Ringing the Bell for Christ and the ACLU

The other day I asked Christians who were also ACLU lawyers to come forward to disprove a correspondent’s mouth-gaping belief that there were no Christian lawyers at the ACLU. This morning someone came forward who was close enough for my purposes: A law student actively involved with the ACLU in Kentucky, and who (as entirely expected) can speak first-hand of ACLU lawyers who are also Christian. He also posts an excellent and cogent explanation of why one who is Christian might also choose the ideals of the ACLU, and I commend it to you all; read the full comment here (you’ll need to scroll down; it was written 12/23 at 9:24am). A particularly good point I’ll note here:

In the same vein, as a man of faith I am profoundly offended by the sanctimonious would-be demagogues who treat Christianity as if it were some kind of virus that spreads on mere contact. What has a Bible verse read over a school intercom to do with the teaching of Christ’s love? We are told by the Bible to be fishers of men; finders of converts. It never commands us to do it stupidly. The best (and in my experience, the only) way to truly gain converts is to exemplify Christian ideals. Be kind to others. Help those who are most in need of help (without any proselytization involved). Strive to better yourself whilst leaving the judgment of others to God. Then when asked why you do these things that so few others do, you explain how you are driven by faith. Those who would have forced prayer in every classroom and the Ten Commandments on every public wall seem to be interested more in publicity and theocratic clout than in actually winning people’s souls.

Amen to that.

To my mind this comment post presents the evidence I need to disprove my correspondent’s assertion, so that means, as promised, the ACLU now gets $50 of my money, to help continue their efforts to safeguard the constitutional rights of all Americans. Rock on, ACLU! Rock on, US Constitution!

31 Comments on “Ringing the Bell for Christ and the ACLU”

  1. I disagree with your contention that this person constitutes a ‘hit.’ They are a law student, not a lawyer. Not all law students do go on to become lawyers. Not all law students who do work for the ACLU continue to do so after passing the bar. However, as a Christian invloved in the ACLU, he/she is at least close to your criteria.

  2. He constitutes a hit in that he verifies from personal experience that Christian lawyers do work at the ACLU, which is the relevant bit of information I was seeking. And anyway, I’ve already donated the $50.

  3. I know that ‘they’ is becoming the gender-neutral first person pronoun, but “they are a law student” still grates on my ears. Ouch.

  4. The funny thing is, I’m an atheist, and a former card-carrying member of the ACLU who agrees that their agenda of banishing all forms of religious expression in public life is an actual threat to civil rights.

    But then, I think they’re on the wrong side of civil rights on a lot of issues, which is why that little blue card no longer resides in my wallet, and why they’ll never get another penny from me, even if I’m occasionally on their side of an argument.

  5. Well I’ve read the earlier discussion, and other than Dean and I being in agreement (which I take as a good sign, and wasn’t intended as a Me Too!) I don’t see where it invalidates my point. John said the ACLU is continuing to safeguard the rights of all Americans, and I just don’t believe this is true; They are actively working to support the rights of some Americans over those of others, and actively working to diminish some rights, in order to strengthen others.

    Whether there are Christians in the ACLU or not (and certainly there are), is irrelevant; It is the actions and positions of the ACLU that are the problem.

    Yes, they have done much good work over the past 100 years, but this is an organization that will support the playing of the Azaam over loudspeakers in a public square (clearly audible for something like half a mile according to newspaper reports)as “an important step towards accepting and understanding other cultures”, and at the same time sue to ban churchbells, not to any mention of the word christ in public life. This is an organization that has successfully sued to give prisoners the right to sacrifice live animals in prison, but wont allow a city named after ANGLES, to have a cross on its symbol.

    Shouldn’t the first amendment protect Christians, Pagans, Voudoun, Santeiros, Muslims, and every other religious group equally? In fact shouldnt the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment insure equal treatment, even without the protection of the first?

    Their argument that muslim expression should be allowed because it is “cultural expression” is pure sophistry. Further they argue that as Christianity is the dominant religion and cultural force here, that unless it is actively removed from our public life, it will be implicitly established, simply by it’s passive presence.


    I’m a libertarian by nature, unaffiliated politically, and I do not believe in the Christian concept of god. I dont like evangelical proseletyzing. I love messing with the minds of missionaries, because I know my bible quite well (usually better than they do), and my philosophical and logical argument skills are top notch. They’re great fun to play with. I do not wish to see the establishment of any religion, but to argue that the mere presence of christianity in public life, is effective establishment is just that. Bullshit.

