Friday, July 13, 2007

"We meditate on the transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth..."

My colleague Ann Althouse blogs on the horrific disruption of the Hindu invocation at the Senate the other day. I think she hits this one just right. One snippet:
The Operation Save America protesters were thus not only rude and intolerant, they were demonstrating an attitude toward the invocations that, if it were accepted, would render the practice unconstititional. Government cannot elevate one religion over another. One of the primary values of the Establishment Clause is preventing divisiveness. These benighted characters would like to foment religious strife.

I never found the Supreme Court case holding religious invocations constitutional (Marsh v. Chambers) all that intellectually persuasive to begin with, particularly in light of then existing precedents on the (non-)Establishment Clause, but I've never been particularly successful in making much sense of post-Warren Court religion clause jurisprudence altogether. I am not alone (among persons of faith) in finding much of it (e.g., constitutionalize creches on public property by placing them amidst Santa Clausii and other symbols of our mercenary seasonal devotions, with or without Hanukkah menorot) demeaning of true religious commitment.

This distressing demonstration in the Senate chamber certainly previews the unholy impact of the Court's relaxed jurisprudence, and the increasingly aggressive claims of some on the religious right (encouraged by both the Court and Republican political leaders in Executive, Legislative, and Cheney-Fourth Branches), in our increasingly multicultural (and no longer simply "Judeo-Christian"--a term I despise) society. It does not bode well for our"getting along" domestically, or for our place in the world. (Crusader Alert!)

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