Friday, June 24, 2011

Banning Heaven from Street Names - Is That In the Constitution?

People across the nation were inspired by some of the heroic deeds of the first responders, as well as other police and fire personnel and various volunteers after the attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. One Brooklyn firehouse lost seven firemen on that day, and they naturally want to honor them. The city named a nearby street for them: "Seven in Heaven Way."

You readers know what's coming next, right? An atheist group is complaining to the city about the sign, demanding it be changed. "Heaven" is a Christian concept, they say. Well, that's partly right. Heaven, or similar concepts using other words, are part of many religions. But Heaven is not part of atheism.

According to an article in New American:
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission noted, "There are cities that have religious connotations in their names. Why not a street. Do they want us to rename Los Angeles, Corpus Christi, and St. Joseph?” Added Land,  "In a country where 85 percent of the people say they are Christian or claim to be Christian, should it be surprising that you name cities and streets with religious terminology?”

That makes sense to me. Our Constitution specifies (in the Bill of Rights) that Congress may not make a law establishing a religion, and the provision is being applied to our states as well after a Supreme Court decision. But clearly a street sign requires no state law to be passed; it is a decision that cities make for a variety of reasons, and such decision do not require statutes to back them up. Even if they did, there is a difference between recognizing religion and establishing a religion. We have "Armed Forces Day" each year, but every citizen is not required to be in the military, for example. And many, if not most, cities have a form of Martin Luther King on a street name (sometimes on several). But the residents of those cities are not all black.

Read more here:

Atheists Complain Over NYC Street Sign Honoring Fallen 9-11 Firemen

Monday, June 20, 2011

Major Network Seems Not to Like Phrase 'Under God'

Maybe it's time for a refresher on the Declaration of Independence. It contains a very important phrase, which points out that our rights are endowed by our Creator. That phrase was important as we sought independence from England and England's king. There are rights that are not the King's to give; they would not be the yet-to-be formed U.S. Government to give; they are rights given by God to human beings. Doesn't that seem like an important concept?

To be specific, those words from the Declaration of Independence are, "We hold these truths to self-evident, that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights." Is there any reason to be ashamed of those words?  Aren't those same words indicative of people of all races having the same rights? We certainly aren't ashamed of that concept today.

And given that thought, it seems easy to accept the words "under God" that are in our Pledge of Allegiance. After all, that phrase was part of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. After a bold statement in our Declaration that our rights are given by our Creator, and the landmark Gettysburg Address saying we are a nation under God, having it in the Pledge seems consistent.

Yet, it seems that NBC is not at all comfortable with those words. In this weekend's broadcast of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, NBC played a moving "Americana" segment with the Pledge interwoven. But NBC decided to move the words "under God" out of the script. They are a non-governmental company (although there are serious ties these days between the Federal Government and the parent company of NBC), so they can do what they want. But if I ran the company and didn't care one way or the other about history, God, etc., I still might have guessed differently about which version might offend fewer members of the audience.

Read more here:
NBC Cuts 'Under God' From Pledge of Allegiance

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pledge of Allegiance Challenged Once Again - and Survived

The well-known atheist Michael Newdow has continued to endless quest to remove any reference to God from all public arenas. He was unhappy about the children in Hanover, New Hampshire, being allowed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the words, "under God."

On June 13, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected Newdow's appeal from the Boston Federal court. The Boston First Circuit's decision had been unanimous. The decision stated that the Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state. In my opinion, as expressed countless times in this blog, that makes sense. Our Declaration of Independence states that our rights are not given to us by the government, but rather are given to us by God. If we do not believe that, then we have no rights of our own. And if we think it is wrong to recite that we are a nation "under God" in our Pledge, are we not abandoning the belief that our government is not all-powerful?

Read another opinion of the case here:

Supreme Court rejects atheist's latest challenge to Pledge of Allegiance

See the Boston circuit decision here:


Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering D-Day - FDR Prayer

The way some news sources handle the issue, one could believe that religious belief and public prayer belong to the right and/or the Republican party. But if you look at our history this was not always the case. Certainly it would have been very difficult for any news outlet to claim he did not have religious feelings and beliefs after he gave a nationwide live radio address just before D-Day. The text below is the full prayer given by FDR, for and with the American people, on June 6, 1944. (As found on the FDR Library site.)

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.