Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

…I want to see Nature’s Engineering Degree!

Yet another installment of, “How an Incredible Design TOTALLY Supports the Theory of Evolution!”  Courtesy of Wired Magazine.

High-Speed Video of Locusts Could Help Make Better Flying Robots

Oh how I long for the day when the evolutionist crowd can manage to kick out some puff piece without anthropomorphizing inanimate objects or non-sentient critters.  But that day is not today.

Even though researchers have been studying how insects and other creatures fly for a long time, “we still don’t completely understand the aerodynamics and architectures of wings,” comments Tom Daniel of the University of Washington in Seattle

Because, you know, the best minds in modern science and engineering still struggle to understand just HOW all these things work, given that they all came about through random chance.  Design? We understand. Blueprints?  No problem.  Complex computer algorithms and microchips? Got it handled.  How a hummingbird really works?  Not a clue.

What locusts lack in agility, they make up for in distance: the four-winged insects are built to fly hundreds of miles at a time.

D’oh!  We should make this into a drinking game.  Any time an article nominally in support of evolution uses the words, “built” or  “designed” you have to take a swig.

Most earlier models of insect flight relied on stiff, straight wings, overlooking the important effects of flexibility and shape, says Thomas. “Engineers like these things simple,” he says. But this new study shows that wings with a little flop can actually get more air-pushing lift from each flap.

Hmmm.  Engineers learning from nature.  Amazing what that random optimization thing can do for you, eh?

Figuring out the details of how locusts and other insects fly may help researchers design tiny robotic fliers. “There is a growing interest in the exploration of micro air vehicles,” says Daniel. “Nature’s designs may be useful in creating synthetic ones.”

DRINK!

It is amazing to me that engineers can’t seem to recognize the work of a fellow designer.  It’s like someone who want’s to design a better timepiece looking at a fine Swiss watch for ideas, without ever acknowledging or addressing the question of the origin of the original design.

Whatever lets you sleep at night, I guess.

Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, I heard something that chilled me to my very core.  I literally got a chill down my spine.  I quite literally spoke out loud, “Oh, shit.”

It was a “top of the hour” news blurb about how the push for Hate Crimes legislation is gaining steam, being pushed through Congress to bring harsher penalties to those who commit crimes motivated by hate.  You know, rather than the much nobler greed, anger, disinterest, or predatory exploitation.  It’s HATE that we have to watch out for, right?  I mean, in addition to all those “love crimes” we’ve got on the books.  But I digress.

What really rocked me back on my heels was one sentence that came across towards the end of the sound bite.  Some mouthpiece promoting the legislation spoke of trying to keep better track of “bias motivated events.”

Bias. Motivated. Events.  Think about that fer just a sec.

In one swift and subtle movement, we knocked the edges off the definition of “hate crime” and squishy-coated it down into “bias motivated events.”

Can you see the inherent, insidious danger here?

If someone mugs a pedestrian, say, man dressed up in women’s clothes, does this constitute a hate crime?  What is the burden of proof to say that the alleged criminal  didn’t target this person because of their “lifestyle”.  What if the crook took the dude’s predilections for frills and lace to suggest he might be an easy target.  Not because the crook hated the tranny, but because he figured he/she might be an easy mark.  Too effeminate to fight back, who knows?

Instead of 6 months, suspended, for attempted robbery, our felon gets 5 years because it’s a “hate crime.”

But wait.  This goes back to prosecuting intent, rather than actions.  If I further dumb this down to say that any “bias-motivated event” can be prosecuted, ANYTHING I DO that is motivated by my personal bias or worldview, can now become prosecutable.

Anything.

Say a church decides that since Sally has decided to become Sam, that maybe we don’t want him/her teaching Sunday School anymore.  Is that my right as a private institution, or is it now a hate crime, because it was motivated by a religious bias against Transgendereds?  Not that we hate them, but just that we don’t want them teaching our sunday school class.  That’s not hate, it’s bias.  Instead of just being unfaaaaaaaair, is it now also a hate crime?

If I choose not to rent to a couple of guys because they look, act, and sound like belligerent gang bangers, can I be prosecuted for my “bias” against thugs who will likely wreck my rental?

If a pastor speaks out against men preying on boys for sexual exploitation, can I be prosecuted for a hate crime because of my BIAS?

