Come one come all to the hottest AOTM debate so far this year!
Preface to the Debate“In God We Trust”: God in American Public Policy
By: Mike Olson, AOTM Senior Moderator
|Mr. Dale Ahlquist (G.K. Chesterton Scholar, Professed Catholic) and Mr. George Kane (Chair, MN ATHIESTS) will debate the merits of the 9th Circuit’s recent ruling against Mr. Newdow’s suit regarding the removal of “In God We Trust” from US currency and “under God” from the pledge– the court ruled that the motto “In God We Trust” and the phrase “under God” do not violate the Constitution’s 1st Amendment “Establishment Clause”.Mr. Ahlquist and Mr. Kane will bring to the debate their own philosophies and approaches, and not simply prescribed recitals of legal cases underpinning the closed suit. A debate over this ruling frames numerous and serious implications that extend far beyond the 9thCircuit. Is it time to enforce a doctrine where Americans must separate their faithfrom public life or exercises of faith from government settings? Does it stand to reason that government can only support religious freedom if it recognizes no religion at all? In effort to be true to its founding principles of religious freedom, should the US government surgically remove all traces of its Christian heritage, identity, and references to God? What is more, could the US government survive such a surgery?To keep our debate focused, each debater will use the above ruling as his locus, and are welcome from there to expand his ideas regarding “God in American Public Policy.” |
The 9th Circuit’s recent ruling strikes a hard blow against advocates who seek the removal of religion and God from government. Advocates such as the group MINNESOTA ATHIESTS, for one. No doubt, the ruling stands at odds and with their understanding of the Constitution and the role of government.
With eloquence and respectable detail, MINNESOTA ATHIESTS openly publishes its public policy positions (see website http://mnatheists.org/). The group writes: “The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is the foundation of the political policies of Minnesota Atheists: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”’ The group continues, “We recognize that a significant, organized and consistent threat to secular government in the United States is posed by politically intrusive religious groups, exemplified by the conservative Christian movement. Minnesota Atheists addresses particular effort to opposing the political agenda of these religious groups.”
Perhaps Judge Carlos Bea, writing for the 2-1 majority 9th Circuit decision, sees something different: not the “political agenda” of the “conservative Christian movement” but the destructive stripping of “God” from government by those who wish to re-write American History so to divorce the very beliefs the founders wove into the Constitution from the Constitution itself.
Judge Bea writes, “The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one Nation under God - the Founding Fathers’ belief that the people of this nation are endowed by their Creator withcertain inalienable rights.” Well, according the Judge Bea, there is a clear distinction between “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” and legal rulings that serve to eradicate any reference to God in the public arena. MN ATHIESTS perhaps side with the dissenting judge (Judge Stephen Reinhardt), who argues about the pledge: “carrying out such an indoctrination in a public school classroom unconstitutionally forces many young children either to profess a religious belief antithetical to their personal views or to declare themselves through their silence or nonparticipation to be protesting nonbelievers, thereby subjecting themselves to hostility and ridicule.”
So, what insights and arguments will Mr. Dale Ahlquist and Mr.George Kane offer the AOTM when they debate: “In God We Trust: God in American Public Policy”? Well, those who miss this will miss out!
|George Kane graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970. He joined Minnesota Atheists in 1997, and has served on the Board of Directors for ten years.During that time he has been President, Chair and Editor of the organization’s newsletter. He is currently the Secretary, and an interviewer on Minnesota Atheists’ radio and cable TV programs.In addition to his work with Minnesota Atheists, he has earned three Distinguished Toastmaster Awards.||Dale Ahlquist is the president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society. He is the creator and host of the Eternal Word Television Network series, “G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense” on EWTN. Dale is the author of G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense and the recently published Common Sense 101: Lessons From G.K. Chesterton.He is also the publisher of Gilbert Magazine, author of The Chesterton University Student Handbook, editor of The Gift of Wonder: The Many Sides of G.K. Chesterton, and associate editor of the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton(Ignatius). He has been called “one of the most respected Chesterton scholars in the world” and has delighted audiences around the country with his variety of talks on the great English writer.He is a graduate of Carleton College (B.A.) in Northfield, Minnesota, and HamlineUniversity (M.A.) in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife and five children.|
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