The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What threat?

My blog, for some reason, gets very few comments posted, though I certainly would be happy to see more of my readers comment on my posts. One person who has commented in the past uses the pseudonym Asclepius, and he recently posted a comment on my recent post on separation of “church and state.” You can read his entire comment, but the most important point I think to consider in his comment was the following:

So your experience justifies what most Christians would contend: there should be no compulsion to participate in x, y, or z; but at the same time, that acknowledgment should not serve as a threat to those who do wish, in some way, to participate in Christian things, public or otherwise.

I wrote a reply to his comment, but I thought it really ought to be expanded upon, and this post is intended as a follow-up to my reply to Asclepius' comment as well as an extension of the ideas I expressed in my original posting.

I would not challenge Asclepius' statement that “there should be no compulsion to participate in x, y, or z; but at the same time, that acknowledgment should not serve as a threat to those who do wish, in some way, to participate in Christian things,” but I do not see where any such threat exists. In fact, if anything, “those who do wish… to participate in Christian things” are granted more license than necessary. Many public ceremonies begin with an invocation, generally given by a Christian clergyman. Our coinage and currency bears the motto “In God we trust,” which I as a Jew find acceptable, but which offends my atheistic friends. Back when I was in grade school, they added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance; again, I as a Jew have no problem with these words, but my atheistic friends have different thoughts on the matter. We have elected a black President, but we have never elected a Jewish (or Muslim, Hindu, or atheist) President.

Whenever a court has blocked “participat[ion] in Christian things” it has been because these “Christian things” would involve non-Christians as well, and would involve “compulsion to participate in x, y, or z,” which Asclepius admits is undesirable. School prayer, for example, has been abolished, a good thing because even if some students were able to opt out, the peer pressure against “being different” is great in school-age children. Sitting down when everyone in class is standing up (or leaving the room) calls uninvited attention to the child, and this alone serves as “compulsion to participate in x, y, or z.”

So I wonder what Asclepius really meant by his comment. Perhaps he sees some of these things differently from me, but I'd love to see where.

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