Selwyn Duke
Constitution does NOT dictate that satanic displays must get equal time in public square
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By Selwyn Duke
December 29, 2023

In the very tiresome battles over whether one religious element can be in the public realm without being accompanied by other “religious” elements that someone, somewhere claims to value, a simple point is missed:

We do have the right to freedom of religion.

But this does not equate to the right to equal government showcasing of religion.

The issue at hand is that cultural devolutionaries have for years now applied a religion-focused Cloward-Piven strategy, through which they seek to eliminate all public-square religious expression by inundating the system with equal-time requests for “religious” expression ranging from the evil to the asinine.

For example, the Satanic Temple has an after-school club that’s set to start in an elementary school near Memphis in January and also has “holiday” displays at the Iowa and Michigan state capitols (and no doubt elsewhere). Interestingly, after the first Iowa satanic display was destroyed, authorities charged the man responsible, a Navy veteran. Unlike when mobs tore down Confederate statues, they didn’t turn a blind eye and Nancy Pelosi didn’t say “People will do what they do.”

As for asininity, other Christmastime displays have “included a Festivus pole in tribute to a holiday created on ‘Seinfeld’ that satirizes the commercialism of Christmas,” related Fox News in 2014, “and a display by the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, which mocks beliefs that a god created the universe and argues instead that the universe was created by a plate of pasta and meatballs.”

Is this what the Founders, those 18th-century giants who sometimes wore powdered wigs, envisioned?

Before answering, consider that the men who crafted the First Amendment, who birthed the Establishment Clause, opened the very first Congress in 1789 with exclusively Christian prayers. This practice continues to this day — and the prayers are still mainly Christian.

In other words, anyone supposing the First Amendment means that “religion must be kept out of government” is essentially saying that the men who wrote that provision didn’t know what it meant. (If that’s the kind of thinking secular reason gives us, I’ll stick with religious mysticism.)

Note, too, that our first president, George Washington, stated in his farewell address (1796), “[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.” And our second president, John Adams, said in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Clearly, they considered faith a prerequisite for the “American experiment’s” success.

What they didn’t want was a national church — and that’s what the First Amendment forbids. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (emphasis added). If the Founders had intended for the prohibition to apply to all levels of government, they would have written “government,” not specified Congress. They clearly meant to constrain only the central government with the provision, not the states.

This said, most states have constitutions with language mirroring the First Amendment. Yet forbidding “establishment” means just that: prohibiting an official government church’s creation. Framers could have written that “no law shall be made respecting the expression of religion….” But they didn’t — and in the Founders’ case wouldn’t, as, again, evidenced by their official religious expression in Congress.

Nonetheless, we’ve long been operating under the idea that allowing one religious element in the public sphere but not others is, somehow, a constitutional violation. This position’s folly can be illustrated with an analogy.

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech as well as that of religion. So, question: If state-funded, faith-oriented elements in the public sphere violate freedom of religion, wouldn’t state-funded, speech-oriented elements violate the freedom of speech?

We do have state-funded, speech-oriented displays, too, such as at the Lincoln Memorial, where the 16th president’s Gettysburg and Second Inaugural addresses are inscribed. The former includes the words that our nation was “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” There’s also the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which includes the quotation, “Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation….”

Now, another question: Should it be mandated that such speech’s display be privately funded and restricted to private land, lest the government be guilty of “infringing upon speech”?

What’s more, should the same “anti-infringement” imperative also dictate that insofar as such speech is represented in the public sphere, contrary opinions must be displayed alongside Lincoln’s and King’s words? How about the 1619 Project proposition that our nation was not conceived in liberty but in slavery? How about a Nazi belief that racial chauvinism should be encouraged?

Of course, it’s quite preposterous to equate government display of speech with its infringement upon speech. Yet is it any less silly to equate government display of “religion” with the infringement upon exercise of religion? Public-sphere Christian elements don’t force a person to attend church any more than public-sphere equality-dogma displays compel him to espouse equality.

Again, the principle here is simple: The right to freedom of religion does not equate to the right to the equal government showcasing of religion.

Asserting otherwise creates a situation in which we conceivably could be asked to showcase thousands of conceptions of religion, which would likely lead to the purging of all faith from the public square. To reiterate, this is precisely certain cultural devolutionaries’ goal, too.

Really, all this reflects a childishness. It’s much as with schools that pander to students who identify as animals or dress as “furries”: It wouldn’t be happening were the grown-ups actually adult and not just chronologically so. We’re simply not a serious country if we have to argue about whether a boy can become a girl just by willing it — or if we grant a “Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster” or sitcom-origin display equal footing with a Nativity Scene.

Of course, some of us revel in this as “sophistication,” liberation or love of liberty, but all it means is having an old heart, a child’s soul and the gravitas of a toddler. Unfortunately, though, the kid that is America is as decrepit as he is immature and, barring a spiritual renewal, is not long for this world.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on MeWe or Gettr or log on to SelwynDuke.com

© Selwyn Duke

 

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