||2017-07-04 10:12:27, 조회 : 606, 추천 : 119
Voting as a Christian
Freedom of Religion
Chapter 7 (Part 2)
Last week, we began our discussion about freedom of religion. We learned that many people misinterpret the meaning of the separation between church and state. Due to this, our society has rejected any religious discourse in public spaces. However, when we examine the way our early presidents (e.g George Washington, Abraham Lincoln) spoke in their public addresses, they often referred to God openly. In fact, their religious beliefs were intertwined in their language use. Therefore, the way church and state is interpreted today is strikingly different than they way it was interpreted before. Today, we will go into more details about religious expression in the public square.
Whenever holiday season is approaching, I often look forward to seeing Christmas displays in my neighborhood. My neighbors elaborately decorate their front yards and put religious and secular decorations to celebrate the holiday. One of my favorite coffee shop, Starbucks, I also look forward to seeing the festive cups that display Christmas decor. However, recently, Starbucks has become the center of attention concerning their cup decorations. In a article, "Starbucks Holiday Red Cup Brews Controversy on Social Media" it talks about the outrage that many people have concerning the "minimalist" approach to the plain red cup. Many people look forward to seeing Christmas themed cups, yet, Starbucks has chose not to partake in it. Why is this? Many people object to Christmas decorations that may assume a religion (Christianity). Due to the backlash, more and more companies are becoming aware of this and attempt to cater to the "general audience" by choosing not to display any religious symbols or decor whatsoever. What do you think about this matter?
Religious expression has become a form of speech that is considered taboo in our society today: many people believe it to be something that one should not speak of in public. This has gone as far as to affect the way our leaders lead the government. For example, in the military the United States divides chaplains into thirds: Protestants, Catholics, and non-Protestant denominations. The government believes that religion does have positive effects on society; however, society deems this as the government having a preference in a religion in general. What kind of right does the government have when concerning religion? The government has the right to provide opportunities to partake in religious activities. In the military, the government is allowed to provide the chaplains for the soldiers. This does not mean that the government is compelling religion on the soldiers but providing an option. Grudem states, the government “gives religious practices in general because the society has concluded that this makes a positive contribution to the work of the military services and therefore to the public good.”
So what about Christmas decorations on public property? We see it in the streets, we see it in federal and state building; it seems that our governments recognizes Christmas as an important holiday. People have shown discontent saying that the government ought not to do this; however, these Christmas decorations aren’t compelling one to become a Christian. What harm can come from this form of free expression? If a Jewish community or a Muslim community were to put decorations for their own holidays, then it shouldn’t be condemned either.
In previous Supreme Court cases, they have not seen this as a form of free expression. The two notably cases, Lynch v Donnelly in 1984 and County of Allegheny v ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter in 1989, examined holiday display in Rhode Island and Pittsburgh. From these two cases, the “Three Reindeer rule” was enacted. The Three Reindeer Rule states that “public display of religious symbols are permissible only when the inclusion of other decorations makes it clear that the government is not endorsing a religious messages. The ADF states, “The ‘Three Reindeer Rule’ used by the courts require a municipality to place a sufficient number of secular objects in close enough proximity to the Christmas item (such as creche) to render the overall display sufficiently secular. Although the overall display must not convey a message endorsing a particular religion's view, Christmas displays are not banned as some people believe.” This shows the same equal opportunity for other religions or “equal access.”
As of recent the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other secular groups have started to commence a series of legal attacks against public display of the Ten Commandments. They call for the “separation of the church and state.” However, people against these arguments have said that the Ten Commandments have been the foundation of law-making in the United States. The Ten Commandments has also served as a piece of history.
Prayer has also become a large topic of discussion in the United States. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for public schools to require or even conduct a form of prayer; However, the statistics have shown that there are high levels of destructive behavior. That this weakened the moral backbone of young children and adults alike. However, this chain of events makes sense, because when children aren't taught that there is a God and when there isn’t a moral code like the Ten Commandments, they won’t grow up with a strong moral backbone. Grudem states that there is no biblical/constitutional teaching that allows the use of prayer or the teaching of God in public schools.
As we see, since there is this siege on religious expression, we have to help with the fight against this anti-religious expression. To show other people that religion is beneficial to a society and to show that there is no problem with giving access to religious activities to people of the community.
1. What do you think about the Starbucks cup controversy? Do you agree with Starbucks? Why or why not?
2. Do you think the government should provide religious opportunities? Why or why not?
3. Do you think there is a correlation between the absence of prayer in schools and the increasing rate of destructive behavior among students? Why or why not?
4. Have you ever felt like your freedom of religion has been violated? If so, please explain.