Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why we whisper

In a post at the First Things blog, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Dr. J. David Woodard talk about legal intimidation as a tactic that is used to promote and spread secularism.
On August 31, 2007, the president of Clemson University opened a letter from the South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that read, “Coach [Tommy] Bowden . . . has abused his authority as . . . head football coach by imposing his strong personal religious beliefs upon student-athletes under his charge.” In published reports, cited in the letter, the coach encouraged his players to attend one church service as a team during the two-a-day practices each preseason.

Even though “Church Day” was voluntary, and those who declined to attend suffered no penalty on or off the field, the ACLU urged the university president to end the practice of Coach Bowden taking his team to church. This practice of legal intimidation, directed at both individuals and organizations who affirm traditional values, we label as SLAPP, for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” The ACLU ploy is not new; it invokes the requirement of “pluralism” to secure submission to the doctrine of a secular, naked public square. Anything religious, especially if it is associated with the religion with which nine of ten Americans identify, must be denied public salience. The free exercise of religion becomes synonymous with “theocracy,” and its practice declared to be a threat to democracy and the public order.


Mac said...

I'm with the ACLU on a lot of issues -- would that have put me on President Nixon's enemies list? -- but by no means all, and they are surely getting their knickers in twist over the wrong issue here. There are innumerable accounts of mandatory Church Parade in the British Army during World War II having been a groaningly boring exercise for the non-religiously inclined and surely, therefore, vastly counter-productive in many instances. And by the same token, Joe Schlesinger recalls sheer delight in such exercises when he was among the Jewish children rescued from Czechoslovakia in the Kindertransport and they were placed in English boarding schools: Schlesinger's recollection of cheerful Anglican hymns and kindly country parsons is, he says, one of the essential elements of his fervent anglophilia. But it didn't make a Christian of him, and I am sceptical as to whether the football coach will make observant ones of his players by instituting a comparable institution to Army (and for that matter my own Wolf Cubs' and Boy Scouts') church parade.

The ACLU needs to find itself another hobbyhorse, methinks.

Gashwin said...

I'm with the ACLU on things too. It's stuff like this that seems to confirm the widespread perception among conservative Christians especially that the ACLU is largely anti-religion, and especially, anti-Christian.