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Comments by Russell Blackford

Go to: The Politics of Religion

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Russell Blackford

It's a neutral law of general application, enacted for perfectly good secular reasons. And if it matters, the law doesn't burden the operation of the Church itself. If the Church wants to conduct non-core enterprises, why shouldn't they be expected to comply with the same neutral, etc., laws as every other employer? That's not religious persecution.

This issue seems fairly straightforward to me. There's no breach of the principle of freedom of religion here.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 01:04:22 UTC | #945120

Go to: Does Religious Liberty Equal Freedom to Discriminate?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Russell Blackford

RJ ... where this leads you is to oppose all anti-discrimination law. I.e. to oppose to the use of such laws for the secular purpose of protecting individuals from certain exercises of private power. That may be a principled position - a Libertarian one, perhaps. But if that's the way you want to argue it, it has nothing much to do with religious freedom.

That said, it's possible to have a nuanced discussion of just which exercises of private power the state should/needs to interfere with and which it can/should leave alone. Some exercises of private power are more oppressive than others. In some cases, the private organisations concerned may have a much stronger case than others for exemption, based on freedom of association grounds (for example). It can get difficult, but it's important to sort out what is an argument based on freedom of religion and what is an argument based on something else, such as Libertarian political philosophy or concerns about freedom of association.

Tue, 29 May 2012 03:48:34 UTC | #944141

Go to: Does Religious Liberty Equal Freedom to Discriminate?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Russell Blackford

Freedom of religion basically means that the state will not persecute you for your religion or impose a religion on you. Instead the state should simply make decisions to protect and promote the secular welfare of its citizens (i.e., their interests in this-worldly things).

It can get a little bit more complicated, but that's basically it. Sometimes a decision made on a secular basis will offend the religious or in some way constrain them, but they can't claim persecution if the state was simply acting in a religion-blind way, doing something that it would have done anyway, on secular grounds, even if the religion concerned did not exist.

Much confusion is caused when definitions of freedom of religion are used that do not start from this core meaning.

No one is being persecuted for their religion if the state, for secular reasons to do with its citizens' this-worldly welfare, makes a decision to recognise same-sex marriages in the same way as it recognises opposite-sex marriages. Nor is any religion being imposed on anyone if the state simply does this for reasons relating to the worldly interests of the people concerned. Thus, freedom of religion doesn't come into it.

However, if the state refuses to recognise same-sex marriage for a religious reason ... well, freedom of religion certainly does come into it. Public policy is then being used to impose a religious viewpoint.

At the risk of being accused of spamming, I do my best to sort all this out in my book FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE. In any event, the idea of freedom of religion (the state will not persecute you for your religion or impose an alien religion on you) is manipulated unconscionably in these debates. Properly understood, freedom of religion is a good thing, and it is compatible with other liberal freedoms such as freedom of speech (the state won't try to control what you say and how you express yourself). However, manipulation of the idea can give it a bad name.

Tue, 29 May 2012 01:41:37 UTC | #944124

Go to: Book Review: Freedom of Religion & The Secular State

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Russell Blackford

Well ... I hope you enjoy it, Laurie.

Tue, 17 Apr 2012 13:37:36 UTC | #935204

Go to: Book Review: Freedom of Religion & The Secular State

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Russell Blackford

Loved Freethinkers. I'm looking forward to reading The Age of American Unreason - I have a copy waiting to be broached. But the video games thing does sound a bit odd. What's that about?

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 01:01:41 UTC | #934304

Go to: Are You a Believer? Take The Dawkins Test.

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Russell Blackford

Many of these out-of-context quotes don't prove much at all.

I agree with #1 above that Einstein definitely did not believe in a personal God. He was pretty vehement about it. Also, he meant something very different by that quote when you read it in context.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 06:40:21 UTC | #933217

Go to: Russel Blackford reviews Attack of the Theocrats

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Russell Blackford

Viveca - since you've asked a question about my book ... no, it is not about how secularists should organise. That's an important topic, and Sean Faircloth's book does go into it to some extent. I'd be happy to discuss it either on the internet or at conferences. However, let me state clearly that anyone who buys or reads Freedom of Religion and the Secular State hoping for advice on how secularists should organise will be disappointed.

