Thursday, October 27, 2011

The weedy direction of the Arab Spring

Good news for all those folks (Al Gore and Joe Biden, for example) who were so ecstatic about the so-called Arab Spring: move to Tunisia and you'll soon be able to have four wives! For feminists, unfortunately, there's no word yet on how many husbands a woman will be able to have. Since the party rising to dominance in Tunisia has declared that Sharia will be the basis for Tunisian law in future, I'm guessing that the latter number will be 1 -- or more accurately, perhaps, one quarter.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The other First Amendment

Now that we've been treated to the news that a Tennessee school district (Tennessee, for cryin' out loud!) has cautioned public-school coaches and teachers not to bow their heads to join in student-led prayer, it's time to re-read Amendment 1 of the U.S. Constitution. All of it, this time.
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.
Now, everyone refers to the first part part as "The Establishment Clause." They read to the first comma, and stop. Case closed. Chalk up another victory for removing Christianity from the public square.

But just beyond that comma is a very important counterbalance: "... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

It's that balancing phrase that no one seems to remember these days. And we Christians ignore it at our peril.

I think our Founders understood very well that the sense of the first phrase could eventually be used to banish the practice of religion from the public square, although the danger must have seemed remote in that time of strong Christian consensus. But that consensus is no more, and many now seem to think that all religion is dangerous and suspect. It's a setup for repression.

So it's time for us to rename that clause, as a first step in reclaiming its central message. Can we please start referring to it as the "Free Exercise" clause?

And then exercise the freedom it recognizes, in public?