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I have to admit that right up to the very end, Stanley Fish of the NYT had me convinced he was going to reach a reasoned and logical conclusion about the outcome of the Salazar v. Buono case.  That was until he summarized his article When Is a Cross a Cross? with this piece of non-sense.

My distaste for Kennedy’s (Justice Anthony Kennedy) opinion has nothing to do with its result. In general, and for the record, I have no problem with the state accommodating religious symbols and I am not bothered by the thought of a cross standing in a remote part of the Mojave desert even if the land it stands on is owned by the government. I do have a problem with reasoning that is patently dishonest and protests too much about its own motives and the motives of those it defends. But that is what the religion clause drives you to when in one of its clauses — the free exercise clause — it singles out religion for special positive treatment, and in the other clause — the Establishment Clause — it places a warning label (watch out for this stuff; it’s trouble) on religion. It’s no wonder that the justices who try to deal with this schizophrenia tie themselves in knots and produce opinions that are as unedifying as they are disingenuous.

So if I understand this correctly Mr. Fish, it’s no wonder we are all so confused.   Apart from being “OK” with religious symbols on public land (with or without their intentions or motives in tact) the only reason that these 2 clauses appear in contradiction to one another is that you don’t understand their context.  For me their exists no contradiction at all.  Free exercise of religion and the Establishment clause are perfect compliments to one another.  As I interpret them

a.) the government has no business prohibiting me from practicing any faith I so desire and

b.) they also have no business endorsing any of those religions that they are charged with protecting the free exercise thereof.  

Simply put, “Do as you see fit and we, the government, will promise to stay out of the religion business”.  Why can’t even the intellectual upper-crust (journalists and judges) understand this simple structure.

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