Daily Archives: December 30, 2004

Ringing the Bell for Christ and the ACLU — Again!

Recall, if you will, my call for lawyers who are Christian and work for the ACLU to come forward to refute the belief a correspondent of mine had, that there were no Christian lawyers at the ACLU. I’ve already rung the bell, but I’m ringing it again, because I’ve hauled in a big one:

Will the judgmental soul who doubted there were Christian lawyers with the ACLU please prepare to pony up another $50. I am a lawyer, law professor more precisely, and the immediate past President of the ACLU of Alabama. I am currently on the ACLU of Alabama Board of Directors and additionally serve on its Executive Committee. And, yes, I am a Christian.

I know of my own personal knowledge that the ACLU brings just as many lawsuits under the Free Exercise clause supporting various religious groups (including Christian churches as shown earlier in this thread) in their ability to practice their faith, as it does under the Establishment Clause attempting to prevent the overt endorsement of religion by government.

The true client of the ACLU is the Constitution of the United States. We represent specific, individual clients in order to promote constitutional rights. When we act to defend helpless individuals against oppressive government (a common scenario), I believe the ACLU acts in a truly Christian manner (although this is not intended as such, and my non-Christian colleagues on the ACLU Board would distance themselves from this). After all, Christ enjoined us to help the least among us, and often the ACLU finds itself representing the friendless and the scorned.

For myself, my beliefs are not so fragile that they require blaring public pronouncement, and especially public pronouncement by less-than-honest politicians. So what if there are no public statutes or monuments to any particular religious faith? Of what value is a belief system that needs such constant reinforcement?

I also ask myself what I would feel if I were a Muslim or a Hindu, living in the United States and constantly being made to feel second class by virtue of the religious prattle that comes out of the mouths of public officials. I would not want that for myself, and, as Christians, how can we possibly force onto others that which we would not want for ourselves?

David J. Langum

Whoever issued this challenge can please direct the $50 to: Office Manager, ACLU of Alabama, 207 Montgomery Street, Suite 825, Montgomery, Alabama 36104.

I’d already donated the $50 in question to the national organization, but I’m feeling good about this one, so I think I’ll tip in another $50. It also covers the other ACLU Christian lawyers that popped up in the thread — and my sincere thanks to them as well.

Anyway: Mission Accomplished. I feel good.

On Rudeness as a Rhetorical Tool

For those of you who are interested, I put a comment here (it’s the one dated 12/30/04 at 1:35 pm) on how I will occassionally be rude in online discussions as an intentional rhetorical maneuver. A snip:

It’s no secret to anyone here that I can at times be rude and confrontational. I think what generally less known is I’m not *always* rude because I’m a hothead; I’m sometimes rude because I find it’s a surprisingly effective rhetorical device that causes people to focus and clarify their arguments, and occasionally to understand how someone (and specifically, me) might find the formulation of their statements offensive and dismissive.

I think the assumption is that when you’re rude online, people will automatically be rude back, but I’ve found much of the time that’s not the case… Often times when I am rude to someone online, they take a step back examine, why I’m suddenly antagonistic and move to clarify.

You can read the full piece in the comment thread; if you have comments of your own on it, please leave them in that comment thread.

To clarify: Sometimes I’m simply rude because I’m as much a jerk as anyone else. I can’t claim the “It’s all a master plan!” defense every single time I act like an ass online.

Maxims for Believers

Not to distract you all from the spectacle of me and Mr. Duemer frothing at the mouth like angry mad dogs while putatively discussing tolerance, but on his own site Devin Ganger has posted a variation of the Seven Maxims for Non-Believers, modified for use for believers. I think he’s done a fine job, and encourage you all to trundle over and check out his variation on the theme.