How to find “separation of church and state” in the Constitution


It’s been at least 20 years since I first heard the old canard of an argument that “there’s no separation of church and state in the Constitution.”  I think I first heard it attributed to David Barton, which would make sense, since he doesn’t understand the Constitution, but neither does he fear sharing his misunderstandings.

It was an incorrect statement then, and it’s been incorrect since September 1787.  Separation of state and church is woven throughout the Constitution, part of the warp and woof.

Recently, latter-day Constitution ignorami repeat the old canard.

Toles cartoon on dangers of marrying church and state

Toles cartoon on dangers of marrying church and state

I was surprised to discover I’ve not posted this before on this blog.  So here’s a slightly-edited version of a response I gave many months ago to someone who made that silly claim, a basic description that I developed years ago to explain the issue, in speeches by members of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution:

Separation of church and state: It’s in the Constitution.

I don’t play a constitutional lawyer on television, I am one*, but it seems to me anyone can read the Constitution and see. One can see especially if one understands that the Constitution sets up a limited government, as Madison described, one that can do only what is delegated to it. The Constitution is a short document.

Where should you look to find separation of church and state in the Constitution?

First, look in the Preamble.  It is made clear that the document is a compact between citizens: “We the people . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution . . .” The usual role of God ordaining (in some western nations) is altered, intentionally. It is not God who establishes this government, but you and I, together. From the first words of the Constitution, there is separation of church and state.  The power of our government grows out of a secular compact between you and me, and 308 million other residents of the nation.   We have a government created by consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence said a just government should be.  It is not a government created by the will of God directly (though some, including the Mormons, argue it is divinely inspired).  We have no divine right kings or other monarchs under the Constitution.  The government is not the grantor of rights from God, but is instead the protector of the rights of citizens, whatever the source of the rights and whatever the rights.

Second, look in the key parts of the document itself.  Start with Article 1 The legislative branch is given no role in religion; neither is any religion given any role in the legislature. In Article 2, the executive branch gets no role in religion, and religion gets no role in the executive branch. In Article 3, the judicial branch gets no role in religion, and religion gets no role in the judicial branch. In Article 4, the people get a guarantee of a republican form of government in the states, but the states get no role in religion, and religion gets no role in state government. This is, by design of the founders, a perfect separation of church and state.

Third, in Article 6, the convention wrote the hard and fast rule that no religious test can be used for any office in government, federal, state or local, means that no official will have a formal, governmental role in religion, and no religion can insist on a role in any official’s duties.

Fourth, Amendment 1 closes the door to weasling around it: Congress is prohibited from even considering any legislation that might grant a new bureaucracy or a new power to get around the other bans on state and church marriage, plus the peoples’ rights in religion are enumerated.

Fifth: In 1801 the Baptists (!) in Danbury, Connecticut, grew concerned that Connecticut would act to infringe on their church services, or teachings, or right to exist. So they wrote to President Jefferson. Jefferson responded with an official declaration of government policy on what the First Amendment and Constitution mean in such cases. Jefferson carefully constructed the form of the device as well as the content with his Attorney General, Levi Lincoln, to be sure that it would state what the law was. This “letter” is the proclamation. It’s an official statement of the U.S. government, collected in the president’s official papers and not in his personal papers. Make no mistake: Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists was an official act, an official statement of the law of the United States. Jefferson intended it to assuage the Baptists in Danbury, to inform and warn the Connecticut legislatures, and to be a touchstone to which future Americans could turn for information. It was only fitting and proper for the Supreme Court to use the letter in this capacity as it has done several times.

Sixth: The phrase, “separation of church and state” dates back another 100 years and more, to the founding of Rhode Island. It is the religion/state facet of the idea of government by consent of the governed without interference from religious entities, expressed so well in the Mayflower Compact, in the first paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, and carried through in the Constitution (see especially the Preamble, above).

