Thursday, May 27, 2010

ACLU Letter to the University

On May 24th the Montana ACLU legal director Elizabeth Griffing sent a letter to Cathy Smith, Chief Counsel for the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and to Leslie Taylor, Legal Counsel for Montana State University regarding prayers at the graduation ceremony at MSU-Northern. You can review this letter on the ACLU website as well as the “official” press release here

The letter states that Pastor Zerger referenced “Jesus Christ as a personal savior” a number of times during the benediction. Some professors were “particularly troubled because faculty attendance at the Graduation Ceremony is mandatory” They also pointed out that Article X, section 7 of the Montana Constitution provides that “attendance shall not be required at any religious service”

The ACLU went on to request that “a formal apology should be issued by the administration at MSU-Northern which recognizes and appreciates that the State may not sponsor religious exercises, and demonstrates a sensitivity and respect for the beliefs of people of different faiths or for people who are reasonable dissenters in participating in such an exercise.”

Should they apologize and kiss some butt?  OR...... tell them to kiss my butt?


  1. You betcha

    Tell them to kiss our collective asses

    Isn't there more important fish to fry? We are lucky to even have a college in this little backwards thinking town and now one of our own city representatives turns us in. At least we now know how Jack will think if he gets to Helena.

    If Jack doesn't get beat in the primary I will have to hold my nose and vote for a damn republican rather than another moron who happens to be a union democrat

  2. Possible illegal actions aren't important Hillbilly? Or are illegal actions only important when they are actions that you disapprove of?

  3. is a backwards thinking town....and Hillbilly here is your PERFECT example.

  4. The ACLU wants an apology from the College! Wow, the name JESUS CHRIST really bothers some people. Free speech includes Satanism, sexual stuff (any kind), negative
    stuff about White People. Other religious groups can be talked about. But don’t talk about CHRISTIANITY.
    My hat goes off to Pastor Zerger. He did good! JESUS CHRIST as I know him is bigger than all the negativity that goes on. GOD is above all that can happen here on EARTH.
    There must be a lot of FEAR when CHRIST’s name is mentioned and it causes all kinds of commotion. I believe in him and believe he is my savior. I believe the people who
    work so hard to keep him out of everything believe in him also, but don’t want him to be followed. Why else would they be so upset if he wasn’t real and can help people. Even the DEVIL acknowledges him.
    The 10 Commandments have been around for a long time and are believed by a lot of people. They were around before CHRISTIANITY. It is more than CHRIST that scares
    these poor ignorant groups of people. Evil produces evil. No spiritual guidance, than the dark side rules.

    Colleges spue out Left Wing Liberal ideas to the Youth of our Nation and have been for some time and are causing it go down hill.

    When are the Christians of this Nation who are the majority, going to stand up and say NO to the ACLU.

  5. I've read these comments on your blog for some time and find as with most of the posts and comments here that not only is Hillbilly a perfect example of backward thinking (and your blog), but Badgley (like your comments) would certainly deny anyone's rights that isn't a "good christian" (or at least what the moral majority considers a respectable believer).

    Figure it out fools,the ACLU actually protects your pathetic rights to spew your constant crap too. It seems that you both could benefit from going to college and paying attention to the pinko professors because it is apparent that you still don't get the picture.

    I wasn't aware that Christ was a vindictive entity. I believe he taught peace and understanding. I think that is the problem with you folks--you have taken just the opposite approach to the teachings and Hillbilly does'nt have a clue about constitutional rights. By the way, the majority of the founders were Deists (YOU PROBABLY DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS BECAUSE YOU FLUNKED OUT OF ELEMENTARY THINKING 101).

  6. The new council person Trethaway is all concerned when it comes to majority rules when it come to the Marijuana sales and use but I can assure you a much larger majority approved of the prayer than the 2 or 3 against it

  7. Michael Badgley - Fear? Are you serious? It has nothing to do with fear. But by all means keep ignoring what it's really about.

