Kelly Shackelford is a lawyer and the president of Liberty Institute, “the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America.”
I am not a lawyer. I write on the internet.
Guess which one of us understands the law better?
In a piece for FOX News, where all legal scholars dream of being published, Shackelford offers his take on last week’s ruling in the Bladensburg Cross case, where the Court ruled 7-2 to allow a Giant Christian Cross/War Memorial to remain on public land because it’s been there for a really long time. Those 7 justices had very different reasons for permitting the display, but the dominant view, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was that even though this memorial was clearly a Christian symbol, the passage of time diluted its religious meaning. That’s why the local government could use taxpayer money to maintain it without running afoul of church/state separation.
Shackelford, however, seems to think the ruling means religious symbols can go up anywhere and everywhere.
… the justices of the Supreme Court have restored a commonsense understanding to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In so doing, the Supreme Court has put an end to the mounting attacks on crosses, Stars of David, Nativity scenes and other displays of faith in public.
Americans need no longer fear reprisals against the display of the Ten Commandments, a Nativity scene or the national motto on government property.
No they haven’t. In fact, the justices even said that if the same Blandensburg Cross were put up today, it would likely fail a legal challenge. If a city council puts up a Nativity scene outside a courthouse in December, but closes the door to all other displays, or doesn’t surround it with non-Christian symbols as well, it would still be illegal.
There is no law that permits the endorsement of Christianity (or any other faith) by the government. Not now. Not ever.
One of the bright spots to the ruling is that it was limited in scope. Shackelford doesn’t seem to understand that distinction.
Nor does he understand the implications.
Indeed, this high court’s decision sets students and teachers free to pray on public school grounds during their free time.
That was always legal. No one ever said it’s not legal. Atheists have never tried to take that away from anyone. This is Church/State Separation 101.
It is fitting that a memorial to the men who died in the “war to end all wars,” now ends the war to end all memorials with religious shapes or symbols.
It does not end that “war.” The government still can’t put a cross on City Hall and call it a memorial.
Shackelford is taking a decision about a specific case and conflating it with a victory for Christian supremacy writ large.
It’s not even the first time he’s declared victory just by making up details. At the 2014 Values Voter Summit, he offered three examples of Christians being persecuted… all of which were exaggerations or flat-out lies.
Hey, when you’re a Christian, they just let you do it.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)