Thursday, September 15, 2005

Radical Atheistic Fundamentalist Extremism Vs. America

What is it with the American Civil Liberties Union? And Activist Atheists? They've been on a warpath to eradicate the
heritage and
traditions of this country by attacking any reference to it in government. Since when did "Freedom of Religion" turn into "Freedom from Religion"?

In recent times, we've seen The 10 Commandments targeted for removal from court buildings. We've seen a 16 year battle in San Diego to remove the 43-foot Mt. Soledad Cross standing for 90-some years in the center of a veterans memorial. It all began in 1989 when a local atheist brought about a lawsuit, because the cross offended him.

Last year, the ACLU threatened a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, because on the county seal, is a tiny cross representing
the Catholic Missionaries. If you grab your magnifying glass, perhaps you will be able to spot it.. See it there? It's just to the right of that pagan goddess, Pomona who stands smack-dab in the center of the Seal. The presence of the cross was said to be too "unwelcoming".

I heard that the ACLU was contacted by someone who had heard about how Redlands (a city where my family bought a house almost 2 years before I moved out to Los Angeles to go to school at UCLA) was being forced to remove a Latin cross from their city seal because they were threatened by the ACLU after 2 citizens complained in February of last year.
Since then, Redlands has decided to fight the ACLU with a ballot measure.

Similarly, the battle over the Los Angeles County Seal is not yet over, even though 3 of the 5 Board of Supervisors had voted not to fight the ACLU, but elected for the cross removal. There is a petition drive underway to gather signatures to put the issue on the June 2006 ballot.

In June of last year, I answered the call of Dennis Prager to protest in front of LA County Hall. I hate civil disruptions and have never protested anything in my life (that I can immediately recall). But I felt strongly over this; enough to join Mr. Prager, who also isn't used to protest activism. These are pictures from the rally (Dennis Prager in the top picture and me in the bottom one):

There had to have been over 700. I stood outside the whole time, not realizing that we could go inside for the hearing. Dennis Prager was running his radio program during all of this and spoke at the hearing inside. I got to shake hands with him before I left. The next day, I was listening to him lamenting over how the LA Times characterized the protest rally by publishing the worst possible-looking photo: it was from inside the building and people had their hands up and some with eyes closed at the moment the photo was taken. The impression it gives the viewer, is that of a religious revival. Meaning, the protestors were being made to look like religious fanatics; reinforcing the very reason why the Board Supervisors were justified in voting for the cross removal. The real reason why people had their arms going up (didn't you know that photos can lie?) when that photo was snapped, was because Dennis Prager, during his moment at the mic before the Board of Supervisors, kept getting rounds of applause and cheers. The crowd gathered inside was asked not to cheer, as it was disruptive; but instead, to raise their hands to show support if they heard something said that was favorable.

Now, it must be said that I am a non-religious conservative. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself an atheist. Not sure that I'm agnostic. I'm just...kinda out there. Open-minded for possibilities, I hope. My experience at the rally was that there were more than a few religious kooks out there. I guess my sign was fairly unique with one side saying that I was a non-religious conservative. That made me a target for some church invitations as well as compliments and gratitude for being out there. What the opposition needed to know is that there are a lot of people like me, not religious zealots beyond reasoning with, who are against the cross removal, on grounds that it represents cultural heritage and not religious endorsement and exclusion.

September 26th is the deadline for gathering 170,000 signatures on the petition to put the issue on the June 2006 ballot. I think the number gathered so far is at around 75,000. So we need to get the lead out! Practicality-wise, removal of the cross it's estimated, will cost the County $700,000 to update the Seal, from letterheads to placards on city buildings. More importantly, we stand to lose something that will cost this country more than any amount of Benjamins could possibly pay for: a part of our national identity. Slowly, we are eroding a deep part of who we are as a nation, and the cultural and historical Christian value system upon which America is founded upon is being uprooted; it is like cutting out our core.

Isn't it a funny double-standard how when elements of Christianity in the form of a Christmas tree or Christmas card, make their way into public schools, it's offensive and excludes others; but when the 5 Pillars of Islam are taught, it's in the name of multiculturalism and diversity and to promote tolerance and understanding?

