School system threatened with legal action

Pisgah students crusade for non religious club
By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Feb 13, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo Kalei Wilson

Haywood County School officials received a rude awakening on Wednesday after learning that two organizations have teamed up and may take legal action against the school system.

A letter was sent out to school officials threatening a lawsuit after students at Pisgah High School were denied a request to form a secular student alliance club.

Four months ago, Ben Wilson, who now attends Haywood Community College,  approached administratiors at Pisgah about forming a group for non-religious students. According to Wilson's father, Cash, Assistant Principal Connie Weeks asked for time to research the group first. She later told him the group was not needed because there were other clubs and that it would "cause problems." Weeks also cited the lack of a faculty sponsor as another reason not to form the group, he said.

Now PHS freshman Kalei Wilson has taken up the torch, and reached out for help from the Secular Student Association (SSA), an educational nonprofit group that promotes the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics in student communities.

Kalei, of Clyde, also has been seeking a faculty sponsor for the club — something that has proven difficult.

"I almost did find one," Kalei said. "They said they would need talk to the principal first. When I got back in touch with them, they had an excuse and said they didn't have time."

In addition, Kalei said another teacher refused to be a sponsor because he or she was worried the club would single out the participating students as targets for bullying. Even so, Kalei is still persevering so she and her like-minded friends can "do good without God."

No response

When the SSA reached out to Pisgah Principal Greg Bailey last November, there was no response. This prompted them to join forces with the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — two organizations that promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church.

Superintendent Anne Garrett received a letter from the FFRF and ACLU on Wednesday threatening legal action. The letter claims that denying the request to form a secular student group was "a violation of federal law." Before receiving the letter, Garrett said she was unaware of the issue.

The letter cites the Equal Access Act, which requires equal treatment of student groups. According to the act, denying access to a student group because there are no faculty monitors is impermissible, and is essentially a "back door veto" to forming the group.

"Pisgah High effectively bans unpopular speech simply because the viewpoint expressed may be unpopular with the faculty," wrote Christopher Brooks, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

The letter suggests appointing a Pisgah staff member or administrator to supervise the group.

Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte said he did not believe the school was obligated to form a club without a voluntary sponsor and was unaware of the issue before Wednesday. Nolte said he thought the Equal Access Act had its limitations, but declined to comment further since litigation is a possibility.

Jessica Kirsner, a development associate with the SSA, said the school board would have to respond to the letter to avoid a lawsuit.

"If they don't get in contact with them, the Freedom From Religion Foundation will take it one step further and take legal action," Kirsner said. "That's never happened before — not with a secular student alliance. The administration usually can work things out, but sometimes we do have to push a little bit farther."

Students want secular club

Despite the struggle, Kalei concedes that Pisgah is still in need of a secular alliance. She said as many as 11 of her non-religious friends have said they would join the club if it was formed.

"There are people who don't believe in God who get it thrown in their face a lot," Kalei said. "People don't realize they do that when they put up posters and talk about it all the time. We just want to have a place where people can go who are like-minded so we can do things like help with the community. It will help people to realize we're not bad people."

Cash Wilson said it was important to have a secular alliance formed at the school because it would serve as a type of religious "watch dog" at a school that is predominantly Christian. He described the resistance against the club as an example of teachers endorsing their own religion.

"It shows the religious zealotry and often bigotry and ownership," Cash Wilson said. "I'm not attacking Christianity, I'm attacking the separation."

After receiving the threatening letter, Garrett said she hoped to resolve the matter immediately, with help from the school's attorney, Pat Smathers.

"I'm sure he will give us good, sound advice," Garrett said, noting she wished the student would have brought concerns to her office or the school board first.

Currently Pisgah High has more than 30 non curricular student groups, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, noted a letter from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Smathers said he was unaware of the situation until recently. However, he did receive a call from Brooks, and is now planning to research the matter so he can advise the school board where to go from here.

"I will say this, we do not discriminate," Smathers said. "We do not deny access, that's our policy."

 

Comments (38)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 14, 2014 08:19

This young lady is doing nothing more than stirring up trouble and ought not to be encouraged.  You can't have it both ways.  You either allow religion in schools across the board or you don't.  Since nobody can prove God does not exist, it's faith and faith alone that the belief is based.  That means atheism is a religion and ought to have the same separation as any other religion in a public school.  If her motivation is to "do good without God", my advice to her is to join a service club.



