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Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bill would allow religious symbols on public land

February 2, 2013

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— The Kansas House is considering a bill that would allow the display of religious symbols on public lands, if the symbols are considered part of a community’s history or heritage.

The bill, which was discussed Thursday before the Federal and State Affairs Committee in the Kansas House, was introduced in response to a controversy last summer when the Mennonite community of Buhler was threatened with a lawsuit because its city symbol contained a cross, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed the city’s official design violated the U.S. Constitution by favoring Christianity over other religions. Despite pleas from some residents to fight the threat, Buhler leaders took down the city symbol and replaced it with two similar ones on private land.

Rep. Don Schroeder, R-Hesston, told the committee Thursday that he believed religious displays like Buhler are constitutional.

“A lot of people talk about ‘separation of church and state,’” Schroeder said. “That’s not in the Constitution. However, there is an establishment clause, which says the government shall make no law regarding religion. It doesn’t go the other way around; it doesn’t say that religion cannot be involved in government.”

A representative of the Great Plains chapter of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State disagreed with Schroeder’s interpretation.

“Why would you have in the Constitution the fact that the government can’t interfere with religion, but religion can interfere with the government?” said Vickie Sandell Stangl. “How does that protect the government? How does that make a stable society if it’s not a two-way street? That does not create a stable society. That would be my answer to them on that.”

The bill also would allow religious displays in public schools, although they must be connected to a course of study that “does not favor or disfavor any religion or religious belief,” according to written testimony from Mark Tallman, spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfried, R-Olathe, said he expects the chamber to vote on the bill next week. He said he believes the bill is constitutional

“I do not believe that having a cross on a sign forces an atheist to be a believer,” Siegfried says. “I just don’t believe that.”

Comments

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

Maybe the legislature should focus on equitably filling the billion dollar hole in the state budget over the next decade resulting from last years income tax cuts rather than right wing 1950s style morality laws that remind me of modern sharia law and the Taliban...

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

Burkas for our women will be next...god help us with these clowns...

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

It's just a symbol, good grief. What if some loonytoons declare that the symbol of their new religion is the flag of the United States of America? Then suddenly it would be illegal to display the US flag on public land. Don't laugh - that concept is not that outrageous.

For instance, 'Jedi', from 'Star Wars', is now an official religion.

from:
http://www.jedichurch.org/

The Jedi Church recognises that there is one all powerful force that binds all things in the universe together, and accepts all races and species from all over the universe as potential members of the religion. Join the Jedi Church today!

Shelley Bock 1 year, 10 months ago

To lift a phrase from the NRA crowd, it is the start of the "slippery slope" towards taking away our freedom of religion. It seems that they are easily against simple gun control, but want religious domination.

Take away my gun before you take away my beliefs.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

"Take away my gun before you take away my beliefs."

You have the order correct. If a population can be disarmed, they can be told what to believe.

You know how to stop slippery slopes? Fences. I have easily definable fences regarding your subjects. In the case of guns it is auto/semi auto and caliber, in the case of religious symbols in public, no government money, all symbols and maintenance are paid for by the religious entity and every belief must be allowed equal access. Maybe one more... you can't be forced to acknowledge them, but that would be redundant.

notaubermime 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, it is a symbol. The question is what that symbol says to other people. It could say anything from "this town was founded for the purpose of being closer to our faith" to "this town is for Christians, other faiths need not apply". You might think the latter is an extreme, so is the behavior of most Christians to Muslims and atheists/agnostics.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

Symbols are not very effective in modifying people's behavior. They might be noticed, but are often ignored. For examples, take speed limit or stop signs.

notaubermime 1 year, 10 months ago

The fact that a symbol in a small Kansas town is now the subject of discussion across the state undermines any attempt to dismiss the importance of symbols.

tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

Same for prayers in school. I grew up saying the Lord's Prayer everyday in school, and now I'm not a Christian, so they really need to rethink their battles. Maybe Christians should try finding a way to convince people that their religion is good. First, reject all the haters.

Gary Denning 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't know about changing behavior, but I know that symbols evoke responses, sometimes strong and deeply emotional. Try going into a synagogue with a swastika on your shirt and see what response you get.

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 10 months ago

Now THAT would be something to see! A Lifesize(Short) Statute of Master Yoda on the Lawn of our County Courthouse. I'm In!

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

My religion is radical nihilism. I wonder if I had a town if I could have a symbol with nothing on it or if that would be illegal.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

It's not restricted to just one town, it's illegal to have the symbol of your faith on any public land, that is, there can be no public land with nothing on it. There has to be something on all public land, or it is in violation of the law.

Kaw Pickinton 1 year, 10 months ago

i'm SO joining up!

