Federal Judge Dismisses Atheist Group’s Lawsuit

Gavel
A federal judge has ruled that an atheist group does not have the legal standing needed to file a lawsuit against the existence of a 10-Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol. The judge dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.

Click here to read about the lawsuit’s dismissal.

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  • I’ve been puzzled for a long time by the militant atheists.

    Okay, they don’t believe in God. No problem. Free country and all that…

    But they don’t believe SO STRONGLY that they’ve got to totally erase anything in public life that might remind them of God?

    I guess indifference just isn’t an option.

    • JWH

      Actually … indifference is an option. I think these kinds of Ten Commandments displays probably violate the First Amendment, but I consider them a de minimis violation. I think the displays are gauche, but I also find them nonsubstantive. I’m more concerned about displays and such in public schools.

      • jim_m

        How do they violate it? It is a monument paid for by private funds.
        The problem that the atheists have here is that they are making a claim that religious expression on government property is illegal. It’s a loser of a fight and just reveals them to be intolerant jerks.

        • JWH

          If you want to debate the violation, find somebody else to do it. I’ve said my piece on it. De minimis, not worth my time.

          • jim_m

            That’s fine. We will disagree on whether or not private speech with religious content on government grounds is legal with you saying that it is illegal and me saying that it is legal.

          • Agreeing to disagree. What a concept. 😉

        • Porkopolis

          Private religious speech by citizens, not in any way shape or form supported by government dollars: OK.

          Private religious speech by citizens supported by government dollars, even tacitly: Violation.

          • jim_m

            So since the government pays for the upkeep on government property you are claiming that it is illegal to have any religious speech on government property. That’s bullshit and is completely contrary to the law.

          • jim_m

            Church is supported by government dollars because they pay no taxes but receive city services. Therefore by your definition religious worship in a church is illegal. Or you are demanding that churches pay tax, thus opening religion up to government suppression through taxes and forcing people to pay for their constitutional liberties.

          • Show the passage of the Constitution that supports your position.

      • And I’m not really concerned about them in public schools – they’re background noise for the kids, so to speak. As you said, nonsubstantive.

        Indifferent doesn’t seem to be an option for the militant atheists. Like I said, it’s weird – they react almost like vampires.

        Hmm… makes me wonder if if an atheist vampire’s reaction to a cross would be magnified or diminished?

        • JWH

          Here’s the thing, though. Let’s consider legislative prayer. If a bunch of adults are at a meeting of the local zoning board, and it opens with a quick prayer, I don’t particularly like it, but it’s fine. Bow your head, or not, pray, or not, and as long as the chairman of the board doesn’t harangue Joe Atheist for not praying with everybody else, or deny Joe Atheist a zoning variance because he’s an atheist, I don’t particularly care.

          But if a junior-high principal hops on the PA and includes a prayer with the morning announcements, or a Bible reading or some such, that’s one hell of a coercive atmosphere for 12-year-old Joey Atheist.

          • Scalia

            Whether or not is it coercive to Joey Atheist has nothing to do with the First Amendment which restricts Congress, not the states.

            Even if the “Fourteenth Amendment makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states” precedent is correct, the fact that the first Congress adopted the final language of the First Amendment three days after passing a resolution to appoint and pay a chaplain and opened its sessions with prayer demonstrates how far askew the atheists’ arguments are. Prayer led by public or private officials on public property is not a violation of the First Amendment.

          • jim_m

            I think you make a very good point. It is not an issue whether someone “feels” coerced. The law is not about how people feel, it is about a person’s actions. Just because atheists get upset about something doesn’t mean that the something provoking them is illegal.

          • Scalia

            Absolutely. What if a student is offended by h/er school’s honoring of MLK? What if s/he feels that MLK is not the appropriate symbol of civil rights due to his plagiarism and adultery? H/er discomfort, offense or feelings of exclusion over the MLK love-fest does not render the holiday unconstitutional.

            In this regard, atheists are confusing what they think public policy should be with what the First Amendment is. All their talk about exclusion or giving the imprimatur that public policy is based on religion is entirely irrelevant to the question. The Founders never intended the First Amendment to exclude public prayer. Consequently, establishment necessarily means something other than prayer, chaplains and other forms of “free exercise.”

            Lots of things make people uncomfortable. Isn’t that what tolerance is about?

          • JWH

            Can you square that with Engel v. Vitale?

          • Scalia

            Why should I attempt to square my beliefs with a decision that I disagree with? It’s like asking a pro-lifer how s/he squares h/er beliefs with Roe v. Wade. The actions of the first Congress make it obvious that the current “separation” doctrine doesn’t “square” with their intent.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            Additionally, if they try to consider Creationism as a part of not only the school curriculum, but as a part of “science” class, than I have a problem.

