Since When Does Tolerance Only Mean Pro-Christian? August 30, 2010

Since When Does Tolerance Only Mean Pro-Christian?

Karen McKay, a “retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel living in Western North Carolina,” has an opinion piece in the Asheville Citizen-Times that throws together just about every lie about church/state separation you can imagine, all so she can argue that people of faith like her who oppose the (close to) Ground Zero Mosque (and community center) deserve more tolerance:

But a Greek Orthodox Church at ground zero that was destroyed on 9/11 has not been allowed to rebuild. Children are not allowed to pray on the steps of the Supreme Court. Valedictorians are forbidden to thank God. Kids are prohibited from praying in school and at football games. Local governing bodies are ordered to cease opening prayers.

A federal judge orders that a memorial cross that has stood in the Mojave Desert since 1934 to honor World War I dead be covered — an atheist driving by was offended by the religious symbol. The Alabama Supreme Court chief justice is removed from office for defying a federal judge’s order to remove a graven Ten Commandments from his courthouse.

While the God of Abraham and Moses has been forcibly ejected from the public square, we are to be tolerant of a mosque erected as a monument to the 9/11 attack on America.

Where do you even begin with tripe like this?

The facts behind that Greek Orthodox Church can be read here. As for the rest of it…

If you want to pray, go pray.

Valedictorians can thank God in a speech, but public school officials can’t lead the audience in prayer. Kids can pray in schools and football games all they want, but teachers and coaches can’t lead students in such prayers. The law seems pretty clear on this. Individuals have a right to pray, but tax-payer funded leaders can’t coerce or force them into worship.

As for local governments, the city officials can pray all they want… privately. But they can’t use taxpayer-funded time or money to do it. This is why the 10 Commandments monument was removed from the Roy Moore‘s Alabama courthouse and why atheists are winning so many of the lawsuits against local city councils that are intent on praying at meetings.

The law dealing with church/state separation is not anti-Christian. It’s anti-one-religion-taking-over. It allows for religious freedom for everybody so we can all worship (or not) how we please.

I wrote an email to Ms. McKay yesterday pointing out some of these facts… no response yet. I’m waiting.

Why on earth would a newspaper publish something as horrible at this? It’s clearly not fact-checked and McKay provided no citations (as if she could find them if she wanted to). It’s irresponsible of the editors to let this go up on the website under the newspaper’s name.

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  • Dan

    It always comes back to this every time: These people are not about facts. We would sit down and find articles and references to points we want to make, this woman just sat down and wrote what she “felt” because she believes it to be true. That’s how it works for them. We’re not only dealing with a fundamental difference in the nature of the universe, we’re dealing with people who don’t consider facts and evidence to be important.

  • Alex

    It just comes down to privilege. Christians like McKay need to realize that their religious “ideas” do not hold any special privilege over other ideas. Of course then their ideas need to be open to criticism and debate. They fail to realize the benefits of having their ideas evolve and change.

  • Brice Gilbert


    But it’s Jesus… how can it not be a privilege to be in the presence of the all knowing all loving creator of you?

  • Ron in Houston

    It always comes back to this every time: These people are not about facts.

    Dan nailed it on the first comment. Way to go Dan! Not much else I could add.

  • Jen

    It is so haaaaaard to be the majority. If only everyone was cool with the majority stomping on the minority, everything would be awesome (that’s why we won the War on Drugs).

  • Steve

    Back in the day, Christians actually loved the first Amendment. Just another thing the radicalization of religion has done away with.

  • Don’t forget – the Mohave cross was ordered covered *while the court case reviewing its legality was in progress*. Ultimately, the court ruled that the religious symbol was allowed to remain overlooking public land.

  • Adam

    That’s the Citizen-Times for you. They’ll publish any letter to the editor it seems if it’s controversial. Even if completely factually incorrect.

  • Bill

    The Asheville Citizens Times is a right leaning paper that is closely associated with our local TV station in promoting the chriso-fascist line of non thinking. Those of us living here just ignore both of these so called news outlets.

  • I responded to her, let’s see how it goes.

  • Natasha

    But it’s Jesus… how can it not be a privilege to be in the presence of the all knowing all loving creator of you?

    Well, Brice Gilbert, you are either really silly or being sarcastic. If you are silly (because God is the creator and Jesus is the son) then do some fact checking. Also, if you are being sarcastic, you fail at it as I have had to question if you are sarcastic…

    Anyway, the whole article is, as usual, one-sided. If newspapers actually had two-sided articles instead of continuously publishing biased articles then perhaps the world would be a more simple place…

  • stogoe

    Dan has it right, but he’s ignoring a pretty big target: Newspapers are not about facts. They are about selling ad space to advertisers. As such, wildly inaccurate spew drives more views than fact-based reporting.

