I’m not surprised people who are Christianists would not accept that label. It has a negative connotation, and most people who deserve labels with negative connotations deny that they deserve them. It doesn’t mean that the label isn’t accurate.

    I already knew you disagreed with me about the establishment of religion and mandated secular humanism — on the latter point, our disagreement is that you think it exists and I think it doesn’t. I was surprised that you decided to punt rather than come up with facts that support your position.

    Adieu.

    Like

  18. Not a punt. You’ve indicated you oppose Christianity, even when I say I’m not in favor of a theocracy, and you insist on applying a label you acknowledge as begative in order to dehumanize the opposition. You’ve shown no indication that any of my positions hold any sort of sway with you. Ergo, any further discussion from me would be the equivalent of spitting into the wind. Secular humanism in public schools reflects my opinion about state-indoctrination of secular humanism. You’ll disagree, of course, and label me a christianist. I’ll reply that my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only thing that makes life meaningful and cannot be separated from my actions, and while I do not advocated any sort of unwelcome coercion toward unbelievers, I stongly oppose any curtailment of my God-given right to worship when and where I want. God is greater than you.

    That looks like a good place to stop, don’t you agree?

    Like

  19. I’ve never stated I oppose Christianity. You should indicate where I said that, or else admit you’re a liar (a violation of the Ten Commandments). Lying is a characteristic of Christianists.

    That’s a good place to stop.

    Like

  20. Your last statement, “Lying is a characteristic of Christianists” indicates you oppose Christianity. Earlier statements include:

    but the simplest is every act that tends to establish a state religion is a religious exercise

    But Judge Devine is the type of Christianist who poses the greatest danger to religious freedom in this country, alongside Roy Moore of Alabama.

    Theocracy is the goal of the Christianists. Their right to worship does not include forcing their religious beliefs on others.

    compulsory prayer, recitation of the modified Pledge of Allegiance, forced attendance at a football game where a Christian prayer is read over the loudspeaker — that the Exercise Clause has to yield to the Establishment Clause.

    Wny not purge “In God We Trust” from our currency?

    Why not purge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance?

    Christian symbols on public property frequently serve the purpose of establishing Christianity as the state religion of the United States. They should be removed in that case.

    No one claims to be a Christianist. They claim to be Christians. Actually, that’s a good definition of ”Christianist”.

    The greatest threat to that freedom comes from the right, not the left,

    Those statements all indicate that you oppose Christianity, along with your continued used of the “christianist” label that you admit has a negative connotation, and that there is no difference between a christian and a christianist. While we may differ on the proper perception of what a Christian is and what opposition means, calling me a liar and claiming it is “a characteristic of Christianists” descends into a personal attack. Accusing me of violating the Ten Commandments is particularly offensive to me.

    An apology would be appreciated, but no further response is necessary.

    Like

  21. You\’re confusing Christians with Christianists, and Christianity wit Christianism. I oppose Christianists.

    The statement that \”every act that tends to establish a state religion is a religious exercise\” is neutral as to opposing Christianity.

    I oppose Judge Devine and Roy Moore because they are Christianists and wish to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States. Roy Moore has gone as far as to say that other religions are not real religions, and are not subject to First Amendment protections. (Do you agree with this, by the way?)

    I believe Christianists do seek to establish a Christian theocracy.

    I oppose compulsory prayer, recitation of the modified Pledge of Allegiance, and forced attendance at a football game where a Christian prayer is read over the loudspeaker because each of these acts tend to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States.

    I oppose the phrase “In God We Trust” on currency because it tends to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States.
    I oppose the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance because it tends to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States.
    I oppose some Christian symbols on public property because they frequently because it tends to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States. I do not oppose all such symbols. If I were opposed to Christianity, wouldn\’t I want all Christian symbols removed, period.

    There is a difference between a Christian and a Christianist. One worships Christ; the other worships a religion. Christianists are, as a class, dishonest. It appears from your last post, however, that you might be confused, rather than intentionally mistating facts. On the other hand, you say I oppose Christianity when I\’ve already said I think the Mosher Bible should have been left in its display, and I supported the ACLU\’s efforts on Christians who fought to protect their Exercise rights. So I\’m holding off on that apology.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s