Virginia prayer case is reversed / Wiccan in Chesterfield loses

Discussion in 'Political Discussions' started by Charles, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. Charles

    Charles New Member
  2. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    Nasty question, this. Had I been on the Court, I might well have said that the government either had to allow the witch to pray or have no prayers at all.

    It DOES smell like a violation of the anti-establishment clause.

    I wonder if the witch will file a petitoin for certiorari.

    Does CONGRESS allow a witch to give its benediction, I wonder?
  3. aic712

    aic712 Member

    I heard about this, and honestly, that lady is a complete nut. She used to speak at Longwood when I was down there, I wouldn't want her praying before anything, much less speaking in public.

    I know she has legal rights and all, this is just a personal opinion.
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    The opinion is interesting. It says essentially two things:

    -legislative invocations are a special area of law that does not generally trigger anti-establishment analysis so long as the invocation doesn't proselytize for any particular religion (don't mention Jesus, in other words), and

    -the purpose of a legislative invocation is to contribute to unity and minimize divisiveness. The witch's invocation would divide, not unite, the legislature and the community.

    Well! That sounds awfully majoritarian to ME. Apparently Judaism is but wicca is not, a part of the American "Civil Religion".
  5. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Or a grandoin.

    If spaces are to be occupied then lines must be drawn. The no-space option would in this case be no prayer.

    A problem with government, or any commons, is the inevitable and contradictory demands for inclusion and limitation. Nothing, (Yellowstone Park, for instance) can accomodate all so the question becomes who is to be excluded and on what basis they are to be excluded.

    If Chesterfield County must choose between accepting every religious representative or having no religious representation then must it also accept every political representative or no political representatives? Nazis?
  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    Yours was a remarkably perceptive post. The Supreme Court DOES allow the kind of line drawing you describe in this particular area. It does not allow such content based lines to be drawn in political speech, though.

    I confess that I am not altogether comfortable with the opinion in this case, but it DOES follow precedent.
  7. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Well, if that is the case, precedent is wrong! And it must be overturned by enlightened justices! Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    Wall of separation doctrine: Nobody prays, period! No preference doctrine: Every religious tradition gets to have their representative pray! And, oh, the joys of reconciling the non-establishment clause with the free-exercise!

    Let the fun begin!
  8. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    I'll defer to the far more legally able but I think you err in extending US Congressional proscriptions to State or local jurisdictions.

    OTOH, it seems there is a supra-legislative principle involved that does apply to all levels of government activity.
  9. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Religion is not really my bag but as a libertarian-minded fellow I ponder the problem of dealing with 'commons' or, as this fellow put it, the "tragedy of the commons." I haven't read his books but have read about them and get the general idea.

    But where he speaks of the commons of the natural world (air, water bodies, land) I think as well of construct commons, i.e., government. That which is of all, hence none, and in control of caretakers cum masters.

    I take your word that the SCOTUS does not allow restricting political speech in general but what of in the venue of a Board of Supervisors meeting? I'm sure that showing up in SS regalia would get someone the boot. Gee...that's almost a pun.
  10. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    SS Regalia?

    Well, in fact, there is NO QUESTION that such "demonstrative" political speech IS protected. In fact, if you want to publish the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", that's protected, too. Basically any speech of a political nature is protected as to CONTENT. Now, if you want to have a parade of goose stepping neo Nazis down Fifth Avenue in New York, you WILL be subject to so-called "time, place, and manner" regulations but in the end, the permit MUST issue.

    Weird, in a way. In Germany, such "speech" would NOT be permitted today.

    From time to time, various Jewish organizations have contemplated taking some sort of collective legal action for defamation of charactor against America's more prominent Jew-baiters. I don't know if it would succeed. Libel requires a demonstration of damages. Here in the U.S., Jews occasionally suffer verbal attack but in general enjoy the same political and economic rights as everyone else as well as, for the most part, social equality.

    Such acts as vandalism of synagogue buildings and desecration of graveyards are actively prosecuted by local police and usually condemned by local Christian leaders.

    Hard to say that we've been hurt, in other words.
  11. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Waffen SS.

    Last I knew that was for sale by street vendors all over NYC.

    NYC ain't Skokie. Suicidal.

    Stupid, stupid and stupid, IMO. Some see the US First Amendment as a thing of principle while others see in it as well a silent genius. Air hate speech and it dissipates. Suppress hate speech and it festers and builds. If, that is, government is not behind the hate speech.

