Notion that government cannot offend is flawed

Since my Nov. 26 column on the proposed Kroc Center, it has become clear that there is a fundamental misconception about how our government should function.

Since my Nov. 26 column on the proposed Kroc Center, it has become clear that there is a fundamental misconception about how our government should function.

Amongst numerous and poorly understood issues of church and state is the idea that the government is bound to not offend anyone's religious sensibilities. From this notion comes the idea for making all government devoid of any reference to religion.

Some of the more recent cases of such argumentation include a case to remove a cross on Mt Soledad outside San Diego because the cross "is an affront to those veterans who aren't Christian." Two weeks ago the city of Chicago asked the organizers of the German Christkindlmarket to cancel one of their sponsors because the city felt their advertising for the new film "The Nativity Story" would "be insensitive to the many people of different faiths." And most infamous is the current petition coming before the Supreme Court to remove "In God We Trust," from the nation's currency.

According to the case's plaintiff, activist attorney Michael Newdow, he finds it "deeply offensive to have his government and its agents advocating for a religious view he specifically decries." Furthermore, he posits that the phrase "In God We Trust," on the coins and currency serves "as a form of religious evangelism."

For the moment, forget about chasing the separation of church and state issue, and just think about a government which was beholden to not offending anyone.


How would that work? Such a notion is fundamentally flawed and would make for a wholly unworkable form of government.

Can we stop paying the IRS because tax laws are offensive? Can we drive through red lights because we are offended by the inconvenience of being delayed, and having our precious time wasted? On the other side of the argument, would road rage be excusable by default because we are offended by another driver? Should we stop sending convicts to jail because they are offended by being arrested?

Personally, I am deeply offended that my tax dollars support the heinous practice of abortion with millions going towards Planned Parenthood.

I am offended that tax dollars for the proposed extension to Duluth's skywalk system will potentially be a boon for the sexual exploitation of women at the NorShor strip club by funneling more traffic by its doors.

How am I going to be accounted for by those who argue the government cannot provide for that which I deem offensive?

The American Center for Law and Justice, ACLJ, not to be confused with the godless ACLU, has successfully defended numerous cases concerning religious liberties.

Their chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, has articulated the defense of religious symbols and references by the government in this way; "While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life in order to suit atheistic sensibilities."

Sekulow's argument is just as relevant for state and local governments as well.


Quite frankly, people like Newdow, who are so offended by religious symbols, speak more to their weakness of character, and own perverted self-righteousness, than to any sense of public fairness.

If Duluth wants to be known as a progressive city, then why not start with becoming a city which once more welcomes the Christian faith, instead of trying to erase every vestige of it?

How about getting at the forefront of a truly radical movement, a movement for a new religious tolerance?

Duluth progressives want to welcome every other kind of wacko into town, why can't it accept those who it thinks are the wackiest, those who still believe in and trust the God of the Bible.

Russ Young, Christian, free-lance writer and a former pastor, may be reached at .

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