While reading your recent article "Affronts and Provocations", I found myself increasingly affronted and provoked. Although evidently you would be happier if I left you alone and didn't intefere with the religious majority in this country that wants to run the country as it likes despite constitutional guarantees that demand a different course, I hope you won't mind if I address some of the points you raise.
Though I don't claim any great knowledge of Constitutional law myself, I can perhaps enlighten you to some extent. The 14th Amendment states (among other things) that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
As interpreted by the Supreme Court, this has been taken to mean that state governments (of which the Alabama courthouse is a part) cannot act in a way that would be unconstitutional for the federal government. (brief history here - http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/plegal/q7.html) This includes the Establishment Clause, which itself has been commented upon by 200 years of Supreme Court rulings, which have decreed that government displays of religious icons are forbidden (apart from historically significant items and a few other miscellaneous cases that are more indicative of ambiguity on the Court's part than a well-reasoned principle in action) In any case, the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the interpretation of the Constitution, no matter what the result of your own personal pocket-Constitution test.
You ask what harm the monument does. This is irrelevant. Many bad laws are constitutional and many harmless laws are unconstitutional. Nevertheless, I submit that a government promulgation of religious images representing a particular set of religious faiths is an injustice to those Americans who do not share those religious beliefs.
You state that "large sections" of American society detest Christians, and yet you correctly note that nearly half of the population is evangelical; an overwhelming majority are Christian. The days of Christianity as a persecuted minority are long past. You discuss what you see as anti-Christian bias in political proceedings, but can you name even a dozen non-Judeo-Christian politicians? As Nikolas K. Gvosdev points out (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5357/ventura.html) "Even a cursory perusal of the biographies of the nation's Congressmen and governors makes this point clear. There is not a single "atheist," "agnostic," or "free-thinker" listed, and only seven members of Congress--out of five hundred and thirty five--declined to state a religious affiliation (as did four governors)." Virtually all of the nominees for judgeships, accepted or not, are Christian. How is there anti-Christian bias? Virtually all of the selectors are Christian. How can there be anti-Christian bias?
You also state (explicitly without proof) that you believe that "any index of personal or social dysfunction you care to name" is lower among evangelicals than among the rest of the country. I direct your attention to the Barna Research Group's survey of divorce rates in America (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm) Among the results were the following:
Religion % have been divorced
Born-again Christians 27%
Other Christians 24%
Atheists, Agnostics 21%
Thus, despite their expressed devotion to 'family values', born again Christians are more likely to divorce than other Christians or non-believers.
Reliable figures on the religious beliefs of criminals are hard to come by, but this website (http://www.geocities.com/muse142/religion/crimestats.html) offers some interesting statistics:
"During 10 years in Sing-Sing, of those executed for murder 65 percent were Catholics, 26 percent Protestants, six percent Hebrew, two percent Pagan, and less than one-third of one percent non-religious."
"In one 19-state survey, Steiner found 15 non-believers, Spiritualists, Theosophists, Deists, Pantheists and one Agnostic among nearly 83,000 inmates. He labeled all 15 as "anti-Christians." The Elmira, N.Y. reformatory system overshadowed all others, with nearly 31,000 inmates, including 15,694 Catholics (half) and 10,968 Protestants, 4,000 Jews, 325 refusing to answer, and no unbelievers."
It would appear that it is the godless and not the godly who are underrepresented in the prisons. Some have argued that inmates cynically list religious affiliations in order to receive better treatment, better parole prospects and better quality of life (in being allowed to participate in singing and common fellowship during services) Even if that's true, it points out again that members of majority religions are benefitting at the expense of the minority in a government-run institution.
As for teen pregnancy and AIDS, studies on "abstinence only" sex education (generally promoted by conservative Christians) "reveal that youth only taught abstinence without safer sex precautions were as likely to have sexual relations as their counterparts and more likely to engage in unsafe sex. Youths given sex education tend to delay becoming sexually active longer than those who do not receive such
information, are no more sexually active and incur less HIV infection." (http://www.wfn.org/1998/11/msg00216.html) Unsafe sex is also obviously a possible contributor to teen pregnancy.
You are welcome to try to dig up surveys that support your claims. Perhaps they exist, but on the whole, the differences between evangelicals and "anti-Christians" will be a few percentage points either way at most, as they were in the data I cited. That sort of data is hardly sufficient cause to (as you did) leap onto the highest horse you could find and sneer at everyone else for being less patriotic, less law-abiding, less trustworthy, less chaste and worse citizens than you.
From your article I get the idea that your perfect world is one in which people like me should shut up, crawl back under the rocks we emerged from and be as invisible as we possibly can so we don't sully a Christian-majority America with our minority ideas and our unpatriotic, sinful and criminal lives. For my part, I will indulge my First Amendment right to free speech and declare that
I do not detest evangelicals
I do not detest Christians
but I do detest you, John Derbyshire, for your hypocritical and baseless attack on your fellow Americans.
Los Angeles, CA
"An honest whore is less of an insult to humanity than a sanctimonious
prig who ignores the truth and fosters error and illusion."
--HP Lovecraft, letter to Maurice Moe 1/4/30