West Chester, Tolerance and Good Sense -- CagleJune 2002
Ever notice how some people get upset at the strangest things? Petty, petty, petty things. The types of things that make you wonder how much free time such people have, and how much of a bad thing that, in itself, can be.
If you say Barry Bonds hit a grand slam home run, someone will roll his/her eyes, sigh and exclaim, "Redundant...hello!" You just can't get away with saying that, because someone wants you to know they're paying attention to what you say. And you should applaud them for knowing that a grand slam is nothing other than a home run.
But there are times when splitting hairs is absolutely neccessary.
You might have heard that in West Chester, PA, a woman named Sally Flynn, a resident of this Chester County town, and Margaret Downey, the president and founder of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, filed suit against the county courthouse seeking the removal of a plaque of the 10 Commandments (so much for free thought, eh?) from the front of the building. The presence of this 80-plus-year-old plaque, they argue, goes against the separation of church and state promised in the First Amendment.
Incredibly, this dynamic duo won their case at the local level, and it is now in the appeals process. Until then, the county has forked out $400 for an aluminum and fabric covering to mask the offending tablet and its religious chidings.
Well, not to rob Flynn, an atheist, and Downey of a grand slam home run, but. . .
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.
That's the First Amendment, as you know. Somewhere down the line, likely in the U.S. Supreme Court—where all matters of theory rather than practicality are hammered out—Flynn and Downey are likely to lose due to the wording of the First Amendment.
The petty thing that upsets me is the "separation between church and state," which theistic-bashing morons always cite every time religion breaks its invisible restraining order and wanders near a school or a state building. It doesn't exist. The wording clearly says Congress may not pass a law that recognizes an established religion and, in the next breath, admonishes not to prevent people from exercising their right to pray. In other words, no Unitarian States of America, but you may visit any church, temple, synagogue or cult of your choice. The assumption is a separation between the entities, which was not what the founding fathers had in mind, nor was it in the actual wording.