ACLU hiding parts of portfolio in rel...

ACLU hiding parts of portfolio in religion suits

There are 34 comments on the Monterey County Herald story from Dec 1, 2009, titled ACLU hiding parts of portfolio in religion suits. In it, Monterey County Herald reports that:

I n her Sunday guest commentary, Pacific Grove attorney and ACLU board member Michelle Welsh cited an impressive display of cases to support her position that the ACLU is not "anti-religion." But she is cleverly arguing a bait and switch.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Monterey County Herald.

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Robin Welch

Monterey, CA

#22 Dec 3, 2009
Members of the religious right consistently and vociferously oppose federal funding for abortion. Why do they then turn around and declare that federal funding for religion is ok? Federal funding of religion is a violation of the establishment clause and that is why the ACLU gets involved. The City of Monterey should not erect a cross on the beach and the ACLU should sue to prevent it.
Robin Welch
Salinas
Fabioso

Tallahassee, FL

#23 Dec 3, 2009
Robin Welch wrote:
Members of the religious right consistently and vociferously oppose federal funding for abortion. Why do they then turn around and declare that federal funding for religion is ok? Federal funding of religion is a violation of the establishment clause and that is why the ACLU gets involved. The City of Monterey should not erect a cross on the beach and the ACLU should sue to prevent it.
Robin Welch
Salinas
it is impossible to be a fundamentalist (of any kind) without also being a hypocrite.
Salinas Observer

San Luis Obispo, CA

#24 Dec 3, 2009
Fabioso wrote:
<quoted text>
it is impossible to be a fundamentalist (of any kind) without also being a hypocrite.
Amen to that! One thing is that, strictly speaking, I am not a strict constrionalist. E.g., Congress has the power to create an air force, even though the constitution states that it only has the power to create an army and navy. But once you go beyond the simple semiology of the text, the question is where to draw the line. I obviously draw the line alot closer than you do, but I fully realize I am engaged in line drawing as well.

As to Robin's point, the issue is what is "religion." The City of Monterey cannot pay to erect a religious symbol. It can pay to erect a historical marker. Is the cross here a religious symbol or a historical marker. Arguably, it is both. Which aspect dominates? Tough call. For those on the side of religion, this is clearly a historical marker. For those on the side of separation of church and state, this is clearly a religious symbol.

This isn't a black and white issue. The Supreme Court recently had two cases involving the ten commandments being displayed in public space. In one case, they said it violated the establishment clause. In the second case, the court said it was permissible, b/c it was part of a display memorializing the history and development of law. In other words, while the ten commandments is clearly a religious symbol, is wasn't being used AS a religious symbol.(Similarly, in the NYC courthouse, there are depictions of Moses receiving the ten commandments, alongside the Hammurabai code, Justinian code, Blackstone and English parliament, etc. No one has ever said it was unconstitutional).

Once we get below the rhetoric, this really is an interesting and complex case.
Fabioso

Tallahassee, FL

#25 Dec 3, 2009
Hmmm I dunno. We may not draw the line all that differently. I am simply used to dealing with people on this board who either have no idea what the hell they are talking about, are lying, or just so blindly ideological that they make me want to scream.

It's a fuzzy line to be sure, which just creates fertile ground for the loonies to misrepresent the law. Hell Sekulow is making a living out of it.
Robin Welch

Monterey, CA

#26 Dec 3, 2009
If the historical facts were that Muslim explorers erected a Muslim religious symbol on the beach and now the City of Monterey wanted to replant it there, I think the same Christians who approve of a cross would say, "Whoa there....it looks like my government is endorsing Islam. I think that's wrong." So, even if the city did not fund the erection (subliminal message intended), it would still be unconstitutional, and a lawsuit will result.
Fabioso

Tallahassee, FL

#27 Dec 3, 2009
I'd be willing to bet they would scream bloody murder and suddenly become proponents of the Establishment clause.

“Really? Really?”