This is an incredibly dangerous area, a slippery slope that, in the name of protecting rights, will end up destroying them.  I mean, short of a diary, a blog post, or a text message, etc., how can you prove INTENT behind an individual’s action?  Do gays, or blacks, or hispanics have special protections against crimes that others don’t?  Shouldn’t all be equal under the law?

Robbery, murder, rape, arson.  They are crimes.  They are illegal.  They shouldn’t be MORE illegal because of who the victim is.  WHY I committed the crime might make me an asshole, a reporbate, a truly descpicable human being.  Sadly, or thankfully, there’s no law (yet) against being an asshole.  It is only the CRIME I commit which makes me a criminal, regardless of my motivations for it.

Isn’t that what this trend in hate crimes suggests?  That eventually, what you THINK about a situation will have as much legal weight as what you actually DID about it?

Scary stuff.  Beyond even 1984.  Madness.

Ya know, I was all set to pen some snarky post about how people just need to get over themselves, highlighting all the manner of mental flatulence surrounding peoples’ bizarre and over-compensating back-bending with regards to political correctness and not “offending” anyone with the grim specter of a baby in a manger.

But then I figured, screw it.  Screw them.  They aren’t worth the trouble.

If you are so insecure in your personal beliefs or religious convictions that the sight of someone else celebrating their faith traditions is just THAT unsettling, then you’ve got a lot bigger problems than just being “offended.”  I’m sure extensive counseling and perhaps an aggressive course of psychotropic medication could be helpful in dealing with your “issuses.”

See, me, I don’t understand how the sight of cross around a neck is something to be avoided as being potentially “offensive,” but the sight of a traditional head scarf or a penitent on a prayer rug facing Mecca is just something I’m supposed to embrace as diversity.  Why I can celebrate Earth day in honor of defending Mother Gaia, but a jolly man in a red suit and a bunch of reindeer is of such deep concern because of the clear religious “undertones.”  Heaven forbid we have “undertones.”

Ah heck.  Here I’ve gone and done it.  That snarky post I was trying to avoid.

I just have a hard time taking seriously some twittering, hand-wringing Prog busy-body with nothing better to do with her time than worry about who might be offended by the idea of a Savior sent to earth by a loving God. 

Perhaps it is the overall disregard with which this crowd holds babies in the first place.  I’m sorry, I meant to say “unwanted fetus” there.  Of course, we have to realize that these are people that bring their kids to a pro-abortion rally.  Wrap your head around that one.

Because, you see, I really do understand.  I understand that this is not about preserving anything, it’s not about protecting anyone’s china-glass sensitivies or tender wittle feelings.  It can’t be.  It’s simply too preposterous to lend any credence whatsoever to the idea that someone is “offended” by Christmas. 

I’m offended by human sacrifice, genital mutilation, gassing the Kurds, grown men having sex with pre-teen boys, mass graves, car bombings, biological weapons, concentration camps, dumbass rioters burning cars, human trafficking, child prostitution, drug dealers and gang bangers.

I am NOT, however, offended by Christmas.  I’m not offended by Kwanza; amused perhaps, but certainly not offended.  I am not “offended” by Hanukkah or Eid al-Adha or Ramadan. 

To me, this isn’t about preserving anyone’s views…it’s about quietly, inexorably silencing one.

Let’s keep this in perspective, shall we folks?  And to help you all keep it in perspective, I’m going to engage in a little civil disobedience.  I’m going to wish you a Merry Christmas, and if you get all frothed up and offended, well, I’m just going to let that be your problem, not mine.  I’m going to wear my cross over the top of my green and red Christmas sweater when I go shopping at the “Holiday” sales at the mall.  I’m going to send out Christmas cards with a manger scene and angels and all that other chest-clutchingly disturbing religious imagery, and if it bothers you that much, you can throw the card away.

Cuz you see, my problem is that I expect people to act like grown-ups.  I expect people to learn to get along, and not required that I be censored and discriminated against just so they don’t get a bad case of the vapors when their precious little world view isn’t all coddled and stroked and cooed over.

I’m just wierd that way.  So, please.  Have a Merry Christmas.  Or don’t.  It’s a free country.

UPDATE:

Here’s last years post.  Jeez, I’m predictable. 