Nor is the book a political manifesto. It's what it purports to be - a philosophy book, with all that that involves (attempts to define terms, draw important distinctions, and understand concepts; attempts to analyse arguments as objectively as possible; attempts to be honest about such things as not misprepresenting the other side's arguments, and about addressing their apparent strengths, rather than their weaknesses; and so on ...). It's written in a style that's intended to be accessible to a wide audience, and aspects should even be entertaining, but it's still a philosophy book, with the sorts of rigours that involves.

But don't underestimate the usefulness of philosophy. Developing unified, principled, intellectually respectable, and fairly comprehensive positions on a subject - looking at the arguments from both sides but reaching some solid conclusions - is still a worthwhile thing to do, even from a practical perspective. It helps other people develop their own views, and it provides a resource for anyone who wants to use it. Other things must be done as well, but there's no substitute for creating think tanks, taking part in them, developing ideas, and, yes, writing these sorts of books (which doesn't mean, though, that you have to read such books if it's not a priority!). All this was certainly not lost on the Religious Right in the US as it organised itself in recent decades.

One thing that I will say in my own favour, though. I don't have Sean Faircloth's sort of full-on party political experience, but I do have a fair bit of relevant life/professional experience. I've been in the federal public service in my own country at a fairly high level, so I know a bit about how the political decision-making process works; I have some experience in public relations and political lobbying; I have quite a lot of experience in overseeing litigation and in courtroom appearance work. There's always going to be a slightly hard-nosed quality to how I analyse things, whereas some academic types who don't have these experiences can be a bit on the ... hmmm ... impractical and idealistic side. Readers will definitely see how it comes through when I discuss the best policies on a whole range of hot political topics. You'd also see it if I were involved in conversations about how secularism should organise - but again, the book is not about that.

Now, at the risk of making myself unpopular, here's one bit of hard-nosed practical advice while I'm commenting. Talk of separating "the state and superstition" is okay for joking around in a forum of like-minded people such as this. Also, far be it from me to deny that religion is, in essence, superstition. I'm no accommodationist, and I'm not going to deny that there's a place for talking about religion as superstition. There clearly is such a place.

But doing that is most definitely not a politically savvy move when we're talking about secularism in the wider world. The time-honoured phrase "separation of church and state" is recognised and respected, and it's too good a slogan to abandon. If we want to use other phrases from time to time - try "separation of religion from politics" or, simply, "secularism" (though this can be ambiguous) or, my personal favourite, "secular government".

The thing is, when you're advocating for secular government (to employ that phrase) you'll find that a lot of religious people, and people who are on the fence about religion, can actually agree with the idea. They can accept the arguments for it, see where it leads on particular issues, and mobilise and vote on the same side as atheists, humanists, and religious sceptics. They are never going to rally behind a phrase that involves calling religion "superstition", because they don't make that equation, but many of them will rally behind "separation of church and state" or "separation of religion from politics" or "secular government".

That doesn't mean turning into accommodationists. Accommodationism is essentially the view that a scientific understanding of the world leaves room for supernatural beliefs. I don't think it does, and I'll go on saying so as and when appropriate. However, there are plenty of people who disagree with me on this ... but who'd rally behind such ideas as secular government. We can successfully advocate secularism to people who'd resist the idea of atheism.

So the more general tip is to be aware, at all times, which issue we're currently dealing with and who it's an issue for. Secular government isn't just for anti-religious people. It offers something for many religious people and fence-sitters, as well.

Sat, 31 Mar 2012 09:03:35 UTC | #931504

Go to: Online debate between Russell Blackford and American theologian/historian William Cavanaugh

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Russell Blackford

Just by the way, I didn't choose the title to that first piece by me. The titles for these things are usually chosen by an editor or a sub-editor, as also happens with newspapers.

What the title is apparently referring to is what I say at the end, that the state should not be enforcing any sort of morality that goes beyond worldly concerns. I.e., the state does not have a mandate to enforce religious moral norms and the like. I guess the title was clear to the editor who came up with it, and maybe he was right for his particular audience. But it's caused some confusion to people I've dealt with. I don't think "moral mandate" in that sense is a familiar expression to the sort of demographic that reads my blog, for example.

(But "Don't mention the war" was totally my suggestion - I'm glad they ran with it.)

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 04:28:21 UTC | #920630

Go to: Online debate between Russell Blackford and American theologian/historian William Cavanaugh

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Russell Blackford

Quine, I'm not sure how familiar Locke was with Williams, but it's true that Williams' The Bloody Tenent of Persecution was published about 45 years before Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration (and the further works that followed from it, since Locke's views were fiercely debated in his own time).

In my book, I fudge this point a little by saying that Williams "anticipated" Locke. They had plenty of reasons to share the same concerns more or less independently, irrespective of how familiar Locke was with Williams' work. (If someone else can enlighten us on any evidence that Locke studied it, or knew it, I'd be grateful.)

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 03:55:59 UTC | #920216

Go to: More rubbish about "shrill" atheists - this time in The Daily Mail

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by Russell Blackford

I've put up a post on my site drawing attention to comment # 64 (from Richard).

Fri, 03 Feb 2012 00:07:33 UTC | #914105

Go to: More rubbish about "shrill" atheists - this time in The Daily Mail

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by Russell Blackford

I only just realised that this had been posted here - when I saw a huge jump in my normal blog traffic! Thanks to whoever is responsible.

At comment 37 ... to be fair, there is a difference. There's a difference between believing weird things that you've been socialised into believing since childhood, and which the people around you believe, and (on the other hand) believing weird things that are idiosyncratic to yourself. Up to a point, people can do the former while being otherwise sane and reasonable. Socialisation, cultural familarity, etc., are very powerful forces. You have to be genuinely and idiosyncratically weird yourself to do the latter.

That's the distinction that has usually been made. As I say, there is good reason to emphasise what they have in common rather than always emphasising this distinction, as has happened in the past. They have in common that what is believed is weird, would look so to an objective person who was not socialised into believing it (or didn't at least find it culturally familiar), is believed persistently even in the face of evidence and good arguments, etc.

Hope that clarifies what I was getting at.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 00:56:02 UTC | #913278

Go to: Worrying developments for freedom of expression in the UK

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Russell Blackford

It's not just the UK.

Paula, Richard, and others, have you been following the debate referred to here?

http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2012/01/jennifer-wilson-offers-more-thoughts-on.html

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:35:52 UTC | #909452

Go to: IQ2 debate on "Atheists are wrong" - the results (Lions defeat Christians)

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Russell Blackford

Intelligence Squared has since published figures on its site that are slightly different from the ones it tweeted, which I used in the linked post.

On the published figures, the number for the motion actually dropped marginally after the debate rather than going up marginally. The number against the motion that "Atheists are wrong" rose by 10 per cent. The undecideds dwindled to 6 per cent.

Just saying, as an update. Obviously there are different ways to spin this. Still, however you look at it, and for whatever value these debates have, the atheist side won this one quite decisively.

Fri, 16 Sep 2011 01:07:40 UTC | #871367

Go to: Atheist group’s frivolous lawsuit aims to bar ‘cross’ from 9/11 museum

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 145 by Russell Blackford

I usually support this kind of litigation, if only to test where the lines are drawn. But this does seem like an especially weak case, if Susan Jacoby's account of the facts is correct (and I have no reason to doubt it).

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 10:30:44 UTC | #859374

Go to: Freedom of speech versus freedom of religion

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Russell Blackford

Properly understood, there is no conflict between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In fact they overlap in a situation like this. Jones may be vile, but he should be allowed to do his thing on freedom of speech grounds and freedom of religion grounds. Freedom of speech should allow him to express his ideas (religious or otherwise) without the state stopping him; freedom of religion should enable him to practice his religion (which may include expressing religious ideas along with other things such as taking part in rituals) without the state persecuting him for it.

I actually think that freedom of religion is a bit more complicated than this, but once we see freedom of speech and freedom of religion as essentially negative rights against the state we see how they don't come into conflict.

