Wednesday, June 01, 2005

ICLU Makes Smart Choice...then Stupid One

Just when I had so many nice things to say about the Indiana Civil Liberties Union last week, this morning’s news reports they’ve filed a federal lawsuit asking to bar the Indiana State House of Representatives from opening their sessions with a daily prayer. According to the ICLU’s legal director, the case doesn’t technically seek to bar prayer but asks that prayers be non-sectarian and if possibly, non-Christian specific. In other words, prayers would include no Jesus, preferably no asking for forgiveness, no references to blood, communion or saviors, and quite possibly, no father, son and holy ghost. They say they only want to stop prayers that are wildly proselytizing but I’m not sure how you legislate what chaplains do or do not say. I realize it takes time to prepare a thorough lawsuit and this has probably been in the works for a while, but why, oh why, when the ICLU has had such great press in the past couple of weeks, do they need to aggressively pursue useless causes.

One would think their legal department was busy enough doing the much needed work of protecting the civil rights of Indiana citizens like the couple fighting Judge Bradford’s anti-pagan divorce degree or those disenfranchised by the voter ID bill. (I generally think their work in striking copies of the ten commandments from public buildings is fine although I think they’re wrong in the Goshen case as it seem to fit the appeals court’s requirements they be displayed with other historical documents.) They’ve been getting so much good and useful press lately that even moderates like myself have felt they were on the right track. So, why do they feel they need to actively generate press by going after a tradition that, while some attorneys could argue it’s technically wrong, is a long-standing custom. It’s the antagonistic equivalent of the ACLU filing a suit against the Department of Treasury to have “In God We Trust” removed from US currency.

Organizations like the ICLU exist to protect the rights of citizens when no one else will. Let’s hope they keep doing that good work instead of spending useless time and money fighting fights that make no difference to the average citizen and appear contrived only to get headlines.

More on the story from the IndyStar as, as usual, excellent coverage from Doug Masson.

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