Judge tosses suit against religious camp for youth

As reported by Blake Nicholson of the Associated Press in the Christian Post, a federal judge in North Dakota threw out a lawsuit against the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch which had been filed by atheists and agnostics.  The ranch has ties to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation joined with a handful of North Dakotans in filing the suit to object to at-risk youth being sent by state agencies to attend the camp, which receives government money.

Although the camp stated that it keeps funding for the religious part of their program separate from the part that requires government money, the filers of the suit argued that any group receiving government funds should not be indoctrinating children and should not be getting referrals from the state.  The judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not have sufficient grounds for a lawsuit because an organization’s receipt of tax funds was not enough grounds to challenge the actions of the state agencies.

I, personally, don’t agree with atheistic/agnostic organizations who are hell-bent on stomping out any references whatsoever to God, but I understand part of their concern based on my knowledge of history.  Many religious people throughout history have sought to force people to bow down to their religious views, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or pagan, using the government as their tool.  When the Donatists separated from the Roman Catholic Church out of concern for spiritual purity when Constantine’s focus was unity, Constantine used his political power in an attempt to force the Donatists back into Roman Catholicism.  He issued an order in 317 AD to forcibly take away the property of the Donatists and to exile their leaders.

Augustine continued Constantine’s policies and went so far as to encourage the killing of Donatists and any dissenter who disagreed with his belief that salvation is only through the sacraments. 

Then the Protestant John Calvin came on the scene and abused his power to force his religious views in Geneva, Switzerland.  Calvin completely rejected the idea of Christ’s second coming to rule from Jerusalem and felt it was the church’s function to establish Christ’s reign by it’s own efforts by force, if necessary.  As leader of Geneva’s City Council, he made it mandatory for all citizens to attend church, ordered home visits to question people about their personal lives, told them what they could or could not wear in public and private, banned books he didn’t like, and made it illegal to speak against himself or any clergyman.  Violators faced punishments ranging from reprimands to fines to floggings to imprisonment to banishment and, in many cases, death.  Even though he spoke against the tyranny of the papacy, Calvin brandished his own style of tyranny.  He preached grace, but his actions were very ungracious and unmerciful.

Then, of course, there was Mohammed and his followers who went throughout northern Africa and Asia to force people to submit to his pagan god, Allah.  Those who resisted Islam (submission) had their property taken, rights violated, and were put to death.

So maybe these God-haters have a valid point.  But I imagine that if they reach their ultimate goal of wiping out any resemblance of God, they would become the new tyrants and would impose themselves as the religious zealots who preceded them did.

–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–

6 thoughts on “Judge tosses suit against religious camp for youth

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  1. Hi, Harry

    Informative,if discouraging post. I guess the bottom line is what Jesus said, that His kingdom wasn’t of this world. If we try to make it so, we only bring disaster. Of course, it doesn’t exactly work well to have the atheists in charge, either, does it?

    I’m looking forward to the second coming big time.

    God bless,

    Cindy

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  2. Hi, Cindy

    Thanks for your comments. I look forward to the second coming also. It always amazes me how some Christians like Calvin may start off with noble ideals, but then they somehow get sidetracked and make things worse. I guess that only reveals the importance of keeping our trust in the Lord.

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  3. The problem was that children who were sent to this group home were required to go to chapel and receive an hour of religious (exclusively christian) instruction every week. If they objected or refused to take part, they were isolated from their peers and possibly confined to their rooms. Imagine the tables turned, and the government was providing funding to a wiccan run group home. Let’s say your child got sent there, and you’ve raised your child a christian. Imagine further that this group home/treatment facility requires your child to attend witch’s sabbat and receive one hour of wiccan instruction a week, and if they object or refuse they are isolated, stripped of privileges, and possibly they could end up staying there longer because they’re not cooperating with their treatment.

    I can’t imagine that scenario would go over at all well. It’s a slippery slope for the government to start funding religious groups. Also, for religion to mean anything, it should be voluntary. It’s possible that coercion of this kind has lost more followers of your religion than it has gained.

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation don’t hate god, they just don’t believe he exists, and they have a history of fighting efforts to pass any particular religion’s ideas into law or promoting them by way of federal assistance. They don’t go into churches and tell people to stop worshiping or that they shouldn’t be christians. They simply feel that the government has to be separated from religion in order to be fair to everyone.

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  4. Anna,

    I agree that government should stay out of people’s religion although I think it’s fine for people of faith to serve in public office as long as they don’t use their position to force their religion on others. You’re right–how a person chooses to worship or not to worship should be voluntary.

    The reason I said the Freedom From Religion Foundation hates God is because denying his existence when he has given proof of his existence is akin to hating him. For instance, if you worked on a large project at your place of employment and completed the project with success, but you weren’t acknowledged and/or someone else took credit for your accomplishments, what would that tell you about your co-workers? It would probably give a clear message to you that those people had a strong dislike for you or just downright hated you. That’s kinda how it is when people say God doesn’t exist.

    Ultimately, I think referring kids to these types of programs lays the foundation for people who use religion in harmful ways to have an avenue of influence. I say this having primarily Islam in mind with attempts of its followers to lean toward establishing sharia law or Roman Catholicism with its pedophilic leaders looking for easy access to vulnerable kids. This is why I think Bush’s faith-based initiatives are nothing but a Trojan horse that may used in a negative way in the future.

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  5. I guess I can’t equate indifference with hate. I can respect the religious views of others, but I ask in turn that they respect my feelings on the matter. I would never dream of giving someone a hard time for believing in god, which is why it’s so frustrating when someone gives me a hard time for NOT believing in god. Maybe we’ll never agree, but I’m not going to discriminate against you because we disagree.

    I agree with you in a different spirit on the matter of the legislation being a trojan horse. I think it will prove to be a mistake to have faith-based funding from the federal government. It should never have been put into use, because it leads to allowing religious indoctrination. If people want their kids to be brought up in their religion, fine, but don’t set up programs where it’s done on an institutional level with help from the executive branch. I dislike the idea of children being held captive and taught religious beliefs. It undermines the whole concept of free will at an age where they are impressionable.

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  6. Anna,

    Your views should be respected based on the fact you don’t want to discriminate against those who don’t share your views and you’re not in favor of ridding altogether from society people’s freedoms to worship God as long is it is not in a government-sponsored forum.

    However, there are those who are agnostic/atheist who would tend toward overzealousness in your causes in much the same way those who have been overzealous in favor of their religious misconceptions. If they were to win in ridding all references to any god in the public arenas, there are some in your ranks who would not be satisfied with just that and would then move forward to do things such as reforming zoning laws so that their children would not have to see a church on their way to or from school. There have also been attempts to prevent students from forming their own Bible clubs in schools. Then there would also be attempts to sue public libraries to force them to remove all religious books from their shelves or for those libraries to block access to religious websites on their computers.

    You may be a moderate, but there are always people in groups and organized associations who tend to go overboard in their opinions.

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