    I think that should be dealt with as destruction of property. Can I make a distinction between intent and motivation? If so then I would allow consideration of intent but not motivation. IOW, prosecute the crime for what it is and not on some divination of bias.

    Hurt in ways particular but not much in a systematic way. The same is true of other groups in the US.
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    How can religious invocations be restricted to a single historical tradition, without thereby establishing and in effect proselytizing for that particular tradition?

    I think that if the courts are going to start approving the exclusion of minorities in order to promote greater solidarity among the majority, then we might have a serious problem on our hands.

    At least for now.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2005
  13. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    Nosborne48: "Apparently Judaism is...a part of the American "Civil Religion".

    BillDayson: "At least for now."


    Good point, Bill.

    I sometimes get the uneasy feeling that the world is now turned back to 1900 again, and we're inching towards the Second Holocaust; anti-semitism is on the rise in the U.S., and not just among the nuts in jack boots; it's quietly gaining acceptance among intellectuals who hide behind pro-Palestinian appeals and appeals to "diversity". Look at the climate at Columbia University and tell me there's not a growing acceptance of antisemitism in the Ivory Towers. I don't know what they'll do with Messianics like me and my family, probably kill us twice over because we're children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and believers in Christ.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2005
  14. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Anti-semitism may be on the rise in, or more acceptably revealed in, Quackademia but it is not as prevalent in the general population as it was fifty years ago.
  15. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    I think you're right, there are less "Jew-haters" in the U.S. now vis-a-vis 1935 or 1955 and that's good, but there are a growing number of vaguely antisemitic academics instructing our children and young adults, teaching them that radical antisemitic Islamists need to be understood and appeased and that the terror from the Palestinians must be seen as comparable with the actions of the Israelis. The MS media seems to be veering this direction as well.

    It really impresses me as not much different from the rumblings in academia and in the middle and upper classes in Germany around the turn of the Twentieth Century, with Nietzche and Wagner held in such regard. Hitler and his band of misfits would never have come to power without the support of many in the academies, antisemitism was rampant, Hitler merely parroted what filtered down.
  16. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Few things ruffle my feathers more, or faster, than antisemitism; so please consider what I'm about to write -- you and nosborne48, both... and both of whom I respect very much, I should add -- as nothing even close to being inherently or inadvertently antisemitic...

    I think it's inescapably true that "radical, antisemitic Islamists need to be understood." Just generally. Appeased? Of course not. Their acts of terror seen as comparable with the actions of Israelis? No... but, that said, figuring out preciselly why they think they are would be an important -- ne, essential -- part of the aforementioned understanding, generally.

    This world hasn't a prayer of reducing or eliminating terrorism, or of bringing peace to that part of the planet, until and/or unless people start both listening and understanding. It sounds simplistic, I realize, but until both sides in that ancient conflict abandon their intransigence and ask themselves, "Okay... what about how our enemy feels have we somehow missed? And what can both of us do to figure that out?" and then dare to actually begin the necessary give-and-take based on what they learn so that some kind of peace and harmony could finally flow across the land, this will never end. Ever.

    Calling for Jews to seek necessary and appropriate understanding does not an antisemite make... not even vaguely. Condoning the acts of Palestinian terrorists because they're misunderstood almost certainly does. But in either case, the subleties and complexities of the situation make it a dangerous -- perhaps even irresponsible -- thing to broadly generalize that all academics who dare to offer up other ways of looking at the situation which may call upon Israelis to think outside the box are, therefore, antisemites. It doesn't require a particularly careful reading of history to see that there's enough terror to go around on both sides. Trying to justify that terror, regardless of the side from which it came, is always wrong. Always. Trying to understand it, on the other hand -- and I mean really and truly understand it... and then, perhaps, to empathize -- is the very least that everyone involved should be doing. Everyone.

    Those who suggest that there are two sides to the story; and that neither side's hands are clean, should not have to endure being thought of as antisemitic just because they dared to think and express boldly and/or unconventionally.

