My thinking is this: any damn judge and/or jury that goes along with the atheists should be run out of this country. Sent to North Korea?
The American Atheists organization has sued the National September 11 Memorial and Museum over the installation of the “9/11 cross” in the museum. The organization’s president, David Silverman, insists that it will not “allow this travesty to occur in our country.”
The 20-foot cross — two steel beams that had held together as the building collapsed — was discovered in the rubble of Ground Zero on September 13, 2001, by construction worker Frank Silecchia. The 9/11 cross became a venerated object, and many of those who were searching for survivors and clearing debris from the “pit” took solace from its existence. On October 4, 2001, it was moved to a pedestal on Church Street, where it was treated as a shrine by visitors to Ground Zero for the next five years. In October 2006 it was removed to storage, and in July 2011 it was returned to the site for installation in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The cross will not be displayed in the memorial; it will be included in a section of the museum featuring ways workers sought to “[find] meaning at Ground Zero.” Its inclusion is for historical purposes, and not as a religious memorial. Yet the American Atheists decided that this was offensive and filed a lawsuit alleging that the display of the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, equal-protection laws, and civil-rights statutes.
Unfortunately for the American Atheists, the law is clearly on the side of the September 11 Museum. The Establishment Clause is the centerpiece of the American Atheists’ case. They argue that “the challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land.” This argument is specious in two separate ways. First, the museum is not a government organization; it is run by a private foundation, and thus its actions should be construed as private speech. Second, the display of the 9/11 cross in the museum falls well within the guidelines for displays of religious objects that the Supreme Court has upheld time and time again.
In one of the landmark cases on the Establishment Clause, Lynch v. Donnelly, the Court held that religious displays on government property were acceptable because “in the line-drawing process called for in each case, it has often been found useful to inquire whether the challenged law or conduct has a secular purpose, whether its principal or primary effect is to advance or inhibit religion, and whether it creates an excessive entanglement of government with religion.” In other words, if there is a secular purpose for the display, it is allowable. One of the examples of acceptable behavior provided by the Court in this case clearly supports the September 11 Museum’s position: “Art galleries supported by public revenues display religious paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries, predominantly inspired by one religious faith. The National Gallery in Washington, maintained with Government support, for example, has long exhibited masterpieces with religious messages, notably the Last Supper, and paintings depicting the Birth of Christ, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, among many others with explicit Christian themes and messages.”
Lynch v. Donnelly concerned the legality of a crèche on government property; the 9/11 cross is a historical object in a museum. If a crèche is constitutional, how can the 9/11 cross not receive the same protection?
An amicus brief filed by the American Center for Law and Justice in support of the September 11 Museum echoes these points. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, explains that, “in urging the court to dismiss the suit, our brief concludes that ‘a museum — public or private — has the academic freedom to display religiously-themed artifacts of historical or artistic significance. . . . Acknowledging history does not establish a religion, and Plaintiffs’ lawsuit is without merit.”
Eric Baxter, a senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, emphasizes that “This is even a step further removed from government-endorsed speech, as it is not a government entity that is trying to make some statement with the cross. There is a government landlord, the Port Authority, but the museum that leases the property is run by a private foundation, and the museum makes decisions about what it displays.” Both Mr. Sekulow and Mr. Baxter are confident that the court will reject the American Atheists’ case and affirm the constitutionality of the display of the 9/11 cross.
If the American Atheists’ lawsuit prevailed, it would by implication require the removal of every religious object from every museum in America. This would be a drastic rewriting of history. Religion — as much as the American Atheists despise it — is a part of our national heritage.
Are you better off than you were four years ago?
CARTOON BY CHIP BOK
This is our second story about the bracelet. You can see the first story -here.
We started wearing our KIA (Killed in Action) bracelet back in 2003. Our bracelet, with Cpl William M. Amundson Jr’s name, will stay on our wrist until the war is over. It has come off only for x-rays, MRIs and TSA screenings since we put it on.
Bracelet Story #2:
Many years ago (2003 or 2004) we were at an airport waiting for a shuttle bus to take us from the long-term parking lot to the terminal. It was busy. We stood in a crowd and when the bus arrived, it too was crowded. I was able to get a seat but the bus filled with standing passengers at later stops. Nobody was talking. The only noise was the diesel engine.
A blond lady about our age was seated across from me, barely visible with all the standing passengers between us. We had gotten on at the same stop.
I felt like I was being watched. After a few moments I hear, “Excuse me, what is that bracelet?”
Now the only conversation in the bus, everybody else listened in.
I explained that it is a Killed in Action bracelet. It commemorates the ultimate sacrifice of one of our lost soldiers. It has the soldier’s name, unit, date of death, and the war zone where they died.
She asked if I knew the person named on the bracelet. This is a common question.
I explained that the bracelets are ordered at Ranger Joe’s and that the soldier’s name is random unless you specify otherwise. I did not know the guy.
She asked why I wear it.
Labor Day may have passed, but in Chicago school is still out for the summer. That’s because, for the first time in more than 25 years, the brothers and sisters of the Chicago Teachers Union are striking. Though they are already among the best-paid educators in the country, making an average of $76,000 per year in salary — plus benefits — the union is unsatisfied with an offer from the city’s board of education that provides them a 16 percent raise over four years, worth a total of $400 million. (The CTU’s original offer was for a 30 percent raise over two years.)
Accounts from both sides indicate that the sticking points are the maintenance of the union’s lavish benefits structure and a teacher-evaluation system that labor officials worry could — horror — result in the firing of large numbers of its most ineffective members.
On the merits, the case isn’t close. Chicago teachers currently pay just 3 percent of their own health-care costs, and nearly three-quarters of new education spending over the last five years has been gobbled up by their retirement costs. This sort of thing isn’t sustainable in a strong economy in a well-governed city in a state with its fiscal house in order, much less in Chicago, Illinois, in the midst of President Obama’s lost decade. To put things in perspective, the Chicago Public Schools system is facing a budget shortfall roughly one and a half times the size of the salary-increase offer rejected by the unions, its bonds have been downgraded by two of the “big three” ratings agencies, and the state’s teacher-pension system is less than 20 percent funded.
The question of how best to evaluate teacher performance is a bit more complex, to be sure, but the CTU and the board negotiated the current evaluation matrix in good faith just last year, and the city even agreed to make the first round of evaluations consequence-free while work is done to tweak the formula. But the CTU is already pressing for changes that would deemphasize test scores, and is leading with the assertion not that such changes would more accurately measure performance, but that they would avoid the termination-for-cause of thousands of dues-paying members.
Read the rest HERE.
New England, East Cambridge, Massachusetts, US; Medium: Free-blown colorless, red, white and blue glass; Currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Witch Balls are spheres of plain or stained glass with strands of glass inside the ball. They started to be hung in cottage windows in 18th century England. Their use was to ward off evil spirits, witch’s spells or ill fortune. The witch ball actually originated among cultures where witches were considered a blessing. Witches would make and “enchant” the balls to enhance their potency against evils and given as gifts to their neighbors and friends. As the rise of Christianity spread across Europe, witch balls were actually used against the very witches that made them. They did not appear in America until the early 19th century as the Spiritualist Movement began on the East Coast.
According to folk tales, witch balls would entice evil spirits with their bright colors and the strands inside the ball would capture the spirit or other form of evil and prevent anything from escaping.
During the Victorian era, they took on a more refined shape and used a higher quality of glass. They were displayed to declare prestige and wealth. Their legend was finally regarded more as a superstition as they proved to be excellent conversation pieces and works of art. They are displayed in museums, as the ones pictured above, and continue to be sold all over the world.