States and countries need competent citizens


While all agree that some traditions should be honored, others must be put to rest as our national values and notions of tolerance and diversity evolve.

But in whose name is this court speaking? The terms “all agree” and “our” imply a broad cultural consensus that “tolerance and diversity” (or a particular definition of them) are the defining ideals of the USA; moreover they imply a broad cultural consensus about how these ideals should “evolve”.

This consensus manifestly does not exist in modern America; hence the culture wars.


Fifty three. When I was a kid my family still attended a Methodist Chapel and dragged us along. Even then it was apparent that people who still did so were a little bit odd but there was a wider Methodist community that had a broad range of age groups, families with children etc. Having interacted with this community more recently the thing that struck me was that they are all old people. Without any youngsters in their midst, in a few decades they will be gone.

Interesting. Do you feel modern Britain is a better place to live than it was in your youth? Is it a happier place as a result of the decline in common religious observance?

I think that your charachterision of Jessica Alquist is a bit unfair.

Of course it was. But no more so than the characterisation of those upset by her actions as an army of murderous fanatics.

I think that the idea that non-Christians are over-reacting to the presence of religious icons in public places would be put to the test if anyone wanted to put up a Hindu or Muslim prayer.

Or a gigantic ‘national menorah’ erected on the White House grounds and lit every year to the accompaniment of the US Marine Band.

I do get your point that … the removal of the banner was based on case law rather than the constitution itself.

And of course once you set up a secular magisterium to interpret a founding document, its rulings can be expected to fluctuate according to the prevailing zeitgeist … allowing religious symbols in the public square one decade, ordering them removed the next. If twenty years from now the US Supreme Court acquired a more conservative caste (perhaps reflecting changes in the wider society) and softened the current rigorous secular stance, reversing some of the rulings regarding public displays, would atheists accept that with a cheerful shrug? I bet they’d whine & bleat as much as Christians are now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *