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–