Category Archives: 1980’s

Seven decade tug-of-war between organized religion and the 1st Amendment

Nobody paid a lot of attention to issues of the ‘Separation of Church and State’ between Reynolds v. the United States in 1789 [upholding federal bigamy laws], and Everson v. The Board of Education, 1947 ruling it was okay for Catholic parents to be reimbursed for sending their kids to Catholic schools on buses, same as for public school kids using buses.

Those of us who attended public schools prior to Engels v. Vitale in 1962 managed to survive prayers coming over the intercom each morning without any permanent damage and the only eyebrows raised were in response to boredom.   In one school I attended, popular kids were selected each day to give the prayers and they seemed to compete with one another to add dramatic emphasis, but generally I’d count it all harmless.

Around that time Madalyn Murray O’Hair entered the picture and atheists became militant and vocal.   Maybe it was something in the water.    The Murray v. Curlett Supreme Court decision in 1963 ending religious study in public schools became a harbinger for a long series of religion versus state legal battles.

Maybe it was the times…. the fact is, a person declaring himself to be an atheist prior to the 1960s would have been asking for all manner of difficulties.   My granddad got a visit from the FBI out on his hardscrabble farm around 1953, because one of his neighbors reported he was an ‘atheistic Communist’.   In those times that was serious invective indeed.

But though I’ve spent almost all my adult life not subscribing to any organized religion, which in some circles damns me as an atheist, I’ve often thought the church/state religious battles that emerged to the US Supreme Court were mostly petty embarrassments.     If those were the worst infringements accusers could come up with insofar as the separation of church and state, it would have been better left alone than hold them up as evidence atheists were a lot of nit-picking whiners about nothing.

But that’s roughly what we’re left with.    Lawsuits filed, court time wasted about nativity scenes on courthouse lawns and plaques containing the Ten Commandments.

Ironically, now we see the Christian fundamentalists trying to establish a foothold as a state religion to protect the US from Islamics and scary Sharia Law.    While splinter groups of Mormons drift back into polygamy and assortments of Asian religious establishments creep into suburbia.

Keeping in mind that no legal battle arrives at the door of SCOTUS until it’s been through lower courts and appeal courts.    So the list below really doesn’t convey just how much legal time and money has found its way into the pockets of lawyers as a consequence of the determination of people who don’t want religion anywhere in their lives, and those who want their own religion to be implied as valid by display at public expense:

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
(arranged by date)

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that the federal antibigamy statute does not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state’s attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
1) the government action must have a secular purpose;
2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;
3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State’s moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987)

Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of “creation science” in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City’s ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html

If you believe this isn’t over yet, you are probably correct.   Because even though religious affiliation in the US is evidently dropping somewhat rapidly, the strength of the fundamentalist right, the Latter Day Saints, the Jews, and the Islamics is gaining, rather than losing momentum.

There’s cause to suspect we’ll see at least another half century before any of the parties involved are powerless.    It’s a crapshoot who will be the last man standing.

Old Jules

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Ferry tales

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits.  Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service].  Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle.  Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters.  Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam.  I'm betting these guys had better sense than to reinlist.

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits. Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service]. Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle. Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters. Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam. I’m betting these guys had better sense than to reenlist.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Camp Howze, Korea, 1963, 1964.  I was standing in a chow line almost certainly with one of the guys in this picture waiting for breakfast.  A twelve-year-old Korean lad came down the line selling Stars and Stripes newspapers, yelling, “Lots of Japs killed!  Hurrah!  Lots of Japs killed!

Koreans still savored a deep hatred for Japanese in those days.  Having your mamas and grandmamas raped more-or-less whenever the mood hit for a few decades probably does that.  At least when the rapers are of a particular nationality.  [I’ve wondered whether East Germans don’t feel some of that toward the Rooskies because of their grannies during the retreat from the Eastern Front].

Anyway, it was a ferry disaster of some sort carrying Japanese passengers.  The first time I recall ever paying any mind to ferries and the associated dangers.

