Teen Challenges Moment-Of-Silence Law

I often Google the news for Agnostic and Atheist stories to comment on for this blog. I mean to just write original articles on the subject of Agnosticism and remain influenced by such articles, but a busy life leads me to fall back to the practice of responding to the articles directly. I usually find some fight the freethinkers are taking on where religion is crossing the line and violating the Establishment Clause of the First Admendment. However, this story rubs me the wrong way because I think it is a completely voluntary and acceptable way for students to practice their religion or remain free to practice their lack of beliefs as they see fit.

Teen Challenges Moment-Of-Silence Law

A 14-year-old girl and her outspoken atheist father filed a federal lawsuit Friday challenging a new Illinois law requiring a brief period of prayer or reflective silence at the start of every school day.

“We don’t believe requiring time for reflection is the role of government,” Ottenhoff said.

“What we object to is Christians passing a law that requires the public school teacher to stop teaching during instructional time, paid for by the taxpayers, so that Christians can pray,” Sherman told The Associated Press.

An Illinois law called the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act already allowed schools to observe a moment of silence if they wanted. A new measure changed just a single word: “may” observe became “shall” observe.

Here is an Atheist viewpoint I actually disagree with and I’m not sure if it is because I’m an Agnostic. I firmly believe the religious have no idea what they’re talking about with their belief and are wrong to claim they know such things about creation. I don’t know and neither does anyone else. However, I don’t think we need to prevent anyone from individually practicing their belief when it doesn’t infringe on my own children’s rights. My children can take the moment of silence to reflect on their life and the universe as long as the teacher or other adults do not try to lead them in prayer. That is when it has gone to far. But a mandatory moment of silence or prayer for each student to do what they like; what’s wrong with that?

Non-believer neighbors

The most rapidly growing segment in the survey involves those who say they have “no religion” or else identify as “atheist” or “agnostic” – a group that now represents 15% of the total. Though these irreligious Americans certainly constitute a force worth respecting (after all, consider all the recent bestsellers they’ve produced) they hardly amount to a separate, distinct culture: all the prominent atheist leaders and spokesmen say that non-believers remain largely indistinguishable from the faithful Christians next door, and they honor the same behavioral and communal norms (other than church attendance and Bible study, obviously) as their devout neighbors.

Above is a quick blurb from “No, America’s never been a multicultural society”. I just thought it was interesting to see noted that non-believers are not a separate and distinct culture in America. Plainly put, we are all Americans just like anyone else here.

I do believe this is a true assessment. We are not particularly special or different from any other citizen and that is why we are hard to spot unless you try to get us to pray or thank God for anything. Even then, we sometimes join in just so that the religious don’t know we don’t believe the same as them. We do honor the same behavioral and communal norms as our devout neighbors. We all share in the communal norms defined by the rule of law of this society by the people and for the people. We aren’t one nation, under God. I actually think Christian norms were influenced and defined by societal norms instead of the other way around. Fortunately societal norms evolve and hopefully improve over time, whereas a society truly based on Christian norms would still hold onto slavery as acceptable in keeping with the writings of the Bible.

50 Years of In God We Trust

It has now been ONLY 50 years of In God We Trust on American paper money. Below are excerpts from: Motto Inspires and Irritates

The phrase first appeared on America’s paper money on Oct. 1, 1957, one year after becoming the country’s official motto. Now, a half century later, the motto is inspiring increased fervor and controversy, another skirmish in the battle over how America defines itself.

On one side are those who argue that, especially as America becomes increasingly diverse, people of all faiths and no faith should be free from any official endorsement of religion.

On the other side are those who argue that the nation is at risk of being redefined as godless. For these people, Haynes says, there is a “new frontier” of efforts to make the national motto more prominent.

Here is a short history of the flirtation our nation has had with endorsing religion, which is prohibited by the First Amendment:

“The first use was at a time of our greatest national crisis, the Civil War,” he says, “because, for many people, the Civil War was God’s judgment on America. And it revived the old anxiety that, because the Constitution didn’t formally acknowledge God, we would suffer.” This angst resulted, at first, in an effort to add God and Christ to the preamble, and when that didn’t work, supporters persuaded the Secretary of the Treasury in 1864 to put “In God We Trust” on the 2-cent coin.

Nearly a century later, in the early years of the Cold War, Congress voted to make “In God We Trust” the national motto (replacing the original motto, “E pluribus unum” — “Out of many, one”) and voted, in 1957, to engrave it on all U.S. currency. It was a way to symbolically say that Americans, unlike Communists, aren’t godless, Haynes says, and “that we will triumph not because of us but because of our dependence on almighty God.”

The ceremonial deism of God in our nation is a false defense that skirts the issue. How can God not mean God?

Although the constitutionality of the country’s motto has been challenged in court, it has never been found to violate the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment. Courts have viewed the motto, as well as the Pledge of Allegiance’s “one nation under God,” as a form of “ceremonial deism” and therefore protected.

Ceremonial deism basically postulates that there are seemingly religious statements and practices that have been around for so long and have become such an ordinary part of American life, that they’ve lost their religious meaning.

“There’s a strange dance conservatives do when they litigate these things,” says BYU law professor Frederick Gedicks, explaining the arguments that lawyers have used in court to keep God in the pledge and in the motto, on the grounds that, well, God doesn’t exactly mean God in any kind of “religious” way. “Outside of court, though, they infuse it with pretty thick religious meaning.”

Hopefully the Christians of the country push the motto and the issue to the point that it finally becomes obvious that it does actually mean their God that they trust in. This view is not shared by all which breaks down the We they supposedly support. Maybe then we can go back to E Pluribus Unum and bring back “Out of Many, One” and once again give us all something to unite under as a national motto.