    Plus, it’s the opinion pages. Everybody’s a moron on the opinion pages.

  • Asdf.

    Factual inaccuracy is factual inaccuracy. I mean, would it kill people to *check* court decisions once in a while to see if they actually say what they think they do? But having responded to a whole lot of letters to the editor over the last few years, most of them aren’t much better.

    But even if everything she threw in there were true, professed Christians make up so much of the cultural and political elite in America and professed Christian faith is so necessary to be seen as socially acceptable that even if valedictorians were outright banned from invoking God in their speeches and etc, I really don’t think I could bring myself to care much.

  • codemenkey

    They’re not and have never been content to simply worship, and the act of simply asking them to keep it to themselves creates a persecuted martyr. No, to them, if they’re worshiping, you must also.

  • Thegoodman

    Unexamined privilege is a funny and very sad thing at the same time. White males who are oblivious to their situation often make similar complaints. “Minorities get all the scholar ships!” “Where is the white people channel!?” “Why isn’t there a men’s study center!?”

    I am a white male but the similarities are maddening. Christians are not victims, they are the oppressors. Their “rights” are not being infringed upon, their privileges are only being diminished (albeit only slightly).

  • Camilo

    @ Brice Gilbert Are you serious? Or are you just being sarcastic? No idea has privilege over another until they all have been filtered through non-biased discrimination, under whichever parameters fit the subject of such ideas.

  • Kim

    +1 Thegoodman

  • A quibble, Hemant: city councils and other local governments may conduct prayers on government time and with government money. Marsh v. Chambers. The limitation is that they may not conduct sectarian prayers. ACLU v. Allegheny County.

    Ms. McKay’s letter goes on to say:

    An international Islamic medical conference in Orlando called for Shariah law in America 25 years ago — now a U.S. judge has cited Shariah law in dismissing a case. Islamic centers in America are protected by the First Amendment despite the open support of al-Qaida by some.

    While it’s not clear what she means about the medical conference, if its members did call for Shariah law in the U.S., that would be as protected by the First Amendment just as surely as Ms. McKay’s letter is because both call for changes in the law and social attitudes.

    If the case citing Shariah law is the one I’m thinking of, it’s a divorce from Texas in which the parties stipulated at the time they got married that if they ever got divorced, the imam of their mosque would split the property according to Islamic principles — an arbitration agreement with a choice-of-law provision. (The wife won.) If Ms. McKay gets into a dispute with her neighbor, they could agree to “Christian arbitration” by their minister and a could would affirm that, too — citing the Christian bible if necessary.

    I don’t know what “openly supporting al-Qaeda” means, but Islamic centers that funnel money to terrorist organizations are breaking the law and will be prosecuted. They can express whatever political sympathies they want as long as they don’t defy their tax-exempt status and endorse or campaign for candidates standing for elective office.

    Seventy percent of Americans oppose the ground zero mosque. How about sensitivity for them? Tolerance of Christians exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech and free exercise of religion?

    They have it. No governmental entity is punishing them for expressing their point of view. Freedom of expression is not freedom from criticism.

    It is fertile grounds for criticism indeed when someone like Ms. McKay relies on untruths in order to don the cloak of helpless victimhood. The truth is, anywhere you go in the United States, Christians are the overwhelming majority of the electorate and population and possess a near-monopoly on the exercise of political power at every level of government.

  • Gwenny

    While the God of Abraham and Moses has been forcibly ejected from the public square, we are to be tolerant of a mosque erected as a monument to the 9/11 attack on America.

    Um . . So, she’s not aware that Abraham was, according to the OT, the father of Ishmael, who is, in turn, the ancestor of the Muslims and that the big bruhaha between Arab and Jew is that Abraham broke The Law by disinheriting Ishmael in favor of Isaac but God took pity on Hagar, his mother, after Sarah made Abraham banish them? As I understand it, the Muslims consider themselves the actual “chosen people” and that the Jews have abandoned their, G-d, whose name is also Allah.

    :sigh: Why don’t people know the history of their own Holy Books?