Posted by: Linda Sexton | Feb 14, 2014 09:03

While school is being discussed, how about the fact that Haywood County school teachers were asked to come to work Thursday, while the Haywood County government was closed due to dangerous weather conditions.  Are our teachers less valuable than county employees?  Who ever is in charge of the school system should be reprimanded for risking teachers lives during this snowmaggedon. Shame on them.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 14, 2014 09:42

Well, if any Haywood County teachers had an auto-accident, slipped and fell, or suffered any harm while reporting to work, then likely there would be more legal action the school system would have to consider.  Are you aware of anyone that suffered harm reporting to work and would therefore consider bringing a legal case against the school system?  If Haywood County teachers had no incidents reporting to work, then a more appropriate question might be, "Why did Haywood County government take off when the school system demonstrated that the day off was not necessary?"



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 14, 2014 10:34

           Hooray for those willing to stand up for their rights.

           This is a matter of settled law. Per the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of OUR Godless Constitution and other protections, if one religious organization is allowed, all must be. No exceptions. "Free exercise" requires the equal right to be free from opinions one opposses.

           C.Z.



Posted by: Beth G. Johnson | Feb 14, 2014 10:41

It is a shame that Principal Bailey did not take the time to talk to the students, find a sponsor for them, and settle this matter at Pisgah.  Schools have many  needs and should not have to waste money on an avoidable law suit.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 14, 2014 11:31

              Obviously there is a chain of command breakdown somewhere or someone is lieing.

               I have tried to help arbitrate several school cases. One a long time third grade teacher was giving out homework page whereby when all the questions were answered correctly it spelled out KLAN is fun. A girl of mixed race parent's did not see the humor in it and contacted ACLU. Issue simmerred for enough years that the girl dropped it when she was 16. Teacher was fired, reinstated at communities(Klan supporters) insistance and retired with full bennefits. She had been using this "homework" for about 30 years.

               Another case a differrent school was forcing all students to take part in religious events. Preachers were brought in to prosylitze. I tried to explain to the school board that they were putting tax dollars at risk, besides being just plain wrong, but the preachers were adamant that they had the right to "save" the lost and were just fullfilling Jesus mission. Case went forward with support from Pat Robertson's organization against ICLU(Indiana ACLU). Cost school system a large amount of money to find out ICLU knew what they were talking about. (Parents of student who brought suit had house torched and had to move away, if I remember correctly) But of course the mouthpiece of above mentioned organization wanted to "go to the Supreme Court"! A scam employed against the good people of McCreary county, Ky in a Ten Commandments case wherby another "religious liberty" organization claimed they would pay all bills for any such endeavor and then were nowhere to be found after the fact leaving the taxpayers with the bill. McCreary conty went twice. ACLU was awarded their costs, which they halved. McCreary tried to avoid payment. Had Fundraisers. Etc. Eventually agreed to pay ACLU. Being one of the poorest counties in the country, it pretty much bankrupted them.

         "Boobied-half" is from there.

    

           C.Z.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 14, 2014 14:24

Kudos to Miss Wilson for taking a stand for something she feels will benefit her fellow students.

 

Stand firm young lady. Stand firm. The folks who oppose you will call you names and say things about you and your group. Just hold your head high, stand your ground and smile at them. If your club irritates them.so be it. They need to me irritated and they don't have to join.

Stand firm.



Posted by: Ken Brown | Feb 15, 2014 16:18

I'm certain Ms. Wilson is a bright kid.  I'd also argue that almost any legitimate extracurricular activity ought to be supported.  Thinly veiled agendas however are highly disingenuous.  I've no clue what "clubs" Pisgah offers, but I'd guess that there probably clubs similar to say a Spanish Club, a French Club a Chess Club, an FFA organization, a Book Club, a Drama Club, an Anime Club, an Auto Club, STAC Club, several sports "clubs" and who knows what other kinds of clubs.  As luck would have it, all of these are indeed secular clubs.  Perhaps Ms. Wilson should inquire of them and join one.  Unless that it is, the real motivation here is to claim a bit of notoriety and hide behind a misleading label and a seemingly altruistic set of ideals.  Given that schools have all manner of secular clubs, what is it that’s really being sought by Ms. Wilson?  If there’s a desire to promote science’s critical inquiry, how about joining a science club?  Is there really a genuine desire to promote democracy?  That’s not our form of government after all which causes one to question if the agenda is indeed honorable.  Promoting “democracy” is promoting Mob Rule, is it not?  Human based ethics?  Well, let's just say that doesn't sound all that secular to me.  With the plethora of secular clubs, I’d have to side with the school that there’s no need of a secular club for the purpose only of being secular as there are already many.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 16, 2014 10:56