  8. Improper and illegal are two very different things Surely and since you seem to spout off on the law once in a while on this blog I assume you must know that already. Nothing has been found to be wrong yet, an investigation has been requested into an "objectionable" situation and while case law was suggested by the ACLU to back up their claim, they have merely asked for an apology and have not taken MSUN to court. To me that is an indication of the strength of their case, because the ACLU does not often ask for apologies it usually trudges off to court.

    Insofar as to suggest that the ACLU protects our rights mythdebunker? I beg to differ. Can you name one time where the ACLU has actually gone to bat to protect a Christian claim to freedom of religion? You cannot because it has never happened. The problem with the ACLU is not that it protects civil liberties because it does, the problem is it only protects those of folks on its side. Fighting for truth and justice in the face of tyranny and oppression--the ultimate orgasmic delight for progressive liberal elitists who think they know what's best for us! Have you not looked at yourself in the mirror folks? You criticize this blog, hillbilly, suzyq, Mike and others and now me too probably and you continue to sit on your high horse and judge what is acceptable and not in society. Then when challenged you spout how we are the ones "judging" you and then you spew your idiotic, intolerant thoughts about Christianity without so much as a shred of decency and acceptance or respect. Just for one second think about what you are saying in these comments!

    Look into the mirror first before casting the first stone. You cannot preach tolerance from your perch and then at the same time ridicule those of us who are Christians for exercising our rights to Freedom of Religion. MSU-Northern does not need to apologize for anything, the prayer while controversial to some was for the Students who were graduating and beginning their professional lives in society not for the professors who may have had to be there for work, but could have chosen simply to not listen.

  9. Mr. Badgley...who the hell do you think you are? Do you see any of us TELLING you not to believe in your Christ/God/fantasy books?? NO. Follow him if you all means, BUT...DO NOT assume that your neighbor has to follow him too. You are quite presumptious and arrogant is some advice, GET OVER YOURSELF. You are not perfect and all knowing and my tax dollars go to this school and its professors too, and I don't want to bow my head to your Christ or God or whomever. There are appropriate places to worship, a college graduation isn't one of them. I think Janet was trying to make that point by contacting the ACLU and I and many many others thank her. And one last note Mr. Badgley if you ever think that in this lifetime you and your fellow bible thumpers are going to conquer the world and force your beliefs on the rest of us...I got news for you...aint gonna happen dude.

  10. Mythdebunker is right, it is true that some of our founding fathers were deists (I actually did go to college and listen to the pinkos--not at Northern I might note though) Thomas Jefferson (although he would never admit it!) and Benjamin Franklin specifically. However what you fail to realize in your point is this; while they themselves thought that spirituality was an important part of ones life and you did not necessarily need to organize into a particular church the were in fact believers in Christ and as Franklin once wrote in a letter to Jefferson on the subject "he would defend to the death the right of an American to worship as he pleases and scorn those who challenge his right."

    The founding fathers believed simultaneously in Separation of Church and State and Freedom of Religion. Indeed the courts have held time and time again that an opening prayer or invocation does not in itself constitute a state sponsorship of religion as defined in the Establishment Clause. If it did then Congress would not begin each day with a prayer, nor would the legislature or any other public body.

    We have lost our moral compass in this nation that was whether you choose to believe it or not founded on Judeo-Christian values, whether it was Quaker, Puritan, Anglican, catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Judaism, Methodist, Ecumenical, Evangelical, Baptist, Mormon it was Judeo-Christian. It is revisionist historians who have beginning with the Progressive movement in the mid-teens of the 20th century who began painting this portrait of America's early history as less bible centric.

    Am I asking that you all become evangelical Christians? No I too believe that ones faith is personal and private; however, I respect the beliefs of those around me and if someone wants to share a word of peace and non-secular convocation I will politely and respectfully stand at attention. Just as I would if taking part in a Jewish ceremony, an Islamic ceremony, or a Buddhist ceremony. If someone wants to pray in there own way they should be able to and we should all respect that and not publicly scorn them for it as Franklin said I too will defend to the death the right of an American to worship as he pleases and scorn those who challenge his right.