Merry Christmas…except for YOU!

Get over yourself.  I don’t require you to celebrate Christmas.  I DO require you to let ME celebrate Christmas.  That’s not called intolerance.  It’s called f-r-e-e-d-o-m.

So, we’re all sitting around the dinner table, having a variety of discussions as we often do, and the Medium Sized child throws this one out on the table and lets it flop around for a second:

“Dad, what’s ‘abortion?’”

GULP! Cue slightly stunned and discomfited pause the Imperial Wife and myself. Uh……

“Hon, that’s not really a good question to ask at the dinner table.”

“Hmmm.  Okaaaaay…”

But, we could tell that that only made him even more curious.  So, after one of those quick eye contact/meaningful glances between the two parental units, resulting in the requisite unspoken agreement, the Wife lays it out there:

“Abortion is killing a baby before it’s born.”

“…Oh.”

He didn’t ask any follow up questions.  Kind of a conversation killer, I guess.  That, and I suppose that it’s pretty much self-explanatory.  I asked him where he heard about abortion, and he said it was in one of the news stories he read during class. 

I guess it’s one of those inevitable questions in today’s day and age, but it’s certainly nothing you look forward to having to do:  explaining to your children that there is a whole industry out there dedicated to killing babies before they are born.   I have to wonder how that gets processed in his mind, where does it get filed?

This after years of telling him how we had nicknames for him in the womb, how I used to read him Frog and Toad stories with my head resting against my wife’s pregnant stomach, how I used to love feeling him press against my head with an elbow or foot as he moved around in there.

I’m rather hoping that the whole concept of abortion always bothers him as much as it does me.

Of course I think my religious beliefs are right, and yours are wrong.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t BE my religious beliefs, now would they?!  What kind of mental gymnastics does it take to come to the place where you can say, “All approaches to religious faith are equally valid.”  Bull-puckey.  What you are really saying is that, “Yeah, I’m probably really off base on this whole God thing, so chances are, your guess is as good as mine.”

Uh…yeah.  If that’s your approach, then you either really need to do your homework, or just go ahead and call yourself an agnostic, cuz, if you don’t have any kind of confidence in what you believe, then they aren”t “Beliefs” but rather, “generalized assumptions and half-assed guesses based on little more than feel-good groupthink.

Which, of course, is what the anti-religionists what you to think anyway, so hey, you’re in.

——————

I still think that the change Obama is the most interested in is the change in my pocket, the ashtray of my car, and whatever he can shake loose from between the couch cushions.

When a bully steals a kid’s lunch money, is that still called spreading the wealth around?  If I have two shoes, does that mean I should give one of them to someone with no shoes, so that we’ll both at least have one?  And by one, I mean, one cold, bruised, chafed foot.   Better that we both be miserable than only one of us.

Of course, now that you’ve taken away my shoe, I can no longer make my deliveries on foot, which means I lose my job, and all those old shoes that I used to donate to goodwill and the church when I got new ones or outgrew them?  Yeah, those are gone.  I can’t afford to donate to the poor anymore.  But hey, now you’ve got a shoe!

——————-

So, I have to wonder, right about the time ol’ B.O. starts cleaning house, replacing judges, and kicking people out the door left and right, will there be a great hue and cry like there was when Bush fired a few?  Will the media and lefty pundits cry foul and demand an investigation, or will they laud B.O. for his vision in clearing out the dead wood, separating the wheat from the chaff, etc?  I think we all know which one it will be now, don’t we?

And of course, I’m curious as to how Congress will treat Obama’s judicial nominees.  When they stonewalled and fillibustered Bush’s nominees, they were defending ideological purity by forestalling a wash of right-wing appointees that would upset the “balance.”   I’m pretty sure that if/when Barry opens the sluicegates on a bunch of hard-Left nominees, and the Republicans predictably balk, we can probably expect to hear all sorts of mournful cries from the Dems about PARTISANSHIP, and reactionary opposition to change, and of course, RACISM.  Just wait.  If I’m wrong, I buy the beer.

