The crack in the coconut

They say that as a person ages, the short term memory fades and the long term memory sharpens. I forget why.

I remember hearing while still in grade school that it was against the law to pray in school anymore. Prior to that, I remember the teacher leading the class in the pledge of allegiance and a short prayer. I assume it was addressed to the God I was familiar with but I can’t recall any content or if it was closed with “in Jesus’ Name” or not. What pains me at this moment is that I had to look up “allegiance” in Webster’s.

When I looked up Madeline Murray O’hair (no, it’s not O’Hare) I saw that the lawsuit was won in 1963. That would put me in junior high. So much for long term memory. But I was close, sort of.

When I’ve reflected on her victory, I’ve seen it as a single-handed one. Mom, the Republican, and Dad, the Democrat, both “straight ticket” voters, were bonded in Christianity as well as marriage. If something or someone threatened their prized freedoms of religion or speech, verbal fur flew — ususally from their political platforms. I don’t remember hearing anything out of either of them regarding a woman’s efforts to sterilize the public schools according to her personal chosen lack of religion or that that choice was her right.

Did they not take her seiously because she was seen as a single voice? Were they so complacent in their WWII victory and their own upbringing that they considered her to be up against an immovable giant of public opinion and would go down in flames? Did the nation laugh at her because she was “just” a woman? We won’t go there.

She found the crack in the coconut. The nation stood stunned, speechless at the sight of the pieces of their familiar world on the ground. Since then various groups have taken up the cause to reverse the decision with no success so far. By the way, was that a judicial decision or a legislative decision? I’m pretty sure it was a Supreme Court decision ultimately and if I remember correctly, FDR did some fancy liberal court stuffing.

I may be looking at this far too simply, but I side with the theory that my constitutional right to religion, particularly in a public setting was denied rather than defined. I have the constitutional right to say that.

I don’t remember anyone speaking up prior to the decision to eliminate my choice to pray on school property. I don’t remember feeling the need to do so until I was told I couldn’t.

What else have we lost in the name of other people’s rights without exercising our own right to express our opinions? What else will disappear if no one speaks out?

To all that are offended by the Judeo-Christian holidays and the celebrations thereof — we all have the freedom OF religion, not the freedom FROM it.

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