Washington D.C.’s Metro Transit Authority has decided to allow the American Humanist Association to put billboards reading "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake" on its buses during the Christmas season. Sounds like an endorsement of a religious position to me. Odd how it’s A-OK to mock the faithful using public property while high school football announcers are forbidden to pray before a game. Where is the equality? Where is my due protection under the law?
Note that last is a bit of a snark; I think people need to develop thicker skins and remember that the Constitution does not grant any of us the right to never be offended by our fellow citizens. Still, something doesn’t seem quite right about the slap in the face the AHA will be delivering this Christmas.
Perhaps it’s the fact that serious consideration and legal resources are being given to lawsuits like the one filed on behalf of the Summum church that has found its way up to the Supreme Court. The Summum are unhappy because the city of Pleasant Grove, Utah had the temerity to honor the most fundamental legal precepts of all, the Ten Commandments, by placing a monument to God’s law in a park across from City Hall.
In 2003, the president of the Summum church wrote to the mayor here with a proposal: the church wanted to erect a monument inscribed with the Seven Aphorisms in the city park, “similar in size and nature” to the one devoted to the Ten Commandments.
The city declined, a lawsuit followed and a federal appeals court ruled that the First Amendment required the city to display the Summum monument.
Now, I can take a joke like the D.C. Metro’s with nothing more than a grimace of distaste. My atheistic bretheren certainly have the right to express themselves, after all. But when it comes to the courts mandating that localities must give equal time and space to crackpots like the Summum, I’m afraid not.
Admittedly I am biased against religions not embraced by the Founding Fathers of this country. And I’m immediately suspicious of faiths founded by construction workers named "Corky", to say nothing of the Summum’s practice of counting membership based on the number of individuals who buy their Soma nectar wine.
Discriminatory, perhaps. Wrong, hardly. There will never be an end to the debate over whether the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. Yet even those who maintain that the Founding Fathers were largely deists cannot deny the influence of the Ten Commandments as the country’s fundamental principles. If that makes some people uncomfortable, tough. I’m sure the seats on D.C.’s Metro buses are comfortable enough and the view, for such atheists, is amusing.