    I agree with Railroader that respect for other beliefs is what has been lost and ironically it is these complainers that feel their beliefs have been trampled on. That is the hypocrisy of this situation; I don't agree with you therefore you do not have the right to your beliefs. This is a slipper slope if I have ever seen one.

    The sad part of all this is MSU-Northern will probably be the body harmed the most by this action, not the pastor who gave the prayer or the students, faculty and observers who heard in and most certainly not the complainers or the ACLU, but Northern itself will take the scorn because if it refuses to apologize it could be sued by the ACLU and if it does apologize then those who give money to it and support it who disagree will withhold their support. How sad.

  11. The POINT of all of this is not to take away your "freedom" of religion. I think we need a defination of "freedom" here. For me it is that you are free to worship whomever God you a church, in your home, in your own personal space. You are not "free" to bring it to work or to a school. Now on that note, my kids go to public school and say the pledge every day and I don't care that "under God" is quoted in there, so long as it isn't followed by a lesson on God. People attented this graduation ceremony to see their loved ones graduate, not for a lesson on was inappropriate and the college should apologize. And any of you God worshipers who would harm the school by withholding your donation because of this, well...ur not following your own messages.
    And one more thing, IMHO religion has been the demise of this world. Millions of people have died in the name of one God or another. I will acknowledge that if done in the right way Religion can do good. I have seen many churches who feed, cloth, and shelter their fellow man...and isn't it funny that the right wingers, aka the Christian wing of our govt are the ones who want to cut these people off at the knees. They are looked down upon as week, lazy, not worth our time people. It is the Democratic party who extends the helping hand, the leg up and we are told we are just trying to give hand outs from cradle to grave. Your politics and your Godly messages are contradicting one another.

  12. railroader said: Improper and illegal are two very different things Surely and since you seem to spout off on the law once in a while on this blog I assume you must know that already.

    Spout off? Really? Has anything I posted been incorrect? And yes, I do know the difference which is why I have been careful to not declare that the action was illegal. I assume you noted that.

    As to your claim that the ACLU has never taken on a christian case that is an absolute lie.

    Follow the link and educate yourself.

  13. I don't see how the Christians are being persecuted in this at all.

    A pastor gave a prayer at a state ran facility, which violates the separation of church and state. If students wanted prayer, they could have attended church that morning or asked the community churches to provide a service prior to graduation.

    Also, there was only a Christian prayer read. I assume not every student who graduated was Christian. I am sure some Catholics attended, some Mormons, possibly some Wiccans, ect. Were any prayers said for those students or tailored to fit those students' needs?

    In essence, I view it as if when I go renew my license plate tags, and the lady issuing them to me starting praying for me to have safe driving for the next year. I would appreciate the thought, but it would be inappropriate since the Courthouse is a state funded facility.

    Now, if I saw the same lady at a church and she offered to pray for me for safe driving, different story.

  14. I agree with everyone that I am an idiot. Maybe we should just do like Russia did prior to the turn of the last century and just forbid everyone to practice any kind of worship other then allegiance to the “motherland” Catch them praying – off with their head. Speak out against your government leadership – off with their head. Just make those right-wing nuts disappear.

    That worked out as good for them as the hope and change thingy is working out for us

    I am reconsidering my opinion. Thanks everyone

  15. There is a lack of separation between the church and state. Many of the supersitious myth believers uote the establishment clause of the Constitution, and do not take into account that this clause has been shaped and honed over the years by different and profound court rulings.

    I personally am thankful that ALCU is there and fighting for ALL Americans rights. The religious right shares alot with sharia law of Islamic countries. We as a supposed developed society should move beyond the folklore, and superstition; keep your little baby jesus in the church and out of the public arena.

