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“Liberty Institute” unclear on what “establishment” means

The Liberty Institute, a self-described “nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America,” is asking a Texas district court to dismiss a lawsuit against the Wood County Commissioners Court for opening their public meetings with prayer, and for displaying the motto “In God We Trust.”

“Higher courts have already determined that legislative prayers and our nation’s national motto are constitutional,” said Jeff Mateer, General Counsel of Liberty Institute. “Our nation has a longstanding tradition of opening governmental meetings with prayer as well as publicly acknowledging the role of God in our governmental institutions. Such traditions and acknowledgments do not violate the First Amendment.”

In other words, we have a long-established history of putting religion in government, and therefore we have not violated the First Amendment prohibition against establishing religion in government. And in related news, there’s no racism in America because we have a long history of preferential treatment for whites.

via MarketWatch.

Comments

  1. This Is A Turing Test says

    It’s the “ceremonial deism” argument, which seems to be that it’s harmless tradition, in which any actual religious intent has been lost through what amounts to meaningless repetition. Which makes you wonder- then what’s the big deal about losing it? Why put up such a fuss defending something that means nothing? Unless… it actually does mean something, in which case it’s unconstitutional, and needs eliminating on that ground. Their only basis for defending it means it’s not worth defending; and their only reason to keep it means it’s indefensible.

      • This Is A Turing Test says

        Ibis: “That’s some catch.”
        Yep- and it’s of their own making. They can’t defend it without disavowing its religious essence, and they can’t disavow it without making its defense pretty obviously gratuitous.
        (I love recursion!)

    • timberwoof says

      It reminds me of the argument that Christians sometimes try to make: That atheists express their belief in God every time they (we) use money that has “In God We Trust” graven on it. In making that argument, they admit that “In God We Trust” on the money does mean the Christian God.

  2. says

    “In other words, we have a long-established history of putting religion in government, and therefore we have not violated the First Amendment prohibition against establishing religion in government. And in related news, there’s no racism in America because we have a long history of preferential treatment for whites.”

    Exactly. Similarly, we all know that a “longstanding tradition” of wrongs makes a right. Or does it only take 2 wrongs? I always forget how that moral saying goes, but let’s not get picky.

    Brian

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