What Justice Antonin Scalia Doesn’t Understand About Freedom Of Religion
This week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, during a speech at Colorado Christian University, promoted the use of government powers to coerce Americans into religious belief and worship. Scalia lectured his audience that, “the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion”
Scalia declared, “That the state must be neutral, not only between religions, but between religion and non-religion, that’s just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional?”
This is an important question. Where do we get the notion that it is unconstitutional for the government to promote religion in general?
We get this notion from the following passages in the Constitution of the United States of America:
The exercise of religion is not free when it takes place because of force or coercion from the government. When the state is not neutral, but uses its power to push American citizens into religious belief and worship, the resulting exercise of religion is not freely undertaken. That’s a simple fact, not a lie. What part of this concept is so difficult for Justice Scalia to understand?
When participation in religious rituals of worship, such as prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance, is required of both public officials and attending citizens in order to participate in public meetings, it amounts to a religious test of admittance into an office or public trust. Is this idea really to complicated for Justice Scalia to grasp?
To be honest, I don’t believe that Antonin Scalia is ignorant of these concerns. It seems more likely that he just doesn’t care about them. What he clearly does care about is the continued political dominance of his own kind of religion: Monotheism.
Justice Scalia pretends that he favors only state sponsorship of religion in general, rather than government promotion of one religion over another, but whenever he argues for the promotion of religion in general, he does so by asserting the need of the government to promote belief in God, and worship of God. In his speech at Colorado Christian University this week, for example, he told the audience that, “We do Him [God] honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Worshipping God, honoring God, and promoting belief in God is not at all equivalent to promoting religion in general. It’s the selective promotion of monotheism – and Jewish and Christian forms of monotheism in particular. Never does Justice Scalia support, or even refer to, government practices in which belief in or worship of a goddess, or of multiple gods, or of non-theistic religious concepts. Scalia couldn’t refer to such practices, of course, because they do not exist in the United States. In this country, when the federal government promotes religion, it promotes worship in a single, male divinity which arises particularly out of the Jewish and Christian religions.
In practice, Scalia’s supposed scheme of the promotion of religion in general is not at all neutral between religions. It’s discriminatory against minority religions, not to mention discriminatory against the growing portion of the American population that is non-religious.
“There are those who would have us believe that the separation of church and state must mean that God must be driven out of the public forum. That is simply not what our Constitution has ever meant,” said Antonin Scalia in his Colorado speech.
Anyone who has real faith in an omnipotent, transcendent monotheistic divine being cannot believe that something so earthly as the Constitution of the United States of America could drive their god out of the public forum. What the Constitution does is to remove religious agendas from the human-created of the U.S. federal government, so that Americans of all religion and of no religion at all can live in equality. Only people who seek to use the government to shove their own religion in the face of other people could have a problem with that.