Monday, April 14, 2008

Topic about Frankenmuth, MI. from The Religion Clause blog

Sunday, April 13, 2008
Frankenmuth, Michigan In Church-State Controversy

Another city, this time Frankenmuth, Michigan, finds itself in the midst of a church-state battle. After city resident Lloyd C. Clarke argued that they violate the Establishment Clause, Frankenmuth removed two 1-foot tall crosses from its Main Street bridge. Clarke is also considering challenging a cross that appears on
Frankenmuth's city shield. That cross is part of a symbol of Lutheranism called the Luther Rose. (Saginaw News, Apr. 9). In response to all of this, three churches in the city have offered to make 1,000 3-foot wooden crosses for members to display at their homes and businesses. Clarke says he thinks that is completely appropriate. Another Frankenmuth group plans to sell shield pins with yellow ribbons that residents can wear. (Saginaw News, Apr. 11). Frankenmuth attracts over 2 million tourists annually to a year-round retail store, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, that sells Christmas decorations and Christmas-themed items.

Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 1:42 AM


7 comments:


Barb said...

Clarke needs to take a vacation. Find a worthy cause like helping the poor.

Frankenmuth is known for its Lutheran and German roots --and Christmas emphasis. Does Clarke want all the cities to look alike, bearing no remnants of the religious heritage of the first founders of the American towns?

All our so-called "church-state violations" in city seals, on public buildings, in public ceremonies, etc. should be retained as part of our diverse American history which ichincludes religious diversity as well. Good traditions are just that: good traditions. Christmas and Easter are two of those traditions --public prayers --town seals that reflect the original purpose and faith of founders.

If we go to Salt Lake City, we expect to see remnants of the Mormon religion of the settlers there.

Same with Frankenmuth.

Calm down, Lloyd, and ask yourself what your real purpose is here in insisting on constitutional "purity" that would try to revise history.
Sun Apr 13, 03:18:00 PM EDT

Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the tradition/heritage defense. I realize these are not in the same category but you wouldn't advocate keeping images of slaves on the Seals in the South would you? That was traditional at one time.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, tradition is a lousy justification for anything.

Having said that, suing to take it off the Seal might be going a bit far. It would be nice however if the good people of Frankenmuth said to themselves, "You know, this might be a problem. Maybe we should put together a committee and see if we can't come up with a really nice Seal that includes everyone." I'm sure they could if they put their minds to it.

Instead, people get all defensive and insulted and hurt, etc., and I ain't talking about the Atheist here.

-American Atheist
Sun Apr 13, 06:57:00 PM EDT

Barb said...

But it IS the atheist that wants the town to change to suit him --and HIS feelings/sensitivities.

They already tampered with the seal of Zion, Il --which the Christians founders thought of as a Zion:


" A place or religious community regarded as sacredly devoted to God.
An idealized, harmonious community; utopia"

Cities do not want to pay what it takes to defend the symbols of their religious history and heritage, so they cave to the hyper-sensitivies of the atheistic minority. Haven't you atheists got something better to do than wipe out the vestiges of the past which really were NOT offensive to the people when they settled the town --and shouldn't be since?

Racist elements should only be preserved to prove that we DO have a racist history. Not as a heritage we are proud of. E.G. preserving a slave ship, as they have done.
Sun Apr 13, 09:52:00 PM EDT

Anonymous said...

Maybe we Atheists should follow our Christian brethren's good example in how to spend our time wisely. Sign me up to help make one of those 1,000 three-foot high crosses they're putting together in protest. That would be a much better use of our Atheist time instead of educating ourselves about the fundamental importance of the separation of church and state or standing up for our rights and stuff.

Personally, I vote with you Barb that the Seal should be preserved to prove to future generations that we do have a religious history. But, like the slavery allusion, not something to be proud of.

I say, move on to a new Seal.

-American Atheist
Sun Apr 13, 11:44:00 PM EDT

Barb said...

There is nothing to be ashamed about in a religious heritage. You show some bigotry toward most of our forefathers here by your view. Much that is good about the USA is because of that Christian heritage informing our view of civil rights.

