Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 12, 2014 / 12 Iyar, 5774

Church 5, State 4

By Paul Greenberg




JewishWorldReview.com | The First Amendment won one this week before the Supreme Court of the United States -- by one vote. The close vote in the case brought to mind the old story about the corporate board of directors that approved a resolution wishing its CEO a speedy and complete recovery from his heart attack -- by a vote of 9 to 8.

This should have been a simple case and the outcome obvious from the start. But before the justices could do the right thing in a free country, they had to go through an intense and protracted debate. Only then did they uphold the First (and most basic) Amendment, the one that both protects the free exercise of religion and prohibits the government from establishing a religion of its own.

But it took the closest of votes for the court to reach that self-evident conclusion and agree that, yes, people should be allowed to pray as they wished before meetings of a town council in Greece, N.Y. That's the perilous legal status of free speech, and freedom of religion, in 2014 America.

The only surprise here was that a court which begins its every session with a prayer, "G0D save the United States and this honorable court," should have had any trouble reaching such a decision.

But the four dissenters in this case objected mightily to the court's conclusion. To quote the dissenting opinion of Her Honor Elena Kagan, letting folks pray as they wish -- rather than utter some safe, government-approved, generically nonsectarian prayer that wouldn't offend anybody -- would violate the Constitution's ban on government's establishing a religion.

Yes, that's the same Constitution which ends by noting that it was written and approved "by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven...."

Delicious. For connoisseurs of irony, the dissenting opinions in this case are a veritable banquet.

Anthony M. Kennedy, who has succeeded Sandra Day O'Connor as the court's swing vote, gave short shrift to "reasoning" like Justice Kagan's, noting that "government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech. Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own G0D or G0Ds as conscience dictates, unfettered by what an administrator or judge considers to be nonsectarian." Amen.

Mr. Justice Kennedy seems to be under the impression that he is living in a free country, and that freedom of speech does not stop where freedom of religion begins. In short, government has no business putting words in a citizen's mouth, whether he is delivering a political opinion or a prayer. In either case, let freedom ring. That's the genius of the First Amendment, which is all of a piece. It makes no exception to freedom of speech if it's religious speech, which can no more be censored in this country than any other kind, thank G0D.

And the result has been a great success. Thanks to the First Amendment, this country has nurtured one of the most religiously fervent yet religiously tolerant societies in the world. We've been able to achieve that feat because courts and legislatures have kept their hands off religion -- rather than decree just how much of it to allow.



A Frenchman named de Tocqueville, the eloquent observer and analyst of "Democracy in America," which was the title of his still highly relevant study of that subject back in the 1830s, noted that both "the spirit of liberty" and the "spirit of religion" have not only co-existed in this New World but thrived in conjunction with each other. Because each has kept a respectful distance from the other.

But in Europe, where church and state were joined, they became bitter antagonists -- and their mutual enmity a threat to the public peace. Which is why each should leave the other very much alone. It's also why the Supreme Court of the United States shouldn't be vetting the prayers offered by citizens before a town council meeting in upstate New York, and deciding which are constitutionally kosher and which aren't. Like some kind of secular sanhedrin. Talk about an unholy spectacle.

The innocent citizens offering those prayers aren't public officials setting down the law or speaking for the State. Indeed, they may be speaking to it as well as to their own G0D, and they have every right, even duty, to speak as their own conscience dictates.

If their prayer, their free exercise of religion, offends others, there's another part of the First Amendment that would seem to cover that eventuality, even probability, in a free country. It's the part of the amendment that guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. Those who object to the contents of a prayer offered at a public meeting, or even to a prayer's being offered at all, can express their objections in public, too. By making a statement of their own, or writing a letter to the editor. Rather than trying to gag the rest of us. It's the American way.

Let everybody have their say -- and their own prayers. This is called tolerance, and it's the mark of a society that is both free and stable. No society ever prospered by suppressing either different opinions or different prayers. However tempted the Supreme Court of the United States may be to decide which prayers are acceptable and which aren't, it is a temptation no court -- or any other political body -- should yield to in a free society. Which is why this week's decision upholding the First Amendment, even if only by one vote, is a decision to cheer.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast