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In our opinion: Court should stand up for religion in public square

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  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 8, 2013 5:47 a.m.

    "The town's policy allows anyone who asks to give a prayer to be accommodated."

    If by "accommodated", they mean, treated just like every other request to give a prayer"
    and if the "town's policy" is actually followed, then I see no issue at all.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 6:21 a.m.

    Sorry, but public meetings are secular, not religious. They shouldn't be starting with a prayer. If you must pray about the meeting, do it at home before you go.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Oct. 8, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    I'll bet all of those prayers were offered in English. The opponents might as well sue that other languages be accommodated.

    I thought the article was wise in comparing listening to prayers with listening to council members that you don't happen to agree with. Tolerance of "the different" is a virtue.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Oct. 8, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    "This case gives the court an opportunity to resoundingly reaffirm religion's place in the public square, something sorely needed.". Sorely needed? God needs you to openly display your loyalty before she will grant your wishes/prayers? Or God has such a short attention span that it needs you to pray every half hour or so to remember what you're asking for?

    I'm actually not being snarky, I really don't understand it. Listen to the prayers offered in public. Really, and I mean seriously, how often do you need to ask God to bless you with wisdom and the ability to do what is right before it's just your responsibility?

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Oct. 8, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    The irony to this is that Jesus didn't stand up for praying in public--he said people who do so already get their of appearing pious--true prayer should happen in the closet.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and religion; those who think that one does not apply to the other, are a threat to basic human rights.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    Rights accrue to individuals first and foremost. Religion, on the other hand, is often contrary to individual rights. It needs to be curtailed.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    All religions should be equally welcome in the public square - or equally unwelcome.

    Many comments on stories in this paper have shown that there are those who think the only religion that should be accepted in the public square is Christianity.

    A Legislator who offered a secular/atheist prayer in Arizona was deeply criticized and several religious individuals decided it didn't count as a prayer and had a do-over the next day.

    As long as some groups are marginalized, there will be controversy over prayers.

    Of course, I really liked the comment in the story about listening as others pray. Anyone who has attended the opening session of the Legislature in Utah knows the Legislators are too busy shaking hands and making deals to listen to the prayer.

  • Contrariuserer mid-state, TN
    Oct. 8, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    Can you just imagine if somebody dared to offer a Muslim prayer before one of these meetings? There would be huge outcries about terrorists and Sharia law.

    "Freedom of religion" only applies if you're a conservative Christian.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 8, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    Curious if this would the opinion of DN if, say, in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, a public official wanted to hold a prayer vigil on the Senate floor to Poseidon.

    After all it (the ocean) is his domain...

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    If a commercial business operation created an imaginary product that could not be seen, or heard or felt is any way to prove its existence, would we not expect our government to protect the unwary and unprotected citizens from its clutches?

    Such is not the case with the product we know as religion and the business operation of churches. Religions and their churches are the mega giants of the world and dwarf mere political governments in size and power. And in the case of America is able to prevent the people’s government from interfering in their affairs.

    Aside from their dogma and imaginary product churches are simply business operations and have the same goals as other commercial business corporations. That of garnishing all the power and wealth they can.

    While the product of religion is beneficial to the lives of people in many cases and the public display of their advertising is harmless it is well to note that more people have been murdered, enslaved and oppressed under the banners of religion than for any other reason

  • FatherOfFour WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    I have lived in countries where religion is in the public square. I experienced it in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. That does not need to be the case here.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    The Deseret News wrote: "It is difficult to understand how a prayer . . . could be considered as establishing a religion."

    Whenever anyone writes on this subject and says establishing "a" religion, it is quite clear that they do not have a strong grasp of the First Amendment. The First Amendment says "an establishment of religion," not an establishment of "a" religion. Big difference.

    An establishment of religion is prayer or any other religious exercise. An establishment of "a" religion is permitting only one religion or one religious tradition (such as Christianity) to participate.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    The US government has no right to shut religion out of the public square. The govt. can only ensure that all religions have access to the public square. This is guaranteed by the US Constitution.

    End of discussion.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    @Contrariuswiser:
    "Can you just imagine if somebody dared to offer a Muslim prayer before one of these meetings? There would be huge outcries about terrorists and Sharia law.

    "Freedom of religion" only applies if you're a conservative Christian."

    I think that you are extrapolating and in doing so your prejudices are poking out.

    The ironic thing is that by suppressing Christianity in the name of suppressing religion, cultural diversity is also being suppressed. It would be really cool to have a Christian prayer one meeting, a Moslem prayer the next, a Hindu prayer the next, a Wiccan prayer the next and maybe something related to "Queer Spirituality" in another meeting. It would broaden the horizons of a lot of people.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    There seems to be confusion between what "religious freedom in the public square", and religion as part of a government event. They are not the same thing. Not even close.

    Religious express in the public square is doing just fine.... religion and its practice within government meetings is what is really being debated.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    IMO the government should not PROMOTE any specific religion, but they should PROTECT the right of every citizen to worship any way they want to the hilt.

    Religion has so many benefits to individuals, families, and society in general, that government should see a religious and moral citezenry as a HUGE benefit to the country and the government (not as something that should be allowed to be infringed, limited, or regulated by ANY group (including the government).

    All religions I know teach obedience to the law (of the land and their diety)... which is a point of synergy for government and churches. All religions teach charity (which is another synergy). They teach to love your fellow man and help them (instead of digging a pit for your neighbor or coveting his stuff)... which is a life philosophy government and law enforcement should be glad to have around.

  • Contrariuserer mid-state, TN
    Oct. 8, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    @Tekaka --

    "I think that you are extrapolating and in doing so your prejudices are poking out."

    And I think that you're ignoring what the article actually says.

    " It would be really cool to have a Christian prayer one meeting, a Moslem prayer the next, a Hindu prayer the next, a Wiccan prayer the next"

    This is **exactly** what the lawsuit is about. Read the article. The plaintiffs are complaining because THE PRAYERS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS CHRISTIAN.

    "Two residents of Greece sued, alleging the practice amounted to the establishment of a religion because from 1999 to June 2010, all but four of these prayers were offered by Christians."

    As I said -- "Freedom of religion" only applies if you're a conservative Christian.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    The ironic thing here is that Congress opens up each session with a prayer, often given by the Federally employed Chaplain. If it is good enough for Congress, why isn't it good enough for our city councils?

    To "Contrariuserer" As the article pointed out, the prayers were offered by the local church leaders. In other words, they chose people that represented the community, and the fact that they did have some that were not offered by Christians only shows that they did have representation that was probably proportional to the number of non-Christians in their community.

    Tell us what religion was being established by having Christians from different religions offer prayers. (FYI Christianity is not a religion, it is a classification for many religions)

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    Which one?

  • Contrariuserer mid-state, TN
    Oct. 8, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    @Redshirt --

    "(FYI Christianity is not a religion, it is a classification for many religions)"

    That's the funniest thing I've read all day.

    From Merriam-Webster: "the religion of Christians : the religion stemming from the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ : the religion that believes in God as the Father Almighty who as a just and merciful creator and sustainer of the universe works redemptively through the Holy Spirit for men's salvation and that affirms Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who proclaimed to man the gospel of salvation : the religion that recognizes the New Testament as its book of sacred scripture"

    Yes, Christianity most certainly IS a religion. It is a religion with multiple denominations within it, just as Islam is a religion with multiple sects within it.

    " the fact that they did have some that were not offered by Christians only shows that they did have representation that was probably proportional to the number of non-Christians in their community."

    Four times over the course of 10 years doesn't sound terribly proportional. But that's something for SCOTUS to decide.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    one vote 12:33

    Re: "Which one"?

    You're being very cryptic, but what I assume you're saying is, "Which religion should the court stand up for". Right?

    Well the answer is ALL of them... duhh...

    Nobody said they should just stand up for one, or promote one, or establish one, or anything like that (except you of course).

    The court should stand up for ALL religions (as the Constitution protects ALL religions).

    -----

    RedShirt,

    Re "The ironic thing here is that Congress opens up each session with a prayer, often given by the Federally employed Chaplain".

    It's also ironic that the government hires and pays military chaplains (all denominations). Does the military deserve more protection than other citizens?

    And they provide religious leaders, instruction, and protection for those in prison. Do prisoners deserve more protection than any other citizen?

    Just something to think about.

  • Contrariuserer mid-state, TN
    Oct. 8, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    Here's a little more information about Greece, NY --

    It's a contiguous suburb of Rochester, within Monroe County. It isn't some isolated little community off in the wilderness.

    Within Monroe County, non-Christian congregations include:

    Jewish
    Bahá'í
    Buddhist
    Hindu
    Jain
    Muslim
    Sikh

    Roughly 54% of the population of Monroe County characterizes themselves as adherents of one religion or other. Catholics are the most well-represented Christian denomination.

    All these non-Christian congregations -- yet, in 10 years, only 4 non-Christian prayers were offered? And more than a third of the population doesn't declare allegiance to any specific religion. I wonder how many agnostic and/or humanist and/or atheist "prayers" were offered in that time?

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    @2 bits;

    Do you go to a public meeting to worship, or do you go there to conduct secular business? If the latter, a prayer is out of place.

    @RedShirt;

    How much do you want to bet that the entire community is not made up of only one religious group?

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    I don't understand where such intolerance comes from. Why would any one be offended by anothers prayer. We believe in freedom of speech in this country and religion. Because of this many people can and will say things that many do not agree with, even in prayers within our own religions. But to put a stop on one persons freedom to say what they want, in a speech or a prayer, will also put a stop to all the rest of us. You can not diminish freedom on the few and expect freedom in the many to flourish. As a nation, we already tried that one once - it led us into a civil war.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 2:39 p.m.

    To "Contrariuserer" and which religious body is it that can claim Christianity. As your definition states, it is the (meaning one) religion that stems "from the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ". Since not all religions can agree on what the teachings of Jesus are, that means that there can only be 1 religion that is Christian, the others may contain some of the teachings, but not all and should not be considered Christian.

    Other definitions list it as the Catholic Church, Easter Orthodox, and Protestant groups. That means that churches like the LDS church are not considered Christian, along with groups like Coptic Christians, and others that are not part of the groups listed.

    The point is that depending on how you understand the definition of Christian, it is either a single church or else is just a name for a group of religions.

    But at the same time, if they eliminate prayers then they are adopting Secular Humanism as the state religion. That goes against the Constitution.

  • Contrariuser mid-state, TN
    Oct. 8, 2013 2:44 p.m.

    @Daniel --

    "Why would any one be offended by anothers prayer. "

    The problem here is that when you give a prayer at any kind of government meeting, that prayer is being given under color of authority -- specifically, the authority of that government. And that is very prejudicial.

    I don't care what prayers anyone wants to say out on the street corner. But I care very much about any government that supports, or even appears to support, one particular religion over another (or over the lack of any religion).

    How would you feel about Muslim prayers at the beginning of your town council meetings? Jewish? Buddhist? Religious humanist?

    Or does "freedom of religion" *really* only apply to conservative Christians?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 2:56 p.m.

    To "Ranch" I just did a quick search, and all of the religious organizations listed in the phone book for Greece, NY were all Christian. If there are people that are Jewish, Buddhist, or other religions, they don't have enough representation or cohesion to have a meeting location listed in the phone book.

    So again, if the city council was inviting people from the local churches listed in the phone book, they would never call a group that was not Christian. The fact that they had 4 prayers that were not Christian is quite good.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 8, 2013 3:12 p.m.

    @2 bits – “It's also ironic that the government hires and pays military chaplains (all denominations). Does the military deserve more protection than other citizens?”

    We may be on firmer ground to consider that fact more of a fringe benefit to military personnel rather than a constitutionally protected right. I suggest this because James “Father of the Constitution” Madison thought paid chaplains in the military was unconstitutional.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 8, 2013 3:57 p.m.

    Redshirt.... I see your point.... was there an LDS Chapel there? Are there Mormons in that town. For example, our here, our neighboring town of Hillsburough does not have an LDS congregation... but one would be very wrong to assume there are not many Mormons living in that town. In fact there are 3 wards to one side of it, and another the other side.

    So I know "in the mission field" is a little different to you all..... but a phone book listing does not indicate if there are members of a denomination in that town.

    But I applaud your research. It is just their may not be a direct linkage there.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    Ranch
    I'm talking about the courts and government in general standing up for religion in general. Not just prayer at any specific meeting, or any specific town, or anything that specific. IMO the government should stand up for all of them and NEVER try to stop people from praying. If people want to pray in any meeting... I say let them, and the government should not do anything to stop them.

    Having a prayer does not mean whoever gives the prayer owns the meeting for HIS type of religion. It just gets the meeting started with a touch of reverence and some humility by asking for Gods help. It should not offend anybody (no matter what denomination gives the prayer).

    If having a prayer somehow means that the religion giving the prayer owns that meeting... why does Congress open with prayer? Why do Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, look down on the Supreme Court bench? Why do we have the national prayer breakfast?

    The decision to have a prayer at any meeting should not be seen as offensive anymore than the decision to NOT have a prayer at any meeting. Prayer is NOT intended to be offensive.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:09 p.m.

    Re: "... James 'Father of the Constitution' Madison thought paid chaplains in the military was unconstitutional."

    He also thought that having paid chaplains for Congress was unconstitutional:

    "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

    "In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.

    "The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles ..."

    - James Madison, Detached Memoranda.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:29 p.m.

    redshirt: "But at the same time, if they eliminate prayers then they are adopting Secular Humanism as the state religion. That goes against the Constitution."

    ----------
    Christianity is not a religion, but secular humanism is. Ok?!...I think you need to think that one through again. Belief in Jesus or no beliefs. Which would most of you claim to be a religion? That is, unless you want to do some mental gymnastics to prove a point.

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    I will not buy such nonsense about a prayer in a council chambers as a symbol of endorsement by that governing body of the praye'rs religion. Citizens and elected officials, even the council members are free to state their opinions in open government councils. And yet these statements and opinions do not mean endorsement by the governing body. If prayer is restricted from council proceedings, then what other forms of speech are you willing to restrict on the grounds of freedom in the governing bodies that are designed to ensure these very freedoms.

    If the attendees at council meetings can not deal with uncomfortable situations, unpopular ideas, and prayers and statements that are not to their liking, then a democracy is not the form of government for you.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    2 bits: Why do we need a prayer? Shouldn't those who believe in Jesus have already said their own prayers in private? Isn't that what Jesus told us to do. Didn't he berate those who prayed in public?

    Would a group that has a muslim prayer also kneel and face Mecca while the prayer is being said? How about having a Wiccan prayer to Mother Earth, or a Satan Worshipper praying to the Devil - how is the group suppose to act then?

    These are always the questions that come to mind when people want prayers in public government meetings. Do you have any answers for me?

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 4:39 p.m.

    Why would someone ever make such a prejudicial statement like -

    "Or does "freedom of religion" *really* only apply to conservative Christians?"

    What are you talking about? Who would say such a thing, and why? Don't we as a people afford all peoples the right to worship their god how they may. So why would I ever disparage a Buddist, Muslim, Hindu, etc... in one of their prayers. Don't we afford them the same respect in the public arena as I would hope they would do for me.

  • Aephelps14 San Luis Obispo, CA
    Oct. 8, 2013 5:00 p.m.

    I fail to see the offense in being present for someone else's act of worship. I actually find all forms of religion to be interesting and I respect the way in which people choose to worship (or not). The article comments that people participating in a prayer are acting in contrary to their conscience. Following that logic, religious individuals act in contrary to their conscience every time a meeting is not started or concluded with a prayer. If we stopped being so offended by either belief or non-belief, we might actually learn something new and enlightening because we would have a venue to learn about one another. I think a lot of hate and anger is generated because we are never exposed to other's beliefs because of the lack of understanding that is accumulated from that lack of exposure. Making everything so deeply secular is creating an environment that lacks diversity and that doesn't generate understanding.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 5:47 p.m.

    You can pray any where you want. However the government shouldn't be leading one in public (or in Congress). I'm not a member of your religion and I don't believe in your god. I expect YOU to be as tolerant of me as you INSIST for yourselves.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:33 p.m.

    @a bit of reality

    Jesus was talking about personal prayer not public prayer,

    @Ranch

    Public meetings are whatever the people want them to be. They are meetings by, of, and for the people which includes religious people.

    The public square is for ALL people not just secular people.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 8, 2013 10:38 p.m.

    The founding fathers had prayers, published the bible and the Koran, built building with religious imagery and artwork, among other religious activities,

    they did not believe any of it violated the first amendment and they helped write it.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 9, 2013 7:40 a.m.

    To "Lane Myer" secular humanism is because it is not an organized religion, like Budhism, Islam, Taoism, and others.

  • Contrariuser mid-state, TN
    Oct. 9, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    @RedShirt --

    Greece, NY has roughly the same population and situation as WVC Utah does.

    Does anyone here seriously believe that people who live in WVC never attend church in Murray or Millcreek or Kearns?

    "which religious body is it that can claim Christianity."

    Which religious body claims Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Judaism?

    Ague with all the religious authorities in the world, if you like. That won't change the fact that Christianity is indeed a religion.

    One example out of thousands: "The largest Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam".

    "if they eliminate prayers then they are adopting Secular Humanism as the state religion. "

    The absence of religion is entirely different than the establishment of religion.

    @Daniel L --

    "Don't we afford them the same respect in the public arena as I would hope they would do for me"

    A Sikh man was arrested last spring in Mississippi, literally because he was wearing a turban. The JUDGE, of all people, refused to have the man in his courtroom unless he "removed that rag." (And yes, that's a direct quote.)

    So, no, we do NOT give all religions the "same respect" that Christianity is given.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Oct. 9, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    To "Contrariuser" but Secular Humanism is a religion, according to the Dictionary and the IRS. Do you know something that the IRS doesn't.

    Since a religion is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith", secular humanism is a religion. They rely on faith that there is no God.

    You may not like it, but Secular Humanism is a religion.

  • Contrariuser mid-state, TN
    Oct. 9, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 --

    "Secular Humanism is a religion, according to the Dictionary and the IRS. "

    Show me the dictionary that defines SECULAR humanism as a religion.

    Show me the IRS statement declaring that SECULAR humanism is a religion.

    You are once again confusing secular humanism with religious humanism. They are not the same thing.

    "Since a religion is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith", secular humanism is a religion."

    According to this definition, Republicanism is a religion.

    Now, I agree that Republicans often act like religious extremists -- but do you really think they belong to the Church of Republicanism? Shall we give them tax exemptions?

    ;-)

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Oct. 9, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    To "Contrariuser" I am not confusing secular humanism with religious humanism. Secular humanism is also known as athiesism. By totally eliminating religions that believe in a higher being from the public, you by default are establishing Secular Humanism as the state religion.

    Republicanism does not require faith, so it is not a religion.

    Tell us, should we go against the constitution and establish Secular Humanism as the state religion?

  • Contrariuser mid-state, TN
    Oct. 9, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 --

    " I am not confusing secular humanism with religious humanism. "

    Show me the dictionary that defines secular humanism as a religion -- as you claimed.

    Show me the IRS statement which declares secular humanism to be a religion -- as you claimed.

    You can't do it -- because secular humanism is NOT a religion.

    "Secular humanism is also known as athiesism. "

    Only in your dreams.

    Secular humanists include atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and rationalists. Secular humanism is NOT the same thing as religious humanism, and it isn't the same thing as atheism either.

    "Republicanism does not require faith, so it is not a religion."

    Who says? Please tell us how Republicanism requires any less faith than agnosticism or skepticism does.

    I'll be you can't do it.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 9, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 – “Secular humanism is also known as athiesism. By totally eliminating religions that believe in a higher being from the public, you by default are establishing Secular Humanism as the state religion.”

    Let me see if I got this right – an atheist (or agnostic) is someone who does not believe in god (all gods including Zeus, Baal, Odin and yes the God of Abraham).

    And this non-belief is, according to you, a religion?

    So what would the logical structure of this look like by your reasoning? If I tell you I don’t believe in unicorns, according to your logic that statement would look like this:

    “I believe in not-unicorns”

    I think your conflation of religious belief and agnosticism/atheism not only violates the logical law of non-contradiction, it violates basic common sense… not to mention makes my head hurt.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Oct. 9, 2013 12:43 p.m.

    To "Tyler D" it is not just me that considers athiesism a religion. The IRS also considers it a religion. The dictionary also agrees with me in stating that a religion is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith".

    FYI, Agnosticism is different from athiesism. Agnostics are fence sitters, and are uncomitted to a belief or disbelief in God.

    The unicorn example is just like the unicorn itself. Unicorns have been proven to not exist, so faith has nothing to do with it. Go and read the unabridged definition of Religion.

    To "Contrariuser" if you don't believe me, how about the Washington Times? Read "Atheists incensed after IRS grants them tax exemption as religious group". There we hear from a group of Athiests that they don't want to be considered a religion, but the IRS insists that they are.

    In "Feds say OK to atheists on religion tax break" in USAToday, it explains that even the DOJ has argued in court that athiesm is a religion.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 9, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    @Redshirt1701 – “a religion is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith".”

    I can’t speak to the IRS or DOJ, but I think it’s safe to say that decisions like that would be driven by politics more than anything else.

    But I’m baffled as to how you think the dictionary agrees with you. Again, I don’t believe there are any super-beings who watch over us, take an interest in our lives or in any way interfere in the natural order. I assume you would say that makes me an atheist, yes?

    [By the way, I’m guessing you are too, at least with respect to Zeus, Baal, Odin, etc… The only difference between you and me is that I include the God of Abraham on my “do not believe” list.]

    So tell me again how my non-belief is actually a “belief held to with ardor and faith?"

    You really owe it to yourself to look up the law of non-contradiction because I think you’re very confused on this issue.

    Reached comment limit…

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Oct. 9, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    @Redshirt1701 --

    "The IRS also considers it a religion."

    No, it doesn't.

    Once again -- atheism is NOT the same thing as secular humanism.

    "The dictionary also agrees with me"

    No, it doesn't.

    NOWHERE in the dictionary will you find "secular humanism" defined as a religion. Nowhere.

    And NOWHERE in the dictionary will you find "secular humanism" defined as atheism. Nowhere.

    "FYI, Agnosticism is different from athiesism."

    The word is "atheism". You keep getting that one wrong.

    And FYI, I do know that agnostics are different than atheists. That was my point, after all. ;-)

    Both agnostics and atheists, as well as rationalists and skeptics, can be humanists.

    "how about the Washington Times?"

    Once again -- secular humanism and atheism are NOT the same things.

    Now -- where is that IRS statement that declares secular humanism to be a religion? Where is that dictionary definition that defines secular humanism as a religion? You claimed to have both of these things. Would you like to retract your claims?

    And please answer my other earlier question. Please tell us how Republicanism requires any less faith than agnosticism or skepticism does.

    I'll bet you still can't do it.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Oct. 9, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    To "Tyler D" so you are a follower of the the Athiest religion. You said that you "don’t believe there are any super-beings who watch over us, take an interest in our lives or in any way interfere in the natural order."

    The key thing is that you stated that is is a belief that you hold to with faith because you cannot prove or disprove the existance of a God or other supreme being.

    The fact that you cannot describe how the dictionary does not agree with me only shows that it does.

    You have faith in, and a belief that there is no God. You have a system of beliefs that you hold to that are based on your faith. That is the definition of religion, like it or not.

    To "Contrarius" wow, I must have really proved you wrong. According to the Council for Secular Humanism, "Secular humanism begins with atheism". Do you know more than the Council for Secular Humanists?

    Again, the IRS and DOJ both recognize Secular Humanists as a religion, why can't you? You asked for proof that the IRS, and I gave it. Now you don't accept the proof?!!

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Oct. 9, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    @Redshirt --

    "According to the Council for Secular Humanism, "Secular humanism begins with atheism".

    Sigh. There you go, blatantly misquoting your sources again.

    Here is what the Council actually says. Emphases mine:

    1. "Secular humanism begins with atheism (absence of belief in a deity) **and** agnosticism **or** skepticism .... "
    -- This is exactly what I told you before. Secular humanism includes atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and rationalists. NOT just atheists.

