In addition to being a useful prop for pushing gun control, the massacre
at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School, turned out to
be a bottomless bonanza for other pet causes of liberalism. While grieving
members of the community are planning a memorial in honor of the victims,
others are busy planning how to exploit the memorial to push what they
like to call the “separation of church and state.”
The Littleton incident has excited this kind of controversy from the
first, when a local carpenter constructed several crosses as memorials
to the victims of last month’s vicious shootings at the high
school. Some in the community didn’t like the crosses because
they suggested a bit too much religion in general — not to mention
a bit too much of the wrong religion in particular.
Now a local public park is planning to build a more permanent memorial
with an explicitly Christian or Biblical theme. Most people believe
that such a theme would be appropriate, since several of the murder
victims at the high school were explicit Christians. At least two of
the girls murdered were asked by the killers whether they believed
in God; when they answered yes, they were shot.
But not everyone thinks it’s appropriate. When a memorial service
held recently turned out to be very explicitly Christian, what The
Washington Times calls “several liberal Christian, Jewish, and
black leaders” found it “offensive” and met with
Colorado governor Bill Owens to complain. They’re not the only
pillars of the community to do so.
Another complainer is a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation,
which apparently is dedicated to the view that religion itself — not
just religion supported by the state — is a force from which
we need to be emancipated. “We object to religious displays in
public parks,” the group’s state coordinator says. “Let
them put a religious memorial on church or private property.” Since
the members of his group think religion itself is evil, they probably
don’t really approve of that either, but so far the U.S. Constitution
has not evolved to the point that they can do anything about it.
But it may well have evolved to the point that they can stop the community
from building an explicitly religious memorial to the devout students
murdered for their faith. “I know there are some people who would
like to see a religious memorial,” the park’s manager of
community services says. “[But] if the location for the permanent
memorial is a public place, then we can’t do it by law. The Constitution
won’t permit it,” he states.
The manager, you see, has had his mind well warped by the anti-constitutionalist
dogma that holds that only the Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution
and that whatever the Court says is right. If you substitute “Joseph
Stalin” for “Supreme Court” in the previous sentence,
you would have an accurate description of the constitution of a totalitarian
state. That’s exactly where the dogma is leading us, with a little
help from the organized enemies of religion in and out of government.
Of course the Constitution says nothing at all like what the manager
has been told—and is dumb enough to believe—it says. What
the First Amendment actually says is that “Congress shall make
no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free
There is nothing in the constitutional text about not being able to
display religious objects in public places or build memorials in public
parks with religious themes—or, for that matter, to pray in schools,
display the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, build manger scenes at
Christmas, or sing Christmas carols and other religious songs.
Every bit of that stuff was simply fabricated by the Supreme Court
and the lawyers for religion-haters like the Freedom from Religion
Foundation. It flourishes today for the sole reason that boobs like
the manager of community services quoted above are dim enough to believe
and do what they are told to believe and do.
How the Littleton dispute will be resolved no one knows, but most of
us can make a pretty good guess. No matter how devout the murdered
teenagers were, no matter how much their families and friends and community
grieve for them and wish to commemorate them in ways that reflect what
they believed in and were ready to die for, and no matter what the
Constitution really says or what common decency and common sense demand — it
will be the enemies of religion and the real Constitution who win.
That’s because those enemies possess more will and more energy
than those who want to preserve their constitutional freedom and practice
their religion. And until that changes, we can expect the totalitarianism
those enemies have helped create to continue to flourish.
Reprinted from Shots Fired:
Sam Francis on America’s
Culture War (FGF Books, 2006.) It was originally published by
Creators Syndicate on May 25, 1999.
Samuel Francis Classics archives
The Samuel Francis Classics are copyright © 2008
by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfbooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Political pundit Samuel Francis was an author
and syndicated columnist. A former deputy editorial page editor for The
Washington Times, he received the Distinguished Writing Award
for Editorial Writing from the American Society of Newspaper Editors
in both 1989 and 1990.
Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America’s Culture War, a collection of some
of Mr. Francis' writing and speeches,
was published by FGF Books, a division of the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. See www.shotsfired.us
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