Re: The Ron Bohr quote and Robin Schultz's use thereof!
- Ron Bohr has been busy with other matters lately, but I did just get another response from him indicating additional analysis may be expected.
Pending his further consideration of the matter, he wrote, in part:
> I look forward to giving you more background.-------------------Original Message---------------------
> Remember the context in which the quote was
> made -- advising the triumphalists who object
> to any holidays but their own being acknowledged
> or taken seriously to just get over themselves.
> I consider atheism just another fundamentalist
> sect, like other absolutists who want total
> hegemony, even in a diverse, pluralistic society.
> This has little to do with intoning meaningless
> politically-oriented prayers at any governmental
> meeting ever held.
>> Ron Bohr
>> Thursday, April 5, 2012
--- In Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com,
"rlbaty50" <rlbaty@...> wrote:
Some may recall that Robin Schultz quoted Ron Bohr in the Forbes discussion involving invocations at public meetings (see archives here for record of that exchange).
Robin thought the quote supported his position and cause regarding invocations; particularly in his local cause involving the Hoover, AL controversy.
The quote from Ron Bohr heads up the website regarding that at:
I contacted Ron Bohr about that, and he indicated that Robin Schultz had misused the quote. While he indicated he would have more to say about that, I have not yet heard anything further from Ron Bohr on the subject.
Following is the link to and article where Ron Bohr makes the comment used by Robin Schultz and his Hoover, AL fellows:
Suppose you declared a war and no one came:
the Christmas offensive
By Ron Bohr
December 17, 2010
Soldiers in either army of the so-called war on Christmas need to remember the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, and spend this season contemplating the distinction between a secular and a pluralistic nation.
Our founding scripture presents two crucial and oft-debated clauses -- one prohibiting a law establishing any one religion, the other permitting the free exercise of all religions. The no-establishment clause makes our nation "secular,"while the free exercise clause prevents us from giving a preference to any one "faith," including, of course, secularism.
I've frequently noted that this discerning, even-handed, and nuanced prescription for the role of religions in our country owes much to William Penn and the Quaker experiment conducted in Pennsylvania, one of the first governments anywhere to formally separate state from church. It had a profounn effect on James Madison and others when they formulated the rights enumerated in our Constitution.
The tension between free exercise and establishment has often resulted in clashes between these two clauses, but together they present an ideal to strive for.
One one side are people who would happily establish one religion, not necessarily normative Christianity but their own limited version of it. To them any sign of inclusiveness arouses the fear that their sectarian preference is losing ground, leading them to inveigh against perceived "attacks" on the church, Jesus, or, in this case, Christmas.
They loudly proclaim that America is a "Christian nation," and that they alone are guardians of its orthodoxy. Others are attempting to take their country away from them. But there's a big difference between a Christian nation and one where the majority of people adhere to some version of Christianity. Especially when even many Christians do not accept their literalistic version of the faith.
They are confronted by guerrila fighters on the other side, who have come to believe that what they consider Christianity is irrational, dangerous and unenlightened. They believe all religious adherents are intolerant, stupid and dangerous. They are partly correct but have overgeneralized. Many writings by free thinkers and atheists ridicule simplistic beliefs that, truth be told, many serious Christians today also reject.
So this year Philadelphians have been faced with a skirmish over a seasonal event at City Hall called "Christmas Village," which has been attacked by those who see the designation as an establishment of religion, and defended by those who consider Christmas a part of our public culture that should not be neutered.
This is one example of where our nation's ground rules need to be considered.
Free exercise means the public square is open and should not be sterilized, and when it is the only winners are the sterilizers. In effect, sterilization becomes the religious establishment.
Many people accept some aspects of Christmas as part of our public culture, and this acceeptance is not an attack on anyone. In fact, it seems more commercial than religious. Nevertheless, it would be an inhibition of free exercise to demand that any mention of Christmas be avoided ourside of churches. Let's forget about demanding that schools drop Christian or Jewish carols, ban red and green (or blue and white) decorations, businesses remove their trees and Menorahs, and towns ban parades, highway or bus signs.
Let's advocate a truly pluralistic society in which every group can be counted on to take offense at something if they so wish. The response should not be to feel excluded, insulted or belittled, but to present your own best traditions in the most positive light.
A visit to our newly opened National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall dramatically demonstrates how even a tiny, historically oppressed minority made its contribution to an increasinly tolerant and diverse country.
The growth of American inclusiveness has been demonstrated over and over again in our history as each new group established itself and expanded our religious awareness. It is no accident that America is today more openly religious than any other industrialized nation, A rising tide raises all brands of worship.
Were we a secular country we would face the sectarian conflicts of nations like France, with established ultramontanist Catholics at war with strident secularists. And both would want fights over whether Muslim head scarves should be allowed in schools and offices.
However, it is totally understandable that the "irreligious" feel their ostensibly rational beliefs have been marginalized and ignored. They definitely feel the need to freely demonstrate their faith -- or lack of it -- and have it established in the religious landscape. It must be feelings of loneliness leading them to view others as secretly harboring similar beliefs, inhibited only by what sociologists term pluralistic ignorance, the perception that they are alone in their thinking.
Thus signs on Interstate Route 95 invite commuters to consider whether they are covert secular humanists. More aggressive signs on highways and buses elsewhere announce that Christmas is a myth. Naturally these deliberately provocative messages evoke defensive counterattacks, just as they are intended to.
At worst, any perceived attacks promote aggressive political posturing. Blatantly exploitive grandstanders like radical fundamentalist Fred Phelps or William Donohue, leader of an astroturf conservative front claiming to speak for Catholics, will take advantage of anything that appears remotely scandalous or irreligious.
History shows what happens when ideologs attempt to establish their own beliefs and stifle their opponents. Hostility feeds on itself. A season which in a variety of ways celebrates light in darkness demands far better. Let's get over our greivances and move together into a new year .
Light one candle.