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June 28, 2006

Dear Concerned Citizen,

by Dinesh D'Souza

side bar side bar side bar side bar side bar The recent Supreme Court cases involving displays of the Ten Commandments in Texas and Kentucky produced confusing results. The Texas display was upheld and the Kentucky display was rejected. Essentially Texas was successful, and Kentucky not successful, in convincing the court that its particular Ten Commandments monument was not religious. Leave aside the peculiarity of trying to prove that the commandments that Moses brought down from the mountain, having received them directly from God, are not religious. The disheartening message of both cases, indeed of First Amendment jurisprudence, is that religious displays can only survive constitutional scrutiny if they are proven not to be religious at all.

Champions of our current regime of strict separation of church and state like to say they are merely applying Jefferson’s high “wall of separation” between religion and government. Actually, Jefferson during his presidency did not maintain such a wall, and from the founding period through World War II there were numerous forms of government subsidy for religion, publicly funded chaplains, congressionally-designated religious holidays, prayer in public schools, and so on. It seems far-fetched for today’s church-state separatists to argue that the religion clause of the Constitution was misunderstood by everyone, including the founders, for a century and a half before it was accurately comprehended by today’s activists and jurists.

But this is not my concern here. What interests me is the claim that the “wall of separation” that we have today protects religion from government interference no less than it protects government from religious interference. Indeed the Supreme Court in its rulings always goes out of its way to stress that it is being fair to all citizens, and is not hostile to religious people or to their religious beliefs. This claim can be tested by examining the two religion clauses of the First Amendment: the “no establishment” clause and the “free exercise” clause. The former prevents the government from establishing religion, and the latter prevents the government from restricting the free exercise of religion.

Since the term “religion” is invoked twice in the same sentence, it must mean the same thing in both cases. Let us focus for a moment on the free exercise clause and ask: does it protect the free exercise of religion, or does it also protect the free exercise of Secularism and unbelief? Advocates of separation of church and state are unanimous: it protects the exercise of unbelief as well as belief. The ACLU declares on its website, “The right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.” Columnist Wendy Kaminer writes in The American Prospect, “Religious freedom is not simply the freedom to worship as you choose; it includes as well the freedom not to worship.” And this is what the Supreme Court has held.

Now consider the no-establishment clause and ask yourself the same question. Does it prohibit the government from establishing religion, or does it also prohibit the establishment of Secularism and unbelief? Advocates of separation of church and state are unanimous: it prohibits only the establishment of religion. In their view, government can endorse and fund any kind of secular or non-religious activity or expression, and this is allowed by the Constitution, but if government endorses or funds religious belief or activity, this is emphatically forbidden by the Constitution. Once again, this view has been adopted by the Supreme Court.

So we have an untenable situation in which the same term “religion” is given two very different meanings in the same sentence! Clearly advocates of church-state separation have construed the religion clause of the Bill of Rights in such a way as to protect Secularism as much as possible while restricting religion as much as possible. Incredibly the advocates of this double-standard seek to convince religious people that their derogation of religion actually works to the benefit of religion. In reality, there is no impartiality here, let alone sympathy for religion. Groups like the ACLU, with the acquiescence if not collusion of the courts, are actively promoting a jurisprudence of anti-religious discrimination. In a way the Supreme Court has distorted the Constitution to make religious believers of all faiths into second-class citizens.

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Response to Ann Coulter's Boo Boo:

I am writing this in response to your article. I've read Ann Coulter's book, and I must say that yes, it is gritty, but she makes many very valid points, and ones that for the most part I agree with. She never said that God was a Republican. Your article had the flavor of being offended by her assertions. You must be voting as a Democrat? Or you are steeped in the public school system. The points she makes in her book make it quite clear that the platform that the Democrats support are very anti-God. I can not in good conscience ever vote to support any Democrat that lines him or herself with the pro-death, anti-Christian bias's they espouse. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, flies like a duck, swims like a duck, and has all the behaviors of a duck, Guess what It's a duck. If Democrats want to be seen as the great benevolent group of people that theythink they are, they had better start looking at the precepts of the Bible and understanding that they are not in line with it...... AT ALL. Sincerely - Babette Stevens

Hello folks. Appreciate your newsletter...it's so unpredictable. Your writers call 'em the way they see 'em, and it's refreshing! I don't agree with everything, but I'm challenged to see things a different way. The problem with so many other journals and publications is that the source already dictates what you're going to read. You seem to be willing to print material from many perspectives. Keep it up. Oh, and I'm patiently waiting for the conclusion of the Creation series. Hopefully soon ?? - Darryl Klassen

Editor's note:  Thanks for the suggestion!  We'll run Genesis Project 5th Day next week.

Though your definition of CLASSICAL LIBERALISM may be accurate, what Ann defines in her book is MUCH closer to liberalism in America today. I agree there are Christians within the Democratic Party, but very few, if any, would buy into the liberalism that PREACHES free choice for killing the unborn AFTER the free choice of sex. Serial killers have the same FREE CHOICE to kill. But if caught, they must suffer CONSEQUENCES and take responsibility for their FREE CHOICE. Liberalism is much closer to a religion than an ideology or political position. If it was just one idea among many, why do LIBERALS fight so hard if someone doesn’t PREACH their message in public schools or hold to their BELIEFS (very much a religious term)? If they thought their ideal was best, they would want it taught side by side with other beliefs. But instead, the PREACH a DOGMATIC message and at whatever cost seek to suppress differing views. Ann may have used the SHOCK FACTOR to get people’s attention, but sometimes that is what it takes to get subjects such as this brought into the light. - E. H.