  • The thing I never understood is why can’t Christians just be satisfied that they will exist forever in heavenly bliss after they die while the atheists and other undesirables will suffer forever in a burning lake of fire. Why do they get all involved in politics in the here and now and try to perpetuate their monopoly on privilege and power…. UNLESS they really deep down don’t believe in an afterlife … or perhaps they are really selfish bastards and want their afterlife cake and this life cake too…. and all others be damned.

  • Bob


    Oh, they *do* … but only the parts that support and validate their worldview.

  • Oh, I get it now. For a minute that headline made me think this was going to be another article talking about how Comedy Central always picks on Mohamed but never Christ. I’m happy to see I was wrong!

  • Judith Bandsma

    I don’t understand why they want to force prayer on people they wouldn’t allow into their churches.

  • Brandon

    Unexamined privilege is a funny and very sad thing at the same time. White males who are oblivious to their situation often make similar complaints. “Minorities get all the scholar ships!” “Where is the white people channel!?” “Why isn’t there a men’s study center!?”

    I am a white male but the similarities are maddening. Christians are not victims, they are the oppressors. Their “rights” are not being infringed upon, their privileges are only being diminished (albeit only slightly).


  • muggle

    Barf. That’s what I’m going to do if I hear one more poor persecuted Christian piece of bullshit.

    Ooh, a judge broke the law, defied a court order and was removed from the bench. Imagine that! I know I can imagine his reaction if a court order he issued was ignored given that he wouldn’t even tolerate his private religious views being ignored. And the last thing in hell, I’d want to be is in front of the bench while he presided. His bias was decidedly showing.

    Praying individually isn’t enough for these persecuted idiots. If they can’t force you to pray with them, they’re not being treated fairly in their book. Their claims to be persecute are one thing and one thing only — being used as a tool to oppress.

    Dan’s right but Alex is even more so. It comes down to privilege and if the facts get in the way, ignore them or totally twist them if need be to assert privilege over others.

  • Traziness

    Thank you for writing that letter. Perhaps we should all be writing a letter to the Asheville Citizen-Times as well… to let them know they should actually EDIT for crap like this.

  • JD

    I don’t know if they’re necessarily lying, it’s just that in a group, you have one person misunderstanding something and people take that misunderstanding as the truth. But still, the lack of saner heads and double checking doesn’t look good for them. When you have minimally educated people, you have a lot more potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

    You can pray just about anywhere on public land, you can’t make the prayer part of a government function. That’s not a tough distinction to see.

  • “Why on earth would a newspaper publish something as horrible at this?”

    Letters to the editor are considered opinion pieces and are not subject to fact checking. Some editors will print just about anything short of slander or threat, while others are a bit more critical. The Citizen-Times apparently is not one of those.

  • Jeff

    Why on earth would a newspaper publish something as horrible at this?

    “retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel living in Western North Carolina”

    There’s your answer.

  • Jeff

    @Jeff P: perhaps they are really selfish bastards and want their afterlife cake and this life cake too…. and all others be damned.


    These people are addicts, and the only thing that matters to an addict is getting his/her fix. “As long as I get what I want [or think I need] – RIGHT NOW – what happens to you is of little importance [if it even matters at all].”

    Christianity is the most selfish belief system in the history of the world, masquerading, ironically, as the least selfish.

  • Colleen

    All these people who are against the mosque/community center are really driving me crazy. Even my atheistic mother is opposed to it. The thing that most of them can’t seem to grasp is that it’s not a Taliban center and it is so narrow minded of people to think that all people who practice the Muslim faith could be terrorists. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this board but it just really drives me crazy that even people I thought were open minded are being swept up in the hysterical nonsense.

    People of the Muslim faith are as much a part of our country as the Christians and are just as entitled. 9/11 was devastating to our Muslims because it created an air of distrust and as far as I’m concerned I think the Muslim community center should go up as a show of good faith, we’re sorry for judging an entire religion and multiple countries’ people based on a terrible act perpetrated by one organization.

    Thank goodness that blogs like this one exist, it helps keep me sane. I had to sit through a prayer at my university graduation and that really sucked.

  • Byron Canfield

    Read recently: “Religion is a world-view like a blind-fold constitutes prescription corrective eye-wear.”

  • Jim

    So if McKay is worried that the god of Abraham and Moses isn’t getting his propers, why on earth would she oppose building the Muslim community center? I have to imagine that if it is used for nothing else, worship of this particular deity would be the main purpose of such a building.

  • Oh, those poor persecuted Christians! Cruelly denied their right to preferential treatment by the vast … er … minority.

    If they really want to know what persecution is like, let them go and preach their crap in Iran.