It is Christianity that ultimately inspired the idea of the equality of man--because Jesus had died for all --and Paul said we were all one in Christ Jesus --and Jesus said we were all sinners --all needing repentance --and he elevated the poor, the lame, the halt and the blind --saying they should be invited to the banquet feast of the bridegroom --to the Church as the Bride of Christ. Jesus emphasized the importance of compassion for all people --and identified Himself with the poor, the widow, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner.

REal Bible study leads to the conclusion that "There is no male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free in Christ Jesus" --but all equal in value.

and the Ten Commandments suggest equal rights for all, the right to property, and the value of justice, honesty, marital fidelity, honoring parents, etc.

It was this foundation that made America the best.
Mon Apr 14, 02:00:00 AM EDT

CrypticLife said...

Does Clarke want all the cities to look alike, bearing no remnants of the religious heritage of the first founders of the American towns?

Actually, no. He approves of the 1,000 crosses. At least that's what the summary indicates.

Barb, intentionally misrepresenting your opponent's position is offensive.

The idea that a seal representing a town should not include elements directly antithetical to a substantial portion of the population is not "bigotry". Essentially, Barb, by supporting these elements you're saying that Americans should be religious. While you have the right to say that as a personal matter, having the government say it is wrong.

You complain fairly regularly about "victims" of the ACLU caving because they simply don't have the resources to fight state-church battles. You do realize, you presume those are battles worth fighting? Like many of your fellow theists, you presume it's important to fight tooth and nail to preserve government-supported religion, and that's why these things ever get to the point of lawsuits in the first place?

You claim that atheists want to eliminate all displays of religion in public. This cannot be honestly be said to be a general position of atheists. Let me ask you, though -- what is the goal of theists? What would Christians do, given unlimited power to shape society as they see fit?

You've given us a taste of it, of course. Outlawing sodomy and homosexuality would be a start, apparently. Clearly you want prayer re-instituted in schools as well, so my kids would be taught prayers ("volutarily"? You should probably admit there'd be little voluntary about it) and probably have a Bible course. Would atheists be allowed to testify in court? Be judges (Bush has said they should not be)? Hold office? I would think a resurgence of Christian dominionism would lead to all of these things being prohibited. Christians have shown no reluctance to use symbology to argue for principles, so it's not just "feelings" that concerns atheists here. People use God in the Pledge and motto not only to recognize tradition, but also to claim that atheists are not American. The Bible does not teach that all are equal. It specifically segregates people based on religious belief.
Mon Apr 14, 11:43:00 AM EDT

Barb said...

Sodomy and homosex were already outlawed --though tolerated in the closet. I asked for no change in cultural morals --the liberals and the atheists and the homosexuals are doing that. I'm resisting change --not advocating it.

Since the beginning of the nation, prayer was a feature of public life --and public school was established to teach reading so people wouldn't be ignorant of the Bible and tyrannized by wrong use and deliberate mis-interpretations of it by leaders -- and schools were established for teaching of religion (NW ordinance) --not enough to proselytize or make anyone devout or members of any one group--just enough to acknowledge the same Supreme Being, Divine Providence, our Creator-God, that Congress, the Supreme court and the Continental congress and many presidents acknowledged through the years --as evidenced on the walls and in the artwork and in the speeches and writings of early america --because, silly them,they believed there really was a supreme being who said, "In all thy ways acknowledge me, and I will direct your paths." The believers thought this was important to do --the non-believers didn't really care; it didn't bother them --no one was making them believe anything.

The Constitution's establishment clause was about not having a church state like Roman Catholicism of Italy and many other nations--and Anglican church in England --and Cromwell's PUritans there --and Lutherans in Germany, etc.--because all of these tended to persecute the other churches --not being into Biblical love teachings, evidently.

You say I mischaracterize this man's intentions --saying he wants all communities to seem alike, devoid of their historical religious origins --I'm saying that's the effect of what he wants. I really believe he wants no evidence in the city of the religious roots that motivated this city's founding --that characterized this city's history. He wants no reminders that this city's people came together as a religious community.

So he SAYS, "FINE, put the crosses in your yards." But he wouldn't REALLY like that either--because it is a defiant act against his actions.

He is asking the town to conform to his sensitivities as an atheist with a strict application of the establishment clause, and he can use the establishment clause to do that --but if we do it everywhere, we'll have to deface and erase history and art from the walls of our D.C. buildings and many local courthouses.