    It is good for the bible thumpers ot get kicked in the teeth once in a awhile. They sometimes need a little "humbling" when they are casting their magic spells and telling people they are the "way"

    One should remember Jerry Falwell, founder of Rep. Wendy Warburton's alma mater, Liberty University, who quite famously BLAMED the ACLU for the terrorists attack of 9/11/2001.

    America became a better place the day Jerry Falwell died.

  16. Surely: did you actually read some of these cases??? I might point out that most of the sites perported to show the ACLU actually defended Christian philosophies are ran by the ACLU themselves to shrugg off criticism. I took 4 random cases (not the abortion ones, but actually prayer ones and protest ones) and I did a Lexis-Nexis search and cannot find any cases to support them.

    Anyway it might be that out of the over 10,000 cases or so that the ACLU has filed over the years in protection of our "rights" 27 of them were for Christian groups. So I was wrong, I admit it was hyperbole just like everyone else on here, but I think my point is that and you must agree with me it is something like 95% for one side and maybe 5% for the other. Oh and just because the ACLU makes it claim and fights for a cause doesn't make it so!

    And Red I guess there's no hope for you so I'll see ya in Hell!

  17. Dandelionflame, dear, Catholics and Mormons are Christians!!! They are all denominations of Christianity.

    As for prayer at graduations, it happens all the time, even the ACLU's own complaint mentioned that.

    Any no one ever said the this is persecution of Christians it is this nonsense that people have dreamed up about Separation of Church and State.

    READ THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is very easy to read: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

    It says nothing about a prayer at a Graduation ceremony and by inviting a pastor to give a prayer is not the State establishing a religion. The Courts have held hundred of times that recognition of the religious act in itself does not establish a religion. A prayer is a religious act, not a religion and no where was it said that everyone is required to take part. Sheesh!

    This clause in the First Amendment was a balancing clause to protect Freedom of Religion (and prohibing the free exercise thereof!) It was a response to the Church of England where you must be a member in order to part of the aristocracy and if you were not you were mere subjects.

    Read the Constitution, don't just assume you know what it says, actually read it!!!

  18. I posted this under a separate heading so for those who have already read it, please ignore.

    Bill--I am assuming, that you are referring to me since I was the one who labeled myself a "practicing Christian." As a practicing Christian I don't believe Christ is in a tomb at all but rather that he ascended into heaven after his resurrection. (Sorry for the lesson kids, but I have been called out by Bill and must respond). So it certainly was not my "feelings" that were offended, as you claim. In fact I was not there.

    And yes MSUN is funded by money from you and me, as well as many other Montanans, some of whom do not share my belief or that of the good pastor. So out of respect for those who do not share that belief, it should be kept out of state-run ceremonies. As much I teach my kids that Christianity is the way to go, I don't want it being the "Official Religon of the state of Montana."

    As for tolerating another religon, I agree that we sometimes can go too far in the church and separation debate AND the ACLU has chosen some very poor cases over the years, thus damaging their credibility with many people. I also think this is a minor thing that MSUN will correct in the future, and will be forgiven and forgotten soon.

    And to repeat an earlier post, had the good pastor refrained from using "Christ" and threw in a God here or there, we would not be talking about this. We are actually more tolerant as a nation than many people want to admit. (The "one nation under God" line isn't leaving anytime soon (nor should it.)

    To those who think it's okay to assume everyone believes as they do, I would ask you to remember why many people came to this country 250 years ago--to escape religious persecution. So whenever possible let's be careful about how we pray at our state-run ceremonies.

    Finally Bill, you too are a real kick.


  19. Noam-

    Just for clarification Mormons are NOT christians. Christians worship Jesus Christ. Here is a copy of a major speech given by one of the highest authorities of the Mormon church. Bullet point #1 clarifies that Mormons are NOT christian, although the entire speech is very revealing about their cult.

  20. Well thanks Deconstructor for pointing that out and with respect to this Mormon authority, most Mormons would in fact consider themselves Christians.

