Tuesday, August 07, 2007

ACLU Wants Illinois Town to Remove Jesus Signs

From Focus on the Family
As you enter the small town of Alorton, Ill., you'll see two green-and-white billboards that read: "Welcome to The Village of Alorton. Where Jesus is Lord. Randy McCallum Mayor."

As if on cue, the American Civil Liberties Union is objecting. The group says the signs may be unconstitutional, but hasn't determined what action, if any, to take.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said: "If the Supreme Court hadn't erroneously decided at one point that the First Amendment phrase 'Congress shall make no law...' should now include states, municipalities, even schools, we would not be in the position where an organization like the ACLU could roam to and fro across the land, seeking those acknowledgements of God they could devour with their well-oiled machine of intimidation and litigation.
(To read the full story, click here. Does not open in new window; hit back button to return: http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000005186.cfm)

Thank God for the ACLU

In cases like this, I say “Thank God, for the ACLU”. I often don’t say that about the ACLU. I think they often go overboard in protecting us from Christmas nativity decorations in the city park or from kids voluntarily gathering to pray at the flagpole before class. But in this case, they are right. How would you feel if you were a Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, mainline-protestant-liberal-agnostic, or plain ole backslidden Baptist sinner, having your tax money spent to proclaim you live in a town where “Jesus is Lord”.

I assume Mr. Hausknecht, the “judicial analyst” for Focus on the Family has never heard of the 14th Amendment. That pesky little amendment says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” That means that all of those prohibitions that say “Congress shall make no”, also apply to the states and all of their creations.
Unfortunately, FoF is not just some isolated minister complaining about the ACLU. They are a large organizations and an important part of the Religious Right. I am disgruntled that the Religious Right has gained such a stronghold in the Republican Party. I do not think I would want to live in the kind of America people like that they would want for us. I don’t doubt for a minute that we would see the banning of alcohol, R-rated movies, and anything else they consider sinful.

Focus on the Family was started in 1987 by Dr. James Dotson. It focused on things like potty training kids and how to have a happy marriage. The tone of the program was only mildly religious, was non-political, and not at all strident and they produced some good children’s programming. Alone the way however, with the rise of the religious right, Focus became more and more political and now devotes a lot of their “ministry” to promoting “family values”. They have become a powerhouse in the Republican Party and rival Pat Robinson's organization and rivaled the late Jerry Falwell for influence.

I think there was a need for the rise of the religious right. Popular culture’s contempt for mid-American values needed to be countered. Hollywood and the mainstream media acted as though there was only one point of view on the moral issues of the day. The millions of Church-going people in this country had no political voice. We needed organizations that would tell people you do not have to be intimidated by those who would try to prohibit kids from gathering at the flagpole to pray. And, you do not need to be embarrassed that your religious values influence your political values.

Having grown up around fundamentalist Christians, however, in a county that was populated mostly by church-going Baptist and where not even beer could be sold, I have always been concerned that if “real” Christians got too much influence I would not like the kind of America they would want for us. Freedom is often a balancing act between competing forces and from time to time we need to restore the balance. In the case of Alorton, Ill., thank God for the ACLU.

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  1. HI, I foudn you blog from a link on another blog (my|confined|space).

    I am intriguied by some of your posts, in that they seem to be fairly in line with my beliefs. Although this post here brings up a point I was hoping to get your perspective on in more detail.

    The term "family values" and your use of the phrase "Popular culture’s contempt for mid-American values needed to be countered" is unclear to me.

    Could you please list some of these values? I have my own ideas but I wanted to know what you think they mean.

    Also if you could, should you want to of course, elaborate on "Judeo-Christian principles, or values" that I hear so oftened cited (sp) for the foundation on which America was built.



  2. Thanks for reading and commenting Robert. I know that “family values” and “mid-American values” are vague terms, but I think most of us know what they mean when someone uses them. Hard work, responsibility, fidelity, morality, respect, religious faith, and good manners are a major part of what I think is meant by those terms. I think Hollywood and many elites do mock those values. However, I think some on the religious right use the contempt of the elites for “family values” as a means of advancing their own agenda.

  3. Thanks for the fast response!

    When you say Hard work, responsibility, fidelity, morality, respect, religious faith, and good manners , how exactly are those restricted to families...those are individual values that are ascribed to persons, not group units such as families.

    As a person born and raised in a small southern town (population around 5,000 growing up), I think my views are just as legitimate as any other's on what constitutes family values, whether as succinct as those in your list, or not.

    Family values are those that allow people to have a supportive, nurturing, secure environment based on a relationships formed from proximity and frequency of interaction. To me, family values are about caring for someone, keeping them from severe harm, allowing them to make mistakes and learn, loving them as close to unconditionally as possible for humans, teaching them what you know and learning from them what you don't, supporting them (emotionally and financially) when times are bad, and helping them stand on their own two feet when times aren't as bad as they think.

    Family values are about those things, and your list of values certainly are a foundation for them. Your list could also be called American Values, but again, America doesn't own a copyright or exclusive lock on them. People in other countries and cultures have them as well. We didn't invent them and don't have a copyright on them.

    What makes America unique, in my limited education, is our unique combination of democratic political system, capitalist economy, and our heritage/environment as a melting pot of other cultures, ideas, and yes, religions, as well as our Constitutional uniqueness, when compared to other governing documents of other countries.

    Being a gay, Christian, centrist, pragmatic, college-graduate-with-a-BS-in-science (is there a simpler way to say that) transplanted-to-California Southerner, I think I may be a very fair minded thinker.

    Oh, and by the way, since we are defining terms, what the hell is an "Elitist"? Someone who thinks they are better than everyone else? Or someone who is "better" than most everyone (as measured by comparative education, experience, or training) and knows it? Or is it a shortcut way of saying Snob? Or is it someone who thinks they know what everyone else needs to do? Cause it's not just Hollywood "elites" who think they are better than everyone else, or how everyone else should live. I know plenty of rednecks, and church-goers, and beauty queens and corporate CEO's who meet these definitions.

  4. Robert, I think that is a much better definition of family values than mine, but I am not sure those who use the term have such a well thought-out definition. As for "elites" I think of it as more of an attitude than a station in life. If is close to the term “snob”. When I use the term, I think of those academics and media and Hollywood-types who mock and ridicule Middle America. The smirk on their face and tone of voice lets you know they think you are so much wiser than you. They have the “right” opinion on all the issues. The elites thing they are so much wiser and better informed than the rest of us. Those who consider those not living in Washington or NY or LA as hicks in fly-over country are elites. They are also often ‘Limousine liberals’ who think it ok for if they have armed bodyguards but not Ok for average citizens to own a gun or advocate busing for racial balance but send their own children to private schools.