We ought not change the past that way. That's who we were. Let it be. We are in grave danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater --if the bathwater is our evidence of religious heritage --and the good aspects of that heritage are thrown out with it --such that we no longer have any sensible approach to marriage laws, no idea of public decency, no regard for the lives and moral innocense of children, no respect for religious faith, just a desire to silence the religious.

The salt will lose its savor. the preservative of our best inclinations as civilized people will be lost as we no longer remember the difference between right and wrong --or realize why heeding the difference is essential to our survival as a great nation.

As de Toqueville said it, "If America ceases to be good --she'll cease to be great --the secret of her goodness is in her churches with pulpits aflame with righteouseness." And that faith did spill over into public, agreed-upon sentiments of religious faith in our seals, on our money, in our pledge, on our walls, in our school and community traditions. Let it be! Christian majority of the Biblical sort is the best friend the other religions ever had.
Mon Apr 14, 12:19:00 PM EDT




"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

11 comments:

Stephen said...

Barb,
This is Stephen from the Religion Clause (Anglican priest Lane/Justice Kirby debate). My final post over there was just to let you know my opinion that Chimera doesn't want to engage in a full discussion. His posts avoid the uncomfortable points directed to him and attempt rebuttals in broad imprecise strokes. I don't see any attempt to honestly deal with the evidence. I won't post anymore on that particular page.

Have a blessed day.

Barb said...

I understood you had quit on that thread.

Any reason to believe Chimera is a he? I think he/she just does the best he/she can and doesn't have all the knowledge for rebuttal --just opinions without valid basis.

But ARE you different than the Stephen elsewhere over there --who seemed to be on the other side of the issue? Are there two Stephens? I keep asking!

A blessed day to you as well! : D

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you people would so understand of other groups religious symbols. I have a strange feeling that if your local municipality had a satanic cross on its grounds you would see the other side of this argument a bit more clearly.

steve said...

^^LOL!!! oh how naive you are!!

Barb said...

I'm well aware of the misbegotten notion that if we allow religious symbols of positive religions--we must give equal time for religious symbols of negative religions. If we sanction good as public policy, we must sanction evil as public policy.

It's all part of the last days scenario that we call evil, good, and good, evil, losing our ability to favor one over the other in public policy.

That's what's going on when we can't reason our way to have policies that favor good over evil. Satan IS a personification of evil --at least that. Christians would say he is more than that --a fallen angel, rebellious to God, who is a real, supernatural (to us --i.e. beyond our understanding of what is natural -what we can "prove" scientifically by current knowledge) --the Bible says that Satan even attempted to tempt Christ --but failed.

Satan is the opposer of the Judeo-Christian God and as such, all that is evil is attributed to HIS will, not God's. He wants us to lose our souls to his dominion and miss out on Heaven. He is in a contest with the true lover of our souls.

An example of our inability to favor good over evil is when we defend pornography, obscenity and blasphemy as having equal rights under the constitutional provision for freedom of speech, freedom of religion.

That's where we are with the polygamy cults. People are following a false religion, one of Satan's many deceptions, under the leadership of men whose main motivation is sexual conquests of young girls. They LIKE this religion --instead of Christianity which says because women are equal, because God created one woman for one man in the beginning, because in true intimacy there is a need for total and mutual fidelity -- humans are jealous like God is a jealous God for our complete allegiance to Him--and we are made in His image --because of that, polygamy is just missing the mark of God's intention for our sexuality--and is a doorway for so much evil.

This will become a VERY popular religion with men if made legal. I see them lining up at the compound now, saying, "where are my young beautiful wholesome wives --all for me??"

Some have said, but isn't this preferable to the men who sleep around and make babies for Uncle Sam to support??? and don't raise those kids? Is polygamous religion (or rather religious polygamy) the lesser of two evils?

I think it's even worse to lie about God and good vs. evil, making girls and boys feel that this system is ordained by their Creator --with all its built-in coercion and punishment for wanting to choose your own spouse, for wanting to leave the group --for all its false guilt imposed upon those who don't feel good about sharing a spouse with many younger women--who feel false guilt for being jealous, for feeling sorry that Hiram desires young Rebekah more than old Rachel, e.g.