    I see all the evidence of the actions of the organization, and all I can think is, they do this because they actively hate our culture, and wish to destroy it. They attack every aspect of our culture and traditions as a nation that do not meet with their express approval, and yet exhort us to “tolerance” for the beliefs and cultures of others. They tell us that simply to judge ANYTHING is wrong, that in fact there is no objective right and worng, while at the same time saying that if we disagree with them, WE’RE WRONG.

    I am a gun owner. Since 1934 gun owners have been subject to greater and greater infringements on our rights. For the past 70 years the ACLU has only come out in favor of guns once, and that was for the Black Panther Party, arming to rise up against whitey and institute an afrosocialist black state.

    Officially the ACLU has “no official position” on the second amendment, pro or con, yet they strenuously defend (and sometimes stretch into unrecognisability) the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eigth, and fourteenth amendments. They (or rather their lawyers without the official seal of the agency) have however filed HUNDREDS of amicus briefs taking anti-gun positions.

    Oh and they aren’t so keen on the ninth, tenth, or eleventh amendments, since they would limit the power of the courts and the government to enforce their judgements upon us.

    Whatever your position on guns, or religion, the constitution is what it is, and this is an organization supposedly dedicated to protecting our constitutional rights, and they clearly do so only selectively.

    From all of their positions, and actions, I can only conclude that the ACLU has a firm commitment to defending only the rights that they like, and even then only if you accept their definition of them, and how they should apply.

  6. Uhhh Angels. That should have been Angels. ‘Scuse me, I’m both severely dyslexic and sleep deprived (goin on 28 hours right now).

    Honestly, I’m not just being splenetic here. I do understand that the ACLU has done things that were positive for everyone, as well as being specifically positive for Christians (as John pointed out in the original thread, and others commented on), but can you look at what the clear passion and direction of the organization has been, and then honestly tell me that I don’t have a point?

  7. Paul, have you considered “hän”? It’s Finnish, basically means (AIUI) “s/he” — they have no “she” or “he”, so one word (a singular equivalent to “they”, eh?) does both jobs.

    Chris the word “whitey” is so blinkeringly stupid that, under a new law passed just yesterday, its use now carries a penalty of $50, payable to the first bloke who calls you on it. Now, don’t fash y’self, you can just email it to me.

  8. “but this is an organization that will … sue to ban churchbells”

    Okay, a quick Google search for ban and churchbells turns up nothing. Admit it, you’re just making it up as you go.

  9. “and at the same time sue to ban churchbells”
    They did? I’m having trouble finding any report of this, nevermind a credible one.

    “This is an organization that has successfully sued to give prisoners the right to sacrifice live animals in prison, but wont allow a city named after ANGLES, to have a cross on its symbol.”
    Assuming this is in fact true, I don’t see the inconsistency here.

    “I can only conclude that the ACLU has a firm commitment to defending only the rights that they like,”
    You might have a point here. But your examples of a bias by the ACLU against Christians needs work. What you might point to is the ACLU fighting against the Boy Scouts’ right of (non-)association, as I believe the ACLU generally supports the right of private groups to associate with whom they will. (I don’t have examples on-hand though).

  10. There’s a large difference between a private individual having the right to express a religious tendency, and the right of a government to express a religious tendency, regardless of that government’s name.

  11. Thanks for showing yourself to be part of the problem Chris. If Chris Byrne is your real name with correct spelling than you can say you got one thing right in your hateful screed. If you’re going to spout a bunch of, as you say, “bullshit” then you must back it up with sources. You and those like you (lush scumball, bill o’liely, ann “the man” coulter, michael “savage” weiner) have gotten away with crap like this for far too long. You just throw something out there in the hopes that there are plenty of stupid folks that will take it as truth and never check for themselves. Unfortunately, there are people like that, but you will find very few of them in Mr. Scalzi’s “Whatever.” IMO people tend to visit here because they are the types that check things out for themselves. So go peddle your anti ACLU rhetoric over at FreeRepublic, they want to be the choir and will readily believe without facts.

  12. Darren, thanks for the vote of confidence, but last I checked I was the only one who got to tell people whether or not they could post here.

  13. You’re welcome and deserving of the “vote of confidence.” However, it certainly wasn’t my intention to sound like I was trying to deny chris posting privileges on a forum not my own. Just attempting to make a point and a suggestion. I have a low tolerance for irrational emotionalism and even lower tolerance for those who use it to manipulate those easily swayed by it.

  14. Anyone ever heard of Argumentum Ad Hominem?

    I’m waiting for someone to compare me to Hitler. Come’on I want to be Godwined here.

    No seriously, the Klan comparison isn’t enough, you have to go all the way and call me Hitler to make this a completely perfect illustration of what Darren called irrational emotionalism.

