“That Offends Me!”

A common complaint that is often heard is, “That offends me!” Generally such a statement is not a mere statement of fact, but is tantamount to saying, “My rights have been violated.” The idea of, “You support homosexual rights” or “you’re against homosexual rights” might offend someone and that someone might then seek to have you silenced, somehow theorizing that you have infringed upon his rights. Or in the case of religion (where this phrase is most often in use) someone might say that religious discussions offend him, which is code for, “You don’t have the right to say this/you’re infringing upon my right.”

What people forget is that while offense might ruin public decorum or impede understanding between two opposing sides, the right to not be offended isn’t a right. If a government employee says, “I believe in Allah and the five pillars of Islam,” while that might offend you, that doesn’t mean your rights have been violated.

The First Amendment does not say, “Citizens shall not talk about religion if it offends someone” or “government employees shall not talk about religion if it offends someone.” For those curious about what the First Amendment states (such as Christine O’Donnell), it says (in part):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Now, what in there says that you have the right to not be offended. Understandably the First Amendment would prohibit the government from telling you what religion to believe or what not to believe, or it would prohibit the government from making you pay taxes to a religious institution (or to an anti-religious institution). But what in there says you have the right to avoid offense?

The thing is, we’ve become so anti-religion that any mention of it and we automatically think a right has been violated. If a congressperson says, “We turn to God for hope,” automatically we believe that the government is forcing us to adopt a religion to the exclusion of all other religions. If a teacher says, “I don’t believe there is a God, but there are multiple viewpoints that you should consider when you look at the issue yourself,” no one’s rights have been violated. It might be offensive, but this certainly doesn’t mean rights have been violated.

The idea of having a separation between Church and State is a good one so long as the State doesn’t overpower the Church in having this separation. The First Amendment addressed religion because the Church overran the State, which then imposed taxes and fines on those who didn’t agree with the Church. In rebelling against such a monster, the State has subdued the Church and made sure she has no voice in public discourse, that is, the State is overrunning the Church, which is now attempting to silence any religious voices in public debate. This was not the meaning of the First Amendment.  Continue reading


The misery of being against all things religious

It seems that anytime a public display of religion occurs, there’s someone somewhere who finds a way to sue over it. Take, for instance, southern Illinois. About fifty years ago, a group of farmers got together to raise money to put a cross on southern Illinois’ highest point. The action was faith-based as they wanted to cross to cause self-reflection and incite a need for Jesus. As time has gone on, the cross has become much more of a tourist attraction due to its immense size (bringing in money for the state) rather than something that causes conversions.

Since the law of entropy is still in effect (and doesn’t seem to be relenting its hold on the material world anytime soon), in the last fifty years, the cross has slowly decayed. Since it does bring in revenue for the state (due to tourism), the state decided to give $20,000 to the estimated $500,000 needed for renewal. This has caused an atheist in Illinois to sue the state to get the money back, citing separation of church and state.

Now the lawsuit is, in a lot of ways, absurd. For one, let us assume in a possible world that the Greek parthenon was located in the United States. Let’s say that the Native Americans worshipped ancient gods in this parthenon. Furthermore, let us also assume that we still had the first amendment. As time went on, the parthenon began to decay. Even if some people in the US viewed the Parthenon as religious, would the US be wrong to give money to the parthenon to have it restored? The answer is no. They’re not supporting a religion by doing so, instead they’re helping to solidify what would be a tourist attraction and a historical landmark.

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Separation of Church and State

After reading a Washington Post article dripping in sarcasm, as well as other articles from ABC, MSNBC, and the New York Times, I decided to finally send in a response. No doubt, my response will never be read, but hey, why not?

The overall feeling I get is that if you hold to certain conservative morals, you shouldn’t let those morals affect your political choices. This led to the following email from me to the Washington Post:

It would appear that the media is quite ignorant of history. How quickly they forget that it was a conservative man who, through his religious convictions,  believed God had called him to reform the culture for God’s glory. If such a  politician made the claim today that he felt God had called him to reform  society, he would be laughed at and ridiculed. But who would laugh at and  ridicule William Wilberforce in the modern era, the man who almost single-handily defeated the slave trade and slavery itself in the British  empire?

In his journal, Wilberfoce stated he felt God calling him to, “…the abolition of slavery and the reformation of manners [society]…”. His arguments were dripping in his Christianity, so much so that Lord Melborne argued that Wilberforce’s arguments should be cast aside because, “Such a [tragedy] on our society when religion is mixed with politics.” Thus, it was the secularists, the agnostics, the atheists, and the Deists of Wilberforce’s day who were supporting slavery; it was the Christians who were opposing it. It was arguments based on Scripture and Christian principles that ultimately did the following (via Wilberforce):

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