About a year ago a Church in Florida anointed a highway with oil. The latest news is that a local atheist organization made a splash last Saturday when they went out and symbolically washed away this blessing. The response is as you might imagine, simply hilarious, a few folks are now having a bit of a public hissy fit about it … take for example Fox News (yes, well it is what we expect from them) …
Glen Copple, an associate pastor at Northside Christian Church in Lakeland, said Saturday’s symbolic cleanup of holy oil by the Humanists of Florida was a “ludicrous” event that solely sought publicity.
“I find it absolutely ludicrous that the atheists who say they don’t believe in God have to erase something that they don’t believe in,” Copple told FoxNews.com. “They were just desperate for a little attention for their cause. Only two of them showed up, it wasn’t a big gathering.”
Armed with brooms, mops and “unholy water,” atheists with the Humanists of Florida gathered on Saturday to symbolically remove holy oil that Polk Under Prayer put down on Highway 98 near the Pasco-Polk county line last year, Bay News 9 reported.
Copple is correct in that it is attention seeking, but I still see no problem with either the believers anointing the highway with oil, nor with the non-believers washing it away. Apparently some believers do actually think doing so does something supernatural, “It’s objective is to place Holy Angels at all roads that lead into or out of Polk County“. However, the non-believers quite obviously do not believe that anything supernatural needs to actually be washed away, it was clearly a symbolic protest.
So what was it really all about? It is actually a protest against the mingling of church with state …
“If it were just some church blessing a road, that’s not a big deal – churches can do what they want. The point of the demonstration was to protest the co-mingling of church and state … the government endorsement of religion.” – HFA director Mark Palmer
And yes, apparently the Christian Churches of Polk County has been putting up billboards with images of public officials, hence the implicit bias for a specific belief is being officially endorsed.
Diversity of belief is the reality of the world we all inhabit. I get it that those of a specific belief are rather thrilled when their specific belief dominates, but imagine how they might feel if instead of their specific variation, public officials were endorsing a Hindu ceremony instead and excluding them completely.
The only guarantee of tree freedom for all is a secular stance where Jefferson’s wall of separation is rigorously maintained so that no specific shade of belief is permitted to be the officially endorsed stance. People can and do belief some crazy stuff, and so the temptation to impose it upon everybody else can indeed be quite strong because they will indeed be 100% sure that they alone have the pure truth and everybody else is simply “misinformed”.
So should churches bless roads and appoint Angels to guard them? … sure why not, if that’s what they want, I have no problem, but they should not be too surprised to find a few folks laughing at the daftness of it all. If public officials also wish to be part of that, again no problem as long as it is in their own time, and not in the role of a public official endorsing it on behalf of the state. That however is the line they crossed, and that is what this friendly humorous road-cleaning protest was all about – you don’t get to cross that line.