For the better part of 8 years, the frothing fringe Truther crowd, the associated Code Pink nutjobs and other hangers-on have been pounding the table and swearing on a stack of Communist Manifestos that ol’ G.W. was hell-bent on setting up an oppressive Right Wing Dominionist Theocracy, complete with a modern krystalnacht rounding up gays, “free-thinkers”, atheists and a whole broad spectrum of other “dissenters,”  then stuffing them in a gulag like business commuters on a Tokyo subway.

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.  Aaaaannny second now…

Hmmm.  Didn’t happen.

So, that said, I have to ask.  George Bush was, by all accounts, a quietly devout Christian, who made no special note of his faith, but did not seek to hide or conceal it either.  But, because he was part of teh Right Winge Evil EmpireTM, he was held up as this terrifying bogeyman, who was just MOMENTS away from firing up another Grand Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake, both metaphorically and literally.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, spent 20 years of his adult life attending a radical, Bible-thumping(sorta), liberation theologist church, whose pastor has stated uniquivocally that Blacks needed to retake their country after years of oppression.  Where’s the outcry now?  Where are the shrill chest-clutchers and hyperventilators now carrying on about a burgeoning Christian Dominionist theocracy?  I guess that’s strictly the purview of the right wing?

Perhaps it is that Barack’s racial identity is so much stronger than his religious identity.  The fear among the conservative table pounders is not that he will attempt to impose his own particular brand of religious extremism, but rather, that his social and political ideology are the much more dangerous things to be feared.

I don’t know.  The problem with Mr. Obama is that no one is really sure WHAT he believes in.  He threw his own pastor under the bus and distanced himself from his long-time church home when it became politically expedient.  He distanced himself, nay, completely disavowed any association with Bill Ayers and all those friends of his youth who helped him get his political feet planted when they became a liability.  If B.O. is known for anything, it’s for dropping you like a hot freakin’ potato if you might stand in the way of his rise to power.

So, in essence, I think that this is what his detractors fear the most: not that he will use the power of his office to impose the will of God on the American people, but rather, that he will use the power of his office to impose the will of Barack Obama on the people.

And my fear is that there are just enough people out there who can’t tell the difference…or don’t wan’t to see a difference.

Be Careful What You Ask For (BCWYAF).

Denying God in your heart is, ultimately, the only sin that really matters.  The things you do as a result of this turning away are like dust on your feet, easily brushed away.  They are the symptoms, not the disease. 

The sin you fight is not the actions your mind or body takes, but rather, the condition of your heart that makes them possible.

If you’re fighting against sin, which direction are you facing?  Where is your attention focused?  You should be fighting towards God, and the sin will naturally begin to fall behind.  Sin cannot abide the presence of God.

God is a quantum God.  As far as you feel like you’ve walked away from Him, He is always only one step away, no matter where you are. 

If you haven’t heard of it, which you just might not have, since when I “Googled” it I didn’t get a single hit from a major media outlet, SB 777 is an amendment to the State of California’s Education Code which, among other things, removes the following definition in the original:

“Sex” means the biological condition or quality of being a male or female human being,” 

and replaces it with:

“Gender” means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

Now this has got the Religious Right all in a tizzy about what it will mean for our school children, to be exposed to all those icky, gender-confused GLBT types who can’t seem to figure out which symbol on the bathroom door applies to them, yada yada yada.  As usual, they are fighting the wrong fight.
 
The essence of this amendment, which was passed and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Oct 12th of 2007, is to expand the definitions of the types of minority and special interest groups to be protected under the “hate crime” umbrella (committing a “hate crime” is a felony in California).  More than that, it moves beyond the quantifiable aspects into the realms of perception and feelings.  It includes people who might be “perceived” as being a member of a certain type of group, or even one who “associates” with a certain demographic.  In other words, it’s not even so much about what you actually did or said, but rather it’s about how your actions or words were perceived by the other person.  
 
While the implications of the removal of the distinctions between the sexes, and the permitting of individuals to “self-identify” their sexuality or gender regardless of physiology are troubling, they are far and away minor and tertirary issues when compared to the real core of what is contained in this legislation.
 
The Bottom Line Up Front is this:  This amendment codifies into law the increasingly widespread practice of denying access to public facilities to groups which hold “discriminatory” views.  The Boy Scouts, for example, have been under fire the past few years for their policy of not allowing avowed homosexuals to be Scout masters.  This stance has resulted in the loss of access to facilities to which the Boy Scouts have historically had longstanding relationships.
 