            Oklahoma has also made attempts to “clean up” components of history so that America is viewed in a better light.

            Clean up history?

            I will have to admit that I never thought a lot about Oklahoma until the last few years (or days for that matter), but the aforementioned, the fraternity and the focus on Sharia Law (in Oklahoma?) has certainly been illuminating.

            This, along with recent developments in the Dakotas, Montana (please leave yoga pants alone, thank you), Texas, Kansas, etc., certainly reinforces the “two Americas) theory. There is certainly a segment of our country that would prefer that government is far more theological.

          • For what it’s worth, in the Methodist school we had our son in, there was NO mention of creationism in the science curriculum.

            And believe me, I looked. I wanted him to get the best education possible, and creationism just ain’t it.

            They did cover evolution pretty well, too.

          • jim_m

            Wheaton College, alma mater of billy graham does not teach creationism. Who’s the buster is arguing from ignorance and prejudice and not about any real life circumstance.

          • That’s been my observation when people start going on about ‘how (insert religious group here) wants to (insert cause they hate here) and it has to be stopped!’

            It doesn’t matter to them what the reality is – what they believe is more important.

          • JWH

            I get a bit upset over Scientologists …

          • jim_m

            That’s because Scientology only ever was a scam

          • JWH

            Not just that. The religion also treats a lot of its followers like crap.

          • Skeptic NY

            FYI – All religion is a scam.

          • jim_m

            Religion may be but faith is not.

          • Skeptic NY

            Faith is believing in things without evidence. That may not make it a scam but it makes it delusional.

          • Faith is the evidence of things unseen and the proof of things hoped for.

          • jim_m

            Yeah, sort of like global warming.

          • Oooh! An edgy atheist! So hip and cool! Tell us more, oh wise one, pretty please?

          • Skeptic NY

            What would you like to know?

          • Who doesn’t? Aside from Scientologists, that is.

            I used to work in a bookstore, and people wold come in looking for copies of ‘Dianetics’… but they didn’t always get the name right. I remember someone coming in asking for the self-help book “Psychotic Diabetics, that one with the volcano on the cover?”

            Led him right to it…

          • JWH

            Actually, I consider the Scientologists pretty useful for thought experiments.

            The Church of Scientology is one of the most litigious organizations on the planet. When somebody proposes a new law or policy related to religion, I ask myself, “Would I trust the Church of Scientology with this?”

          • JWH

            Prime example is the blasphemy thing that I’ve seen floated about. Essentially, the argument is that nations should pass laws that criminalize insulting religion or religious prophets. The idea being, of course, that one should not offend religious sensibilities by insulting their leaders or their beliefs.

            So, I considered a religion whose prophet and spiritual leader had performed miracles, had visions, preached a new faith, and wrote down his ideas in a very popular book. This prophet died and ascended to the heavens, but his followers continually prepare for his return. This prophet of course is, L. Ron Hubbard. And Scientologists keep their lawyers on near-telepathic speed dial, so you KNOW they would be all over those who transgress a blasphemy law.

            So when I ask myself, “Would I trust the Scientologists with this?” my answer is a resounding “NO!!!” … and I understand blasphemy laws are a hella bad idea.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            I find the greatest threat to impose blasphemy laws coming from the left – of course they won’t call it “blasphemy” it will be under the guise of “hate speech.” See, e.g. this article, by the Dean of a J School no less, arguing that you shouldn’t be able to say bad things about Mohammed because Islamists are likely to go nuts [he also makes a legal argument that is completely wrong].

            “DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication: Charlie Hebdo has gone too far.”
            http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/01/19/charlie-hebdo-cross-line-free-speech-covers-islam-limits-wickham/21960957/

            Oh, and I forgot that the 1966 human rights treaty banning “advocacy of religious hatred” is still in force. Someone should tell ISIS. I’m sure they will alter their activities to be in compliance.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            What did I say that is ignorant or even remotely steeped in prejudice?

            When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.

            The more than 17,000 students in the Responsive Education Solutions charter system will read in their history books that feminism forced women to turn to the government as a “surrogate husband.”

            A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs.

            Operating more than 65 campuses in Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana, Responsive Ed receives more than $82 million in taxpayer money annually, and it is expanding, with 20 more Texas campuses opening in 2014.

            The above comes from a few articles.

            One link is below, I can supply the others, but I didn’t know of more than one link was allowed:

            http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_texas_public_schools_undermining_the_charter_movement.html

          • jim_m

            Nearly every post you make.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            For example?

          • jim_m

            And there’s another

          • Nearly every post you make.

            FIFY.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            You two are entertaining.

            Moderating?

            So any response to teaching Creationism in science class or is an opposing opinion too prejudicial and/or ignorant?

