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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

Howard Bashford wasn’t rending his garments or gnashing his teeth, but he seemed close to it.

“We blew it!” he exclaimed. “Once more we missed an opportunity to strike a blow for religious freedom, and we just forgot – again!”

We asked Howard, who is executive director of the Freedom from Values Coalition, what had him so exercised, and he replied, “The White House Christmas tree. We work so hard every year on freedom from religion, we always forget to file an injunction against the tree.”

So we asked, “What’s wrong with the Christmas tree?” and he nearly exploded.

“It’s a Christmas tree!” he exclaimed. “Many people are unaware that Christmas is a religious observance and that the tree is a religious symbol.

“It has no business on public property, because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. You know, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …’”

“Perhaps you’ve heard of it,” he added superciliously, then brightened and continued. “All is not lost, though. We will be filing amicus curiae briefs in a couple of cases, Williams v. Cupertino Union School District and Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Department of the Interior.

“What are they up to?” we asked.

“In the first case,” Howard explained, “there’s this teacher who wants to show his students documents that promote religion – documents like the Declaration of Independence and Samuel Adams’ ‘The Rights of Colonists.’”

“Here, listen to this.”

He drew himself up and recited sarcastically from the Adams opus: “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”

“Williams’ principal figures it shouldn’t be shown to kids, so she has put the clamps in it and a bunch of other Revolutionary-era documents,” he said. “That Adams thing is not only religious, it denies free will. Why can’t we be slaves if we want to?”

“I have a feeling you’re on your way,” we said, “but what’s wrong with the Declaration?”

“Check this out,” Howard said, reading from the founding document, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …”

“Did you hear the key words?” he asked. “‘Endowed by their Creator’, with a capital ‘C.’ That means God.”

“You must have been studying this for a long time,” we said. “How do you think it should read?”

“It should say ‘endowed by majority vote,’” Howard responded. “That’s the democratic ideal. Jefferson never would have gotten away with this if our founding fathers had written the First Amendment before the Declaration of Independence.”

“It would have been a neat trick,” we agreed, adding, “I guess the majority – if it wishes – should be able to rescind the ‘self-evident’ rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Don’t be absurd,” he said. “That would never happen. We just want our nation to be tolerant of minority views. That’s why we want to help AUSCS. It’s opposing a federal allocation of $10 million to help restore California’s missions.”

“But, Howard,” we said. “The Declaration of Independence and ‘The Rights of Colonists’ express the views of the men who founded our nation. Don’t you want kids to know the truth? And the missions are historical treasures. Don’t you want kids to be able to see these priceless buildings?”

“Those,” he responded, “are things we can’t tolerate if we’re to have freedom from religion.”

“Maybe you should check your history,” we suggested. “The founders didn’t want freedom from religion, they wanted freedom of religion.”

“Are you sure?” he asked warily.

The question of granting naturalized citizens the right to run for president elicited a number of thoughtful responses. Among them was this from Kerry Stevens:

“This type of nonsense is the exact mechanism that has turned America on its head. In order to prevent a handful of people from suffering an injustice, the entire society is exposed to danger … We all have to make compromises and sacrifices for the health and security of our society … To destroy our protections against tyranny because they somehow inhibit a handful of citizens is, in fact, a tyranny of the minority.”

John Skubick of Florida suggested allowing the naturalized to run, provided they had citizenship “for at least 35 continuous years.”

Let’s give the last word to Susan Connelly of Georgia: “I am totally opposed to anyone who was not born in America running for president of the United States. Two words will explain it all: George Soros.”

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