                  Mr. Ken Brown;

                 Their agenda is no one's buisness. The First Amendment prohibits any censorship of ideas. Equal protection requires that if one after hours club is allowed, all must be. Religious Freedom Clause of North Carolina's Constitution is quit clear:"All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; and no human authority shall, in any case whatsoever, control or interferre with the rights of conscience".

             I don't belive this could be any clearer.

 

              C.Z.



Posted by: Ken Brown | Feb 16, 2014 13:47

Their agenda is no one's business?  You're joking.  Minors in a public school?  Perhaps they should be allowed an agenda of white supremacy? An agenda of bullying? An agenda of extortion, drug use, pornography?  I think it's everyone's business.

 

And as the article states, this wouldn't seem to have anything to do with religious freedom, only secularism.  The desire is for a secular club.  There're many secular clubs.  I wonder if there are also religious clubs?



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 16, 2014 19:52

"The desire is for a secular club...  I wonder if there are also religious clubs?" -- An example of a secular club would be the Spanish Club as it has "no religous or spiritual basis".  Let's be clear here.. this young lady is asking for an atheist club.  A club with the only stated purpose of being anti-God.  Someone please tell me why this is something that should be in a public school as an organized and sanctioned club.  I'd love to shoot holes in the concept -- but I can't even pretend to understand what legal basis can be argued on why this should be sanctioned.  It's no more proper than a Muslim club or a Jesus Club considering how our schools have evolved.

 

The purpose of her actions and the point of the article is simply to get publicity.  If somehow she is able to legaly make her club, I would WELCOME the opportunity that would bring all students to use her case as precident to also have the anti-secular perspective sactioned -- in other words: the Jesus Club!  Bring it!  :-)



Posted by: James Franklin | Feb 16, 2014 20:53

Ignore the bible-thumpers and derisive naysayers like some of the commenters above. You are on the right side of human intellectual history and they are not. Also, remember, the law is on your side, not theirs. I’m a life-long atheist who grew up in Maggie Valley and graduated from Tuscola High (1971). When I was in school, the prejudice and ignorance would have been too great to do what you are doing or to even come out of the closet as a nonbeliever. I commend you and wish you well.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 16, 2014 23:16

Scott Lilly. Oh please!! ::rolls eyes:: always the high drama.

Your people already have a club for the Jesus on campus. FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athelets) represents your kind.  And I'm very sure they also hold the "See You at the Pole" event for your people every September.

Shalom



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 07:58

"already have a club for the Jesus on campus" -- Yes, that does make it more difficult to argue against an atheist club.  But I wonder if you separate the Christian part of the FCA and simply have a Christian club, would that fly?  I believe the proposed atheist club has a stated purpose of only supporting the religion of atheism and more importantly, policing other clubs to influence what they can and can't do.  (Watchdog)  That's not a CONSTRUCTIVE club, but a DESTRUCTIVE one.

 

Regarding the "See You at the Pole" event, what would be an equal atheist event?  Not going to the pole?  So I imagine some people don't go to those See You at the Pole events -- and that should be just fine with everyone.  It's when people organize to stop people from going to the pole that crosses the line.  And isn't that what this self-proclaimed watchdog group wants to do?



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 17, 2014 09:06

Scott Lilly.  LOL Thank you for making my point. Now the school system should stop cowering behind the drapes and grab their ba.. fortitude and allow the club. The beauty is if no students choose to join the club will fall to the wayside.  Much like the 'christian club," and any other clubs hosted on campus, no one is forced to participate.

Since I am Jewish neither of the clubs interest me or my family. However, to oppose them because I'm afraid of the damage they could cause to young minds is just as wrong as my attempts to proselytize and force my religion down your throats.  Oh wait... never mind.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 10:01

Mr. Alsbrooks, if your point is that the school system should sanction a club that has for its stated purpose: being a watchdog group to stop others from doing stuff, that's not a good plan.  Are there any anti-Semitic groups that you might find objectionable that a public school system could endorse?



