Monday, April 30, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Haiku - Morning

The alarm rings out
"Get up and feed me", Cat says
Snooze - Cat is angry

Saturday, April 14, 2007

So caffeinated...

Yet so tired...

Don't worry...the LD50 for Mt. Dew for her weight is 7 1/2 more 24 oz. bottles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bird Bait

The birds finally found the bird bait that I hung outside Cats perch...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #3 - Us Versus Them

I'm going to try to anticipate the response to the last post by some people who will say "your claim that using the phrase is illegal is dubious, and it's historical so its got to be okay."

I said that I thought that it was wrong for the government to print "In God We Trust" on currency, but I only went into detail about the legal issues. The psychology of "Us Versus Them" is what really concerns me. By establishing the 'we' (aka us), by default there will be a them. This is unnecessarily divisive. It served a purpose in the 1950's cold war red scare days, but even then it was just as illegal and wrong. I suppose it's no coincidence that atheists are the least trusted and least likely to get voted for minority group. There is an excuse for exclusion being promoted by the government on every piece of currency floating around.

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #2 - In God We Trust

This time we'd like to bring up the In God We Trust on the money issue. I'm not superstitious and neither is Cat, so it's not like carrying around money with a religious message scares me. But I think there is something fundamentally wrong when the government makes a law that says everyone, regardless of there belief or lack of belief must carry and use currency that has a religious message on it. I will skip over the history of the phrase showing up on money...but it was officially made the national motto in 1956. There was a lot of fear of the atheistic Soviet Union at the time and it was felt that it would be a good idea to distinguish the U.S. from the godless commies.

Although it has been challenged in a lower court, the Supreme Court has refused to rule on the constitutionality of the motto or the phrase on currency. The phrase "ceremonial deism" has been used to describe references to God and religion by the government. Deism is a belief in a supreme being, but doesn't specify's like generic religion. Recently we have seen more attempts to use the motto as a wedge to introduce the Christian concept of God as if it is recognized by government. In Indiana there are new license plates with the motto that are free while other specialty plates cost $20. There are Christian groups promoting the use of the motto in schools. There was a resolution in the U.S. House last year (it didn't pass, but it wouldn't have been law anyway) that said things like...

"Whereas the historical fact of the fundamental trust of the American people upon the God of the Bible is irrefutable;"

"Whereas Psalm 33:12 states, `Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.';"

"Resolved...That the Congress...encourages the American people to commemorate the national motto through personal acts of piety, patriotic and sacred assembly, prayer and petition on behalf of the Nation's elected and appointed leaders at the Federal, State, and local levels of government, and through a rededication of trust in God for the good and providential protection of this great Nation."

The Lemon Test is a standard that has been used by the Supreme Court to rule on First Amendment issues. It has 3 test or prongs. If any of these 3 prongs are violated, the government's action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The three prongs are...
  1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
  2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
  3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" with religion.
There is no guarantee that future establishment clause cases at the Supreme Court will be tested against the Lemon Test, but if this one were how would it fair? This is my take...

1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose... The fact that the majority of Americans consider themselves religious no more justifies printing "In God We Trust" on money then suggesting that since the majority of Americans consider themselves Trekkies, Star Trek should be named the official sci-fi series of the nation.

2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; ... There is no question in my mind that the presence of this message has the purpose of advancing religion, and that's not even dealing with the form of that religion. When you look at it closely it's clearly referring to a monotheistic male supreme being that we are expected to trust. This rules out a lot of religions, thereby inhibiting them.

3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" with religion ... The fact that the government, by way of the dept. of the treasury, is directly involved in carrying out this law is entanglement. The government isn't simply allowing a violation of the First Amendment through inaction.

My question today is...can anyone think of a reasonable argument for why printing "In God We Trust" on currency doesn't violate one of the prongs of the Lemon Test? Pick one, any one.

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #1 - Chaplaincy

If a department of state government, the Department of Education for example, were to have a religious leader on staff (paid for by the tax payer) who gave prayers at the beginning of the work day, and considered it part of their job to proselytize to state employees and insure that their job was done according to Christian principles (as they defined them)...I think most people would say this was wrong and unconstitutional.

The state legislature on the other hand has chaplains on staff and has daily prayers, which have been very sectarian at times. The argument made for maintaining such positions is that they are 'historical tradition'.

The current chaplain of the Minnesota State Senate, Dan Hall, has said... (from Pastor leads outreach to state leaders)

"...these committed public servants have a need to understand the bigger purpose of life and to know the Lord in a deeper way.”


"We must pray that they would know God’s heart and have the courage to vote as Jesus would."

I accept that military chaplains serve a purpose of allowing for freedom of religious expression (with limits) to members of the military. Can anyone provide any good reasons (other than 'historical tradition') why taxpayers should be paying for a chaplain for a group of state employees (who happen to be working in the legislature), and not other employees?

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project....more pictures of Cat coming soon (I am waiting for her legal people to get the signed releases back to me).

Blog Against Theocracy Part 2 - Blog Against Theocracy Part 3

I've added a new post with a correction to this entry and more information.