SB 777 mandates that public/government funds cannot be given to or used for any group or organization which does not hold to the tenets of Sec. 200 of the Education Code, which states:

“It is the policy of the State of California to afford all persons in public schools, regardless of their disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, equal rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the state.”

This becomes important farther down in the bill where it states:  “

51500. No teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that promotes a discriminatory bias because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.” 

72014. No funds under the control of a community college district shall ever be used for membership or for any participation involving a financial payment or contribution, on behalf of the district or any individual employed by or associated therewith, in any private organization whose membership practices are discriminatory on the basis of the characteristics listed in Section 66270.

This is significant in that providing discounted access to facilities to groups such as the Boy Scouts can be and is interpreted to equate to financial benefit or largesse.   Thus, under the terms of this statute, since the Boy Scouts portray homosexuality in a “negative” light (by failing to promote or encourage it), they are now BY LAW prohibited from receiving any financial assistance or benefit from State educational institutions.

The rub will come when the kind of great legal minds that found Roe V. Wade in the Fourth Amendment determine that providing “free” access to conference rooms or classrooms to groups who don’t toe the correct ideological line, is in effect helping these groups avoid paying rent anywhere else, and so are providing an indirect financial benefit, which, of course, will be determined to be in violation of this statute.  Don’t think so?  Google “9th Circuit Court of Appeals” and get back to me.

Inevitably, it will be taken one step further.  Student organizations on a college campus which receive any money in the form of operating expenses, a budge for office supplies, or again, free access to university facilities, will now have to “qualify” for these benefits by signing some form, as a part of their charter, that states that they are in compliance with section 72014 of the California Education Code.

Also of note, teachers cannot present any curriculim which portrays any of the groups mentioned in a negative light.  By reading the tone and phrasing of this amendment, portaying a group negatively equates to failing to portray them positively.  Nor can teachers include in their syllabus any materials which might promote one lifestyle over another, as this “portrays negatively” competing views.  Homosexual couples must be placed on an equal footing with hetrosexual couples, and will undoubtedly be required to receive equal amounts of exposure.  Read 72014 again.  “…any activity that promotes a discriminatory bias.”  Not just “discriminates against,” but “promotes a bias.”  In other words, ANYTHING which might ultimately lead to a certain group or culture being viewed in a negative light by someone cannot be presented in a classroom, in an assembly, or by a guest speaker.

Ultimately, at the quantum level, what this means is that you cannot prohibit or condemn anything.  All viewpoints are equal, there is no right or wrong, there is only how I chose to be perceived, and that has to be okay, no matter what.  By trying to prevent someone from “expressing their sexuality” or ” expressing their cultural identity” or “exploring their unique gender identity” you would be expressing a negative stereotype.

On the plus side, under section 212.3:

” ‘Religion’ includes all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice and includes agnosticism and atheism.” 

So, for all the the rabid atheists out there who are tempted to refer to “those religious people” in a negative light, Atheism and agnosticism are ALSO defined as religious views.  On the down side, read that again verrry carefully.  “ALL ASPECTS of religious belief, observance and practice.”  You cannot, by law, discriminate against a person because of any religious belief, which, like their sexuality, can be totally self-defined.  Thus, anything goes.  “It’s part of my religion” can readily becomes a justification for all manner of behaviors.  “It’s part of my sexuality,” immediately limits what actions can be taken by a school administrator for any manner of activities.  And of course, the always popular, “It’s just part of my cultcha.”

This law or amendment removes almost every traditional boundary, limit or restriction on personal behavior in our schools.  As the list of the protected classes grows, the resources that you have left to maintain discipline and order in your schools declines exponentially.  However, the true significance of this is not that boys might get to use the girls’ bathroom, but that it ties the concepts of “thought crimes” and “hate speech” more strongly than ever before into the State’s felony “hate crimes” statutes.

This is a dead win for the “moral relativity” crowd.  All views are equal, there is no truth but what I decide it to be, and you have to respect MY definition or be branded a bigot and a hater.  And now, more than ever before, you can lose your job and/or go to jail if you don’t. 