    2. "Secular humanism is comprehensive, touching every aspect of life including issues of values, meaning, and identity. Thus it is **broader than** atheism, which concerns only the nonexistence of god or the supernatural. Important as that may be, there’s a lot more to life … and secular humanism addresses it. Secular humanism is **nonreligious**, espousing **no belief** in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience."

    "Again, the IRS and DOJ both recognize Secular Humanists as a religion"

    Again, no, they don't.

    One More Time: atheism and secular humanism are NOT the same things. Even the sources you quote yourself say that they are not.

    "Now you don't accept the proof?!!"

    You have never yet submitted any such proof -- because there isn't any.

    Secular humanism is NOT a religion.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 9, 2013 3:20 p.m.

    I remember in high School, an issue with a student who didn't want the prayer before an assembly. You know, she had good reason. She was Jewish and the prayers were always done by Mormons. I grew up Mormon. She , I am sure, felt very uncomfortable or pushed aside. What bothered me was the way in which she was treated. They gave her no consideration and they certainly did not honor her freedom of Religion. It was disgraceful. Not to be rude, there are a great deal of people here in Utah that are hypocrites. You are screaming about freedom of religion, but you don't really respect that freedom when it comes to others. It is the Mormons first, and the rest will have to get the leftovers. That is what it feels like. Everything is hunky dory until it is someone with a different religion who controls the show!

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    Oct. 9, 2013 4:33 p.m.

    To "Contrarius" if the atheists were not recognized as a religion, then why were they fighting the IRS over being classified as a religion? Why would the DOJ argue that the atheists were a religious group if the DOJ did not recognize them as a religious group.

    It is like you haven't read the news items that I referenced.

    This is what you are now saying. You don't accept that the IRS and the DOJ consider atheism a religion, despite the fact that a group of athiests are fighting against them over their classification as a religion.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Oct. 10, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    @RedShirtMIT --

    "if the atheists were not recognized as a religion, then why were they fighting the IRS over being classified as a religion?"

    Red, you're getting ridiculous.

    As you are very well aware, I am -- and have been -- talking about secular humanism, NOT atheism.

    Secular humanism is NOT the same thing as atheism, despite your claims to the contrary. That is the truth, and it will remain the truth.

    Secular humanism is NOT a religion. Neither the dictionary nor the IRS nor the DOJ have ever defined secular humanism as a religion, despite your claims to the contrary.

    That is the truth, and it will remain the truth.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    Oct. 10, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    To "Contrarius" so now you know more than the Council for Secular Humanism? They state that secular humanism BEGINS with athiesism. I don't think it can get much clearer without them making a banner that says they are Atheists.

    You are also ignoring the fact that in teh 1960's the American Humanist Association (Self proclaimed Secular Humanists) applied for and obtained tax exempt status for a religious organization.

    Also, if Secular Humanism is not a religion, then explain why they are petitioning to have Chaplains (religious designation) for Secular Humanists?

    The athiests seem to think they are a religion, why don't you accept the CSH, AHA, IRS and DOJ all calling Secular Humanists (atheists) a religion?

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Oct. 10, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    @RedShirtMIT ==

    "They state that secular humanism BEGINS with athiesism."

    Seriously, Red??

    I've already pointed out to you that you misquoted their statement. Did you miss my correction the first time??

    The REAL statement reads:

    "Secular humanism begins with atheism (absence of belief in a deity) AND agnosticism OR skepticism .... "
    -- Again, this is exactly what I told you before. Secular humanism includes atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and rationalists. NOT just atheists.

    And once again, the word is "atheism". At least try to get THAT right, if nothing else.

    "You are also ignoring the fact that in teh 1960's the American Humanist Association (Self proclaimed Secular Humanists) applied for and obtained tax exempt status for a religious organization."

    I'm not ignoring anything.

    In the 1960's, the AHA encompassed both secular AND religious humanism. It no longer does.

    "Also, if Secular Humanism is not a religion, then explain why they are petitioning to have Chaplains (religious designation) for Secular Humanists?"

    not enough space here -- next post!

  • Contrariusier mid-state, TN
    Oct. 10, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    The Council for Secular Humanism has a good discussion on humanist chaplains. Here's a few very brief excerpts.

    -----

    "First, humanism doesn’t fill any necessary role for atheists as a group. One can disbelieve in God without being a humanist; for that matter, many humanists do not describe themselves as atheists. Humanism and atheism are distinct worldviews; although many individuals embrace both, neither is a quality of the other. "

    "a whopping 285,000 servicemembers claim no religious preference. ...surveys of the general population suggest 50 to 66 percent of civilian “Nones” fall into (the nonreligious) category....shouldn’t military nonbelievers see at least some of their own among the ranks of the chaplain corps?"

    "...the military command opted to task chaplains to serve as first-line counselors. "

    "First, the chaplain is easily accessible... Second, discussions with the chaplain are protected by clergy confidentiality. ... Third and most worrisome, unlike a counseling session with a chaplain, a servicemember’s request for secular mental-health services is the opposite of confidential."

    "Why shouldn’t military nonbelievers have the same access as believers to the counseling, mentoring, and the other kinds of support chaplains provide?"

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    Oct. 11, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    To "Contrariusier" so then you admit that the Athiests want to be a religion and provide religious counseling to our troops. The troops already have access to counseling, mentoring, and the types of support that chaplains provide. They may have to go to 2 or 3 people, but the services are there.

    You are omitting the fact that a chaplain is "a clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court." Athiests want a clergyman, which is a religious designation.

    I am glad to see that you have come around and agree with the DOJ and IRS that athiesm is a religion.

  • Contrariusier mid-state, TN
    Oct. 11, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    @Red --

    Red, you're just trolling now.

    "you admit that the Athiests want to be a religion and provide religious counseling... "

    No, hon, I clearly never said any such thing.

    The secular humanists (not atheists) want to provide NONreligious counseling. And that's clearly stated in the excerpts I already posted.

    "The troops already have access to counseling, mentoring, and the types of support that chaplains provide."

    And that secular humanist discussion clearly points out the reasons why the currently-available counseling options are insufficient, especially concerning the confidentiality of clergy counseling compared to the LACK of confidentiality with other types of counseling.

    "You are omitting the fact that a chaplain is "a clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court." Athiests want a clergyman, which is a religious designation."

    Sigh, Red. Try reading the discussion.

    And, again -- we're talking about secular humanists here, NOT atheists.

    And, again -- secular humanism is NOT the same thing as atheism. You can keep repeating the lie as many times as you like, but that will never make it true.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    Oct. 15, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    To "Contrariusier" lets go over everything again.

    Secular Humanists state that their philosophy begins with Atheism.

    Secular Humanists/Athiests have been granted religious tax exempt status by the IRS, which was argued by the DOJ in front of the courts.

    Secular Humanists/Athiests want to get Clergy in the military. Clergy are religious leaders within the military organization.

    According to the Secular Humanists, they are athiests. You many not recognize that, or accept it, but that is what THEY claim, not me.

  • Contrariusier mid-state, TN
    Oct. 15, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    @Red --

    Still trolling, I see.

    "Secular Humanists state that their philosophy begins with Atheism."

    No, hon. They very clearly state that their philosophy beings with atheism AND agnosticism AND skepticism. Not just one. Some humanists are atheists, some are not. As I've already told you several times.

    "Secular Humanists/Athiests have been granted religious tax exempt status by the IRS, which was argued by the DOJ in front of the courts."

    No, hon. Secular humanists have NEVER been granted any religious tax exemptions by anyone.

    "Secular Humanists/Athiests want to get Clergy in the military. Clergy are religious leaders within the military organization."

    No, hon. Secular humanists want to be able to provide NONreligious counseling to nonbelievers in the military.

    "According to the Secular Humanists, they are athiests."

    No, hon.

    Again, straight from the Council for Secular Humanism:

    "First, humanism doesn’t fill any necessary role for atheists as a group. One can disbelieve in God without being a humanist; for that matter, many humanists do not describe themselves as atheists. Humanism and atheism are distinct worldviews; although many individuals embrace both, neither is a quality of the other. "

    Reality, Red. Give it a try.