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Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Can you separate

religion and state?

(Last week's topic was the constitutional issues surrounding prayer in public school. This week's topic is the philosophy and possible consequences of the thinking that has fostered the ban on school prayer. )

Since the early 1960s we have been happily walking down a path toward total divorce of school, government, and Christianity. A path never envisioned by our founding fathers, by the authors of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, or by many generations of their descendants.

Within the last four decades the Supreme Court has declared that their must be total separation of church and state, while defining "church" as "religion." (Two words which are not synonyms in the vocabulary of common sense).

Following this grail, the Court has declared that hanging the Ten Commandments on the school house wall, or praying, violates this separation.

Basically, any religious association by an institution of the state is banned.


This sounds pretty good at first.

I don't want anyone telling me what faith I must practice. I have ancestors who fought and died because they wouldn't be told such.

But we've had this protection for awhile. The First Amendment protects free exercise of religion. Has for 200-plus years.

Like many ideas that prance in Liberal Utopia, separation of church and state isn't quite what it claims to be.

The corner post of the Supreme Court's logic is that government can exist in a vacuum absent religion.

If there must be total divorce of religion and state, then it must follow that government can exist without acknowledging a religion, or being influenced by a particular religion.

Can this occur?

I don't think so.

Religion, for practical purposes, is a system of beliefs that dictates the actions of those who believe. (This is the basic definition supplied by the Supreme Court).

Government, on the other hand, is a system of laws, rules and regulations to be used to administer a nation for good or bad. It is not inherently good, or bad.

These laws, rules and regulations flow from somewhere. There must be a moral foundation of belief to anchor these laws to. This foundation can be any "religion" from Christianity, to Secular Humanism, to Satanism.

The question becomes, not whether there is a moral foundation, but which moral foundation will be acknowledged by the state. And some belief structure must be acknowledged.

By giving the boot to Christianity in schools, along with other "religions" that worship a supernatural being, we officially acknowledge the "religion" of the non-religious.

We have simply made the choice to substitute the morals of Secular Humanism for the morals of Christianity.

Secular Humanism is a world view based on atheism. A "religion" that does not rely on God or other supernatural forces to guide conduct.

There is still a religion, as defined by the Supreme Court, being preached in our schools and walking the halls of public office. It is a religion devoid of a God, but comprising a belief structure non-the-less, just like any other religion.

This is a really important point that religion does not necessarily mean belief in the supernatural. It does mean a structure of beliefs that guides conduct. Secular Humanism, is a religion.

The problem I see, is that much of what we hold dear in this country, has no basis in this non-Christian belief structure.

There is no rational basis for holding all of our fellow men as equals, or treating them all with dignity, or even allowing them all to run free.

Without the influence of God (or some other benevolent deity) there is no good reason for our system of government.

You cannot create the United States of America, as we know it, from the whole cloth of reason and logic, without the leavening of Christ.

There is no rational basis for "Thou shalt not kill," or "Thou shalt not commit adultery." There may be a rational basis for trying not to get caught, but none against committing the act.

There is certainly no rational basis for, "All men are created equal."

And this is where the religion of the "non-god" we have installed in our institutions will fail us.

But more importantly, we must realize that those who claim to support total separation of church and religion, don't.

What they oppose is association of a religion that believes in a supernatural deity with the state.

What they offer is a non-deity based religion, that is just as much a religion, and just as much set of values and beliefs as any Christians ever professed.

Unfortunately, these beliefs may not always correspond with the laws that have helped foster the freedom we have known for the past two centuries.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Commissioners offered job, big salary

Back in June, during the Reeves County Golf Course fiasco, the County Commissioners Court voted to offer Royce Cassell the job of head greens keeper.

At the meeting where this offer was made, the court agreed on a salary of $38,500 . The court told the many citizens present that it would offer the position and salary to Mr. Cassell.

Last week, during the budget meeting, the court crawfished on this promise.

In the new budget the salary has become $25,000 for being the head greens keeper, or the full salary of $38,500 if other duties are also taken on.

This is not what the court agreed to when its chambers were full of concerned citizens.