  • Courtney

    The state-wide newspaper (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) posts stupid letters like this ALL the time.
    It’s one of the MANY reasons I refuse to subscribe.

    It pisses me off to no end that they use the word “homosexual” instead of gay. ::sigh::

  • matt

    “Since When Does Tolerance Only Mean Pro-Christian?”

    Since Constantine, roughly.

  • People seem unable to tell the difference between equal rights and special privileges. Some members of each group think that it’s completely fair for their own group to get special rights while everyone else is discriminated against. This seems to be based on the idea that God prefers them over everyone else, and that therefore God wants them to be the only ones who can practice their religion.

    I have a lot of respect for people who serve in the armed forces, defending our country. I wonder how members of our military who are not members of the same religion as Lt. McKay (or even those who practice a nicer form of the same religion) would respond to her views.

  • Why is “authority-led” vs. “individual-led” so hard to comprehend for people like this?

    Anyone can pray basically anywhere – it just can’t be initiated by someone representing the government, e.g. a school official.

  • I’ve got a new word for people like McKay: hatriots. They call themselves patriots, but their hatred drives them to abandon the core principles on which the US was founded. Freedom of religion? Not for those you hate. Freedom of speech? Not for those you hate. They literally want to take away our freedoms, and yet they have the gall to claim that doing so will “restore” our freedoms and that they love our country.

    I think it’s time for us to start reclaiming the language of patriotism from these cretins, and I have an idea about where to start. They are fond of quoting the 1956 national motto, “In God We Trust”, so lets all start quoting back at them the original national motto:

    E Pluribus Unum.

    Latin for “out of many, one”. It’s on the Great Seal of the United States, adopted in 1782 and thus has a better pedigree than the official motto. If someone questions you about it, whip out a dollar bill and read it off the scroll in the eagle’s mouth on the back side of the bill, or just use any handy coin – it’s on all of them.

    It expresses the truth that the nation is formed by the union of the many different states, but also by the voices of the people – ALL the people – joining together in chorus. The hatriots want to destroy that chorus, removing the harmonies and counterpoints brought by minorities, leaving only a single dull repetitive melody droning on forever without change.

    We need to remind people that the strength of America was always in it’s willingness to accept diverse people and bring them together in common cause as a single, unified nation.

    E Pluribus Unum!

  • Dan W

    Those damn, dirty atheists! How dare they try to prevent the poor, persecuted Christian majority from trampling all over the Constitution!

    Oh, and I like Scythe’s idea about E Pluribus Unum. I’ve gotten into the habit of crossing out the “In God We Trust” on the back of every dollar bill I get my hands on and writing “E Pluribus Unum” on them. It’s a much more inclusive national motto.

  • kvtxzsvzxhktz

    Sometimes newspapers publish extreme or controversial op-ed pieces in order to elicit a response from the other side that they can publish a few days later. Remember, the newspaper company’s job is to sell more newspapers, so they benefit by fanning those flames a little bit if it means producing more text that people will pay to read.

    My vote is to write your own op-ed countering hers – if they want a show, give ’em a show. If you work it right, you can come off as the defender of liberty and, more importantly to some people, property rights.

  • it’s a kink i just don’t get, all this whining all the time. i basically agree with everything yall were saying and can only add how incredibly boring it must get, after a while, to be this type of believer. “poor me, i’m so oppressed, atheists and scary homos are under every rug and out to get me, oh noes!!1!eleventy!” you’ve got to be one brain dead zombie to sit thru regular doses of that crap all the time. i love a good scare, but i don’t watch only horror movies. these people are permanently stuck on the apocalypse channel.

  • SeekerLancer

    As much as I agree with you on the stupidity of this letter, newspapers don’t have to fact check opinions columns. That’s why they’re opinions.

    Anyone is free to write in a response and debunk them. I did that very thing in my local paper concerning a scathing and ignorant piece on the mosque and surprisingly got loads of positive support from the community.

  • muggle

    Scythe, I am liking your idea. I’m going to have to remember that word, hatriot. Indeed, that is what they are.

    E Pluribus Unum!

  • I got a response from Miss McKay:

    I’m sorry you’re disturbed. I hope you can get help

    The nerve of that woman.

  • muggle

    Kevin, Miss McKay needs help. If that’s her take on constructive criticism.

  • Jeff

    Well, naturally. You think she’s wrong, so you’re either unbalanced – or evil.

  • Tyler

    Of course their statements aren’t backed up with facts, they are Christians after all

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