But of course, the saintly man is one who convinces all the girls that they are special to him --like Charlie Manson's groupies!

Barb said...

I'm well aware of the misbegotten notion that if we allow religious symbols of positive religions--we must give equal time for religious symbols of negative religions. If we sanction good as public policy, we must sanction evil as public policy.

It's all part of the last days scenario that we call evil, good, and good, evil, losing our ability to favor one over the other in public policy.

That's what's going on when we can't reason our way to have policies that favor good over evil. Satan IS a personification of evil --at least that. Christians would say he is more than that --a fallen angel, rebellious to God, who is a real, supernatural (to us --i.e. beyond our understanding of what is natural -what we can "prove" scientifically by current knowledge) --the Bible says that Satan even attempted to tempt Christ --but failed.

Satan is the opposer of the Judeo-Christian God and as such, all that is evil is attributed to HIS will, not God's. He wants us to lose our souls to his dominion and miss out on Heaven. He is in a contest with the true lover of our souls.

An example of our inability to favor good over evil is when we defend pornography, obscenity and blasphemy as having equal rights under the constitutional provision for freedom of speech, freedom of religion.

That's where we are with the polygamy cults. People are following a false religion, one of Satan's many deceptions, under the leadership of men whose main motivation is sexual conquests of young girls. They LIKE this religion --instead of Christianity which says because women are equal, because God created one woman for one man in the beginning, because in true intimacy there is a need for total and mutual fidelity -- humans are jealous like God is a jealous God for our complete allegiance to Him--and we are made in His image --because of that, polygamy is just missing the mark of God's intention for our sexuality--and is a doorway for so much evil.

This will become a VERY popular religion with men if made legal. I see them lining up at the compound now, saying, "where are my young beautiful wholesome wives --all for me??"

Some have said, but isn't this preferable to the men who sleep around and make babies for Uncle Sam to support??? and don't raise those kids? Is polygamous religion (or rather religious polygamy) the lesser of two evils?

I think it's even worse to lie about God and good vs. evil, making girls and boys feel that this system is ordained by their Creator --with all its built-in coercion and punishment for wanting to choose your own spouse, for wanting to leave the group --for all its false guilt imposed upon those who don't feel good about sharing a spouse with many younger women--who feel false guilt for being jealous, for feeling sorry that Hiram desires young Rebekah more than old Rachel, e.g.

But of course, the saintly man is one who convinces all the girls that they are special to him --like Charlie Manson's groupies!

Jeanette said...

Maybe I'm not understanding the problem here (I think I do), but didn't God admonish us to not worship any idols or images?

Is putting up a cross (a Christian symbol) the same as worshipping an idol?

Do we all have photo albums that contain images of loved ones dead and alive? Are we worshipping them when we look at them? It's not what I think that matters but what God said.

A cross is a symbol, but the real deal is that Jesus came down off that cross, went to the grave and arose on the third day and is with the Father on His right hand even now.

If people have strong Christian roots they don't need to see an empty cross to remind them of what Jesus did for us on that cross on Golgotha.

We can read about it in our Bibles and thank God for the plan He had for us before He even made anything we know.

If I see a city or state seal I don't pore over it to see what's on it. I glance at it and move on.

How about the ten commandments in a courthouse? I'm all for it, but realistically, how many people actually took the time to read them and apply them to their lives?

I'm just saying that symbols are just that. We have the Real Thing in our hearts and that's what really matters.

Sorry for playing devil's advocate here. I believe just as you do but I try to see what it is that God wants me to do, as I believe you do too.

God bless.

Barb said...

Yes, we protestants are always leery of too much attachment to the symbols of our faith , such that they become worship objects --or idols, as you said.

To the extent that our symbols are comforts to the bereaved, in the case of war memorials, we need to let them be. Think of all the crosses at Arlington.

Would the ACLU really strip the country of all these remnants of our Christian heritage if they were in charge and had all their people on the Supreme Court? That's what I fear about Obama and Hillary --and their court appointments. ACLU all the way. And they fear the religious right and OUR court appointments. Because, those justices can't easily be removed and the 9 of them impose new law on the rest of us --regardless of what our legislators are like.

there is much at stage with ACLU politics.

Barb said...

"much at STAKE" --I meant to type.

