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Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | When religious arguments are weak, the religious shout the loudest or show their colors proudly on such places as mountaintops. While the religious are shouting and erecting symbols, the politicians are trying to please those making the biggest fuss. Look at the fracas over the recent decision by San Diego’s Judge Gordon Thompson.
Thompson’s decision to fine the city five grand per day wasn’t based on a whim. This thing has been going on since December 3, 1991 when he, a church-going Presbyterian, granted a Summary Judgment: “forbidding the permanent presence of each cross on the public property or imprimatur where it currently appears.” The part of that that specifically covers Mount Soledad has withstood every challenge.
Now we are seeing every politician searching for a way to look good while defending the unconstitutional. Mayor Sanders and Mike Aguirre were up on the mountain a week ago Saturday promising to find a way for a compromise.
Now Duncan Hunter wants the president to seize the mountain and sanctify it as some sort of holy land, immune from unholy people like Phil Paulson, Jim McElroy and apparently any writer who has a dissenting opinion. The staunch defenders of the unconstitutional are encouraged by Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Law Center, fresh from its ridiculous and fortunately futile defense of Intelligent Design in Dover, Penn.
All are urged on by irresponsible talk show hosts pushing it to the edge with their call to arms. Roger Hedgecock has recruited a gang of martyrs as a “chain gang.” They are ready to tether themselves to the fence surrounding the cross. As a sop to hysteria, the mayor mumbles about not trying to arrest anybody!
Such a deal! Where else can avowed, deliberate lawbreakers get such a promise?
But there’s a sober side to all these shenanigans. Someone could get hurt. Don’t ever doubt the power of the true believers. A year or so ago Bob Woodward asked our president if he sought advice from his father. Bush replied, “I listen to a higher father.” Nobody had a doubt to whom he was referring. What George Bush believes is extremely important. He insists we should seek divine intervention to decide the future of the world. That’s where it gets scary. He can push buttons. I’d rather he seek a more reliable source for his decisions.
It warps logic to believe that a universe, huge beyond our comprehension, and billions of years old, was created by a supreme being who now is obsessed by the prurient thoughts of little kids and the doubts of old men.
Religion flourishes because it claims the high ground, and that’s too bad. Wishful thinking in lieu of rational thinking leads to disaster just about every time. It certainly doesn’t prevent it. The 9/11 attack took place a mere seven days after the president had gathered our most honored religious leaders for a National Day of Prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington. A few days after the attack, the president called another group together for more prayer. This time it was our political as well as religious leaders.
A glance at history shows us that relying on God is ineffective at best. It certainly didn’t help Europeans in the Middle Ages. The Black Death struck the continent and people prayed for four years. During that time, a third of the population died from the disease.
Yet, despite no verifiable evidence that it will do any good, we still insist on searching in the heavens for answers. Worse, those of us who point out that such things are useless are shunted aside.
You will never hear a word as loaded with venom as “atheist” if you dare suggest that prayer, or symbols, don’t work. Ask Phil Paulson or his lawyer, Jim McElroy. Just don’t call them on their phones. They have been kept busy by people sending death threats.
And don’t look for much help from the media. It is good business to report stories of miraculous sightings of the Virgin Mary, even in a sandwich, while ignoring the number of deaths that could be prevented by condoms.
All of that is tied up in the same belief that causes folks to become frantic over a symbol on a mountain. Being frantic without a scintilla of evidence is bad policy no matter how loud it’s shouted.
That cross on the mountain isn’t just unconstitutional. It’s wrong and it’s damn time somebody said so.