What Part of “SEPARATION” of Church and State is So Hard to Comprehend?

As 2013 came to a crashing close, two items again demonstrated the total lack of comprehension of the concept of “Separation of Church and State” and how on one hand it is ignored by some politicians, while on the other hand, some totally misapply its meaning to their own advantage.

Prime examples of each extreme are today newsworthy, one on a national level that has the potential to affect perhaps more than 100 million Americans, and the other on a local level that impacts on the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County.


Sonoma Diet
The Seal of the County of Los Angeles was last re-designed in 2004 to make it a symbol that all county residents, regardless of their religious affiliation, or lack of one, could appreciate and proudly view on official documents, buildings, and at official county events. The change involved the removal of a Christian cross that had been a prominent part of the seal’s design. The change was made by a 3-2 vote of the LA County Board of Supervisors. That alone is scary, that 40% of the County’s ruling body would want to perpetuate the long-standing “establishment” of one religion over all others, by a local government.

What is much more scary is the motion jointly filed Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, by ultra-conservative republican supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich (who were the two “no” votes to the 2004 removal of the cross), to again re-do the county seal, this time by ADDING a new cross to the design. Their convoluted reasoning for such a revision is beyond belief. They argue that the change is needed, as when the last re-design was done in 2004, a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission was added to the seal, but that when the

specific likeness of the mission was prepared, the mission itself was undergoing a renovation and a cross that normally adorned the front of the structure had temporarily been removed. Hence, the seal’s depiction of the mission was mistakenly done without the cross.

Preposterous. The PURPOSE of the seal’s revision was to remove the original cross, as debate over the issue at the time clearly shows. In fact, the deciding vote cast by then Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was made despite considerable pressure on her from numerous African American religious leaders to keep the cross. To merely


Decorative Ceiling Tiles - From Plain to Beautiful in Hours

change one depiction of a cross to another would have been absurd.

Nationally, it was with great remorse that I heard that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor yesterday granted to one specific religious group a temporary exemption to the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires employer-provided health insurance to include coverage for contraception. The Justice gave the Colorado-based Little Sisters of the Poor the stay, pending arguments to be submitted by the government by Friday, after which presumably a temporary injunction would be considered until the full court considers the issue in hearings that likely will be held later this year in two other cases that involve this issue and that were accepted by the Court in November, 2013.


What Sotomayor has done, and what the plaintiffs in all of these cases are seeking to do, is NOT protect their own religious beliefs, but rather to impose their beliefs on other people, likely more than

100 million women, and quite possible another 100 million men who are affected by such a decision, denying health benefits to people who personally believe that this is NOT a religious issue, and certainly not one that should be governed by religious dogma.

What if the issue was not about Catholic nuns arguing against providing birth control, but rather (as I previously wrote here) about a Christian Scientist employer arguing that the insurance he provides his employees should not provide coverage for blood transfusions or that it should not cover prescriptions for diabetics to receive insulin?

Is there any difference in the argument? That answer is a resounding NO. the very same principle applies – employers cannot be allowed to impose THEIR religious beliefs on their employees, denying employees benefits to which they are otherwise entitled under the law, whether it is the Affordable Care Act or any other law.

About theHoundDawg

For many years as a lawyer, I saw much of the good and bad of society, and did what I could to right many wrongs. The lack of understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, as evidenced by such events as the election of King W as president, (who as such far surpassed the evil of richard nixon but not quite that of ronald reagan) lead me in a new direction, to spend my time trying to understand what is happening to our society, to try as best I can to spread my insights to others, and along the way to maybe even eke out a living through the internet.
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