    So far I’m an idiot, a liar, a racist, part of the problem (what problem is that by the way, the problem that some people dont think as as you do?), a propagandist praying on the weak minded (and an ineffective one at that), unoriginal, one of “those people”, and irrationally emotional.

    And all because I don’t think the ACLU does what they purport to do, and that’s protect the civil liberties of all americans equally.

    The best you can come up with is comparing me to the KKK, and challenging my citations?

    How about these then:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”, doesnt mean either absolute freedom to practice any religion you wish in any way, nor does it mean you can be entirely free from all influence of religion over your life.

    The second amendment is an individual right whether you like it or not.

    Equality before the law does not mean special protection over and above any other person just because there are fewer people like you than unlike you. Not only that, but it doesn’t give you the right to dictate how someone else should think or feel about you, or act towards you. It means the government should treat you jsut like it treats everyone else, and nothing else.

    The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do not guarantee that you will never be offended, disagreed with, hurt, inconvenienced, or made uncomfortable.

    Come on, call me Hitler please? Arent I a NAZI now?

  15. Chris writes:

    “The best you can come up with is comparing me to the KKK”

    I’m not aware of anyone comparing you with the KKK. I mearly noted that most KKK members are (or claim to be) Christian, are (or claim to be) white men, and most own firearms, and they are also defended from time to time by the ACLU. I did not nor do not suggest that all white Christian gun owners are also members of the KKK, or that *you* are a member of that organization. If you want to make that inference, I can’t stop you. But it’s an incorrect inference.

    As for challenging your citations — if you’re not willing to have your citations challenged, then don’t bring them up. If you’re going to be upset when people challenge your statements, you’re really in the wrong place. If you can’t back up what you say, I suggest you give some thought before saying it.

  16. John I’m not upset, I’m amused at the vitriol.

    I am certainly more than willing to have my citations challenged, I just wasnt making serious sientific citations. This is a blogs comments section not a research paper.

    My point was that no-one has argued against my thesis here, they have only attacked me personally, or my references.

    I state again, it seems clear to me that the ACLU only supports a limited subset of rights that they happen to approve of, generally for a limited subset of people who they approve of.

    The only time they support rights they dont like, is when it would hurt a group that they DO like if they didnt suport those rights. The only time they support a group they DON’T like (like the NAZIs) is when it would hurt a group or a right that they DO like if they didn’t support those groups.

    They have the perfect right to do this by the way, they are a private organization. I’m not even trying to argue that you shouldnt support them, or that anyone else shouldnt. I just don’t think they should represent themselves as respecting, protetcting, and representing all citizens, and all rights, as they do. It’s misleading, and I believe deliberately so, because they dont wish to be seen as biased.

    As for not suing to ban churchbells, it was widely reported in the late ’80s that lawsuits were threatened, but I can’t find a direct citation of a lawsuit. I personally know of one town where the churches and town both recieved letters threating suit, and decided to stop the bells rather than fight a potential suit.

    This same tactic is used by every pressure group for any cause (recently, most notably the RIAA), and it has proven very effective. It was in fact not necessary for the ACLU to sue LA county, they merely threatened suit, and the county acted to avoid the lawsuit.

    Please tell me, what benefit to the public is there in forcing a bankrupt county to spend several million dollars changing its seals, symbols, and stationary? And how is there no detriment in attempting to exclude the missionary past of the county, and indeed the christian past of the nation?

    When the ACLU does this, they arent trying to preserve and protect our rights, they are trying to change our culture. Again, they have the right to do this, but that’s supposedly not what the organization is about.

    What about threatening letters to stores, to schools, to cities and towns saying that if they celebrate christmas in the way they have for many years, they will be sued? What about the suits against christmas plays in schools, or allowing the Boy Scouts to use public parks (San Diego last year, see I can cite if I want too).

    As Andrew Wade pointed out, what is the purpose of suing to deny facilities to the Boy Scouts? What is the public benefit.

    What about the side effect that these lawsuits force the boy scouts to use private property, and that generally the only private property available to accomodate the scouts, and that they can afford, are provided by churches. This inevitably results in a more religious organization, which unless the ACLU would like to see the boyscouts disbanded, would seem to be counterproductive.

    As a private individual I have the right to be a christian, and the public parks, which are paid for and maintained by public money, are open to me, and to my friends who feel the same way as I do. So I have the right to freely associate, the right to be religious, and the right to use public facilities, why is it that I can’t have all three at the same time?

    What about the rights of the boy scouts to freely associate, and to have their own beliefs, while at the same time using public property?

    If I am a racist, and I chose to get together with other racists and form a racist club, don’t I have the same right to use a public park for my meetings as a jewish identity group, or a completely secular sports team?