That's not to say that either is absolute, but if they have to yield to something in some situations it will be another value entirely, such as public order.

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 13:31:11 UTC | #618432

Go to: Playing the Nazi card?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Russell Blackford

Roger, I don't think, judging by your last comment, that you understand the American case law. I'm from the humanities myself, as well as being the product of a law faculty. I think that the American case law is continually simplified, distorted, and even misrepresented by accommodationists. What the courts actually say (I've studied the judgments) and what accommodationists say they say are two different things. Michael Ruse is the worst offender with this.

But yes, of course other religionists should be objecting if the state education system fudges the science curriculum to favour a particular theological system such as biblical literalism. When have I remotely suggested otherwise or suggested that the parties taking the same position in court should not cooperate? I have a fair bit of experience with litigation and courtrooms so I'd never suggest such a thing. But it's a non sequitur to say "The NCSE has reasons to cooperate with non-literalist religious groups in court proceedings; therefore it's okay for people associated with the NCSE to make unfair public attacks on Richard Dawkins."

You'll be delighted to know that my new book (to be published at the end of this year) will discuss, among many other things, the main American cases on teaching evolution, and what conclusions we should draw from them, but it won't be slagging off accommodationists. I'm not interested in doing that for its own sake. I'm not even particularly interested in attacking religious people for the sake of it, but it can be hard to avoid that given the overall circumstances that we face.

Since I live in Australia, not the UK, I can't comment on what happens over there. For my own part, there's a limit to what I can do. All of my efforts are conducted for only the quite small amount of money that I make from writing and editing, but I do what I can with whatever talents I have. My academic position is an honorary one. I don't charge a fee for my talks. I seldom even get my expenses paid. I'd be delighted to be in the position of being paid a proper salary for what I do, so it cuts no moral ice with me that people like NCSE employees accomplish things that they are paid to do.

Frankly, I think this whole nasty internal debate is unnecessary. If people like Matzke, Ruse, Mooney, the NCSE, Rosenau, etcetera etboringcetera, would just defend the US constitution without feeling the need to go after people like Richard over every little thing, we could all get along. It's simply not going to stop us arguing for atheism out of political expediency, so if that's the idea they might as well drop it right now.

We can even have different internal debates - we don't have to agree about everything. But the continual sledging on the internet, by accommodationists attacking Gnus rather than the real enemy, just wastes everyone's time and energy. Matzke could actually put his energy into attacking fundies, if that's what he wants to do. I could put all my energy into writing the three books that I'm currently working on at different stages. This sort of acrimony is bad for the overall movement, and it must have the fundies falling over themselves laughing at us.

Finally, I've never been big on the "moderates enable fundies" thesis. But I do point out that a lot of so-called moderates are not moderate at all. The Catholic Church is not at all moderate on such issues as gay rights, safe sex, family planning, abortion rights, stem cell research, therapeutic cloning, censorship issues, and others. To me, it is every bit as much the enemy as any fundie organisation. Indeed, in my experience some fundamentalist and evangelical organisations and leaders are actually more moderate on some of these issues than the Catholic hierarchy is. When I see an organisation like the NCSE cosying up to Catholic theologians it does not do my heart good. I don't want organisations like that promoting so-called moderate theologies. I just want to see them defending the constitution. They can be allies in court and cooperate like courtroom allies do all the time, without the kind of out-of-court cosying up that they do.

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 21:35:14 UTC | #618240

Go to: Playing the Nazi card?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Russell Blackford

Dammit - or "she" (I believe "pasadena beggar" is actually female). On a lighter note, what's happened to the edit function?

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 15:31:41 UTC | #618106

Go to: Playing the Nazi card?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Russell Blackford

Btw, I totally agree with Steve Zara about Godwin's Law. It was originally nothing more than a humorous observation.

Of course, it's true that various positions are often attacked by comparing them unfairly with Nazism. But sometimes it can be perfectly appropriate to make comparisons between Nazism and some other thought system, or to examine how some other thought system might have influenced Nazism. It's not beyond the capacity of the human mind to sort out when comparisons are legitimate and when they involve a fallacy (some sort of guilt by association). Talking about "Godwin's Law" or "the Nazi card" does no intellectual work. It's simply laziness.

