Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Seeley Silliness

Dick Seeley, a local resident, wrote a letter to the editor of the Glendale News Press this past Sunday attacking someone who had attacked the ACLU and the latter's constant anti-religious bent.

Mr. Seeley wrote, "In essence, religion is a private matter, a matter between an individual, his church and his God. The basic thrust of the ACLU is to support freedom for all religions by prohibiting singular religious displays on public property, property such as city halls, public schools and other public buildings and areas. This objective, and others, lead the author to state in his article that the ACLU 'is the most dangerous organization in America!'"

Mr. Seeley's grasp of U.S History is shoddy, at best. It was not until the bizarre decision of Engel v. Vitale (1962) when the fictional wall of separation between church and state was erected and forced on local and state levels of government. Seeley rests his argument for the separation on the words of James Madison, the primary author of the U.S. Constitution. But until 1962, the courts, states and local governmental bodies correctly interpreted the First Amendment to apply solely to the federal government.

As Professor Thomas E. Woods notes in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, the Blaine Amendment of the 1870s attempted to extend First Amendment restrictions to the states, yet it failed to garner enough votes on several occasions. Later, "in the early twentieth century, issues of church-state relations arose in the supreme courts (of six states) and, in each case, when the court mentioned the federal Constitution at all it was to deny that the federal government had any role to play in church-state issues at the state level."

The actions of the ACLU in its attacks against public displays associated with Christmas logically find their roots in the Engel decision of 1962. Those who understand United States history in its totality are correct to argue that the ACLU's actions in question run afoul of the great traditions of the United States of America and the intentions of the Founding Fathers as a whole. Local governments that decide to erect nativity scenes would be acting in a way that the Founders would have deemed to be consistent with the United States Constitution in general and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments in particular. However, challenging the Engel decision is probably cost-prohibitive. So, I hope those who drive by my Glendale home and similar homes appreciate the nativity scenes that are keeping Christ in Christmas.

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