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Do atheists own public land?

Kevin Hundt of La Crosse, WI seems to think so:

Atheists do not have “more” say than religious people, we just don’t want government (public-owned) resources to be used to promote religion. Religious people already have tax-free churches; if you want statues and monuments, you can put them there. No one is demanding anyone “hide” their religious belongings – when you all put up those 10 commandments signs in your yards, did anyone complain? No, that’s your property. Put up whatever you want there. But government property is my property, so keep your backward magic superstition off my lawn.  [Emphasis in the original newspaper]

This logic, very common among evangelical atheists of the Dan Barker/Freedom from Religion type, is flawed at so many levels, paragraphs could be devoted to refuting each phrase.  For tonight, I’ll just settle on making the simple observation that government property, public land, is not only Kevin Hundt’s.  It is also mine.

Perhaps a refresher in the Constitution is in order:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Atheists make much of the establishment clause but apparently don’t read the rest of the amendment.  That, or they really think that my right to freely express my religion ends on public property.  Perhaps, too, we have freedom of speech- but only on private property… it ceases once we step onto ‘public land’ (which is Kevin’s property, actually).  Maybe our right to peaceably assemble is limited only to private party.  And perhaps we can only petition the Government on nonGovernmental property?

Of course, that is all absurd.  Interesting how atheists would never extend their logic to the rest of the 1st amendment, insisting that those rights can’t be exercised on Kevin’s property.  Somehow, only the part that explicitly says that the free exercise of religion shall not be prohibited is… prohibited:  on Kevin’s land.

It’s a darn shame that we can’t just hang such loosey-goosey logic on the necks of atheists, who after all can’t be blamed for their biased reading.  A century of forgetfulness by the courts that the 1st amendment begins with “Congress shall make no law…”

It’s amazing what has been allowed to pass as Congress making laws- even if its little city halls that simply want to display statues.  But I suppose a century of viewing the Constitution as a ‘living document’ tends to have the effect that the actual words of the thing don’t really matter.

But I digress.


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