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 15:15:17 UTC | #618103

Go to: Playing the Nazi card?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Russell Blackford

@ Roger Stanyard, I find your comments very strange. No one would be attacking Nick Matzke if he stuck to defending the US Constitution and popularising the scientific case for evolutionary theory.

When he starts attacking allies such as Richard, of course there's going to be a response. Isn't it obvious that he is the one who caused the splintering in such an instance? If you're going to tell someone to shut up, in effect, why not him? If anyone is damaging the cause of science it's him - how does an attack like this on the credibility of someone like Richard NOT do damage to the cause?

That said, there's nothing wrong with disagreements. In my case, I've been involved in a bit of debate with Sam Harris lately. Richard, Sam, and other leading atheists and secularists are not beyond criticism or immune to reasonable debate. Properly done, debate among ourselves is healthy. But it would help a lot if people didn't go around making wild and damaging claims in the way that Matzke did.

Oh, and I'm Russell Blackford. Meaning that, like you, I'm in a position where I don't feel the need for anonymity for my own protection. Unlike us, however, many people are not in that position. I do ask that they not abuse anonymity, but they are entitled to use it. Irrespective of what happened elsewhere, what "pasadena beggar" said to you on this thread seemed fair enough to me, and the claim that he is damaging science (or that anything you have done here helps it) is ridiculous.

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 15:08:21 UTC | #618102

Go to: The state, religion and the need for rational scrutiny

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Russell Blackford

It's always a mistake for the author of an online opinion article like this to get caught up in worrying about the comments ... so I won't. But if any of you folks would like to comment over there on the site, please do go ahead.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 04:42:51 UTC | #568281

Go to: No more victories for Bin Laden

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Russell Blackford

If it's built on private land the only issue is whether it meets the same zoning regulations as would be applied to anything else that might be built there: a cinema, an arts complex, a Christian church, a nightclub, or whatever. If it falls within those regulations, that's the end of the story. You can't apply one law to building mosques and another law to everything else. Conversely, if it doesn't meet the terms of the zoning regulations it should get no special favour.

Wed, 18 Aug 2010 11:59:57 UTC | #501760

Go to: "Theology is a crucial academic subject." Is it?

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Russell Blackford

@ Richard, it's partly a matter of semantics. You could organise all those perfectly useful linguistic scholars, historians, textual and literary critics, etc., into a department or school and call what they are doing "theology". If they were looking at the same texts and traditions, it might make sense to organise them in that way. To some extent, how we organise universities is a matter of pedagogical practicality rather than anything else (hence I often argue against people like Massimo Pigliucci that there's no clear boundary between science and philosophy). I think, too, that for some people in academia "theology" just means what I'm describing in this para, and which you mentioned, though perhaps it's better called "religious studies".

If the above is "religious studies", or part of it along with things like sociology of religion, and if "theology" means "study of religious doctrines and texts from a devotional viewpoint" then I agree that theology has no place in a modern university. Universities really need to be clear about this and to define what they mean.

Interestingly, at least to me, the university where I now have a conjoint appointment has a discipline called "theology" and another one (the one where I find myself) called "philosophy and religious studies". I'm still not sure what the difference is. I suspect that what happens in the "theology" area might actually be more like religious studies as above, while the religious studies part of "philosophy and religious studies" seems to be narrower - more like philosophy of religion. I guess I'll gradually find out.

In the end, I'd want to know what is actually done in a "theology" school or department or disciplinary area of a particular university before I'd have a view as to how valuable it is. In some cases, it might be worth defending; in others, not so much.

Tue, 17 Aug 2010 00:38:08 UTC | #501252

Go to: Russell Blackford: The Culture Wars

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Russell Blackford

Maxentius really screwed up that day. Imagine how different history would have been if Constantine had lost.

Sun, 13 Jun 2010 13:25:32 UTC | #479886

Go to: Douglas Murray and Cristina Odone on Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Russell Blackford

I have Nomad on order and look forward to reading it.

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 10:22:52 UTC | #477500

Go to: We Need Your Immediate Help to Close an Extraordinary Budget Gap!