          • jim_m

            Dude, when you deliver something contemporaneous where this is a real and serious issue and not just your bigoted bullshit then we will address it. As it is I haven’t heard of this as an issue since the 1980’s.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            Dude? Funny as I am 60.

            Well since the article and the issue takes place in the last few years, I have no idea why you think it is steeped in the 80’s. Take a look at all of the regions where similar actions are taking place as it is about 15 states.

            Texas has also made efforts to make it standard in text books, and since the companies will not print two versions and the student population in Texas is so substantial, it could become standard.

            Not in social studies mind you, but science class, while diminishing evolution to a “yeah, maybe, but is there really any evidence?”

            Yikes! The fact that it is technically against the law to teach Creationism (doesn’t matter if it is labeled with code words, e.g., “intelligent design”) in science class doesn’t seem to matter.(Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) would seem to be noteworthy to law abiding citizens. The Texas “charter” schools may be slipping through a loophole as they are not technically “public” schools, even though they receive public funding.

            As I mentioned a few weeks ago when watching Inherent the Wind with my 89 year old Father. We looked up the reaction in 1960 when the movie was released (surprised to learn that at the time it was considered to be symbolic of McCarthyism) and it was viewed to be entertaining (while taking considerable literary license) yet archaic. Certainly not an issue that would be examined in this way again.

            Wow, who thought so many people would be actively taking giant steps into the past? Seems the right is often trying to turn back the hands of time so we can return to the “good ole days”. You know, before science.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            I have no problem if they teach it in a parochial school. I am not sure it prepare the child for optimum employability, but that is the parent’s choice.
            Texas is currently the most aggressive in this regard relevant to public schools and/or text books.

          • cargosquid

            I like pointing out that my fundamentalist church has accepted the theories of natural selection and the big bang. And that you can’t get more “fundamentalist” than the Catholic church…and all those free thinking Protestant churches need to return to the Holy Mother Church.

            🙂

          • 😉

          • Um…

            I think we’ll agree to disagree on this. Schools don’t start with a morning prayer, unless you want to include the Pledge of Allegiance as one. (Or you go to a religiously affiliated one, like we put our son through for 8 years.)

            Again, it’s background noise. To the atheist, any mention of religion seems as painful as holy water to a vampire… but I think they’re actively looking to be offended so they can make a stink about it.

          • JWH

            (Side note: SCOTUS has held that while you can have an organized recitation of the Pledge, it is unconstitutional to force students to recite it).

          • JWH

            I think we’ll agree to disagree on this. Schools don’t start with a morning prayer, unless you want to include the Pledge of Allegiance as one.

            Despite Engel v. Vitale, church-state violations (including morning prayer and/or Bible readings) still happen at some schools.

          • Porkopolis

            Sorry, but prayer at a government meeting gives the meeting the ‘imprimatur’ that the decisions made (public policy) will be in accordance with those of the religion that the prayer was made in.

            Unfortunately, Supreme Court got it wrong on this, very wrong: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/nyregion/supreme-court-allows-prayers-at-town-meetings.html?_r=0

          • JWH

            Pork, I find a simple opening prayer to be a de minimis violation of the First Amendment (assuming its a violation at all), and not one worth the time it’s taken to litigate it. Show me a city council that has a short (i.e., two-minute) Christian opening prayer, and I’m bored. Show me a city councilman that yells at an atheist for not bowing his head during the prayer and orders him removed from the room, and I’ll be interested.

    • Porkopolis

      It’s because some will attempt to use the rhetoric of ethos (authority) to make public policy.
      Consider the argument that Copperhead and New York Democrat Congressman Fernando Wood made against the 13th Amendment: “Congress must never declare equal those whom God has created unequal” (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiSAbAuLhqs&feature=player_detailpage#t=44s )

      • jim_m

        Because someone might do something unethical or illegal is not cause for prior restraint on my actions.

        • Porkopolis

          Your religious (or non-religious) actions are fully protected by the Constitution. They’re just not subsidized by the government.

          Some atheists are misguided in being anti-religion. Other atheists see a benefit/utility to religion (from a moral psychology/anthropological point of view; see: ‘The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives’: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind ).

          Structuring government with even a hint of reliance on religion-based public policy has its perils when you get someone like Congressman Fernando Wood claiming that their subjective interpretation dictates a specific course of action.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            There isn’t a non-religious piece of public policy that isn’t subject to the “perils” being perverted by someone like Congressman Wood. See, ObamaCare and Dr. Gruber.

  • JWH

    This reminds me: What do the Washington Redskins have in common with a charismatic minister?

    • I’m almost afraid to ask… but I will anyway.

      What DO the Washington Redskins have in common with a charismatic minister?

      • JWH

        Both can make 80,000 people stand up and yell “JESUS CHRIST!!!!” on Sunday.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    In this respect, militant atheists are like militant gays. It’s not enough that you let them alone, you must agree with them.