February 24, 1993, in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case: Lamb's Chapel and John
Steigerwald v. Center Moriches Union Free School District. A group of Christians wanted to
show a film after hours in a public facility. Apparently, religious hostility has reached
the point in this nation where, because the content of that film was deemed
"religious" by the State of N.Y., it posed a perceived danger sufficient to
warrant spending tax dollars to litigate a case of this nature all the way to the highest
court of the land. Mr. Justice Scalia questioned the attorney for the school board:
Question: you are here representing both respondents [the school board and the state of
N.Y.]... in this argument, and the Attorney General of N.Y., in his brief defending the
N.Y. rule says that...'Religious advocacy serves the community only in the eyes of its
adherent and yields a benefit only to those who already believe.' Does New York State--I
grew up in New York State and in those days they used to have a tax exemption for
religious property. Is that still there?
Counsel: Yes, your Honor it still is.
Question: But they've changed their view, apparently, that--
Counsel: Well, your Honor--
Question: You see--it used to be thought that religion--it didn't matter what religion,
but it--some code of morality always went with it and was thought that...what was called a
God-fearing person might be less likely to mug me and rape my sister. That apparently is
not the view of New York anymore.
Counsel: Well I'm not sure that that's --
Question: Has this new regime worked very well?
Keith A. Fournier, Quoted in Religious Cleansing in the
American Republic, American Center for Law and Justice.
The United Nations complex sits on sixteen acres of New York City's choicest real
estate, bordering the East River and Manhattan. The lean, immense Secretariat
building rises into the sky, the sun reflecting off its window walls. Bright flags of the
nations of the world fly in the breezes off the river; the most prominent is the blue and
white UN flag, its two white reeds of olive branches surrounding the world. A visitor is
immediately struck by the grandeur of the building, stirred by the sight of dignitaries
stepping out of black limousines to cross the massive plaza. He realizes that if this
place represents the powers of the world, one might well want to see the place of worship,
where the nations bow before the One under whose rule they govern. The information
personnel are bemused. "The chapel. We don't have a chapel. If there is one, I
believe it's across the street."
The visitor darts across the thoroughfare, dodging New York's taxis, and successfully
arrives at the opposite building's security-clearance desk.
"Well, there's a chapel here," responds the officer, "But it's not
associated with the UN." He thumbs through a directory. "Oh, I see, all right,
here it is. It's across the street--and tell them you're looking for the mediation
room." Again the visitor dashes across the pavement. An attendant tells him that the
room is not open to the public; it's a "nonessential area," and there has been a
personnel cutback. But a security guard will escort the visitor through long, crowded
hallways and swinging glass doors. Again, there is the pervasive sense of weighty matters
being discussed in the noble pursuit of world peace.
The guide pauses at an unmarked door. He unlocks it and gingerly pushes it open. The
small room is devoid of people or decoration. The walls are stark white. There are no
windows. A few wicker stools surround a large square rock at the center of the room. It is
very quiet. But there is no altar, rug, vase, candle, or symbol of any type of religious
worship. Ceiling lights create bright spots of illumination on the front wall. One focuses
on a piece of modern art: steel squares and ovals. Beyond the abstract shapes, there is
nothing in those bright circles of light. They are focused on a void. And it is in that
void that the visitor suddenly sees the soul of the brave new world.
Chuck Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, pp 182-3.
Statistics and Research
In "One Nation Under God," a statistical map of American religion, summarized
in the Nov 29 issue of Newsweek, Barry Kosmin and Seymour Lachman of the City University
of New York have assembled data from 113,000 respondents, by far the most comprehensive
random sample of detailed religious preference ever collected. The survey determined that
nearly 1/3 of the adult U.S. population (18 and over) is now "totally secular"
in its spiritual outlook! It also found that only 19 percent of adult Americans--about 36
million people--regularly practice their faith. The rest are described as "moderately
religious" (22 percent), "barely" or nominally religious (29 percent) and
agnostics and atheists (7.5 percent). The survey has an important message for the
religiously and politically conservative who are interested in reversing the downward
cultural spiral. It is unlikely that the 19 percent whose faith affects their lives and
world view can change the moral and social conditions of our country through political
Cal Thomas, 1993 Los Angeles Times Syndicate, quoting Newsweek,
Nov. 29, 1993, p. 82.
A Brookings Institution study condemns secularism as providing an inadequate foundation
for democracy in America. It was the first time the think tank had sponsored a study on
religion. Through religion, the study says, "human rights are rooted in the moral
worth with which a loving Creator has endowed each human soul, and social authority is
legitimized by making it answerable to transcendent moral law." The study rejects the
argument that strict separation of church and state is needed. "A society that
excludes religion totally from its public life, that seems to regard religion as something
from which public life must be protected, is bound to foster the impression that
religion is either irrelevant or harmful," the study says. Authored by James
Reichley, the three-year study came as a surprise to those accustomed to the Brookings
Institution's liberal bent on social issues. Reichley, a former editor of Fortune
magazine, is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Christianity Today, February 7, 1986.