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Freedom from offense?

David N. Bass

David N. Bass
December 22, 2003

French President Jacques Chirac's recent announcement banning Islamic headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and Christian crucifixes in his country's public schools comes as no shock. Once again paving the way for socialist governments around the world, France is basically saying that religious belief and symbols are something dirty to be swept under society's carpet. Additionally, Chirac is saying that public display of religious symbols should be strictly prohibited since such symbols might offend those who don't subscribe to certain religious worldviews.

This is an increasing problem in many European nations. The trend is even obvious in America, where the government supposedly still affords religious freedom to the people. More and more our government is taking away the religious liberty so clearly protected in the Bill of Rights and replacing it with a false doctrine guaranteeing not freedom of religion, but freedom from offense.

According to our nation's courts, freedom from offense entails the complete elimination of anything that might cause "emotional distress," even if it is something as simple as a Muslim headscarf, a Christian crucifix or a Jewish skullcap. Following the doctrine of freedom from offense to its logical conclusion, middle-school children can be exposed to pornography in sex-ed classes, but if a student prays over a meal or a teacher brings a Bible to class, such things might cause "emotional distress" to other students and therefore should be outlawed.

What has happened to the religious freedom granted in the Bill of Rights? Our courts have twisted these amendments to reflect international law, straying far from the United States Constitution. Forget that America is the world's lone superpower according to many of our runaway courts, we must still look to other countries (mostly those with socialist governments) as our model.

Like most cultural shifts, the change didn't happen overnight. Roots of the freedom from offense doctrine can be seen as far back as 1962, when the Supreme Court rendered unconstitutional a voluntary, verbal prayer offered in American public schools. Three years later a lower court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a student to pray out loud over his lunch.

Freedom from offense soon spread beyond public prayer and into the realm of religious symbols. In 1969, the courts decreed in Lowe v. City of Eugene that it was unconstitutional for a war memorial to be constructed in the shape of a cross. Ten years later, in Stone v. Graham, the courts said it was unconstitutional for students to see the Ten Commandments since they might read and obey them. In 1993, in Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools, the courts banned all artwork depicting something religious, even if that artwork was crucial to the study of history or culture.

The most recent case involves a privately funded display of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama state courthouse. Chief Justice Roy Moore was strongly reprimanded by a federal court for establishing and actively supporting the display. Why was he reprimanded? According to the court, because the monument might offend those who don't subscribe to a Judeo-Christian worldview. Again, we see the doctrine of freedom from offense at work.

Interestingly, while religious symbols are being locked in the closet, other things that civilized societies historically consider offensive are being let loose. Little is being done to halt the media's onslaught of violence and immorality, yet it's a national crisis if someone has the gall to pray publicly. Our courts are so deluded with the concept of freedom from offense that they consider the Lord's Prayer more damaging to children than the latest string of Hollywood slasher flicks. Does that standard make sense?

Jacques Chirac's decision should be a wake-up call to Americans that the courts no longer adhere to the Constitution, but to the latest societal trends. Before long, America will have the same laws as France, prohibiting anything that smacks of religion. If something isn't done soon, religious symbols will not only be outlawed in public schools and government buildings, but in society as a whole. Knowingly or not, the courts are opening the floodgates of religious persecution, all in the name of multiculturalism.

The establishment of the state as the final arbiter of rights and the removal of God from society are the calling cards of a tyrannical government. This is exactly what takes place in communist countries. All references to God are washed from society as government sets itself up as the Deity.

Our nation's founding documents say that rights come from our Creator; socialist governments say that rights come from man, and history proclaims that when man determines which religions are permissible and which are not, tyranny isn't far away.

David N. Bass is an eighteen-year-old home school graduate, a committed Christian, and a proud conservative. He is a writer for World Newspaper Publishing and a regular columnist at AmericanDaily.com, ARationalAdvocate.com, and RenewAmerica.us. He is also a contributing writer to many other on-line sites, including Tolkien-Movies.com. David is currently working on his first novel. He can be contacted at NCwriter93@hotmail.com.

© Copyright 2003 by David N. Bass

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