This is an almost excellent article. I think it falls short only in the rubbish it references from the Cato Institute. The real terrorist threat to the U.S. has ALWAYS been from the domestic far right, not from foreign Muslim reactionaries. Only two weeks ago, during the Republican convention, yet another domestic right-wing terror plot was broken up, one that had emerged from within the U.S. military; this one plotted a murder spree, the assassination of the president, blowing up a dam, and had already murdered two and maybe three people. This is the sort of thing the DHS has tried to track, and that the Cato Institute has trashed it for tracking.
(And, as with every incidnet that doesn't involve Muslims, there has been virtually no press coverage of this latest.)
Happywithnewbulbs, you make an important point, here, sort of the same one for which I was trying from a slightly different angle. We're not bound by the readings given to the words of The Great And Powerful Founding Fathers by those Great And Powerful Founding Fathers in their lifetimes. The fellows who preached that "all men are created equal" included neither women nor slaves--most of the population at that time--under that formulation. When we say "all men are created equal" today, we mean everyone--that principle has a much broader application than the founders were ever able (or willing) to give it in practice in their day.
As I wrote above, you'll find support for granting privileged status to a particular faction's religious exercises in custom, but "there's no escaping the fact that it stomps all over the principle of religious liberty, and in a most brutal manner." James Madison, the author of the 1st Amendment, recognized this, and opposed the move, by congress, to open its sessions with prayer.
WWWTW said... "An invitation to prayer is not an endorsement, nor is it a grant of privileged status."
It's not an "invitation to prayer" at issue, but, rather, a government-sanctioned prayer; it's not a matter of individuals exercising their liberties, it's a matter of government exercising a power it does not properly have (regardless of custom); and ignoring what I wrote, rather than engaging with it, doesn't advance your cause an inch.
WWWTW said... "Though their initial response was unhelpful, constitutional protections for free speech and free religious expression should not be abandoned in this case, as the plaintiffs are suggesting... To sacrifice basic American liberties because you take offense at the use of those liberties by people with whom you disagree is ill-advised."
That presumes there's some "right" to have government endorse one's religious practices, and that if one is precluded from securing such privileged official status for said religious practices over those of everyone else, one is being oppressed.
You will find support for granting this privileged status in custom (which is what the court found in Marsh v. Chambers), but there's no escaping the fact that it stomps all over the principle of religious liberty, and in a most brutal manner. We can debate the advisability of these prayers in the abstract, but there's absolutely no case to be made for anyone's rights being violated if this practice of granting privileged status to them was to be ended.