Context and how the law should treat "white Protestant"
David E. Guinn
davideguinn at YAHOO.COM
Wed Oct 3 10:48:59 PDT 2001
To be fair to Prof. Newsom, I do agree that context can be a relevant
consideration. The religious discrimination claim in Goldman does not
become appearant until the uniform regulations are viewed in the context of
the religious practices of the Christian majority (Protestant and Catholic)
as demonstrated in Brenan's dissent. I think that any FE or EC claim raised
against a state action must be tested by comparing it to norms of the
majority practice. Insofar as there is an identity - the practice must be
suspect. (Here I think the Sunday closing laws cases, etc. were wrong.)
The problem I have with Prof. Newsom's posts rest in his labeling "white
Protestant" as automatically being equivilent to the dominant cultural norm.
As evident in Mozart, that is not necessarily the case. (While I haven't
resolved how I would handle the education issue, I think Mozart is wrong in
failing to recognize the religious endorsement the education system is
making. Mozart fails to recognize the context.)
I don't think there is any way to label dominant cultural practices as
identical with any one tradition. It depends on the particular practice in
question which may be endorsed by any number of traditions - or parts of
traditions. As many comentators note, there are more commonalities based on
political ideology (conservative/liberal) then dogma - so that many
conservative Protestants feel a closer affinity with conservative Roman
Catholics than they do to the liberal wings of their own tradition.
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