Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Truth or Fiction

A friend of mine sent me one of those "Keep It Going" messages yesterday. You've probably gotten them before, too. They usually say something like, THIS IS TOO IMPORTANT TO LET GO – PASS THIS ON TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN SO THE TRUTH WILL BE KNOWN! PLEASE KEEP IT GOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This one had a picture of pious fatigue-clad marines bowing their head in prayer – then it had a story about the evil ACLU once again trying to stop marines from praying. When asked about it, Colonel Jack Fessender was supposed to have said, "Screw the ACLU." This did not seem quite right to me for a few reasons. First of all the name of the supposed ACLU operative was suspicious. I mean "Lucius Traveler"? Secondly, the ACLU only becomes involved when there's a court case going on. Thirdly, it's unlike any military officers I know to go on record with such unprofessional language as, "Screw so and so."

Suspicions raised, I went to, my source for information about e-mail bunk. It's a handy resource – they do the checking and report on where the information or misinformation comes from. It's not always comfortable what they find, either, but most of the time I prefer to have the truth about something.

So, here's the scoop about those marines -- it never happened.

That's right. The ACLU never said "boo" about marines praying and have no record of any Lucius Traveler. The marines also have no record of a Colonel Jack Fessender. In other words, somebody wrote a lie because they wanted to get you pissed off at the ACLU.

As an added precaution, I went to the ACLU's website. Sure enough, they had nothing on marines and absolutely no mention of even being bugged by people praying. In fact, on their religion page, most of the cases they were involved in were defending people who were being denied their rights to pray, preach or sing God' praises. One case involved a little girl who had wanted to sing "Awesome God" in the school talent show. Overzealous administrators feared this would be construed as supporting a particular religion and banned the song. The ACLU jumped in on the side of the girl who was ultimately allowed to sing it. They went to court in defense of a street preacher in New Mexico (as well as others in Nevada and Washington) arrested for preaching in the streets, arguing that they had the right to do so. They also supported a Christian inmate in Rhode Island who had been banned from preaching.

Funny, huh?

I don't know why some folks get so worked up about the ACLU – I mean, their stated goal is not to go after God – they defend religious freedoms pretty consistently. Their stated goal is to defend the constitution of the United States, to make sure it is not abused and people are not denied their constitutional rights. Radical concept, I know, but a lot of folks get all bent out of shape by the constitution.

Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of folks think the ACLU is getting God out of our schools because they don't like school led prayer. But they didn't write that part about separation of church and state. That was the founding fathers (some of whom – like John Adams – were not Christian). And don't even get me on the "In God We Trust" or the "Under God" stuff – that was NOT the founding fathers. In God We Trust was added during the Civil War to make people think God was on the side of the North. Under God was added to the pledge (which originally did not have it) in the 1950's to contrast us with the Soviets. In other words, political use of the divine name.

But that's a topic for another day.