No, the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the Constitution. The principles of separation of church and state are part of the warp and woof, and history, of the document, however. The law is clear, the law was clear, the law has always been clear, and denying the Constitution says what it says, won’t change it or make it go away.  You could just as easily point out that the word “democracy” or “democratic” never appears in the document, though we rely on democratic mechanisms and institutions to make it work.  You could point out that nowhere does it say that our national government is a republic, though it is.  The Constitution doesn’t say “checks and balances,” nor does it say “federalism.”  The Constitution doesn’t mention political parties.  The Constitution was written before the advent of broadcasting, and makes no mention of radio nor television, nor of the internet — but the First Amendment freedoms apply there anyway.  The Constitution doesn’t say “privacy,” though it protects your right to privacy.

You won’t find “separation of church and state” as a phrase in the Constitution.  If you read it, you’ll find that the concept of the separation of state and church can’t be taken out of the document, either — it’s a fundamental principle of our government.

More, and Resources:

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*  A non-practicing one.  We have way more than 50,000 lawyers in Texas.  That’s enough trouble for one lifetime.  Someone has to look out for the welfare of the world.

110 Responses to How to find “separation of church and state” in the Constitution

  1. James Kessler says:

    US Constitution 1st Amendment, first clause:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    What is that saying?

    Now then, what does the above mean in relation to this:
    US Constitution 14th Amendment, 1st paragraph:
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. 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.

    And this: US Constitution, Article 6, 2nd and 3rd paragraphs:
    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    And I will point out that the conservatives who argue there is no separation of church and state are doing it from a desire to impose their religious beliefs on others via the government. Of course they’re among the first to scream in objection when some other religious group supposedly wants to do the same.

    Now do the words “Separation of church and state” specifically appear in the US Constitution? No. But then neither does the US Constitution actually give an individual the right to own a gun…except in a very specific instance.

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  2. Ronald Weasley says:

    I’m am confused why you reference the mayflower compact in something relating to the constitution. You originally claim that the constitution explicitly enumerates a “separation of church an state”. From there you show examples of it being implied. Then you go on to use examples from outside sources. the Mayflower Compact, Jefferson’s letter to Danbury, etc… I mean I think what most conservative Christians tend to argue is that it is not explicitly mentioned. I myself argue that the constitution is open to interpretation, review, and even change.

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  3. Nick K says:

    Fake, I’ll make this simple for you. This is the first paragraph to the 14th Amendment:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. 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.

    Now my rights to my religious freedom mean I have immunity from having the state force some other religion on me. A state favoring one religion over another is an abridgement of that immunity and my rights.

    If you want a state to favor one religion, like through organized school prayer, then it has to favor them all..as well as atheism and agnosticism. The choice is, Fake, all of them…or none of them. There is no inbetween. You don’t get to have the government on any level favor one religion and screw the rest. This is not a theocracy despite your apparent fervent wishes to the contrary.

    Remember when I said I was getting tired of right wingers inability to think through their positions? Well you’re an excellent example. You apparently think the states should be allowed to favor one religion over the others. You fail to realize that means that sooner or later your particular religion would be the one not being favored.

    As James Madison said: Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?– James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assemby, June 20, 1785

    It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State. — James Madison, letter to Robert Walsh

    It is time for you and your fellow right wing Christians to obey Jesus Christ when He said prayers are meant to be said in private. Because the only one that needs to hear it…is God. And God does not need prayers to be shouted on the street corners or in school classrooms to hear them.

    Or do you have so little faith in God?

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  4. Fake Herzog says:

    Ed,

    Once again — I’m impressed with your response to me. Very thoughtful and well-argued. I didn’t know the story of Franklin’s reader, which does give me pause and suggests my original statement about school prayer being common before the 20th century might be off-base. (As an aside, Franklin is one of my favortie Founders, despite his heretical views, they guy was just a genius — and he was spot on when it came to immigration!)