Another battlefront being waged is over the Pledge of Allegiance.

It's now 2AM as I write this so I'm going to just refer you to the Cliffs Notes reading:

4 Rows Back

Just a Woman

Freedom Eden

Stop the ACLU


Patriotic Mom

I think, by this point in the post, you know where I stand on this as well. What's next? Changing the names of Los Angeles and Santa Monica? Sacramento? Removal of "In God We Trust" from our currency?

My impression of Newdow is that he's not doing this out of selfless, idealogical motives; he's exploiting Constitutional interpretation to promote his own religious bigotry and to proselytize his own radical brand of secular atheism. He should not be able to take his own personal vendetta against religion, and turn it into a cruasade by cloaking it in the sheepskin of Constitutional framework interpretation.

The following is a "thank you" letter I wrote to Dennis Prager and sent out to the Board Supervisors after the protest rally last year. It doesn't so much address the LA County Seal cross specifically, so much as it expresses how deeply rooted Christian values and influence runs in this country...and in myself, specifically:

Mr. Prager,

I had a great time, demonstrating today at the rally. I'm irked that there hasn't been wider media attention to this. I saw the news tonight, and wish I had gone inside the building. I'm one of the non-Christian, non-religious supporters of keeping the Seal as is. (Look at my signs in the pictures...what do you think? I got a couple of compliments by fellow protestors). The way it sounds, the 3 Board Members seemed hardened by some who might have been bible-thumping their outrage. I would have expressed my opposition to the changing of the Seal from a non-religious background. I didn't realize we'd have an opportunity to speak. Not that I'm good at being an eloquent speaker, but my writing is pretty decent. Here is what I just thought out and wrote down:

My family never took me to church. My mom is Buddhist. My dad grew up Catholic, but is an atheist. I am more open-minded to the possibilities than he is, so I don't call myself atheist. I was a military brat, so I grew up around different parts of the U.S.

My family always had Christmas trees with presents galore under it. My parents let me believe in Santa Claus who always promised to deliver presents to every good boy and girl.....good ol', jolly Saint Nick did not discriminate by not handing out presents to you if you weren't Christian. He is the epitomy of the Spirit of Giving. We gave out and willingly received back Christmas cards. Not Winter Holiday cards, but Christmas cards. We sang Christmas carols with delight, regardless of religious or nonreligious content. Through it all, I learned about Baby Jesus without being preached to that I should "convert or burn in hell". I saw the beauty of Christianity without being threatened by it. Did watching the claymation "Little Drummer Boy" as a small child damage me? No. Did watching Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life make me not feel welcomed to participate in their Christmas spirit and message? No. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has a strong religious presence in it, yet nothing in it offended me. Why should it? I cannot imagine the memory of watching that holy animation each year, during the course of my childhood, stripped from me. It is deeply a part of me as much as Christianity and Judaism is deeply part of who this country is as a nation. The Christmas spirit goes beyond alienating others because it embraces the very essence of true religious beauty: the love of peace and good will to all. The simplicity of that message was what sunk in. The fact that the message was delivered to me in the trappings of religion, doesn't diminish it's universal truth and goodness. I deplore those who would "update" Christmas Vacation to Winter Vacation. The change in name would offend me, because it would eradicate the American Judeo-Christian heritage which is as much a part of my culture as it is of Christian culture. What I love about the Christmas Season is how we, as Americans, have made the Spirit of Christmas accessible and welcoming to even non-Christians. I think the commercial trimmings and trappings are as joyful as the religious meat underneath. It is a national holiday, worthy of every man, woman, and child in this country, regardless of faith; regardless of ethnic culture. It is deeply rooted in American heritage and culture; and you don't pull out those roots in order to plant new cultural seeds from a new generation of immigrants, such as the vast number of wonderful people of Islamic faith. No, you take the best of what Islam has to offer, and naturally, over time, Americans will accept aspects of its rituals and message that we, as a whole society, will accept as universal truths, and adapt as our own. Islam with a distinctly American flavor. If the seeds of Islam gets planted, let it grow naturally, setting its roots over time and over generations, alongside it's sister religions, Judaism and Christianity. What you don't do, is force feed multiculturalism and diversity down our throats at the expense of what already is our American heritage and history of the last 200 years don't uproot and eradicate the very essence of our modern nation....founded upon Judeo-Christian traditions, values, and principles. This is who we are. This is who I am. Again, I remind you that I am no bible-thumping religious fanatic, but am non-religious.....yet I can appreciate the values and goodness of a nation whose foundation is built around Judaism and Christianity. Those values are as much a part of me as the American flag is a part of all Americans, regardless of ethnic and religious differences. Why is tolerance for Islam acceptable while intolerance for Judaism and Christianity promoted?