It is not the agreement that satisfied those citizens that some justice might come out of the golf course mess.

If left as is, it simply makes the courts' original agreement nothing more than a lie told to placate their constituents.

Cassell ought to get the job he was promised at the salary promised.

Your Views

Number of attendees at Open House is disappointing

Monday, September 20, 1999, I had the opportunity to attend Open House at Pecos High School. I was disappointed to see so few parents in attendance, not only for the students, but also for the teachers. I estimate approximately 30 parents were present. That is a low number when you consider there are 880 students enrolled at Pecos High School. One teacher, who teaches dozens of different students, received visits from only two parents.

I have had the opportunity to attend Open House on all campuses except one, and all other campuses had better parent attendance than Pecos High School. Zavala and Crockett Middle Schools, which have only one grade per campus, as opposed to four at high school, had three times more parents in attendance.

I'm not sure why parent attendance was so low, but I feel as parents, we need to do better. By attending Open House we are showing that we support our students and our teachers. I believe this is very important. Teachers spend countless hours annually working with our students. We need to thank them and let them know we support and appreciate them; Open House provides a rare opportunity to do so. Teaching is not always an easy job, especially these days. A simple "thank you" goes a long way with most people and teachers are no exception.

In closing, I want to encourage parents who did not attend their child's Open House, for whatever reason, to please try to do so in the future. Attending Open House allows you, as a parent, to see and hear first hand, how your child is doing in class and provides an opportunity to get to know your child's teacher. The teacher and your child will appreciate it and you will be glad you went. If it is impossible for you to attend Open House, you may schedule an appointment with your child's teacher. I would urge you to try to visit your child's teacher(s) at least once annually. Teacher conferences aren't just for parents to find out how poorly their child is doing in class, but to also find out how well they're doing in class.

School Board Trustee

`Love' needs to be put back into the family

For some time now this has been weighing so heavy on my mind. It seems to me that our judicial system has gained the conglomerate world and is no longer interested in what they can do to help elevate the problem we have now a days with our kids. Instead their interest seems to be "how much money can we make here?" There is such a big need here in our own back yard in so far as what can we do for our kids and not just lock them up and throw away the keys.

I know this from personal experience, and I don't mean my kids, by my own experience. If I hadn't had someone to talk to, someone to believe in me, someone to continuously love me, I would have probably been shoved so far back into the system. Everyone would have probably forgotten about me. We need to do something to show our kids exactly how much we love and care about them. I see such a lack of this driving down the streets of Pecos or the stores or other places. Parents so disgusted that they take out their frustrations on their kids and in turn what do these kids learn? Right. How to take out their frustrations on someone else. Think about it.

During the entire cycle of our lives we are conditioned mentally. Some for the good and some for the bad. Some of us are conditioned to love and forgive. Others how to hate and hold grudges.

The system is not always fair, not for the young, not for the old. From our younger age so many are targeted and branded and made an example of without someone trying to understand what the real problem is. A lot of these problems arise from lack of love, lack of self-esteem and lack of respect...because they are the younger and most of all because of lack of understanding . We need to do something other than put our children behind bars. We need to give them the same love, understanding and respect and oh yes forgiveness we had while we were growing up.

Some of you will argue and say, "we never behaved that way." True but, we were not given the opportunity to be disobedient. We were not allowed to be disrespectful and we did not have everything handed to us to the point where it was expected - ALL THE TIME. We need love back in the family even if it means tough love.


Bears' fan not offended by game loss

Dear Balmorhea Bears Fans:

I don't know about you, but I don't feel my time was wasted when I attended last Friday's football game. It matters not whether the Bears win or lose, I'm there to support our young men. But it does matter a great deal to me as a fan and a parent that the Bear's head coach, Ennis Erickson, announced over the intercom at school Monday morning that he thinks the fans' time was wasted by being at Friday's game when the Bear's lost to Borden County.

It's true our team didn't win against the Coyotes, but I'm not offended by that fact.

However, I feel confident in assuming that I'm not the only fan and parent offended by his statement and thinks an apology, made over the intercom, to the players and fans would be appreciated.


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