    However, I think this is too strong of a statement: “If anything, school prayers were contrary to the practice and habit of the founders, and repugnant to them, too.” You quote the Supreme Court in the Engel decision but what the Court doesn’t go on to say is that the colonists were quite happy to come to America and set up their own faith communities that enforced all sorts of religious moral and ritual standards on the public (think Puritans). IObviously, some of those strict standards began to fade by the Founders era and you are quite right to point out that many of the Founders were broadly tolerant of all faiths and sects and even some, like Franklin, liked the idea of what we now call “secularism” — I suspect that they picked up those bad ideas from the French — just like Paine :-)

    Anyway, thanks to you and your blog, you’ve got me interested in the history of the subject and I’m now skeptical of easy claims about the religious nature of public schooling in the 18th and 19th centuries…until I find evidence to the contrary!

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  5. Nick K says:

    Fake writes:
    Meanwhile, you can read about the opening prayer for the first Continental Congress

    So what? That’s consenting adults, Fake. School prayer is something else..it involves children..people who by definition can not give consent.

    Secondly as James correctly points out…the Continental Congress predates the US Constitution. And the US Constitution trumps whatever the continental congress did.

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  6. James Hanley says:

    @Fake Herzog,

    Meanwhile, you can read about the opening prayer for the first Continental Congress

    The First Continental Congress is not (was not) the U.S. Government. It occurred in 1774, when the colonies were still just colonies, a year and a half before they even decided to declare independence, 13 years before the drafting of the Constitution, and 17 years before ratification of the First Amendment. So anything they did at the First Continental Congress was entirely irrelevant to any arguments about what is constitutionally appropriate or allowable.

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  7. Nick K says:

    Fake writes:
    no longer meets the 20th century interpretation of the 1st Amendment;

    Gee..I wasn’t aware that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were around during the 20th century. So what are they, Fake? Vampires? Zombies? Some real life version of the Nazgul?

    Do you honestly think that what caused the Philadelphia Bible riots back during the 1860’s wouldn’t happen now? Have you listened to your side? It wasn’t 15 years ago that Pat Robertson said that only Christians should be allowed to hold office in this country. Then there is the town in North Carolina that was opening its meetings with Christian prayer but when a Wiccan woman asked to be allowed to do the same they not only refused but somebody killed her pet dog and slashed the tires of her car.

    And I find it real curious that you’re a member of a party that is throwing a hissy fit at some imagined attempt to interject Sharia law into the laws of the country but you sit there and seem to cheer on the idea of interject Christian law/belief into the government.

    As I told you before…your rights to your religious beliefs do not grant you the right to 1: force them on others using the government and 2: have the government prop up your religious faith like a crutch.

    And you can sit there and pretend that that’s only the 20th century interpretation of the 1st amendment talking about…but it’s the interpretation of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson among others. And you may want to bother to remember that Madison is the Father of the Constitution.

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  8. Ed Darrell says:

    a) I was reacting to your own quote, which suggested that Catholics set up separate schools at least partly because Protestants controlled the schools in America in the 18th and 19th centuries and weren’t being fair to Catholics — in other words I was assuming you knew what you were talking about and was extrapolating the idea that if the schools were “controlled” by Protestants they were in some sense mildly sectarian in a way that no longer meets the 20th century interpretation of the 1st Amendment;

    If you’re looking at it from an assumption that they were overweeningly religious, I can see how you’d think that.

    It wasn’t a question of prayers, though. It was all the other stuff — the anti-catholic propaganda in readers, the use of the Protestant Bible occasionally as a reader, the indoctrination that Catholics were bad.

    Not prayers.

    I find it interesting, maybe weird by our standards today.

    You may want to note that Engel v. Vitale, the case that struck down school prayer, was a 1962 case, opposed by parents shortly after a New York school district adopted prayer as a practice — in other words, latter-half of the 20th century, not “since before the American Revolution.” These practices were not common in the founding era.

    In Engel, the Court explained why:

    It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America. The Book of Common Prayer, [370 U.S. 421, 426] which was created under governmental direction and which was approved by Acts of Parliament in 1548 and 1549, 5 set out in minute detail the accepted form and content of prayer and other religious ceremonies to be used in the established, tax-supported Church of England. 6 The controversies over the Book and what should be its content repeatedly threatened to disrupt the peace of that country as the accepted forms of prayer in the established church changed with the views of the particular ruler that happened to be in control at the time. 7 Powerful groups representing some of the varying religious views of the people struggled among themselves to impress their particular views upon the Government and [370 U.S. 421, 427] obtain amendments of the Book more suitable to their respective notions of how religious services should be conducted in order that the official religious establishment would advance their particular religious beliefs. 8 Other groups, lacking the necessary political power to influence the Government on the matter, decided to leave England and its established church and seek freedom in America from England’s governmentally ordained and supported religion.