While on the surface it may sound great — “Hey, what’s the big deal, this means nobody get’s discriminated against!”  — the primary groups which traditionally have sought to espouse moral restraint or the drawing of clear behavioral limits and boundaries are the conservative religious ones.  Thus, the groups most likely to run afoul of this revised code are those who hold “traditional” values and are reluctant to permit or encourage behaviors contrary to their faith and bylaws.  So while at first glance you might think, “Great!  This means liberal teachers can’t bad-mouth Christians or conservative groups anymore!” historical precedent suggests that this isn’t how the statute is likely to be enforced at all.

In other words, it’s not that no one gets discriminated against…just those who won’t get on board with a moral or spiritual free for all.  And by law –in California at least — this type of discrimination is now not only permitted but required.

I think that: 

  • Enforcing immigration laws isn’t racist.
  • Abortion does not “liberate” women.
  • If you want to be treated equally, don’t claim special privilege because you’re a minority.
  • I’d be interested to see what percentage of gun-related crimes are committed with a legally-purchased gun, by the owner of said gun?  I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.
  • On average, Christians treat women better than feminists do.
  • Of all the Blogs I read, if I had to list my top-10 favorites, I’d put myself about 6th.
  • The government shouldn’t be able to force me to buy Health Insurance.
  • The country has far more to fear from radical atheists than radical Christians.
  • Conservatives love their women because they are strong and independent.  Progressives love their women if they are obedient and conformist.
  • Children are a precious inheritance, not to be lightly squandered.
  • If you want to change the Constitution, amend it.  Don’t “reinterpret” it.
  • If I had a report about a possible terrorist attack in San Francisco, I’d be hard pressed to want to do anything about it.
  • I personally don’t feel the need to put a hyphen in front of my “American.”  Just being an American is enough for me.

This wasn’t really the article with which I planned to start off the New Year, but it would seem that SPC Jeremy Hall himself (about whom I’ve blogged in the past) has been posting some comments to one of those blarticles.   Which, if you must know, I think is pretty dang cool.  A celebrity. Posting.  On MY site. Suhhhweet!

Anyway, he was kind enough to provide a link to the actual lawsuit being filed on his behalf against Maj Freddy Welborn and Secretary of Defense Gates by the “Military Religious Freedom Foundation”  (the name of which becomes a bit of a non-sequitor once you’ve read some of the rhetoric on the site).

Having now read the details of the complaint (which I encourage you to do, as this post will make a lot more sense), I felt obligated to follow up my early posts.  Which, I will freely admit, were heavy on the snark, bile and sarcasm, and rather short on actual thoughtful analysis or objectivity.  For the sake of argument however, I will address this post to SPC Hall, I the hopes that he might respond.

For starters, the complaint breaks down right about para. 13, which states.:

Plaintiffs allege that defendant Welborn’s exercise of authority and conduct in disrupting the above-mentioned meeting and making threats against plaintiff Hall was done under the color of United States law (my emphasis).

Please provide what reference, what regulation, which article of the UCMJ or other official military policy manual requires, endorses, promotes or condones the actions of Maj Welborn in this case?  Your attempts to expand the actions of one grossly misguided individual to a formal military/government litmus test for service is simply ludicrous.  If these charges are true, and since I have no evidence to the contrary I will assume that they are, then Welborn was a loose cannon who had lost perspective and was abusing his authority to promote a personal crusade.   He was not carrying out the wishes or orders of his command, or Sec. Gates, either implicitly or explicitly.  So while his actions as a Commissioned Officer in the military might have legal weight in many contexts, his orders and actions in this case were not lawful.

And I’m not getting the part about “Constitutionally Impermissible.”  Where in the Constitution does it make impermissible most of the items listed in para. 14 of your complaint?  The so-called “establishment clause” of the Constitution prohibits the establishment of ANY LAW “respecting an establishment of religion or (as often gets omitted) prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Notice that is quite clearly does not specify any one religion. No one religious view or dogma is singled out — it applies to all equally.   It certainly does not prohibit (or promote) any activities related to the Christian religion…although this seems to the primary context in which this statement usually gets invoked. 

So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that the First Amendment DOES forbid the “promotion or endorsement” of religious practices by government organizations.  If the government is forced to prevent the “promotion” of religious views on any public or government-owned property, then wouldn’t your posting of fliers around the FOB have been an impermissible promotion of a private/religious organization?

