Anti-Religious Blackmail

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today entitled "By Process of Intimidation" about an ACLU and American's United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) joint lawsuit against a school in West Virginia that had a portrait of Jesus hanging outside of the principal's office for the last 37 years. As the article points out, the attack on the portrait of Jesus was a bit one-sided since apparently there are also "a two-foot statue and a portrait of Buddha that remain displayed in two classrooms in the school" which were not part of the lawsuit and therefore apparently unobjectionable. But I suspect any type of investigation of the suits filed by organizations like these would reveal that the vast majority of their suits seek to remove Christian symbols with only a few lawsuits seeking to remove other religious symbols.

But what I found most interesting was the discussion of how the ACLU and AUSCS threatened the school with a charge of excessive attorney fees that the school would have to pay if they didn't surrender its position. According to the article:

In federal lawsuits against state officials that allege violations of constitutional rights, defendants are required to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees if they lose the suit. In this case, Americans United explicitly warned the Bridgeport school board that, if it lost the case, it would be paying over a substantial amount of money to its own lawyers and those of the ACLU. Thus there is a strong—and unjustly one-sided—financial incentive on the part of many public institutions to cave in to the demands of groups such as the ACLU and Americans United and settle such suits.

I wrote about this problem on September 28 in a blog entry entitled "No More Attorney Fees For Establishment Clause Lawsuits" where I said:

The ACLU is an organization that works to prevent violations of people's civil rights. The ACLU is well-funded and is capable of pursuing lawsuits in a way that is outside the financial ability of the ordinary citizen. The ACLU also has a track record of pursuing litigation that fits into its more liberal-minded view of the Establishment Clause -- a view that is not shared by many people in the population. When the ACLU enters into the scene, the situation changes. Instead of the city or state being the better funded of the two parties to the litigation, suddenly the plaintiff is the better funded -- especially against smaller towns and townships which don't have huge budgets set aside for fighting such lawsuits. The result is that many cities or towns have to settle with the ACLU rather than fight the litigation because the governing body of the city or town knows that if it loses (regardless of how remote the chances) it will be on the hook for thousands of dollars in attorney fees that the ACLU attorneys were able to bill for prosecuting the litigation.

What is the size of the school district in West Virginia? Well, according to the WSJ article, the lawsuit concerned the town of Bridgeport, W.Va., which has a total population of 7,300. Which do you suppose is better-backed financially?

Personally, I think this is another example of the ACLU using strongarm tactics to force its agenda on smaller communities. This tactic of the ACLU is little better than a gang tactic to get its way using the fear of financial ruin. The ACLU ought to be ashamed -- but, of course, it is way beyond shame.


Tenax said…
Hey BK,

I don't know anything much about the ACLU, but I do believe there is much anti-Christian hysteria among the educated.

At our last English Dept. meeting a faculty friend of mine suggested (nervously) resurrecting a Bible as Lit. course she'd like to teach. The literature of the Bible provides examples of some of the finest religious literature in the world, and some knowledge of the Bible is essential for English majors because it is alluded to in half our literature (she used only this second point).

The dept. was supportive, after they told her many of her students would tell her she was "Satan" if she didn't support a literal reading. And I had to smile when a bunch of Lit. Ph.D.'s began talking about the 'apple' in Genesis. But then they really got excited...'oh, you could bring in the gnostic gospels!' Those, of course, aren't in the Bible and are not part of the western literary tradition in any direct way. Have they read the gnostics? Have they tried? Hardly. But heterodoxy is cool, man...don't you listen to NPR? (For the record, I'm a big NPR fan). Not to mention the educated West's love affair with their marginal understanding of the East.

Not all were so cantankerous. But the prejudice and outright ignorance of the Bible among such educated people is breathtaking. Of course, I haven't read the Qu'ran, either. Yet I believe that would be openly accepted in my dept.

Any assault on conventional Christian orthodoxy is par for the course in secular colleges. If I suggested a Literature of Eastern Religions or Literature of the Gnostics or Erotic Literature or anything...they'd buy me lunch and rub my feet. How has the church, the faith, become perceived in this way? A good question to ask ourselves. Not that Christians are completely responsible of course...but if we're looking for a tough audience to address our faith to, academics are up there.

slaveofone said…
Ah, the comment above about being called Satan brings back fond memories of my classmates putting the number 666 above my dorm-room door when I became a believer as an undergrad. Those were good times.

I don't think the hysteria is limited only to those who are outside Christianity. There was a recent paper on the SBL web site called "Bible Scholar on an Airplane." The basic idea was that the bible scholar is afraid to get on a plane because of the inevitable situation that arises which, for some odd reason, doesn't arise on a plane when one says they are a doctor or a mechanic or anything else. The paper shows a whole mentality of "otherness" or feeling of outcast on the part of the bible scholar. You'd think, being a bible scholar, one would have a better time of those kind of situations since, unlike the others on a plane, a bible scholar actually knows what he's talking about... but the opposite was the case. And it's easy to see why... What would you think if your work and the work of others like you who are laboring with their professional careers and personal lives to uncover these ancient cultures, histories, truths, and documents are virtually unknown while someone whose fictional little book that is a mockery of the profession and grotesquely distorts culture, history, truth, and document is being heralded and proclaimed on every street corner (ie, the DV Code)?
BK said…
while someone whose fictional little book that is a mockery of the profession and grotesquely distorts culture, history, truth, and document is being heralded and proclaimed on every street corner (ie, the DV Code)?

That's odd. I thought you were talking about the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.
BK said…

It is very sad, and I do think that Christians are largely responsible for our own position. Your account is interesting and it seems obvious to me that no one has a problem with treating the Bible as literature because, in their minds, it is fiction.

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