Eugene said...

Not my own words, the following is from an essay by Austin Cline which address the idea that equality is a Christian principle and based within Christianity...

Among the many things which some Christians try to take credit for is the ideal of human equality that lies behind modern democratic institutions. Democracy functions on the premise that all people are equal and should have an equal voice in how their community is governed. No accident of birth, race, religion, gender, or anything else should elevate anyone to a stronger, more powerful position in political contexts. This is an important principle, but it has nothing to do with Christianity.

First, here is the biblical passage in question:

But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. So that the law is become our tutor [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now faith that is come, we are no longer under a tutor. For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one [man] in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:24-29)

To be fair, it is true that this is one of the earliest Christian texts, and the principle it expresses is a "radical notion of equality," but Christians misread the passage in a fundamental way if they try to read it as a basis for political equality. The first and most obvious objection that can be raised against this myth is to ask: if this passage "establishes the universality of human dignity" and is the "basis of democratic values," then why didn't Christians notice this until relatively recently?

For most of Christian history, there was no "universality of human dignity" in political and social contexts. Some were serfs or slaves who had no power or dignity; others were aristocrats and nobles who wielded tremendous power and had much dignity. The passage in question comes from a section of Galatians written to explain the "purpose of the law" — not civil law, but Jewish religious law. There is neither "Jew nor Gentile" because all who accept Jesus are now equal before God and there is no single tribe constituting God's chosen people. There is neither "male nor female" because circumcision is no longer required. There is neither "slave nor freeman" because there are no slaves of God, just disciples.

The simple fact is, this "radical Christian notion of equality" has not traditionally been applied to legal or political matters; on the contrary, Christians have gone out of their way to insist that it only applies to spiritual matters — this "equality" is one the exists only before God and not necessarily before the state, the king, the judge, or the law. This interpretation is generally agreed upon by authoritative and standard commentaries.

Equal standing before God has no necessary implications for a person's political or legal status. The fact that there is neither slave nor freeman before God doesn't mean that there should be no slaves in a community — and for centuries, Christians defended slavery as biblically authorized. The fact that there is neither male nor female before God doesn't mean that men and women shouldn't be treated differently politically and socially — witness how hard Christians fought against even allowing women to vote.

Thus when we look more closely at the matter, we discover an important truth: that neither in theory nor in practice has this biblical passage supported universal human dignity, universal human equality, or democracy. Christians who already accept those principles in the context of a free, liberal, democratic society read those principles back into this passage, but that's one of many examples where Christians try to justify things they already believe through creative interpretation of their holy scriptures.

Rob R said...

if this passage "establishes the universality of human dignity" and is the "basis of democratic values," then why didn't Christians notice this until relatively recently?

For much of Christian History happens to be much of the middle ages when the scriptures where kept in Latin and not very accessible to the scrutiny of the laity and thus the church as a whole. It's no mistake that many of the humanistic enlightenment ideals arose after the protestant reformation.

Secondly, slavery is undermined in scripture. Scripture addresses societal ills in two ways. In one, there is flat out condemnation of the behavior or practice, and in the other, there is an undermining that may allow the current status to continue while undermining it to let it wain. Polygamy is another example of this.

While slavery was undermined, American racial slavery would never qualify. The old testament model of slavery put a 7 year limit on slave ownership of an individual slave. The new testament model told slave owners to treat their slaves as equals.

So people haven't always followed scripture. Well that's not the problem with scripture, that's the problem with people, one that they can remedy by, surprise surprise, following scripture (and it's been done before and will be done again).

Christians who already accept those principles in the context of a free, liberal, democratic society read those principles back into this passage, but that's one of many examples where Christians try to justify things they already believe through creative interpretation of their holy scriptures.

What you call creative reading into scripture, I call working out the implications (and this has involved working out the meaning as understood within it's cultural/historical context). As is the case through scripture, historically from the mosaic law until the prophets to the New testament, there is a developement of thought as God continues to teach his people. Any church historian can note that even after the penning of the last text in the cannon, there continued to be developement (and I will say that this continues even today) as God has not quit teaching the church.

I believe that one of the most important and most fruitful teachings in scripture is that God created us in his likeness and image. There is no more solid foundtaition for egalitarianism than this.