But over the decades I’ve certainly heard about a lot of them.  I suspect a risk assessment involving frequent use of ferries would reveal it to be more dangerous than airliners, trains or busses.  Not to say I haven’t ridden on a lot of them.

But on a ferry going between [I think] Newport News, RI, and Long Island, a nuclear attack submarine surfaced next to our ferry almost close enough to touch.  We assumed at the time the submarine commander was perfectly aware of the ferry.  By hindsight, though, I’m brought to wonder whether he had to go change his shorts when our presence and proximity came to his attention.

A person used to be able to pay once to get on the Statin Island Ferry and ride it back and forth all night, which I did a good many times.  Near misses with smaller craft were relatively common and a source of amusement for the ferry passengers.

I was on a ferry to one of the outer banks islands of Georgia, or North Carolina once when it hit something hard enough to jangle the eye-teeth of everyone aboard.  Never heard what it was, but none of the passengers were laughing.

Which is to say, life’s full of surprises and ferries have the potential for providing new ones.

I don’t recall when I began carrying a couple of hundred feet of small diameter 200 pound test rope with me in my luggage when I travelled.  But I do recall it was a decision I made watching people diving out of the windows of burning multi-story buildings on the news.  A bit of rope, I observed, would have saved a lot of them by allowing them to get off the upper floors and beneath the fires.

If I had to ride a ferry every day I’d probably decide an inflatable camp pillow would provide a nice place to sit on those hard ferry benches.  One person aboard protected by one inflatable pillow would remove the temptation those vessels wave around in front of the Coincidence Coordinators inviting disaster.

Old Jules

 

 

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

IMG_2234

Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

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!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

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Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

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Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

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The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

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The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

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This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

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Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

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The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

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The Dugout

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The importance of being insignificant

N90172a

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to visit Fort Hood.  The First Cavalry Division [my old unit in Korea] was to stage massive war games and tank maneuvers and culminate the affair with a chemical substitute for a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon.  Because the President was going to be there, FAA closed down the airspace over Fort Hood for civilian air traffic.

Pissed my old buddy Phil Washburn  

Afterlife of One Hero – Sex, Violence and Crazy Love

  and me off something awful.  We were taxpaying citizens.  Who the hell did they think they were telling people they couldn’t fly around not bothering anyone watching how our tax dollars were being spent?

So when the day arrived we gassed up the old Cessna …. 100+ F on the runway, and began the long climb outside the forbidden airspace.  Burned up a lot of avgas and an hour getting up to 8000-9000 MSL.  Clear day though, and the temperature became comfortable somewhere above 5000′.

We circled at the edge of the airspace boundary watching the specks of gathered tanks and massed troops a few miles to the north waiting for the show to start.  Suddenly, hundreds of roostertails of dust obscured miles of landscape as the tanks charged forward.  Then the sky below us filled with helicopters.  Wow!  Wowowowowow!

I gradually eased us north until we were almost over the action, but still far enough south so’s we weren’t trying to see straight down, kept circling.  Powered back enough to hold the altitude, savor the cool, and watch what a major wartime battle must be like viewed from the air.

Finally, toward the north beyond all the tanks the substitute battlefield nuke sent up a heluva pile of smoke and fire into the sky, rising rising rising until we were looking up at the top.  It kept rising.

Turn off the lights.  The party’s over.  The roostertails behind the tanks had all faded, everyone down there was taking a break, having a drink of orange KoolAid or something, we reckoned.  The helicopters were headed away where ever helicopters go when the shooting stops.

Time for us to get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge before the high sheriff and POLice come gunning for us.

I pointed us back toward the Killeen airport and as we neared the edge of forbidden territory I shut down the engine, pulled up the nose to stop the propeller windmilling.  The old Cessna had a 20:1 glide ratio, so we were a long while circling over the airport just listing to the whisper of the wind over the surfaces of the plane.

I’d intended to push the nose down to re-start the engine when I got on final approach, but I’d never landed dead-stick and figured this was as good a time as any to do it.  Got the numbers and came to a dead stop 50 feet beyond them, restarted the engine and taxied over to the FBO under the admiring stares of everyone who never landed an airplane dead stick on a public air strip. 

