There are various approaches to pamphleteering on the Internet.  Most of us are familiar with how bloggers spread their views.  A different approach, however, is by its nature more obscure.  That is the commenter who posts the same long and detailed comment everywhere he can.

The first time I saw such a comment I was sort of flattered and amazed.  Who would do so much work just to refute me?  Fortunately, my curiosity worked against such an ego trip.  Taking advantage of the wonders of Google I did a search.  Sure enough, I had no particular reason to feel so flattered.   😦

The last such pamphleteering comment on my little website came from Doug Indeap (see here) on this post, AN EXCUSE TO BE OFFENDED .  Here is a list of some of the places Indeap has posted variations of or a portion of the same comment.

While Doug Indeap’s comment is carefully reasoned, it is not well reasoned.  What follows is an explanation of why I hold that opinion.

For starters, please take the time to read Is God Relevant in the Public Square? I think you will find this post well worth the effort. Is God Relevant in the Public Square? considers the alternative options we have for dealing with the subject of faith in the public square.  With Option #3, Is God Relevant in the Public Square? offers our nation’s traditional solution.

This third option is the one for which Guinness argues. In such a public square, all faiths (and non-faiths) are welcome. In such a public square, persuasion is used, not coercion.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this third option is what Doug Indeap advocates.  If you look at the video I posted on AN EXCUSE TO BE OFFENDED , it is about a 75 year old cross.  Presumably Indeap viewed the video.  The cross he thinks violates his religious freedom is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get in the lower 48 states.  Nonetheless, Indeap still (albeit politely) takes exception to this so-called promotion of religion by government — even though veterans paid for this 75 year old cross.

Indeap either too much fears or reviles any evidence of God in the public square. Perhaps Indeap confuses secular government with the secularization of the public square.  There is a clear difference.

Because we are self-aware, we are inherently religious creatures.  Because we think, we wonder why.  How did we come to be?  Although our search is too often aimless, many of us live much of our lives in a quest to know the answer.  We debate, we argue, and sometimes we fight over our differing conclusions.

What history has too often demonstrated is that a politically powerful faction will often try to use government to enforce its religious views upon everyone else.  In spite of the 1st Amendment, the United States is no exception.  In our era, many, particularly many of our elites, have no use for religion.  Thus the citizenry must be vigilant against secularism.  To ensure each of us can practice our own particular religious beliefs (both in private and in public), we must stand up for each other’s right to practice religion.  As a People we must ensure our government leaders do not abuse their powers to either stifle one religion or to promote another.

Forced secularization of the public square is the stifling of religious belief. Look at Arlington Cemetery.  Would you have the Christian crosses and the Jewish stars expunged from the tombstones?  Would you have the crosses removed?  Would you deface the image of Christ?  Look at what the secularists demand.  The majority religion of the United States is Christianity; that the secularists would have us forget.  Christian belief is integral to our history, but the secularists say no way.  Christianity is at the foundation of both our culture and our method of government, but the secularists insist it never was.

Without Christianity, could the United States exist as we know it?  If you were educated only in the public schools, you may think the answer is yes.  However, without Christianity, we would not have religious freedom in the United States.  Look at at the Declaration of Independence.  God is where it all began.

To secularize the public square is to insist we deny and ignore the truth of our nation’s origins.   Secularization creates  an unsupportable fantasy.  What was the Founder’s objective?  Did they create a secular government to protect or to deny the practice of religious belief?

We cannot give into the secularization of the public square.  If we continue giving ground, not just our government, but we too, including our families and our children, must become more and more secularized.  Yet when he argues for the secularization of the public square, that is what Indeap risks advocating.


  1. You like that “trifles” part of Madison’s commentary, I gather (though realize he used the Latin phrase). It is the part, after all, where he suggests a way to let some things slide, even though they are contrary to the Constitution.

    You seem to be overlooking his larger points though: 1. Government actions like Congress’s appointment of chaplains for the House and Senate and army and navy and the Executive’s religious proclamations recommending thanksgivings and fasts are NOT CONSISTENT with the Constitution. 2. They should NOT be regarded as legitimate precedent of what the Constitution means or allows. 3. If we somehow fail to end or prevent such actions, RATHER THAN let them have the effect of legitimate precedent, it will be better to confine their ill effects by resort to some handy Latin legalisms–observing that the law does not concern itself with trifles or classing the actions as faults proceeding either from negligence or from the imperfection of our nature. He is not suggesting a way to legitimize these and similar government actions–exactly the opposite. He is suggesting how we can hold our noses and allow these particular unconstitutional actions to persist without according them any legitimacy or precedential effect–so they should have no influence whatever on how we regard future government actions, except perhaps to stand as examples of mistakes to avoid.


  2. Doug Indeap — Yes, Madison did say quite a bit, and in the one quote you provide, he speaks of trifles.

    The courts have become a much bigger deal than the Founders ever intended. On issues of this sort, no one can ever work out a perfect compromise. Yet compromises are what is required, and courts perform poorly on issues such as these.

    It is much like using a hammer to kill a fly. Until you start putting holes in the walls and busting the furniture, the fly is a trifle. After that, the trifle becomes a symbol of bad judgment.

    With respect to issues like this, the appropriate instrument is a legislative body, which on occasion serves as a worthy flyswatter. At least, when they start poking holes in the walls and busting the furniture, their constituents can vote them out of office.

    Most people really don’t like discrimination based upon creed, and judges are just like most people — except we do not elect them.


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