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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Friday, April 16, 2010

A no-brainer? - Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Obama

This post is just a place marker: for the moment, note that a federal District Court in the US has just (on 15 April) struck down a statute providing for a "national day of prayer". I haven't yet read the 66-page opinion of Justice Crabb.

This case should have been a no-brainer - if a statute of this kind is not an unlawful establishment of religion, then I'm going to be the next pope.

Will the US government appeal? I have no idea. But I can't see how an appeal could be successful. Well, um, yes ... I'm afraid I can. It might go all the way to the Supreme Court, which seems like it's itching to craft some kind of de minimis exception so as to save popular forms of "ceremonial deism", such as the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This case could be another such example. So, okay, I'm not sticking my neck out and saying that this decision will definitely hold up if appealed.

What I do say is that it ought to stand, as a matter of constitutional principle. Under the US Constitution, Congress has no business enacting a statute that so explicitly endorses a particular kind of religion, in this instance the kind that involves prayers to a God of the sort who listens to them.

Good for the Freedom From Religion Foundation for taking this on. I'll say more when I've read the opinion of the court.


Mike Haubrich said...

On the Friendly Atheist's site, Hemant reports that the Obama admin is going ahead with this NDOP anyways.

NewEnglandBob said...

Conservatives in the US rant and rave about adhering strictly to the US constitution as long as it serves their nefarious purposes. Otherwise, they will abandon it and rant and rave in the other direction due to their lack of morality, ethics, common sense or compassion.

Zarathoustra said...

Who said atheists have no answer to death ? haha, that's a good one. Death is death, I don't know how your prayers can make someone avoid it.

By the way, you don't have an answer to Epicurus. this is the link :


have a nice day.

Truism said...

davmab11 your comments are a perfect example of your limited thinking, smug ignorance and selective beliefs.
You have no knowledge or understanding of philosophical thinking.
Whose deity shall I repent to? Yours or one of many others whose proponents all claim to be the 'one true light'?
Do you live by the bible? Which bits? On what basis do you select which parts to adhere to? I assume you don't buy anything on Sundays (McDonald's after church anyone?) because people aren't supposed to be working. I'm guessing you've killed any kids you had by now 'cos they probably gave you lip at some stage. The scriptures tell us these things and more. Shall we go on?

NewEnglandBob said...


Russell says "Don't feed the troll. You are giving him attention that he craves.

Truism said...

sorry NewEnglandBob, and Russell. It won't happen again.

Truism said...

neb and russell, I revel in the joy and freedom that knowledge and reason give me.
I enjoy the world and its evolved diversity.
I strive to preclude hatred and bigotry.
I support peoples' right to make free, informed personal choices.
A world without veils of secrecy is one of happiness and advancement. Logic will prevail.

Russell Blackford said...

Hopefully, so, Truism. But yes, Dave Mabus's comments just get deleted. If you pay him any attention the thread will end up looking weird.