By your logic, in order to be completely fair, the military would have to restrict or prevent ALL FORMS OF RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION.  So your idea of preserving rights is to deny those rights to everyone? That does seem to be at the heart of a lot of this “diversity” stuff that gets dished out — to make sure no one gets offended, everyone just needs to keep quiet.  Perfect diversity is only achievable if no one commits to anything which might potentially offend.  In other words, no views at all.  Silence – the great equalizer.

Therein lies the fundamental logic error present in so much of this “separation of church and state” kind of rhetoric; that being the distinction between allowing, promoting, requiring and establishing.

Simply allowing religious activities does not equate to endorsing, promoting or requiring those views.  If that were true, then the views and bylaws of every group that was “allowed” to use a public park, a school gymnasium, or a public library conference room could said to be condoned or endorsed by “The State,” right?  Does permitting a Buddhist group to practice Tai Chi in a public park in the mornings mean that the City Council or Department of Public Works is implicitly promoting and condoning everything in which that group believes?  Does letting the local chapter of the GLSEN use the school library after hours mean that the school board is trying to promote homosexuality to its students or is part of some conspiratorial move to require everyone to become a homosexual?  Of course not.  It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? 

The Constitution requires that I allow, that I permit these activities, whether or not I like them, agree with them, or want them to exist.  I cannot deny them that right.  In the interests of fairness, I am required to provide an environment wherein they may freely assemble.

So then why does permitting religious organizations to use military facilities have to equate to a government endorsement of that religion’s views?  Does providing facilitation for the practice of religious beliefs have to, by-definition, equate to promoting those beliefs?  Does spending taxpayer dollars to train and pay for military chaplains to minister to the spiritual needs of the men and women in service really, to any reasonable viewpoint, mean that the military as a whole makes a profession of such beliefs a prerequisite for enlistment or advancement?  Not even close.

The military does require that you list your religious preference on your dog tags. However, you can –  without fear of retribution — put “no preference” or “none.”  They’ve even gone so far as to break it down to denominations within the faiths. Why?  Part of it (I’m sure) is just plain demographic survey info, but part of it is also so that they can provide for specific religious needs/desires with respect to funerary rights, etc.  The military has gone out of its way in so many areas to ensure that the spiritual needs of its members are addressed and respected.

My next question is this, SPC Hall:  Where did you hold your meeting?  In what facility?  Who financed and built that facility?  Did not the military chaplain actively facilitate and enable you to hold the meeting?  If so, did those actions not equate to a comparable promotion or “endorsement” of YOUR religious views by the very military establishment you now seek to censure? 

You cannot invoke the establishment clause and then in turn insist that it doesn’t apply to you because your group isn’t “religious.”  Unitarian Universalists, Wiccans, and other groups qualify as religious groups for legal purposes, despite that fact that they don’t invoke a specific deity.  Therefore, by extension your group of atheists, anti-theists, free-thinkers, secular humanists or whatever should be placed in the same legal category as other faith-based groups for purposes of the First Amendment.  Which means that (if successful) this lawsuit would also abrogate YOUR ability to meet freely or to use “government” facilities for your club, right?  I believe that’s what we call a “self-inflicted wound.”

By making this complaint in the context which you’ve chosen, you are making the actions of the Chaplain who helped you equally as impermissible as the actions of Freddy Welborn.  By supporting/permitting (and by your logic, therefore condoning) your activities, the chaplain engaged in a “Constitutionally impermissible” promotion of a religious view.  It may not have been a traditional theist view, but your group’s “views with respect to religion” would probably still place them in the same category in a court of law, wouldn’t it?

Given what I’ve read, and based on the views I’ve presented here,  I would say that yes, SPC Jeremy Hall, you WERE quite clearly and obviously denied your rights, were subject to undue command influence, and have solid cause for redress.  However, these rights were denied by Maj Welborn, not by Sec. Gates or the US Military; and as such, he should be the sole defendant in your complaint.  The fact that he is not, that you’ve chosen to roll it all up into a larger “Michael Newdow-ish” sort of issue makes it hard to believe that this lawsuit is not so much about ensuring equality, as it is about gaining retribution, plain and simple.

One more question:  Did you first try to file charges for discrimination or harrassment against Maj Welborn via the military legal system?