Re: [asa] Brownback on evolution

From: PvM <>
Date: Sun Jun 17 2007 - 14:52:39 EDT

On 6/17/07, David Clounch <> wrote:
> On 6/15/07, PvM <> wrote:
> > Your reading of Kaufman seems to be flawed as it did not rule that the
> > government agencies have no right to ban religious ideas
> I said(My teaser to Dave Wallace to pique his interest):
> "It actually says that government agencies don't have the right to ban
> religious ideas, BTW. "
> 7th Circuit:
> "defendants infringed on his right to practice
> his religion when they refused to allow him to create an inmate group to
> study and discuss atheism".
> Study and discuss? Study and discuss what? Chess? No, study and discuss
> the religious ideas of atheism. So, pardon me for leaping to the alleged
> seemingly wild speculation and alleged "flawed" conclusion that it was
> discussion of religious ideas (of atheism) which the government officials
> were seeking to ban (while at the same not banning
> Wiccan,Buddhist,Christian,and Islamic religious ideas). Do they have the
> power to ban one but not the others? The readers can draw their own
> conclusions. Can't they?

Your argument is evolving from 'government agencies have no right to
ban religious ideas' to 'they have no right to ban one religious idea
but not the others'. I hope that the readers can appreciate the big
difference between the two statements.
Yes, government agencies have the right to ban religious ideas. In
this case there was no secular purpose to ban atheism, which for the
purpose of the ruling was defined as relevant to the religion clause
even though it is a nonreligion.

> I said: "It reinforces the idea that ideas pertaining to "ultimate"
> questions are protected, (getting that from previous case). "
> 7th Circuit mentions ultimate concern:
> we have suggested in the past that when a
> person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of "ultimate
> concern" that for her occupy a "place parallel to that
> filled by . . . God in traditionally religious persons," those
> beliefs represent her religion. Fleischfresser v. Dirs. of Sch.
> Dist. 200, 15 F.3d 680, 688 n.5 (7th Cir. 1994) (internal
> citation and quotation omitted); see also Welsh v. United
> States, 398 U.S. 333, 340 (1970); United States v. Seeger,
> 380 U.S. 163, 184-88 (1965). We have already indicated that
> atheism may be considered, in this specialized sense, a
> religion. See Reed v. Great Lakes Cos., 330 F.3d 931, 934
> (7th Cir. 2003) ("If we think of religion as taking a position
> on divinity, then atheism is indeed a form of religion.").

As some else points out

<quote>They referred to another Supreme Court decision (Wallace v.
Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985)), where the court said:

    "At one time it was thought that this right [referring to the
right to choose one's own creed] merely proscribed the preference of
one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect
for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a
non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism. But when the underlying
principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court
has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience
protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any
religious faith or none at all."</quote>

Based on all this the court argues that

<quote>Id. at 52-53. In keeping with this idea, the Court has adopted
a broad definition of "religion" that includes non- theistic and
atheistic beliefs, as well as theistic ones. Thus, in Torcaso v.
Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, it said that a state cannot "pass laws or
impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers,
and neither can [it] aid those religions based on a belief in the
existence of God as against those religions founded on different
beliefs." Id. at 495. Indeed, Torcaso specifically included "Secular
Humanism" as an example of a religion. Id. at 495 n.11. </quote>

Hope this clarifies both the caselaw as well as my argument rebutting
David C's original claim. If David C wants to revise his original
comments and evolve them into " Do they have the
 power to ban one but not the others? " then fine, even in the latter
case there can indeed be a valid secular reason to do so. So the
answer remains yes, the government has the right to ban religious
ideas, or even one religious idea and not others.

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Received on Sun Jun 17 14:52:48 2007

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