    That said, when unambiguous antisemitism is clearly in play -- including and, perhaps, especially in academia -- those in witness should never dance around it and fail to call it precisely the abomination that it truly is.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2005
  17. Deb

    Deb New Member

    I don't know where you live but I live in redneck central, rural Florida. The good 'ol boys around here hate anyone who isn't a proper God-fearing, white Christian. That includes just about everyone else. Yes, we still have cross burnings, temples being sprayed with vuglar statements and migrant farmworkers being beaten. It might be better other places but there are still places with plenty of prejudice and hate.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    little fauss:

    True, true! The Jew haters will kill you for part of your faith and the Jews will reject you because you are a Christian (and therefore seen, emotionally at least, as a traitor to Beit Israel if Jewish by birth or, if not, just another Christian and therefore not to be trusted)

    Actually, to digress just a bit, defining Judaism is a non trivial task. Keep in mind that pre rabbinic Judaism was a very different set of practices (though a unified belief, IMHO) than rabbininc Judaism.

    Liberal American Judaism takes forms that bear certain cultural and familial resemblences to pre Enlightenment Jewish practice but really are so much a variance in belief as to seem like different faiths. Yet few indeed are those rabbis who would deny that an American Reconstructionist or even atheist Marxist is yet a Jew. (And when someone DOES try to make such a statement, there is an explosion of indignation from the entire spectrum of Jews)

    One author at least threw up his hands and declared that "Judaism is whatever Jews do in the name of religion". I forget who it was that said that.

    And, of course, neither FAITH nor OBSERVANCE makes, or unmakes, a Jew. Never have done. On this point all branches of Judaism agree, as does to a large extent the Government of Israel. A Jew CANNOT leave off being Jewish and a non Jew cannot become Jewish by a mere self declaration or act of will, as is possible in Islam. (Under the Law of Return, a Jew who formally converts to a foreign religion such as Christianity loses his automatic Right of Return).

    Soooo...isn't a Messianic Jew a Jew nevertheless?

    On a strictly legal analysis, the answer has to be yes. A Jew who becomes a Christian is unquestionably and everywhere subject to being excluded from the Jewish community but he does not cease to be a Jew. He is termed "apostate", the Hebrew for which escapes me at the moment. "Herem"? Is that it?

    However, though still Jewish, he cannot participate in the life of the Jewish community without undergoing some sort of official legal and ritual process, usually pretty extensive and not quick.

    To make things REALLY confusing, there is a "prayer" (it's really a legal declaration) at the beginning of evening services for the Day of Atonement that states that any Jew, whatever edict may have been entered against him by any Court, may join the community for that evening and the following Day.

    This formula, I am delighted to say, appears in the Reform Machzor but, I regret to say, is very badly translated in that volume. They make it into a kind of feel-good phrase, like "no matter how far some of us may have strayed..." How I HATE that kind of cr*p.

    So if a Messianic Jew shows up for Kol Nidre, he should be allowed to participate.

    I'm wandering again. Sorry.
  19. little fauss

    little fauss New Member

    I don't think we necessarily disagree. I think it does one good to understand one's enemy, even to try and see their perspective-- although this has limits, ask Mr. Chamberlain and Monsieur Daladier how far it got them with a certain Western European antisemite who islamic extremists now seem determined to emulate. I used "understanding" more as a term of art, as it's used among intellectuals where it's code for "acceptance without judgment". And let us not fool ourselves, that's precisely how they typically mean it.

    I also don't mean to broad-brush nor to say that all professors who suggest that Israelis might have a mote in their eyes--to quote a well-known Jewish prohphet--are ipso facto antisemitic. I certainly don't think the Israelis are perfect by any means, now or back through antiquity--nor is such implied in the Torah, the Scriptures or the Prophets (certainly not the prophets!)

    All I'm saying is that there's something different going on here, something disturbing beneath the surface behind a lot of reasonable-sounding calls for "understanding" and "diversity" that just seems like antisemitism repackaged. I do not need to "understand" Islamic extremists who wish that Israel were thrown into the Mediterranean to realize that they must be stopped.
  20. little fauss

    little fauss New Member


    I understand your point regarding Judaism as it's come to be understood, but if one looks at Torah, it's hard to believe that blood or heritage or birth was sine qua non for being a Jew, or at least a follower of YHWH.

    Didn't Moses say that the strangers among them were to be accepted as one of the chosen people if circumcised and voluntarily observant of the Law? What of Rachav the pagan prostitute who was taken in by the Jews for risking her life and betraying Jericho? Doesn't the Talmud say that she later married Joshua? Certainly she bacame a part of G-D's chosen people!

    Are you looking forward to the Seder? I can't wait.

Share This Page