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 10:04

PS - I also wouldn't advocate an anti-atheism group to be sanctioned by the public school system either.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 17, 2014 10:51

              No public school may "sanction" one group but disallow another, if the group's focus is on free speech and the free exercise of religion. Only inappropriate actions by the group can be sanctioned. If the public school allows one group to exercise their free speech and free exercise, it must allow all others This is settled law based on OUR Founding Principles. Re Thomas Jefferson's Act For Establishing Religious Freedom.

               All  North Carolina public employees must abide by the Religious Freedom Clause of the self-proclaimed  "progressive" N.C. Constitution. Prosylitizing, the use of public funds to promote or participate in religion is un-constitutional. Has been so since before OUR Founding.

               Many years ago another "watchdog group" met to prevent oppression. From this meeting came OUR Federal Constitution. And Its Bill of Rights. Another meeting of "watchdogs" occurred with the N.C. Constitutional Convention that resulted in N.C. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Most certainly these students should follow suit.

                   The big question is why has the public schools allowed this to happen to begin with? 

                     Personally, I hope the ill-liberal anti-free-will groups step up top offer assisstance and take the case to the courts. ACLU needs more free funds.

           C.Z.



Posted by: Ken Brown | Feb 17, 2014 11:38

As distasteful as I find it personally, an atheist club should be allowed at school so long as religious clubs are also allowed. Apparently they are although the presence of the FCA alone is not indicative of policy.

 

However, no one seems to have the guts to request that which they seek; an atheist club. As to why, I can only speculate. Many would call that spineless, dishonest or deceitful. Since they claim to be interested in ethics, should they not seek an accurate and descriptive club moniker rather than one so misleading? If it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, call it a DUCK! That only two students have now put this agenda forward and they’re apparently from the same family, one begins to wonder who is it pursuing an agenda and to what end? To jump on the Lilly express, I say “bring it.” I must admit that I’d enjoy witnessing its failure.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 17, 2014 11:57

                    Mr Brown;

                    These students Naturally inherent or otherwise inalienable rights of free speech free exercise of religion and peaceably assembly, are the concern of "all persons" in that they are as defined "inalienable" and to be equally protected.

                     There is a plethera of information here:

http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/The-law-and-its-influence-on-public-school-districts-An-overview/Religion-and-Public-Schools.html

                         There is no excuse for OUR public school administers not to know this.

                  C.Z.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 13:41

I see from news reports that the school will allow the secular group to be formed.  If there is no atheist god, then this atheist group isn't advocating their belief in God -- they are supporting (and potentially promoting) a position that opposes a belief in God -- at least within their membership.  If this were a group that opposes a Jewish belief in God it would be called anti-Semitic -- hate group, not allowed.  If this were a group that opposes a Muslim belief in God it would be called anti-Muslim -- hate group, not allowed.  But if you lump all belief in God together to oppose, somehow it's ok?



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 17, 2014 18:09

Scott Lilly.  Again... Oh please. ::rolls eyes::  One can profess disbelief in something without being "anti."  I do not believe the Jesus was anything beyond  a prophet..at best. And quite the drama queen (no one goes to "The Father" but through me...paraphrased). That doesn't mean I'm "anti" anything. It simply means it is not one of my beliefs.

Just because an "Atheist" doesn't "worship" a "god" simply means they don't worship a deity.

Unlike the recruiting and converting efforts by "Christians" and "Muslims" it isn't required for one to be labeled "Atheist." All they have to so is profess they don't observe any religious tenets.

Please educate yourself. There is a huge difference between a "hate group" and a group of friends gathering to share their interest in life free from religion.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 19:22

Mr. Alsbrooks, so far as I know your religion encourages you to embrace your beliefs.  It does not ask you to disparage other religions.  The best argument I could make is that if you form a group about religion that's not to promote religious beliefs then logically you must intend to discredit religious beliefs.  "Persecution" is the systematic mistreatment of someone based on something like religious beliefs.  An atheist group is positioned to persecute those that believe in God.  Time will only tell if they do so.  In 2 years, I will be interested to see a follow-up article to see how this group manages itself.  Will they just enjoy fellowship of those that have a life "free from religion"?  Or will they "cause problems" as the school official by overreaching in their self-perceived religion watchdog duties?  Will they cause rallies to stop other students from meeting at the pole - so to speak?  Let's continue this discussion in 2 years.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 17, 2014 19:54

Scott Lilly. It doesn't take an Atheist to "cause problems" when schools or governments overstep their bounds in promoting religion. Non-believers have the same rights as you.  Every time they make students attend class on Shabbat I voice my displeasure.  Every time the schools give a day off for the christian holidays but mark my child absent when we celebrate our holidays I voice my displeasure. In fact Dr. Garrett and I had that conversation last week.

Cite once case where an Atheist group "persecuted" anyone for their religious belief. But be careful...you must also consider all the "persecution" where the religious have persecuted non-believers.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 17, 2014 20:29

"Every time they make students attend class on Shabbat I voice my displeasure."  -- I attended Valley Springs in Arden, NC in the 70's.  I remember we had a Jewish classmate.  I remembered him having odd holiday schedules perfectly accommodated because of his religion.  I remembered it being explained to us that when we celebrated Christmas and other Christian things, we were to be understanding of his differences.  I distinctly remember him being accepted as well as anyone else and nobody having and issue with his "specialness".  I have no way of knowing but I'd suggest all his Jewish holiday absences were excused.  At what point did this change?

 

"Cite once case where an Atheist group "persecuted" anyone for their religious belief." -- China.  The whole country.  Been there.  Seen that.  I want to be sure we're exactly opposite China with regards to religion.  What is "right and wrong" is not for man to decide.  If man has that power, morals are a (downhill) sliding scale that change with the times.  With many of society not really a "believer", this is causing what's termed "moral decay" because the limits are continually pushed.  With the "written word", moral decay is at least greatly inhibited.

 

"you must also consider all the "persecution" where the religious have persecuted non-believers" -- Agreed.  The proliferation of Christianity through the ages is not something we Christians can be proud of in all instances.  Modern Christianity I hope is considered more refined.

 

"Non-believers have the same rights as you." -- You know, in another forum we can debate the "certain unalienable Rights" as endowed by a Creator as proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence is for anyone who believes "Nature's God' gave them those Rights as protected by the US Constitution.  Freedom of Religion means you get to pick what god gave you those Rights.  When you don't believe in a god, then you by default make the Rights afforded to you by the US Constitution null and void.  Those that don't believe in Nature's God would gravitate toward the teachings of Darwin where the strong survive.  At that point, you start to look like atheist China -- who decides rights based on what?  (I did not intend to steal Mr. Zimmerman's thunder with all this founding document stuff!)



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 18, 2014 10:47

Again! The notion of there being a "creator" who created individuals or gave them rights directly was soundly rejected by OUR Founders and We the people. Instead the Deistic opinion of a God that created all things great and small, never to interferre again was adopted. This is quite well enumerated in Jefferson's Act For Establishing Religious Freedom which declared:"Whereas Almighty God created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion(*), who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as eccliastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assummed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and thru all time..."

              George Washington helped James Madison pass this "Founding Document" written about 9 years earlier by Jefferson.

               Not only was the bible rejected as "the word of God", but those preaching such a thing as creating "false religions". Radical thinking to say the least.

                 Also, the notion of a non-interferring God is the Founding premis of "small government".

*From Thomas Jefferson's Autobiography(page58-59):"The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with mutilation in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindo, and Infidel of every denomination." 

 

                To that end, OUR Godless Constitution equally protects all opinions. Giving preferance to none. Either all are equal in their rights or none are.

                C.Z.

Again! The notion of there being a "creator" who created individuals or gave them rights directly was soundly rejected by OUR Founders and We the people. Instead the Deistic opinion of a God that created all things great and small, never to interferre again was adopted. This is quite well enumerated in Jefferson's Act For Establishing Religious Freedom which declared:"Whereas Almighty God created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion(*), who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as eccliastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assummed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and thru all time..."

              George Washington helped James Madison pass this "Founding Document" written about 9 years earlier by Jefferson.

               Not only was the bible rejected as "the word of God", but those preaching such a thing as creating "false religions". Radical thinking to say the least.

                 Also, the notion of a non-interferring God is the Founding premis of "small government".

*From Thomas Jefferson's Autobiography(page58-59):"The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with mutilation in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindo, and Infidel of every denomination." 

 

                To that end, OUR Godless Constitution equally protects all opinions. Giving preferance to none. Either all are equal in their rights or none are.

                C.Z.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 18, 2014 13:09

China is an "Atheist" nation? Either I am misunderstanding you or your hat is on too tight. China observes some of the oldest and most diverse "religions" on tha planet. Taoism dates back almost as long as "Christianity" (even though Protestantism/Catholicism recruiting didn't occur until the 1800's or so). There are also plenty of Buddists, Islamists going back almost 1000 years.