I have heard others express the opinion that there are genuine believers who are also liberal or democrat. I'm just wondering how those "genuine believers", who presumably believe the same word of God that I do, justify their support (by default) of homosexual "marriage", abortion, and the relentless attack on the moral fiber of this nation? Perhaps historic liberalism had it's place in the liberation of those in bondage, but one is forced to question if today's version is the same. If not, then is your evaluation of "Godless" appropriate? Respectfully, - Dan

Thanks for educating us on your academic definition of liberalism. You go ahead and hold onto that. The rest of America knows what we mean- and Ann Coulter is right. You stated that many liberals are devout Christians! Give me a break. The last thing America needs is a supposedly Christian publication defending liberalism in America. If you can't do better than this, get off my computer. - B. R.

So you're saying that the hateful, malicious things Ms Coulter said about those widows was correct? I'm putting your web site on my "blocked senders" list. - G.

Coulter for president! - R. B.

I am a RIGHT winger and would appreciate you taking me off of the email list. thanks. - T. F.

In "Ann Coulter's Boo Boo" you state: "Classical liberalism holds that an individual's liberty is the primary political value. This liberty must be protected from the tendency of power to accumulate around heads of state, hereditary status, and established religion.Liberalism's patron saint is William of Ockham. A 13th century Franciscan monk and Oxford academic, Ockham based his notions of natural and inalienable rights on the perfect liberty of the gospels. He believed that institutional authority must be limited to in order to protect these rights." Ockham's liberalism was the "liberation" of the common man from the tyranny of the superior elite. However, contemporary American political "liberalism" is, and yields, the opposite of "classical European liberalism stated above. The contemporary American liberal wants the State to do everything for the individual, to free him so he can enjoy his rights - his entitlements. On the other hand, American conservatism wants the State to do only what is necessary for the State to do so that the individual enjoys his freedom - including freedom from the State. We must realize each law - each dictation of the State - requires the relinquishing of an element of individual sovereignty. Each specific relinquishing may not seem important. However, we forget, the integration of all of the elements of sovereignty that has been relinquished, now adds up to a big chunk of individual sovereignty - individual freedom. In my humble opinion, if Ockham was an American today and still retained his 13th century values, he would be, whether a Republican or Democrat, a conservative. With respect to the religious aspects of politics, or "Secularism", or whatever we call it, the issue of separating Church and State as expressed by our Founding Fathers is - simply - The Church shall not control the State, nor shall the State control the Church. This separation was a departure from Church and State of England. The King was the Head of Church of England, hence the Church and State could not be separate. The separation of Church and State had nothing to do with religious expressions. Contemporary Church and State issues would be better understood if we thought in terms of worldviews rather than religion. One's worldview necessitates the practicing of one's religion in his daily life. Those who insist we must eradicate "God" from all State expressions, are imposing their "religion" upon all of the rest of us. In reality, they are trying to subordinate the State to observe their religion, and they do so with more fervent and narrow minded zeal than that of which they accuse the rest of us. Anyhow, I hope Ann makes a lot more boo boos, and gets a lot more of tothesource's attention - for or against. Thanks for tothesource. - Dan Kazarian

Ladies/Gentlemen: I think thee doth protest too much. You accuse Coulter of confusing liberalism with secularism. You fail by substituting the classical definition of liberalism for the current political philosophy of liberalism, which seeks to excise God and godliness from society. To use your labels, modern-day liberals are secularists. It matters not one whit if some who proclaim liberalism also profess theism of some sort. If someone claims to be a Christian or Jew (I'll leave the Mohammedans and other heathens to their own devices), but will defend the evils of abortion, homosexuality, state theft of private property for politicians' personal agrandizement, etc., they are liars, showing they profess that which they don't possess. The leaders of a movement define that movement, and the leaders of liberalism exalt individuals' choices over righteousness and the state over the individual except when the individual wants to make evil choices. And Ann documents that extremely well in attention-getting ways. Some are just too uncomfortable with someone calling a spade a spade and letting the chips fall where they may. Blessings and Peace, - Keith R. Snyder Pastor, Copper Country Church of the Nazarene

Slander of anyone, on the right or the left of the political spectrum is sinful. - P. N.

Seems to me Ann is RIGHT ON. It is all you bleeding heart liberals who are not concerned about the welfare of the citizens of the United States. Only your own selfish agendas!!!!! Maybe it would serve you well in actually listening to what she is saying and STOP being so ANTI-AMERICAN!!! Tothesource is NOT THE SOURCE. - Carl E. Gideon Jr.

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We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

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Dinesh D'Souza   Dinesh D'Souza
Dinesh D'Souza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, served as senior domestic policy analyst in the White House in 1987-1988. He is the best-selling author of Illiberal Education, The End of Racism, Ronald Reagan, The Virtue of Prosperity, and What's So Great About America. He is the designated expert on current American culture for tothesource.
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