    The debate about whether Mormons are Christians or not has been churning since the days of Joseph Smith himself, but in my mind they are as they perport to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died on the cross for our sins. If you believe Jesus Christ is our savior, then you are a Christian.

    I am not a Mormon and I will withhold judgement on whether or not they are a cult as you call them, perhaps we all are in your eyes, but I do know a number of Mormons and while they have disagreements with many denominations of Christianity over doctrine and sacraments and the like, for the most part at its basic tenets they are Christians.

    More to the point though in this case I believe most Mormons whether or not they are Christians would agree with us on this matter that prayer is an important part of our spiritual lives and should be accepted and not ridiculed.

  21. railroader - Has it occurred to you that Christians, being the majority, have considerably less need to have suits filed on their behalf? They are, after all, the majority.

  22. Janet is a piece of work, I know her from college and can tell you she is a bitter woman and if she disagrees with you look out!

    Jack: Go ahead a stay home and take another drag, Janet just cooked your goose for ya cuz except for most of the idiots on this blog who are defending your wife, most people are pretty upset with this around town. You might not like it Red and Decon and Dandelion and Surely and all the rest of ya, but you are the very small minority here on the Hi-Line.

  23. Yep it has, but I thought they were looking out for justice and keeping it equal and all!

    Let's just end it here because you will never see my side of this and I will never agree with you either on this topic so let's just agree to disagree.

  24. You guys and gals are all full of more shit than a CHRISTmas goose but you're fun to read. Please keep it up. guys are a kick.

  25. Hey tax cheat - Please show me where I have defended Janet.

    You're either making stuff up or you comprehension skills are seriously lacking.

    Railroader - Fair enough although I certainly see your side and also see how people can feel the way you do.

  26. Interesting to read so much rot and drivel in one place. I noticed that the ones complaining about the ACLU are also the same ones that talk about the rights of the majority. It appears that the Constitution was put in place to protect the minority from the majority, or maybe it just appears that way.

    I also get a big kick out of the reasoning used in this blog. I mean be honest some of would just as soon shoot someone that is different than you are as extend the hand of christian compassion. It is pretty much a waste of time to even try to engage anyone from the right. The right's answer to everything that goes against them is delete, shout down, or bully. Maybe it is time that some of these people you mistakenly call liberals give it back to you as you have been giving it to everyone else. Let's see if you turn the other cheek.

  27. I like this guy Judeo. Made me giggle. I just know it pissed a bunch of people off.
    I think everyone should leave their religion at the doorstep when they leave their homes. I remember when i was in high school it was decided that reciting the pledge of allegiance was no longer manditory because of the words "under god" were in it. Well your damn right! My choice! Feed your religion to the hungry. Im full up on the crap. And no mormons are not christians. Although it seems it stemmed from christianity. But that doesnt matter anyway because christianity is stolen ideas from other religions that were around way before it was. Remember christianity is only a couple thousand years old.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. To Mike Badgley I am so sorry for the recent loss of your daughter she will truly be missed.
    TO RED we people that know the bible and CHRIST are not trying to FORCE our beliefs on you,we are just putting it out there for you to take or leave,that is our christian DUTY.

  30. Thank you "fed up". I too feel that way. I just don't want someone denying me the right to pray or be present at a function where prayer honors others.

  31. I heard there were native American drummers performing - is that not a religous act? any word form the AClusers on that?

  32. To me the real point is not about the ACLU but about the fact that this only was a pray er of a few minutes and right or wrong, why are we wasting time on this when there
    are bigger fish to fry?

    Did Janet or anyone attend the regents meeting that was just here to save program cuts at the college? Did anyone wpen anytinme trying to figure out how to improve the school, the student housing, buildings?

    No we just worry about garbage like this. The sad part is that this is the caliber of people that run for the city council and at least in Jack's case, the legislature also

  33. Native American Drumming is just as big a non-issue as the invocation was. If you don't like it, ignore it. if you get that worked up over other people celebrating their faith or culture, you consider drowning yourself in your toilet.