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Harris Sherline: Taking God Out of Everything

Why does the majority remain silent in the face of illogical intolerance from the vocal minority?

Led by the ACLU, America’s culture war is being driven from the “left,” and is attempting to remove God from almost every aspect of our national life, from our currency to Christmas.{mosimage}

The argument is predicated on the notion that it is offensive to people who do not believe in God, no matter how few or how many complainants there are. Sometimes “people” means only one person, who may object to what they perceive as religious indoctrination where none exists.

For the record, I am not a Christian and I do not attend any church. I cannot recall a single instance in my life (of 79 years) when I was offended or harmed in any way by public expressions of Christian religious belief or simply an acknowledgement of God.

I have never had any problem maintaining a moment of silence when prayers are said in my presence. I recall that prayer was always an integral part of graduation exercises and various assemblies when I was in high school during the 1940s. Never, even for a fleeting instant, did I have a sense I was being proselytized or criticized for my own beliefs at the time, and I still feel the same way. Today, whenever I attend a gathering where prayers are offered, such as a memorial service or a meeting of some group, I have no problem accepting prayers as the honest expression of the beliefs of others by joining them in a moment of silence during the observance of their faith.

What’s the big deal? Have we now reached the point where anti-religious expression has become the very thing that the opponents of religion claim they are trying to prevent — that is, forcing or pressuring people to believe as they do, which in this instance is not believing in anything. So, from the fear of pressuring people to accept religion, have we now moved to the strange position of trying to pressure or force them to believe in nothing?

In the opinion of at least this one non-Christian, the entire effort to remove all expressions of religious belief from the public square is just another form of prejudice. I say, “Get a life.” This is more than just political correctness run amok. It is utter nonsense, pure B.S.

The question is, “Why do we tolerate it?” Fifty or 60 years ago, such complaints would have been rejected out of hand. Attempts by nonbelievers to force others to accept their ideas and to prevent the overwhelming majority of the population from publicly expressing their values or recognizing them in our institutions would not have been tolerated. Not only would they have been tuned out, they would have been shut down by both the general population and the courts. Today, around 85 percent of Americans believe in God, yet they are strangely unable or unwilling to stand up to the vocal minority that is trying to undermine the very beliefs and values of the overwhelming majority.

How is it possible to remove “Christmas” from the Christmas holiday (vacation) in the schools? The idea that it should renamed “Winter Break” to avoid offending even a single person defies all logic. Were it not for Christmas, there would be no Christmas vacation, and therefore there would be no Winter Break.

As for the courts, the Ten Commandments are the underlying foundation of our laws; they cannot be removed from our courts and all public life without undermining our entire judicial system. One does not have to be a Christian to know that without the presence of any religious values and the teaching of right and wrong in our schools, we have substantially abandoned our young people to the lure of license without responsibility. We could do a lot worse than introducing a little active involvement of God back into our classrooms, even for those of us who are not Christians.

Many of those parents who disagree with the current policies of liberal indoctrination that pervade today’s schools feel they are being forced to home-school their children so they can instill the values they consider important. Perhaps they should be standing up to educators and school boards and putting the vocal minority in the position of having to home-school their own children instead. A little poetic justice might go a long way to help heal the rift that is currently being caused by the minority constantly attacking the majority’s beliefs and values.

The proliferation of ethics courses currently being required by the professions, such as accounting and law, gives testimony to the fact that too many of our young people are now reaching their maturity without the moral foundation that schools helped teach in the past, which was historically based on religious values. I’ll take the teachings of education with God involved rather than the lack of ethics and morality that pervade our schools today without God, notwithstanding the fact I am not a Christian.

There are those who argue that even the slightest amount of religious expression in the schools is tantamount to opening the door to religious indoctrination and persecution of those who don’t agree with the values of the majority. Can it be that, all of a sudden, Christian and Judeo values have become a threat to the rest of American society?

The very idea that some people are free to publicly make even the most dishonest and vicious statements about others in any venue, including the schools, by claiming First Amendment protection, while at the same time attempting to deprive the majority of their right to speak openly about their own beliefs in the same venues, is not only illogical, but is the height of hypocrisy. It’s no wonder we’re so confused.

Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his own blog, Opinionfest.com.

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