Since: Apr 08

G'View

#28 Feb 11, 2010
Salinas Observer wrote:
<quoted text>
As to Robin's point, the issue is what is "religion." The City of Monterey cannot pay to erect a religious symbol. It can pay to erect a historical marker. Is the cross here a religious symbol or a historical marker. Arguably, it is both. Which aspect dominates? Tough call. For those on the side of religion, this is clearly a historical marker. For those on the side of separation of church and state, this is clearly a religious symbol.
This isn't a black and white issue. The Supreme Court recently had two cases involving the ten commandments being displayed in public space. In one case, they said it violated the establishment clause. In the second case, the court said it was permissible, b/c it was part of a display memorializing the history and development of law. In other words, while the ten commandments is clearly a religious symbol, is wasn't being used AS a religious symbol.(Similarly, in the NYC courthouse, there are depictions of Moses receiving the ten commandments, alongside the Hammurabai code, Justinian code, Blackstone and English parliament, etc. No one has ever said it was unconstitutional).
Once we get below the rhetoric, this really is an interesting and complex case.
Let's address what you've stated here - you've essentially stated that this is a grey area because one may interpret a religious symbol differently, depending on the context in which it's used.
Perhaps, but then the question I ask is - since when are our law courts also pulling double duty as museums? Why do you need any sort of display in a courthouse memorializing the "history and development of law"? If you wish to have such a thing, then poll the constituency, request funds for a law museum and build a building in the vicinity of the courthouse to display such things.
No, I'm sorry, the local government tried to pull a fast one with that and it will be eventually overturned in the appellate courts. But you're right, depending on if you're pious or secular, you'll view the display of the 10 Commandments as either justified or a violation.
But the facts remain that there are many in this nation who would just as soon have us all live by the "laws" as written in Scripture to justify their narrow-minded views on how life should be pursued. It is because of these people that the 1st Amendment exists and is interpreted as it is. It is a double-edged sword, one that prevents Government from interfering with the teachings of the Church, but it also prevents the Church from imposing their mandate on how the Government should be run.
Like it or not, America is a melting pot, and we have many views and ideologies. What's law for one is not necessarily law for another. It is the responsibility of Government to separate itself from this quagmire and write and interpret laws to benefit the most of it's populace. In the case of religion, all views must be considered before any judgment can be made.

“Really? Really?”

Since: Apr 08

G'View

#29 Feb 11, 2010
Seaside Mark wrote:
Bravo David. When Ms. Welsh wrote her Op-ed, I knew she had to be challenged. Our constitution, as I read and interpret it, seems pretty straight-forward. I urge all to actually read the words, but before doing so, remove all prior (mis)conceptions as to what you have been programmed to think it means. The constitution says nothing about "the seperation of Church and State". That comes from the 1st amendment. The phrase is commonly thought to mean that the government should not establish, support, or otherwise involve itself in any religion. I can't find any supporting evidence that the City has done so by leaving the cross in place. Just my opinion.
If they allow other religious symbols to be placed alongside the cross, then you're right. But if they deny any such symbols, then it is clear that the local government has established that Christianity is the identifiable religion of the town. And that is un-Constitutional.

“Really? Really?”

Since: Apr 08

G'View

#30 Feb 11, 2010
Seaside Mark wrote:
Are there any case law decisions in which you disagree? Any which you feel are incorrect? Any rulings that eventually get overturned? Any explanation as to the case law referenced in the above article in which the ACLU has lost that you feel they shouldn't have? I don't agree with the ACLU on every position they take, and I don't disagree with them on every postition. In my simple world, I look at each case objectively (with my specially tinted glasses), and render my opinion. Just as you do with your glasses (of a different tint).
That's not how law works in this country. You cannot say, "Well, I disagree with that ruling," or "Well, it'll probably get overturned someday," and choose not to follow it. Whether you like the law or not, it's the law. I don't agree with laws making marijuana illegal, but I still recognize that I can be arrested for possessing the drug.
Fabioso

Tallahassee, FL

#31 Feb 12, 2010
Salinas Observer wrote:
Alice: I think the point of the editorial was that the ACLU LOST the cases. They weren't focusing "correctly" -- rather they were making anti-religion arguments that were rejected by the courts and not supported by the constitution.
Nowhere in the constitutinon does it say there is a separation of church and state. All it says is that congress can't "establish" a religion. We can't have a national religion like the Church of England. That's it. There are PLENTY of places where religion and the public sphere mix, and the courts have ruled that it is permissible.
The ACLU has never, ever, EVER taken an anti-religion stance. Ever.

Anyone that says this is either lying, or just ignorant of how the interplay between the Free Exercise and Establishment clause works.

“Really? Really?”

