Who's trying to ban you from celebrating Christ? Won't there be 782,000 church services on Christmas? Can you put a nativity scene in your front yard?
12/10/2012 7:07 PM
Just in case you don't know, the answers are: Nobody, Yes, Yes.
12/10/2012 7:14 PM
Who is trying to ban local governments from putting up displays honoring America's Christian heritage? Is there an effort to get Christian displays out of public areas. Was there a shift in the way the government acts towards Christians starting in the early 60s?

Just in case you dont know the Answers are ACLU, yes and yes.
12/10/2012 7:42 PM
I know right? The Constitution is such a ***** establishment of religion, what a dumb rule.
12/10/2012 7:47 PM

Up for interpetation.

The original text of the Constitution would never apply to a manger scene in a small town.

So someone at some time decided to expand the power of the Judiciary.

Hard to imagine that someone would get something through the courts that they could NEVER get through local legislatures.

12/10/2012 8:27 PM
That is the original text. "Congress shall make no law..." Not expanded, just enforcing the rule as written.
12/10/2012 8:30 PM

The law refers to law made by the US congress.

This is a policy of usually small towns that the ACLU can push around.
12/10/2012 8:48 PM
Posted by bad_luck on 12/10/2012 8:30:00 PM (view original):
That is the original text. "Congress shall make no law..." Not expanded, just enforcing the rule as written.

Enforcing the rule as written would simply mean that congress couldn't establish an "official US religion" or make laws forcing citizens to go to church.

The ridiculous amounts of things it now supposedly covers is really not even debatable.

In fact it goes on to say "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Therefore, so long as the majority of the electorate in a town is not offended there should be no problem with it at all.

If the majority of a town are Christian and the government that represents them puts up a manger scene in the town square, that doesn't infringe on anyone's rights.

That doesn't mean that If you live in that district and aren't Christian they do not represent you.

It doesn't mean you must be a Christian to live in this town.

It is just a reflection of the electorate and shouldn't be offensive to anyone. In the same way I wouldn't be offended if in a predominately Chinese district the town square put up Dongzhi decorations. Or if in a predominately Jewish town they put up a Star of David.
12/10/2012 8:54 PM
I don't think I agree with you.  There is a little bit of ambiguity in terms of the Constitutionality, but I would tend to agree that it's not explicitly unconstitutional to put up a manger scene in a public place if you want to be a strict constructionist.  In fact, I don't have any problem with it at all provided that it's privately funded.  That being said, if I were non-Christian I would be far less than thrilled if my tax dollars were spent on Christmas decorations.  In reality towns and cities across America spend public funds on Christmas decorations, but at least those are typically secular in nature (not exclusively, but in most cases).  Even if they are recognizable Christmas decorations, as long as they're secular you can justify it and call them something without religious overtones.  But if I'm a Jew or a Sikh or a Hindu or an atheist, or for that matter anything other than a Christian or arguably a Muslim, I could see myself having a real issue with my government spending my tax dollars on a manger scene or a cross.  I would argue that if they do that that they are not, in fact, representing me.  At least not well.  They're using public funds I contributed to fund decorations for a holiday I do not observe, arguably even to promote that holiday.  If you want to do what Santa Monica always used to and allow various people and organizations from your town to put up various decorations in public places I have no problem with that.  But if they're even remotely sacred, the government darn well better not be paying for them.
12/10/2012 9:11 PM
I see your point.

My question would be what is different about this than the many many things the govt. does, that I don't agree with, using tax dollars that I contribute?

You would be "far less than thrilled" if they spent YOUR tax dollars on it.
Well I am far less than thrilled with SO MANY things the govt spends MY tax dollars on. What's my recourse on all those issues?

Or is it only unacceptable when something "sacred" is involved?

12/10/2012 10:06 PM (edited)
Government endorsement of a religion is specifically prohibited by the Constitution. So, while you may disagree, for example, with money spent on a war, it's within the government's authority to go to war.
12/10/2012 11:07 PM
Well we can all agree that the Supreme court has made rulings on this.

Can we argue if they were right or not? Can we argue if their decisions go beyond the actual Constitution?

Can we argue outside of the Constitutional grounds if it is a good idea or not?
12/11/2012 4:22 AM
12/11/2012 4:54 AM
Posted by bad_luck on 12/10/2012 11:07:00 PM (view original):
Government endorsement of a religion is specifically prohibited by the Constitution. So, while you may disagree, for example, with money spent on a war, it's within the government's authority to go to war.
Here's a quote from James Story (appointed by James Madison, "The Father of the Constitution"):

“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.” [J. Story, III, Commentaries on the Constitution [section] 1871 (1833)]

Another tidbit about a fellow named Benjamin Huntington:

"No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed." Congressman Benjamin Huntington stood to agree that such an amendment was valuable, but was concerned that "the words might be taken in such latitude as to be extremely hurtful to the cause of religion". Whatever words were used, Huntington wanted the amendment to be clear enough "to secure the rights of conscience, and a free exercise of the rights of religion, but not to patronize those who professed no religion at all". In other words, Huntington wanted the amendment to establish the secular religion, but not the secular lack of religion.

I can list many more if it would help, but I doubt it will.

Before the 20th century, the First Amendment's free speech provisions were only applied to acts by the US Congress "Congress shall make no law...".  It was only in the early 20th century that the courts decided it would apply to all government actions (state and local governments) and was the second half of the 20th century before they started applying it to private suits, public schools, etc.

So the courts eventually expanded the scope to those things that were never the part of the original intent..
12/11/2012 7:06 AM
There are many ways in which the interpretation of the Constitution has evolved over time.  Part of what has made it the basis of a strong and lasting government is the fact that the original text was so short, simple, and malleable.  Just because we're changing interpretation doesn't mean the new interpretation is incorrect for our current society.  There is a reason numerous amendments have been made.  Just saying that something is what the founding fathers had in mind doesn't make it the most appropriate interpretation now.  They also thought the fairest way to determine representation of a state was to count voters + 3/5 of women, children, slaves, and most Native Americans.
12/11/2012 12:07 PM
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