Recent online discussion at the Wisconsin State Journal produced some comments defending FFRF’s (Freedom From Religion Foundation’s) legal challenges of religion as being “within their rights.” I find it surprising that FFRF persists in their vendetta to eradicate public mention of religion, considering that atheists are often listed as tax-exempt religious organizations themselves, and even the textbook definition of religion includes the beliefs that they espouse. So, ultimately atheists are just pushing their OWN religious beliefs in preference to those of others.
Supporters of FFRF have also argued that Judeo-Christian values “have shaped Western Civilization by means of state-sanctioned swordpoint.” Perhaps FFRF and its supporters are confusing militant Islamic radicals with peace loving Christians in 2011? It is hard to find evidence of “enforcement of religion by sword point” in the US, where 80% of us are Christian, and in Madison, where 53% are Catholic, 22% Evangelical Lutheran, and only 10% of the population is outside of Christian denominations (ref). Not too many swords being wielded by Mayor Cieslewicz or by President Obama recently as far as I can tell.
If FFRF were so “within their rights,” they would have more supporters than 0.003 of 1% of America, their frivolous lawsuits would be on a larger and more meaningful scale than at present, and they would enjoy better success in court.
To date, most of their demands and lawsuits have been directed at small communities, which cannot afford litigation costs. For example, recently FFRF has challenged Marshfield, WI’s City Council’s practice of prayer . The population of Marshfield is about 18,000; Marshfield is about 7% the size of Madison.
A number of FFRF’s and similar legal challenges have already been denied by the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court (1983, Nebraska Legislature prayer), as well as a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, have upheld legislative prayer . Is FFRF also planning to initiate a lawsuit against President Obama, who ended his State of the Union address with the words “God bless America?”
FFRF’s recent, larger-scale attempt to declare the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional did succeed for one week in April of 2010 with a liberal Wisconsin judge (Barbara B. Crabb,District Judge) ruling in their favor, but the ruling was promptly challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice . The Obama administration is planning to fight to preserve the law establishing the National Day of Prayer. The idea of a national Day of Prayer has existed since 1775, and was supported by the constitutional congress, and by numerous Presidents, including President Lincoln.
The rationale for preserving the National Day of Prayer can be found at the American Center for Law and Justice .
There can be no denying that FFRF efforts towards the enforcement of public ATHEISM should be resisted by all reasonable Americans, just as those trying to force ANY particular religion should be resisted. FFRF’s efforts at intimidation of small communities by litigation are misguided and are to be condemned. FFRF should practice the same tolerance towards religious Americans that religious Americans practice towards FFRF.
Why are our many different religious roots so revered in the United States? The United States was first settled by people fleeing governments which forbade free exercise of religion. In more recent times, my own relatives came here fleeing the occupation of Lithuania by an atheist regime which denied religious freedom. Those unable to escape, spent decades in Siberian exile and in concentration camps. I wonder if FFRF atheists realize where radical vendettas by intolerant people wishing to control the beliefs of others (either atheist zealots OR religious zealots) can lead? How many RELIGIOUS groups have intimidated FFRF with numerous and frivolous lawsuits?