Just because a country has an atrocious "Civil Rights" history doesn't make them an "Atheist" nation.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 18, 2014 14:40

Now, Mr. Alsbrooks, I may educate you.  As a graduate of many eastern religion classes in college, I can tell you that most forms of Buddhism is an atheist "philosophy".  The fat guy with the big ears... that's Buddha.  He's the "enlightened one" and was a mortal man.  Buddhists no more worship him than Lutheran's worship Martin Luther.  Most flavors of Buddhism (with the exception of Zen) do not address a deity.  It's their understanding that a deity would be something a human brain cannot understand and therefore they will focus their efforts and thoughts on those things a human CAN understand.  So, my friend, Buddhism is an atheist religion.  It's been a while since my studies but I remember thinking Buddhism and Christianity could be compatible for the same person.  I studied Taoism less but it also has no god and is atheist-compatible.  My hat is not on too tight.  China grants rights to its citizens with little or no influence from any god.  Same as North Korea.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 18, 2014 18:42

And as a former employee of a multinational corporation I can assure you the Chinese whom I met who followed the tenets and were practicing Buddhism do not consider themselves "Atheists" by any stretch of the inagination. Maybe the books you read said it but the people I know scoff at the notion.

 

Maybe China and North Korea have it right by not forcing rights upon their citizens based on influence from the gods.  Our great nation was not founded as a theocracy but sometime in the late 1940's to the mid 1950's common sence was replaced by fear and the religious zealots usurped power and trampled on our constitution. This country was never intended to be a "Christian" nation. Never. Many of the founding fathers were Diests and pointedly framed our nation to allow its citizens choose their own religion without regard to the notions of government. The club seeking inclusn at Pisgah is exercising their right as American citizens.

What disturbs me more than the premise of the group is your fear of them. Why do you feel it is your right to hinder their gathering? Is your own faith so fragile that you feel threatened? My faith gives me enough comfort and strength to realize just because I don't agree with something it won't harm me in any way.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 18, 2014 19:12

Indeed my passport had to be sent off for extra pages to be put into it.  I have had numerous multiple-entry Chinese visas and actually lived in a communist dormitory once for 5 weeks.  I too know the Chinese culture first hand.  So we'll just have to agree to disagree.  Perhaps in the cities where I worked and lived: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Tianjin were different than your experience.  The differences between provinces are noticeable.

 

My faith is just fine, thank you.  I don't "fear" atheists.  But I dislike when people organize to tell me what I can't do.  A watchdog group waiting for me or any of my Christian friends to do something to which they will protest is not in my best interest.  If anyone attempts to keep us Christians from meeting at the pole (as was previously mentioned) it will be upsetting and offensive.  If a valedictorian wants to give a speech and have the microphone turned off if they thank God for their success, it will be upsetting and offensive.  There are watchdog groups that do this.  It's not right.

 

"This country was never intended to be a "Christian" nation." -- Agreed.  But there was a "universal" provision that Nature's God (any god you choose) gave you unalienable rights.  The rights didn't come from government or any other human.  And if humans didn't give you those rights, then humans cannot take those rights away.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 19, 2014 10:29

              And just exactly where is "Nature's God" enumerated in OUR Godless Constitution. As I documented previously and the 14th Amendment establishes, "All persons" are born with inalinable rights. We inherent OUR rights from our creater. OUR parents. Since no God has ever chosen to interferre or place restrictions on mere fallible man, therefore no man has the right to do so. It is just that simple. It is the basis for "limited government."

           No Constitution "gives " anyone rights. Rights are inherited. Instead OUR Godless Constitution limits what OUR elected representaives can do. "Congress shall make no law ...", while the 9th and 10th Amendments makes clear that We the people retain rights not enumerated in the Constitution.

                There is no right to prosylitize. None. No taxes may be used to support any religion in particular nor favoritism granted. Nor may anyone interferre with anyone else's conscience.

                 Apparently Mr. Lilly cannot read nor comprehend what OUR Founders established. He is most certainly not alone. Thankfully WE have the written history of the Founding period and what was intended. As well as many Court decisions based on the above.

