Category Archives: Freedom of Religion
Essays on Freedom of Religion
The (Very) Liberal History of the Indiana RFRA
In Indiana, controversy reigns over the State’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, with accusations flying that it will allow rampant discrimination against gay people. So why did Indiana feel the need to pass such a law in the first place? What was it that compelled a Democrat Party controlled Congress to pass the first Religious Freedom Restoration Act by a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives and a 97-3 vote in the Senate before being signed by President Bill Clinton? And if the nations liberals saw good in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, what is it about Indiana’s version that has them so worked up?
In this episode we take a look at the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and how we got to the point where Indiana (and a lot of other States) felt compelled to pass such a law. The story begins in the migrant worker farmed fields of Texas in the 1930’s, with a child born to migrant farm workers who will go on to fight for Civil rights and to freely express his religious beliefs…
So I went to san Diego on vacation, and I made certain that – after a little confusion with the GPS system – that I made it to see the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.
After my visit, I would add the following to the Mt. Soledad conversation:
The Memorial itself is100% privately funded and maintained. That does not mean that there is no Government funding involved in the land itself, for example, roads, safety, patrolling, fire prevention/recovery, ect. But the actual memorial is privately funded by a non-profit funded by donations and sales of the plaques located on the Memorial.
The Cross is atop a staired pyramid above the actual “memorial” walls themselves. I noticed that while looking at the memorial walls, the cross was essentially invisible to my peripheral vision. That is not say that it isn’t there, but the way the monument is built, it is not the dominant feature WHILE you look at the wall.
The area atop Mt. Soledad is heavily populated and most definitely higher economic strata (including the Seuss House). It also has a long history of religious discrimination, specifically in that Jews were prohibited from purchasing homes in the area after the cross was originally erected in 1913. In other words, the original intention of the cross, named the “Easter Cross” when first erected, was to establish the site as a Christian shrine.
Original intent aside, the current feel of the memorial was not (to me) Christian. It was more about the Veterans – of which I am one – and in that vein it felt like sacred ground dedicated to veterans dating back to the Revolution. I found one plaque for a Veteran of the Spanish-American War, and for the WWII Submarine Service.
While there is sign claiming that the memorial is solely owned by the Memorial Association, that is unclear from the Court cases. It remains apparent to me that the federal government, via eminent domain – remains the title holder on the land.
My conclusion is that IF the government is spending no money on the memorial, then a better solution to the issue would be to lease the land to the memorial foundation for a reasonable cost. That would remove the direct government involvement – at whatever level it currently is – and allow the Memorial Association to operate as they currently are doing.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – 1st Amendment
On May 4, 1970, the nation was shocked by the Kent State Shooting. Dave asks the question, how do we as a free society – or any free society – move from a belief in the freedoms protected by the 1st Amendment to the reality of placing (in some cases) severe limits on those freedoms. Dave, Pat and Jeff discuss the issue and look at the lessons of freedoms from around the globe contrasted to the United States of America.