Ceremonial Deism - HORSEFEATHERS!


“In God we trust” and “one nation under God” and similar things are just “ceremonial deism” and in no way endorse or establish a particular religion or religion in general.

The heathens are making a big to-do about nothing. It’s insignificant ceremony so we can all agree to just let it be, right? Look at the silly heathens making a big deal out of nothing.

[Never mind the fact that, oddly, you bothered to show up at the courthouse to defend an alleged triviality.]


“In God we trust” and “one nation under God” and similar things are evidence that the US is, in fact, Christian. It’s an expression of the core principles of a nation. Some people want to erase His name from everything this country’s all about!

Exhibit 1

Pray in private. Pray out in public for all anyone cares. Wear your crosses and other junk wherever you want. Just don’t ask the government to sponsor and market your nonsense!

Um… I don’t recall which state Senator Rio represents. Or is it Congressman Rio?

Rio, by King Diamond?

Dude, i happen to agree that, no matter what the Supreme Court argues, ceremonial deism is thinly-disguised state sponsorship of religion. I’ve never heard an argument in favor of it that i find in any way compelling in a society that claims to maintain a separation between church and state.

But i’m not sure what that has to do with the beliefs and the songs of some mediocre country music band. The fact that these guys believe in God, and have written a song proclaiming that America still believes, doesn’t really have much to do with ceremonial deism. I agree that instances like this demonstrate that terms like “In Gopd We Trust” do have fairly specific religious meaning for many Americans, but it wasn’t Diamond Rio that put the words on the money.

Look, there are plenty of people in the United States who believe in God. There is also a large number who firmly believe that America should be, explicitly and officially, a Christian nation. The framers of the Constitution didn’t separate church and state because they thought that religion was unimportant; to the contrary, they advocated against establishment of religion precisely because they knew what an important force religion was in the new nation.

The presence of some people in America who want this to be a formally Christian nation is not somehow a contradiction of church/state separation. The separation is there precisely so those people don’t get to have their way. If anyone’s to blame for ceremonial deism, it’s the sophists on the Supreme Court who marshaled such a ridiculous defense of state-sponsored religious forms.

Ceremonial deism, if carefully practiced and tightly restricted, seems a perfectly good compromise so far as I am concerned. If someone sneezes, I am likely to say “God bless!”, I see no reason to preface that blessing with a lenghty expanation of my somewhat vague theological opinions. If such minor ceremonial niceities witll mollify some of our more anxious citizens, sure, why not?

But it must be carefully watched, and carefully respected as the compromise that it is, it must be closely guarded, lest it cease to be a mutual accomodation for the sake of comfort and slide down the slope toward theocracy. But it can be done. All it requires is a shrug and a bit of good will. I can do that.

I blame it on Rio.

Catchy tune, but the lyrics need a little work. Still, I’m surprised that you were able to find something on YouTube that bothered you. I thought it was supposed to be a pristine place of goodness and light.

We may still trust in God but we really believe in auto-tune.

Singing is a dead art form.

and what a lousy group of images! They don’t illustrate the song very well at all.

Oh and Bearflag? FUCK YOU! You made me listen to that shitty song. You owe me a blow job.

They just want to preserve that special place for God enshrined for him in the Constitution. It’s the evil atheists who are trying to take God out of the Constitution. We won’t stand for that!

I’m not completely sure of the relevance of this. Do you not agree that how an act of “Ceremonial Deism” is perceived is relevant to the discussion of the appropriateness of the concept of “Ceremonial Deism” generally?

Now, were we talking about a specific piece of legislation, such as a period of silent contemplation at the start of the school day, I would think it relevant to look to the legislative history, and see if Senator or Congressman Rio had, in his speech, made a comment that this was only being called a period of silent contemplation because of the communists in the court houses, and its purpose was really to allow people to worship the Almighty.

But that isn’t what we have here. With Ceremonial Deism, it is absolutely relevant how something is generally perceived. And this contribution from young Mr. Rio is relevant evidence that, despite the Court’s rulings that “In God We Trust” on coins, for example, is mere window dressing, in the minds of many people it is far more than that, and is, instead, an assertion that the United States is a Christian Nation. If it is viewed that way, it undercuts the rationale of the Court permitting it.

I’ll settle for the cash equivalent. Erections have consequences.

Someone posted it on Facebook and I found it irksome! I’m IRKED.

Nice to meet you, IRKED. I’m John.

Yes. This is one example undercutting the notion of ceremony… AND it’s bad country music [redundant]. The fact the someone posted it on Facebook and others “liked” it are Exhibits 2 and 3.

There is an argument to be made from the other side. If one is anti-ecumenical, these ‘generic’ prayers and rites are ESPECIALLY offensive.

And why would one be anti-ecumenical? Well, if one is actually a member of the “One True Faith”, these fawnings and scrapings so as to not offend the ‘group religion’ are heretical, if not blasphemous. (remember that pesky Commandment about having no other Gods?)

Makes for weird bedfellows in legal challenges, like when the ACLU lawyer gets an ‘attaboy’ from the Pillar of Fire Repentance Tabernacle folks.

You’re not our government.

Because it’s unconstitutional. You know what else will “mollify some of our more anxious citizens”? Keeping people who aren’t white in separate classrooms, restaurants, and other facilities from whites. Not allowing same-sex couples to have the same rights and responsibilties as mixed-sex ones.

Bigots don’t deserve consideration.

Actually, it seems to me that, even if you aren’t an anti-ecumenical believer, there’s something potentially offensive about the whole thing.

After all, a considerable part of the rationale for allowing such phrases is that they have, through consistent use and repetition, essentially lost any of their religious meaning and have become little more than meaningless slogans. I think many religious folks would be at least somewhat uncomfortable with that idea.

How is someone wanting “In God we trust” on our money being a bigot?

But you do have a point about that being as bad as enforced segregation…

I’d argue it is constitutionally as bad as enforced segregation. The effects aren’t as bad, but the violation, IMHO, is.

Mine is a rather more modest suggestion, which you are exaggerating out of all possible proportion.

The operative word is “ceremonial”. Which is to say, as a matter of public poetry, an intonation that underlines the gravity of the ritual, and nothing more.

IME, people arguing in favor of keeping “ceremonial” deism are almost exclusively anti-atheist.


luci, you’re *calling *it “ceremonial,” and I’m saying that *in practice *it’s anything but. Just as segregation was *theoretically *“separate but equal.”