These aren't the droids you're looking for....

lawslady 1 year, 10 months ago

They may want to get legal advice from an expert in Constitutional law and consider that some communities may have non-Christian symbols before costing the state more legal fees.

Lisa Medsker 1 year, 10 months ago

Thought the same when I read the article. Do they not understand that Christian symbols will not be the only "correct" symbols, then? Or the only ones allowed to be displayed?

appleaday 1 year, 10 months ago

I'd like to see what Siegfried would say about a Muslim symbol on a sign.

jonas_opines 1 year, 10 months ago

Probably much the same as Valarie Hodges, the Louisiana politician that supported the voucher program to send public money to religious schools, and then expressed dismay to learn that it also could go to Islamic schools.

"I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools… unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion."

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

LOL! I saw this on my FB feed. :) If we limit it to the Founders "religion", I wonder how many Deist schools we would see spring up?

Ken Lassman 1 year, 10 months ago

You know, roundabout intersections are an anti-Christian means to rid the world of crosses, replacing them with pagan Whole Earth symbols that remove the ability for folks to meet their Maker head-on as God intended.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 10 months ago

The Kansas Legislature can pass all the bills they want. If they're unconstitutional, then they're unconstitutional.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 10 months ago

Yea, that could easily be seen as the basis for the plots for Ayn Rand's novels. Greed is Good!!!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 10 months ago

Part of the answer is a loser pay court system. This would stop many of these BS lawsuits.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

It might go further toward stopping BS bills.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

That's not true in kansas. In fact, we have more legislators with just a high school education than any other state. So, when any of us say, "uneducated buffoons" we aren't that far off the mark...

Kaw Pickinton 1 year, 10 months ago

While I wouldn't be surprised if that we're true and may very well be now, but the NYT has us in a 3-tie for for 3rd. That's from 2011. [citation]?

"Arkansas has the least formally educated Statehouse, with 25 percent of its 135 legislators not having any college experience at all, compared with 8.7 percent of lawmakers nationwide. It was followed by state legislatures in Montana (20 percent), Kansas (16 percent), South Dakota (16 percent) and Arizona (16 percent)." - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/education/13legis.html

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

The loser pay system works very well in the UK, where frivolous lawsuits are virtually unknown. So, the courts are not clogged with them.

Also, litigation against doctors is very rare, because you need to be very sure that you are going to win before you hire and start paying your barrister.

deec 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't think that is particularly true.They have contingency lawyers just as they do here and the NHS tends to settle claims rather than litigate them.

"n 2007-08 the NHS Litigation Authority received 5,470 claims of clinical negligence against NHS bodies[34] and closed 6,679 claims.[35] During the same period, damages awarded to patients in connection with clinical negligence claims and legal costs paid by the NHS Litigation Authority amounted to £633.3 million (approximately US$886 million).[36] The average time it took the NHS Litigation Authority to deal with a claim, either to the point of conclusion or discontinuation, was 1.46 years.[37] The policy of the NHS Litigation Authority in seeking to avoid litigation is demonstrated in the statistics of the cases that it has processed. It reports that 96 percent of cases it handled were settled “out of court through a variety of methods of ‘alternative dispute resolution’ ”[38] and that over the past ten years, from all clinical claims it handled, 41 percent were abandoned by the claimant; 41 percent settled out of court; 4 percent settled in court, with these being mainly court approvals of negotiated settlements; and 14 percent remain outstanding.[39] It notes that fewer than fifty clinical negligence cases a year are contested in court.[40]"

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/medical-malpractice-liability/uk.php

msezdsit 1 year, 10 months ago

One of the problems with this is that our justice systems doesn't hold anything sacred about "justice" and has its hands tied with too many loopholes and tricks that attorneys use to win a case even when they know they are wrong. Plus," he holds the gold makes the rules" so the loser , in many cases, would be the winner if justice actually prevailed.

Gary Denning 1 year, 10 months ago

Does that mean all the school districts can be repaid for the lawsuits vs. the legislature? Lawsuits that the school districts continually WIN???

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

I wonder if anyone knows how much of our tax dollars (indirectly) goes to support the ACLU?

UneasyRider 1 year, 10 months ago

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get State Legislators working on solving state's real problems?

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 10 months ago

It is clear that when they use the word "religion", those pushing for display of religious symbols on public property really mean "christian".

UneasyRider 1 year, 10 months ago

Very obvious that they mean exactly that. Could we erect a huge shrine to Buddha on courthouse lawn? Maybe a good Star and Crescent Symbol? Maybe a Star of David?

msezdsit 1 year, 10 months ago

".....if the symbols are considered part of a community’s history or heritage."

The right wing wack job's self proclamaion of religion is "what we define it as" could make this worthless clause fit anything they wanted including "not including" any religious symbol they disapprove of.