Naturally we did a lot of bragging at the FBO, and a lot of people were shaking their heads in various attitudes of disapproval, horror, and awe.

Hell of a fine day to be an outlaw.   I recommend it.

Old Jules

On Civil Disobedience

N90172a

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

In 1983, after I’d been parking my old Cessna 140 at the Georgetown, Texas airport for several years I was suddenly the focus of a lot of questions from other pilots.

Gene [the fixed base operator] says you don’t have a pilots license.”  Boiled down, that was the question.  “He says he’s going to turn you in to the FAA.” 

I could see this might cause a problem.  I’d logged 500 hours pilot-in-command in my old 1947 Cessna, but I’d never been signed off for solo flight by a flight instructor.  I’d flown from Texas to Savanna, Georgia and back sleeping under the wing, carried passengers, chased cows, but I had never jumped through the hoops required by the FAA to become a licensed pilot.

Now someone had ratted me out.  No  way Gene could have found out about this unless someone dropped the dime on me, and anyone who told him did it knowing he was a sniveling rat who’d turn in his mother for a burned out license tag light just for the feel good.

Whew.  Going legal was never part of my program.  It was a complication and it would lead to other complications of legalities I’d been ignoring.  Getting annual inspections on my plane every year, for instance.

A guy named Tom Dixon, whom I’d done some scary flying things with had recently gotten his instructor ticket, so I got him to sign me off for solo flight, went through the various navigation requirements, hood time, studied the FAA manuals, took the written test.

I’ve told on another blog entry here somewhere about the FAA Flight Examiner in Austin who gave me my check ride.  About what he said when he examined my logbook.

But in the end I was a legal private pilot. 

As nearly as I could tell it didn’t make an iota of difference.

If I had to live my life over I suppose one of the few things I’d change would be learning to fly at an earlier age and never going legal.

Old Jules

Kings, Stings, Forgotten Stinks, Sungs and Stungs

Thanks, Mr. President
For all the things you’ve done
The battles that you’ve won
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton
We thank you so much

Before they decompose in the grader ditch.

Honest! It just fell!

The ugly?

A touch of class

That gall bladder used to be right THERE.

Mexican Standoff in Chinese

Tanked in China

A sobering night for Ted Kennedy, but Mary Jo couldn’t swim. He bounced back, though not so high as previously expected. She didn’t.

Tanked in Martha’s Vineyard

The song has ended but the malady lingers on

Tanked elsewhere.

When Cuba still seemed nearby

The Last Roundup

Who ARE these guys?

Party animals

Hi! I’m king.

El Guapo meets Godzilla

Last one on’s a rotten egg

The Presidential War’s over!  This helicopter’s destination is Panama, Grenada, El Salvadore, Kuwait, Iraq, last stop in Afghanistan!  Show your tickets.

Old Jules

Old Lyrics From One of my Favorite Song Writers

Red Grain Truck Blues – Jerry Sires circa 1975-1980

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.
It’s piled high to testify
that some farmer had a little luck.

I sure like to drive these country roads
even though they’re changing every day
but I always was kind of slow
and sometimes I just feel in the way.

In the city there’s people getting by
taking in each other’s dirty clothes.
Where the big cars and fine homes all come from
I guess nobody knows.

I wonder how long it can last
When the teeming billions watch and want theirs too.
it all has to come from the earth
and she’s about done all she can do.

You can almost hear her cry
You can almost hear her moan
as another garage door opener
is carved right from her bones,
but daddy needs a new golf cart
and mama needs a new suntan machine.
Oh Bobby wants a race car
and Sally wants a full sized movie screen.

You can almost hear her cry
You can almost hear her moan
when Singapore and Shanghai
want to refrigerate their homes.
Still, daddy needs a new golf cart
and mama needs a new suntan machine
Oh Bobby wants a race car
and Sally wants a full sized movie screen.

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.

http://www.jerrysires.com/Jsb/entrance.html