The 'C' in ACLU Is for Cowardice
We’re past Halloween and approaching Christmas and gearing up for the biggest battles in the highest stakes contact sport there is. No, we’re not talking about college football’s bowl season. Rather, 'tis the season for filing legal briefs over Christmas displays.
Like two prize fighters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Alliance Defense Fund are preparing to go at it as the ACLU begins its annual season of silly lawsuits. The fear of silly lawsuits leads schools and local governments to take even more ridiculous actions, such as the school that banned red and green napkins from a “holiday” party a few years back. The Alliance Defense Fund’s prepping a phalanx of attorneys to go to battle has brought a touch of sanity to the annual festival of PC insanity by ensuring that government bodies realize trampling on the rights of citizens out of ACLUaphobia will have consequences.
With the ACLU, the silly season never stops; it just hits its biggest fever pitch around Christmas. They’re engaged in a lawsuit in Illinois and have found a friendly judge to agree with their atheist client that a moment of silence in schools is unconstitutional. Yes, having a moment of silence where kids can do whatever silent activity they want, from praying to thinking about their hot date tonight, is now considered something the drafters of the First Amendment would condemn.
However, there’s a glaring hypocrisy, dare I say cowardice, in the way the ACLU executes its inane war. The ACLU’s favorite modus operandi is to find a town or school district, generally a small one with a limited budget, and look for an easily offended person to file a lawsuit. This is what happened in Dixie County, Florida, when the ACLU admitted to “shaking the tree” to find a plaintiff to sue the county for having a Ten Commandments monument. It seems a stretch to say the ACLU was protecting the liberties of anyone by filing a lawsuit in a county where they had to conduct a search for someone to be offended.
If one is sincere about the need for an absolute and impregnable separation of church and state, the ACLU would have far bigger fish to fry than Dixie County, Florida, and Illinois students who are violating the Constitution by being silent.
Recently, I listened to a recording of the U.S. Army band performing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” They sang the fifth verse, which says:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
How is it that the armed forces of the state singing such a sectarian verse is not a violation of separation of church and state, but the posting of the Ten Commandments, which are part of not only the Christian faith, but also the Jewish faith, and are compatible with Islam, is considered a violation of the Constitution?
An even better question is the chaplaincy in Congress. The ACLU has heretofore only seen fit to file suit against Indiana for having chaplains who pray “in the name of Jesus.” This is not because there are not prayers prayed in the name of Jesus at the U.S. Capitol. Consider the guest prayer offered on September 16, 2009, by Reverend Tri Robinson. How is the Constitution different in Indiana than it is in the national Capitol?
Indeed, if one were to say the Constitution requires the state to avoid any appearance of endorsing religion, the first place to go would be the U.S. Capitol, not the Dixie County Courthouse. What is being sung by the central government’s military should be of greater concern than what is not being said in Illinois classrooms.
To be fair, other anti-religion groups and individuals, such as Michael Newdow, have challenged congressional chaplains, but the ACLU has remained on the sidelines. Why don’t they go for the gusto and really hit religion in public life in its most prominent forms?
There are three reasons:
1) A frontal assault on the Army or Congress would be fighting people who could fight back. Both institutions value their traditions. Even many congressmen and high-ranking military officers who aren’t identified with the religious right would still not be appreciative of the ACLU attacking such time-honored traditions, and this could lead to legislation that could curtail the ACLU’s ability to sue or at least to collect exorbitant damages from municipalities found to have stepped ever so slightly over the church-state separation line.
2) A direct assault on national institutions is likely to have a national backlash. Except for those few religious conservatives who follow the national news, few people outside of affected areas even know that the ACLU is afoot. However, everyone knew it when Newdow won a court case on “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Even though it was only added fifty years ago, the term has been there as long as most Americans can remember. Imagine the furor were the ACLU to go after the Army for singing the fifth verse of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It’d lead to a huge national backlash.
3) It would highlight the absurdity of its position. If Congress has had chaplains praying prayers that could be defined as “sectarian” for more than 200 years, it’s unreasonable to allege the Founding Fathers intended the walking on egg shells the ACLU demands of every municipality in the country.
Thus, the ACLU is unable to eradicate the presence of religious symbols and imagery from the national government, and so amuses itself by being a pestilence on people who can’t afford the high costs of a legal battle and the potential of punitive damages. It’s the very definition of a bully, a coward with big legal muscles.
If the ACLU had any courage, it would “speak truth to power” and take on Congress and the U.S. military with a frontal assault. Instead, this Christmas is the season for the ACLU to terrorize small towns and school districts in the name of protecting liberty from the imagined dangers of minor religious symbols and, of course, the dreaded moments of silence.
Here’s hoping the ACLU will drop the hypocrisy and give us all a moment of silence this Christmas.