These heathens are no more and no less than the devil in disguise and they will get their comeuppance when their day comes.

In_God_we_trust 1 year, 10 months ago

"But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not so to be." James 3:8 - 10

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly , sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good friuts, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." James 3:13 - 18

msezdsit 1 year, 10 months ago

Thats ok chalk, you can't tell the difference on a lot of things. Art work is not a religious symbol and you don't speak well for yourself admitting you can't tell the difference. However we have all come to accept this about you by now.

hujiko 1 year, 10 months ago

This is a really dumb argument. Yes, artwork can depict religious beliefs, but to assert that artwork in itself constitutes its own religion is plain stupid.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 10 months ago

Agreed, hujiko. Must be that MFA talking again.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

"Art work is not a religious symbol"

El Greco is considered one of the greatest mannerist artists in history.

hujiko 1 year, 10 months ago

"artwork can depict religious beliefs"

Yes. Can you?

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes. When I read the words "Art work is not a religious symbol" I know the meaning of enough words to know that it is not synonymous with "but to assert that artwork in itself constitutes its own religion is plain stupid.".

Do you really not know the difference?

msezdsit 1 year, 10 months ago

"We have so called "artwork" scattered all over Lawrence and considered religious symbols by the church of the extreme left." chalk for brains

If your going to make worthless points at least make them in the context that the comment was made. I know you claim to be the only art professor on the planet but:

Some artwork can be a religious symbol, however, not all art work is a religious symbol. Now, you have had your art lesson for the day.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

"Art work is not a religious symbol"

"Some artwork can be a religious symbol"

Thank you.

hujiko 1 year, 10 months ago

“I do not believe that having a cross on a sign forces an atheist to be a believer,” Siegfried says. “I just don’t believe that.”

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

You can beat me with a cross and you won't make me believe in that superstitious garbage.

The Dude. He's pretty cool.

hujiko 1 year, 10 months ago

No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.

JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

There is no end to the time these clowns can waste. We should seriously consider shortening the legislative session to 2 weeks to avoid these types of bills. If you want to surround yourself with religious symbols do it at home or in church. You can wear a cross around your neck. You can carry the bible with you wherever you go. You don't need to put the stuff on every single thing, living or dead.

Just add this to the list of bills that will end up in litigation. Assuming it passes.

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 10 months ago

How do you tell who votes thumbs up for who? Am I missing something here? If that is a feature, how do you access it? That would be Interesting to look at.

verity 1 year, 10 months ago

Not this again! I so don't care. What does bother me is the glee with which some of these idiots try to force their Christian symbols on the public.

And the last sentence of the article. Could someone say anything more ridiculous and stupid?

We will pay for an extended session because of this frivolous crap.

Jonathan Becker 1 year, 10 months ago

We need to get this bill passed and signed ASAP and then watch with glee as the Phelps crowd petitions Topeka to permit them to erect one of their " God hates Fags" on the lawn between the courthouse and city hall in Topeka as part of the religious history of Topeka. No good deed goes unpunished!

loverofidiots 1 year, 10 months ago

Liberal thinking people like many of you want inclusivity, until it is someone who doesn't agree with your way of thinking.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

I think this is one of the funniest statements I've read in a very long time.
No, wait. That was yesterday when i read the statement by the guy that thinks women on the pill have a gazillion dead homunculi in their wombs.
But this ranks up there!

In_God_we_trust 1 year, 10 months ago

Sounds like a good law that will restore the true and correct intent of the 1st amendment, as it once used to be in this State and Country. May God's blessings come back upon our land as freedom to worship God freely is restored. There is always the freedom to reject God (but I don't recommend it), so God haters still have their freedom of choice.

tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

So I can demand a Wiccan pentagram? No, I didn't think so.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

Why can't you? Nevermind, I'll do it for you.

I demand a Wiccan pentagram be posted at the entrance of every publicly-owned forested park in America.

oldexbeat 1 year, 10 months ago

nice that our little town/s history now includes Buddhist and Muslims. Going to love that crescent moon being up there by that cross. And a stupa being built next to those. Wonder if these fools wanted that all along -- you know, bring in ALL the religions.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

It took a lawsuit and two and a half years before the VA would put a pentacle on the headstone of a Wiccan soldier who had died in Iraq. I can guarantee it would take a lawsuit and another two years before the state would allow one next to a cross at the capitol.
The only "freedom of religion" these people accept is the freedom of their own religion.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

How do you define a "religion". I'm not sure I can. I have to default to saying each American's practice of his root philosophical belief should be protected as long as it doesn't violate the rights of another.

mom_of_three 1 year, 10 months ago

makes perfect sense. but does a cross on public land violate the beliefs of another? It could, if other belief symbols would not be put there as well.

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