It is freedom of religion, not freedom of religion. The phrase “separation of church and state” is not found in the constitutions of the United States or Idaho. To those of you who would think otherwise, please read these documents and cite the article, section, and paragraph for the rest of us to see. This sentence and these words are not there. But it would do you all good to study the documents which enshrine our right to worship as we please.
I bring up this topic because this is the time of year when the secular left goes mad trying to keep the Christmas and Hanukkah exhibits in the public square. Their argument is that the government cannot support or promote one religion over another. They therefore demand that any vestige of a religious exhibition be banned from public property.
They were wrong, of course. The solution is not to ban these denominational exhibitions but to encourage more of them.
Now the liberal and secular left and its Democratic Party supporters are uncomfortable with anyone who believes in power greater than themselves and the government bureaucracies they control. After all, “We are the best educated elite intellectuals in this country and we know what is best for you and how you should live your life. Stop clinging to your God and your weapons and follow the mandates we proclaim. “
So they challenge all authority to their dogma, which includes everything that smacks of power greater than theirs.
The basis of their opposition is:
l The 1802 letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in which he described a “fence or hedge” between church and state.
l The 1947 Supreme Court case, Everson v. Board of Education, where the majority opinion evoked a “separation of Church and State”. The result of this decision is that even though the government cannot support a particular religion, an opinion expressed in the First Amendment of the Constitution, the government cannot discourage religious beliefs and exhibitions on public property. Over the past decades, this view has been eroded by various agenda-driven judges who are unaware of the law or the implications of this ruling.
When a nativity scene is set up on public property during the Christmas season, some will argue that the government favors a particular religion and that posting is inappropriate or that all religions should be allowed to display their icons next to it. This view is incorrect. All religions, if they wish, should be allowed to display in the public square when appropriate to their important religious practice.
For example – and I do not try or wish to blaspheme here – if during the celebration by the Muslim religion of the holy month of Ramadan, which often takes place between June and August, their adherents wanted to display a crescent on public property, then they should be allowed to do so. I would not demand, as a Christian, that a manger, star, or cross be displayed next to her at that time, as it is not the season in my belief system for those symbols have special meaning. If during the summer solstice the pagans wanted to display their star and circle symbol, they should be allowed to do so as well. And before you write your critical letters, study their belief system, pagan believers are not satanic worshipers.
It is in this way, however, that the government can avoid supporting a single set of beliefs while still allowing access to public property that citizens of all faiths should enjoy.
25 to 30 years ago, the University of Idaho during the Christmas season displayed an illuminated cross in the Theophilus Tower. Inevitably, there were laymen and even believers who found the posting offensive and complained about it. The Unemployment Insurance administration, in its cowardly defense of the First Amendment, has shut down posting in the face of these complaints. Now the cross is a symbol that is important to more than one religion at this time of year. So claims that the government favored a belief system ring hollow.
All taxpayers, religious or not, pay taxes to support public property across our country. Believers should be able to spend time in the public square and not be excluded from it because some people are offended, afraid or feel threatened by the public display of a religious scene or symbol. Atheists and laity are part of citizenship, but they have no right of exclusive use, non-use or view of community places. America’s greatness lies in the diversity of its peoples and the strength they derive from the multitude of religious beliefs they practice. I would be offended if a public display of a nursery was not permitted on public property during this time of year. The right to religious expression is guaranteed by our Constitution, and this right is for anyone, anywhere, anytime across America.
So, in the spirit of the observance that we Christians celebrate this time of year, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I wish people of all faiths and beliefs a peaceful, sincere season. and joyful in reflection and thanksgiving.
Merry Christmas to all of you.
Hassoldt is a Field Forester who lives in Kendrick.