I understand the separation of Church and State(although, nowhere in the Constitution do I recall seeing this....isn't it "freedom of religion" not "freedom from religion"?)...but what the ACLU is doing goes far beyond this. How can you promote tolerance and understanding at the same time that you are demonstrating intolerance and non-understanding? Those who immigrate here might not feel comfortable speaking English, as it might not be their native tongue; does that mean we should be more welcoming by slowly legislating the erosion of the English language? What will be left of us?

Let's celebrate multiculturalism.....yes, let's celebrate first, celebrating the culture we have already developed, built upon a foundation of Judeo-Christian heritage and values.

Dennis, I know I didn't address the cross specifically on the Seal, but I was just brainstorming my feelings here, and this is the larger issue of what's at stake. Let me know what you think, if you have the time, and any recommendations on who to send it to. Of the five board members I wrote in to, last Wednesday after listening to your show, only Board Supervisor Don Knabe's office replied back. This letter is more thought out and impassioned.

[/end letter]

Since when is it a God-given Constitutional right not to be offended by anything, anyway?

The ACLU bugs the holy hell out of me, and that's all I have left to say on the matter tonight.

God bless America!

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Blogger John said...

excellent job. Thank you for the links. Would you be interested in exchanging links on sidebars?

Thursday, September 15, 2005 4:13:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

You're way ahead of me! I was just figuring out where to place you.

Done! How about a Crusadist?

Thursday, September 15, 2005 6:19:00 AM  
Blogger Kat said...


Thursday, September 15, 2005 6:43:00 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Very good post. Sign me up for the next one. Hey, brother, we need to get together and have lunch or something sometime. How far are you from Victorville, CA? I live at Fort Irwin, but most people don't know where that is.

Anyway,this whole thing is absurd.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 8:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Very good post, Wordsmith, it puts mine to shame.

You're pretty cool for a

Thursday, September 15, 2005 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks Mark and Kat.

CJ, that is quite an offer and would be quite an honor to sit with a man of your calibre.

Victorville's out toward Bakersfield, isn't it? I think I'd be closer if I still lived in Redlands (we had a house there because my Dad was in charge of the ballistics missle system out in Norton AFB, back in the late 80's), but I'm out here in Santa Monica/Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela Reece said...

Excellent post!!! We share a lot in terms of upbringing. I, myself, of am no particular "religion" either. I would have to call myself a spiritual person. I don't take my children to an organized church but teach them the laws of God, as I see them, and to respect all religions.

As far as the ACLU... they can blow it out their ass! Thanks for all that you do and sharing your story. I have great respect for those who stand up for what they believe. Your sign rocked!

Keep on rockin' in the free world,


Thursday, September 15, 2005 1:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

My brother used to be stationed at George AFB near Victorville.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

What a great post, Wordsmith!

The bottom line is tolerance.

This religious cleansing that the ACLU is bent on doing drives me nuts.

I loved your letter!

Thursday, September 15, 2005 9:50:00 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Fort Irwin is actually closer to Barstow, which is halfway between Vegas and LA on I-15. LA is about 3 hours from here, Victorville is one hour away.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 7:53:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Barstow! That's what I meant; not Bakersfield. It's been around 15 years since I've been out toward the Inland empire area....San Bernardino. I've been to Victorville once.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 10:23:00 PM  

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