Ken McElroy Online

God Bless the ACLU

Ken McElroy
October 20, 2001

In the wake of the terrorist attack on September 11th, demonstrations of patriotism and of religious observance have been pervasive. From members of Congress singing "God Bless America" on the capital steps to President Bush's call for a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, government leaders have joined regular Americans in these demonstrations of faith and patriotism.

Of course, not everyone is in agreement that this is a good thing. The radical secularist left, led by the ACLU, People for the American Way, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and others, believes these public affirmations of America's Judeo-Christian heritage are an abomination.

These secularists claim to simply want to protect the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. But they aren't even consistent in their own standards. They promote a very broad interpretation of the free speech clause of the 1st Amendment, for example, to include things like federal grants for obscene art, which is neither speech, nor free. They also read the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment broadly, so that practically any mention of any religious theme in a public setting is prohibited.

However, when they read the free exercise of religion clause of the 1st Amendment, suddenly they define the Bill of Rights very narrowly, telling us that we are free to exercise our religious faith in our homes and places of worship. That would be like saying that we have free speech, but only in certain limited locations. Those on the left tend to maintain the narrow view when reading the 2nd Amendment as well. When was the last time you heard about the ACLU defending the rights of individuals to possess firearms? And the 10th Amendment seems to have been deleted from their copy of the Constitution.

After the terrorist attack on September 11th, Breen Elementary School in Rocklin, California put the words "God Bless America" on the marquee outside their school. After a complaint by the parent of one student at the school, the ACLU sent school officials a letter demanding that the sign be taken down, claiming the message was an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

The House of Representatives approved a resolution on October 16th that says Congress believes public schools should be allowed to display patriotic messages such as "God Bless America." The vote was 404-0, with 10 Democratic Representatives voting "present."

All this shows that the primary objective of the secularists is not to protect individual rights by interpreting the Bill of Rights in a consistent way, but to further their own agenda by interpreting the Constitution narrowly or broadly depending on what they like or don't like. And they don't like religion, especially of the Judeo-Christian variety.

Taking a look at the cases involving religion that they choose to pursue proves this. The secularists only fight public expressions related to religion if those expressions are positive. Public religious expressions that attack and denigrate Judeo-Christian traditions are protected free speech, while positive expressions are prohibited violations of "separation of church and state."

Displaying a nativity scene or a cross on public property, paid for with funds from a private entity? Prohibited "establishment of religion." A cross in a jar of urine, paid for with a federal arts grant? Protected "free speech."

A display of the Ten Commandments or a portrait of the Virgin Mary in a public building? Prohibited. A portrait of Mary covered with elephant dung at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at public expense? Free speech.

A lesson about the Christmas story at Christmas time or "Easter vacation" at a public school? Forget it. A play, such as "Corpus Christi," performed at the state-funded Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, that portrays Jesus as a drunk, foul-mouthed homosexual? Protected free speech, according to the ACLU.

These examples show a pattern: The ACLU and like-minded groups are not pro-constitution, they are anti-religion, especially Judeo-Christian religion.

The U.S. Constitution requires that the government maintain neutrality in dealing with religion, it does not require that the government maintain an officially atheist stance, as the secularists want. Statements like "God Bless America" do not establish any particular sect, and so such statements do not violate any part of the Constitution.

Organizations should be judged by their actions, not by their words. Often, high-minded rhetoric is cover for more nefarious goals. This needs to be remembered when organizations such as the ACLU tell us that they're protecting the Constitution, when in fact their real aim is to remove any vestige of America's religious traditions from our public life.

May they be defeated in this goal, and may God Bless America.