Since: Apr 08

G'View

#32 Feb 22, 2010
Robin Welch wrote:
If the historical facts were that Muslim explorers erected a Muslim religious symbol on the beach and now the City of Monterey wanted to replant it there, I think the same Christians who approve of a cross would say, "Whoa there....it looks like my government is endorsing Islam. I think that's wrong." So, even if the city did not fund the erection (subliminal message intended), it would still be unconstitutional, and a lawsuit will result.
This is a very good point. I find it interesting that many who are upset about not allowing prayer in school or the 10 Commandments to be posted in the courthouse are also among those who speak out against a new Mosque being built or ask for the ban of some new film, book, album, billboard, video game, scientific discovery, etc.

Since: Mar 09

Monterey Peninsula, CA

#33 Feb 22, 2010
Robin Welch wrote:
If the historical facts were that Muslim explorers erected a Muslim religious symbol on the beach and now the City of Monterey wanted to replant it there, I think the same Christians who approve of a cross would say, "Whoa there....it looks like my government is endorsing Islam. I think that's wrong." So, even if the city did not fund the erection (subliminal message intended), it would still be unconstitutional, and a lawsuit will result.
Don't be so sure. if a Muslim crescent was historically accurate, I, as a Christian, would be among the first to step forward to defend it. As I have stated before, I want this historical monument to the Portola-Crespi expedition to be historically accurate, not politically correct.

I still find it odd that the ACLU has singled out this cross while ignoring numerous other local historic monuments with religious symbols.

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info/history/cross.html

“Really? Really?”

Since: Apr 08

G'View

#34 Feb 23, 2010
MrToy wrote:
<quoted text>
Don't be so sure. if a Muslim crescent was historically accurate, I, as a Christian, would be among the first to step forward to defend it. As I have stated before, I want this historical monument to the Portola-Crespi expedition to be historically accurate, not politically correct.
I still find it odd that the ACLU has singled out this cross while ignoring numerous other local historic monuments with religious symbols.
-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info/history/cross.html
I've read this article and I'd like to throw in my opinion.
1. Missionary work was actually the FIRST thing on any priest's mind who would be part of an expedition. That was the primary reason that they were on such missions. That's the primary goal of almost any Christian who travels abroad.
2. You've listed several "historic monuments with religious symbols" but several of them are not inherently or overtly religious:
a. The other cross near the Carmel River - This is, naturally, overtly religious
b. The Santa Rosalia statue next to Fisherman's Wharf - this is a statue of a person. Just because Catholicism made them a Saint doesn't make them an overt religious symbol
c. Two statues of Father Junipero Serra in Carmel - see above. This is a man first and a priest second.
d. The "El Camino Real" mission bells along public roads and highways - bells are bells, they are not necessarily inherently religious.
e. Monterey's famous hand-painted Christmas angels hung on light poles every December - overt religious symbols
f. The memorial cross erected on Fort Ord land marking the site where the body of 13 year old kidnap and murder victim Cristina Williams was found - overtly religious
g. Temporary religious activities on public land, such as wedding ceremonies at Lovers Point, or Native American ceremonial dances in front of Monterey City Hall on First Night - these ceremonies have transcended the bonds of religion for one and for another they're temporary. The erecting of a permanent monument is, as the name implies, permanent.
Now, the question was asked, "Had the city council decided not to repair the cross, wouldn't that indicate that the crime of vandalism was an effective means "resolving" a First Amendment dispute?" This is the only argument I feel is valid as to why the cross should be repaired. The bigger issue in this case was the vandalism and whether or not such behavior should be rewarded.

But make no mistake, the cross was erected because they wanted to make sure passing ships knew that CHRISTIANS were in need of assistance, not natives or pirates or any other "unworthy" group. If they just wanted to signal passing ships, a fire would be a much better choice, especially because it could be seen at night.

Since: Mar 09

Monterey Peninsula, CA

#35 Feb 25, 2010
Hold please wrote:
<quoted text>
But make no mistake, the cross was erected because they wanted to make sure passing ships knew that CHRISTIANS were in need of assistance, not natives or pirates or any other "unworthy" group. If they just wanted to signal passing ships, a fire would be a much better choice, especially because it could be seen at night.
It had nothing to do with the group's worthiness for recognition. A cross was simply a simple signal that would be readily recognized by their supply ship. Lighting a fire would have been pointless, because they weren't staying there to keep it fueled!(You would know that if you actually read the entire story.) The cross marked a buried message indicating they were giving up on their expedition and were going back to San Diego. Since a cross was the only artifact they left behind, it was perfectly accurate to erect a cross to honor the expedition.

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info

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