    To my mind this is about the rights of people to have their own beliefs, free of either liberal or conservative thought police, and then be treated equally under the law.

    It would be a clear violation of the first amendment if a government allowed the church of christ picnic society to use a facility explicitly because of their religious belief, but as long as I allow the atheist chess club, and B’nai B’rith to use the same park, withoutn regard to religion, how is this establishing a religion?

    I simply believe that religious and non-religious should be treated equally under the law, as should black, white, gay straight, and anything else. No discrimination, no special accomodation. This is how I read the constitution (and just plain morality), and I’ll try and persuade anyone I can to this view.

  17. “This is a blogs comments section not a research paper.”

    Ha! Well, fair enough. On the other hand, if people *do* have references and citations, I enourage them to bring them on.

  18. Oh and John, I do need to apologize for misconstruing your statement about the KKK.

    At first brush I thought it was meant as an abusive analogy with loaded words argument.

    I was aware the ACLU had defended the KKK, as well as any number of unpleasant folks’s rights to free speech.

    But why won’t they attack campus speech codes, which are pretty clear restrictions of the first amendment, and often anti-male sexual discrimination as well.

    Why wont they scream when conservative campus clubs and news papers are being shutdown at state universities.

    Hell why dont they decry minority racial, ethnic, or religious preferences in scholarships (never mind adminissions)? There are thousands of black, hispanic, Native American, Asian, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish only scholarships out there, many of them using, at least partially, state or federal funds, and most of them being spent at state institutions. Can anyone doubt that if I tried to set up a white only scholarship the ACLU (and probably just about everyone else including the DOJ) would be on my ass in a microsecond?

    Yeargh sometimes I really hate the world we live in.

    I should have the right to be as big an asshole, racist, sexist, idiot as I want, no matter what religion, color, gender, or sexual preference I am, without the repressive or coercive powers of the state, or it’s agents (state universities for example) having any say whatsoever.

    I should be able to think what I want, say what I want, and to the extent that I dont harm anyone else or abuse the public commons DO what I want without anyone else being able to say anything about it.

    If I DO do something criminal, the fact that I am a racist idiot should have nothing to do with what crime I’m charged with, or how severe my sentence is. A crime is a crime no matter who commits it, and who it’s commited against.

    Why isn’t there a powerful political lobby defending this idea? That’s what the ACLU says they do, I only wish it were true.

  19. “Oh and John, I do need to apologize for misconstruing your statement about the KKK.”

    No worries. These things happen.

  20. “I am certainly more than willing to have my citations challenged, I just wasnt making serious sientific citations.”

    When you say the ACLU sues to ban churchbells, and it turns out that indeed they do not, I believe there’s a Commandment that speaks about exactly what you are doing, and I don’t believe it refers to it as “flubbing your citations.”

  21. “(what problem is that by the way, the problem that some people dont think as as you do?),”

    I have no problem whatsoever with people not believing or thinking the way I do. What we’re dealing with here is facts and truths. It doesn’t matter that you believe or think the ACLU doesn’t support christian causes enough or at all. Facts show you to be wrong, or at the very least extremely subjective.

    “When you say the ACLU sues to ban churchbells, and it turns out that indeed they do not, I believe there’s a Commandment that speaks about exactly what you are doing, and I don’t believe it refers to it as “flubbing your citations.”‘

    Well put Phillip.

  22. Chris Byrne wrote:
    “As Andrew Wade pointed out, what is the purpose of suing to deny facilities to the Boy Scouts? What is the public benefit.”
    That would not be my point. Citizens should be able to participate in and receive services from any government-sponsered organization without descrimination on the basis of religion, sex, sexual orientation, race, etc… Whether the arrangements consisted of sponsorship or “special treatment” I really couldn’t say, as I’m not familiar with those cases.

    What I was referring to was a earlier court cases in which the ACLU argued that the Boy Scouts should be prevented from descriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and religion (IIRC). There is a conflict here between the right of individuals to associate (or not) with whom they choose, and the liberties of various minorities. And I do think the right of association does sometimes need to be limited, but I was surprised to see the ACLU arguing that the Boy Scouts were one of these cases. One reason *may* be a bias against Christianity.

    I hope this clarifies matters.

    Chris Byrne wrote:
    “If I DO do something criminal, the fact that I am a racist idiot should have nothing to do with what crime I’m charged with, or how severe my sentence is.”
    Yes, BUT. If part of your *intent* was to terrorize a community, well, I think that merits a harsher punishment.

  23. I heard the ACLU sent out letters last year to some or all fortune 500 companies threatening lawsuits if they showed any Christmas decorations, or if their employees said Merry Christmas to any of their customers.

    Does anyone have copies of any of the letters?

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