                     Jefferson and Madison believed that no mere mortal fallible man could possibly understand the mind of an omniprescent infinite being. One of the reasons they rejected "inspired" notion of the bible being God's word. They also did not believe one person could understand another man's opinions and said so in Madison's Remonstrance and Remembrance Against Religious Assessments in avour of the Teachers of the Christian Religion, if anyone care to read it. This was taken out of Jefferson's Act For Establishing Religious Freedom which he refferred to in his Autobiography as "mutilations in the preamble..."

            Liberty of Free Will and self-determination was what "Almighty God" gave to the first creation. Everyone else has inherited their rights from them.

 

                 C.Z.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 19, 2014 10:47

"And just exactly where is "Nature's God" enumerated in OUR Godless Constitution." -- A PhD in United States History (in other words, someone smarted than I on the matter) answered this complex question and cited more in-context references than is appropriate to list in a comments forum.  Summarized: ""Nature's God" was clearly the God of deism in all important ways." and "it is worth noting that this analysis does not support the myth of the godless founding either."

 

http://www.historytools.org/docs/Natures-God.html

 



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 19, 2014 11:00

                 This is quite true. However! OUR Constitution is still Godless.

                  C.Z.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 19, 2014 11:27

"OUR Constitution is still Godless." -- You won't find God mentioned in the instruction manual of a lawnmower either.  :-)  As a document of fundamental principles that define our legal system, it makes sense that the only indirect reference to God in the Constitution is in the First Amendment where it expressly prohibits any law to infringe of religious beliefs or practices.  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

 

I think your statement would be more true if you said, "Our Constitution is non-denominational!"  Meaning religion (of any type and all types) is a basic and human right protected by the US Constitution.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 19, 2014 11:29

                         "That Jefferson included God in the "Declaration of Independence" is very significant because it helped lay the foundation for a civil religion in America."

                          Except that Jefferson did not use "Nature's God."

                          His proposal was:"We hold these truth's to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that fron that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;..."

                           This quite well reflects what he had supported with the adoption of George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights on June 12, 1776. It was Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Livingston who insisted on the changes to what was adopted.

                           The author should have known this. That and Jefferson was so embarrassed and enraged that his fellow Virginians would think he had challenged Mason's Declaration, he went town to town to tell the people that it was not him that wrote the second paragraph. At the time George Mason was more well known and became a hero to many.

                              I got my education at a pre-computer public library initially. Have been studying Founding History ever since. 2 copies of Jefferson's Autobiography.

                              Most public libraries have encycilopidia(sp) type books titled Annals of American History that document OUR History. I checked out the Waynesvilly Library after first moving down here in 2001 to find that someone had highlighted Jefferson's Act For Establishing Religious Freedom in yellow with a note that said "this is not christian!!!" I have seen this page completely ripped out, too.

                 C.Z.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Feb 19, 2014 22:01

You said.... "But I dislike when people organize to tell me what I can't do."

Funny, you are doing the same thing to this club. Typical of the religious zealots. You have no problem going on and on and on trying to stop this from happening. You can't have it both ways.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 20, 2014 07:15

"trying to stop this from happening" -- Not for a second do I think writing an opinion and debating the issue in an online comments forum will stop anything from happening.

 

"you are doing the same thing to this club" -- Sir, I have not organized a watchdog group against atheists.  Nor have I called in some national law firm to fight with them.  Nor have I threatened any school with legal action because they didn't display a poster that says "America is not a Christian nation." -- Oh wait, that hasn't happened yet.  :-)

 

A saying comes to mind, "Live and let live."  Again, in 2 years I'd like to see if this club betters our schools and community or "causes trouble" as someone else forecasted.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 20, 2014 09:04

                 America is not a christian nation. That is a fact. There would be nothing wrong with posting such a declaration. We the people insisted on a secular republic and an elected representative government, while retaining their Naturally inherent or otherwise inalienable rights. The people would not approve of the new Constitution without a Bill of Rights that accomplished what they wanted.

                 It is not enough to "live and let live". As James Madison established a government that can "Tolerate"(John Locke) religion, can tolerate one religion at the expense of all others, therefore there must be "free exercise". Madison defined "free exercise" as:"If "all men are by nature equally free and independant,"(*) all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their natural rights. Above all are they to be considered as retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of Conscience."(*) Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man to man must an account be of it be rendered."

              OUR public schools are obligated to equally protect their students against any violation of their person with "conscience" being the most important. There is no right to prosylitize. None.

              C.Z.



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