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Russell Blackford

The Jesus Project is very important and it's unfortunate that it's been suspended. Most investigation into Christian origins has a strong pro-Christian bias. Here's a group looking at it objectively, not tainted with Templeton money or a religious agenda. There's every chance of reaching a more accurate understanding, or at least of exposing the unacknowledged problems in the current historical orthodoxy. Comparing the Jesus Project to Templeton is mind-bogglingly unfair. It's the exact opposite of the sort of thing Templeton is doing. Much the same applies to the CFI-funded science-based investigations of paranormal claims.

I can't believe some of what I'm reading on this thread. I don't agree with everything that CFI ever does (e.g. I'm still surprised at its choice of Chris Mooney as one of the people to replace DJ Grothe). But here we have an organisation that, within its budgetary limits, subjects supernaturalist claims of all kinds to rational scrutiny - invariably debunking them, but always remaining properly open to the evidence - and it's being criticised for it. What the hell is that about? We need organisations like CFI and RDFRS. We should cherish and help them whenever we can, especially when one of them hits a bad patch.

Sun, 06 Jun 2010 12:00:13 UTC | #477032

Go to: We Need Your Immediate Help to Close an Extraordinary Budget Gap!

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Russell Blackford

Dax, it's more likely that the donor is a supporter of Paul Kurtz who doesn't like the fact that the organisation isn't following his direction. Kurtz seems to have changed his mind on a lot of things of late - he's been sounding increasingly accommodationist in his stances - but the new management isn't with him on things like Blasphemy Day. On the other hand, there are obviously various tensions beneath the surface. The situation is quite hard to read from the outside.

But this is speculative. One way or another, CFI is in financial trouble at the moment, and it's an organisation that we can't afford to lose. It's one of the real flagships of reason and science. I think that Ron Lindsay and the rest of the new team deserve a chance to make a success of things, and with one thing or another they're not really getting it.

I gave a (modest) amount when this call for help went out the other night. I urge you all to give them something if you can.

Sat, 05 Jun 2010 15:20:04 UTC | #476717

Go to: Christian preacher arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Russell Blackford

This is the kind of restriction on freedom of speech that I think we should all be worried about. It's nasty, ugly speech that shows a warped moral outlook ... but as long as it's not inciting violence there are many less intrusive ways for the state to protect the interests of homosexuals.

Thu, 06 May 2010 07:27:58 UTC | #467166

Go to: More on the National Prayer Day case

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Russell Blackford

Someone rightly pointed out on my blog that the situation the FFRF confronts is worse than I'd realised. That's because Justice O'Connor, who was a conservative appointment to the US Supreme Court, ended up being pretty sensible and was good at crafting opinions that many people could live with. She often had the balance of power between the liberals and the conservatives on the bench, so it was her compromise formulations that sometimes shaped the law. But now she's retired and been replaced with Justice Alito, a much more hardline conservative. Accordingly, we can expect the existing law, as declared by the US Supreme Court, to take an unfavourable direction in some areas, and this is likely to be one of them.

You'd think that striking down a government endorsement of religion as blatant as National Prayer Day would be a no-brainer, and it is under current interpretations of the First Amendment. Judge Crabb did a good job, but any other outcome would have been indefensible, given the current state of Supreme Court theory on the Establishment Clause.

But we'll need to watch this case as it works its way up the court system, and study whatever opnions come down from the appeal court and the Supreme Court (if it gets that far, as I expect it will). Now Alito has replaced O'Connor, we could end up with new law that makes it much easier for American governments to endorse religion.

Not something to be happy about, but the reality that we face for the moment, with a bench dominated by hardliners like Alito and Scalia. Good luck to the FFRF in fighting this case through the higher courts.

Sun, 25 Apr 2010 00:42:00 UTC | #462515

Go to: Believe It or Not

Go to: The Catholic Church: Why Richard Dawkins Was Right and I Was Wrong

Russell Blackford's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Russell Blackford

Oh, and kudos to Michael Ruse for admitting he was wrong about something.

Sun, 18 Apr 2010 07:51:00 UTC | #460664