    If anything, school prayers were contrary to the practice and habit of the founders, and repugnant to them, too.

    b) in addition to your own quote, as a simple matter of fact most schools were religiously run before the 20th century and used the Bible for all sorts of school work — somehow I doubt it if there weren’t daily prayer but I’ll find historical sources for you when I have a minute.

    There was a constant drive to get the Bible out of schools, starting with the first readers published in America. Ben Franklin’s fortune was founded in no small part on the success of his reader, which expunged almost all Bible verses and Biblical references. Secularism in the classroom caught on quickly, and moved largely because the use of the Bible proved no advantage in education. It was a poor reader for beginning readers. It was turgid, at best, for experienced readers. Early on, and in some frontier towns, it was the most common book, and consequently easy to assign from because almost every family had a copy. But there never was a strong educational reason to include prayers or scripture, and the drive to get the Bible out of the classroom did not flag or falter at any point I can find. Franklin’s readers began a long history of readers, including the famous McGuffey’s Reader which stamped out more Biblical writing and imagery as editions progressed.

    Religious education was a graduate study, done after graduating from college. It was usually not a part of day-to-day classrooms.

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  9. Fake Herzog says:

    Ed,

    1) I know who Boorstin is and while I might quibble with some of his work there is no question he was a giant of American history. I’m impressed you knew him well enough to casually chat — I knew there was a good reason I keep hanging around here :-)

    2) On the history of prayer in schools a couple of comments:

    a) I was reacting to your own quote, which suggested that Catholics set up separate schools at least partly because Protestants controlled the schools in America in the 18th and 19th centuries and weren’t being fair to Catholics — in other words I was assuming you knew what you were talking about and was extrapolating the idea that if the schools were “controlled” by Protestants they were in some sense mildly sectarian in a way that no longer meets the 20th century interpretation of the 1st Amendment;

    b) in addition to your own quote, as a simple matter of fact most schools were religiously run before the 20th century and used the Bible for all sorts of school work — somehow I doubt it if there weren’t daily prayer but I’ll find historical sources for you when I have a minute.

    2) Nick — you really do need to calm down — it’s just a blog man. Anyway, as for Christ and prayer, usually when it comes to interpreting a passage in Scripture you need to look at the context of what Jesus was saying and why. Clearly the context of that passage you quote from Matthew 6 is that Jesus wants us to do good works and pray to God for the right reasons — in other words he wants us to have a pure heart and perform acts of charity and prayer out of love. Meanwhile, the Gospels are full of Jesus and His disciples engaging in all sorts of communal and public prayer and it is clear that from its earliest history the Church has always thought of prayer as something that is appropriate for public as well as private occassions.

    Meanwhile, you can read about the opening prayer for the first Continental Congress at this website:

    http://acheritagegroup.org/blog/?p=340

    John Adams said “I must confess I never heard a better prayer. . . .with such fervor, such ardor, earnestness and pathos, and in a language so elegant and sublime for America [and] for the Congress.”

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  10. Nick K says:

    Oh and by the way, Fake, several years ago I asked my mom and dad if they ever had to pray in school.

    My dad said yeah. Of course..he went to a Catholic parochial school.

    My mom said they never did have to pray in school. She went to the Minneapolis school district..which at the time was the largest school district in the state. You can claim that kids used to pray in school as a matter of regularity all you want…but you have no evidence. Oh I’m sure it happened…but it was not done by everyone. And even if it was…it’s still unconstitutional. It’s a violation of those kids civil rights and their equality. Government has no business telling anyone’s kids to pray.

    Now why don’t you quit proving how God damn weak your faith is by trying to get the government to shove it down other people’s throats.

    Oh and you can let me know when you’re going to bother to obey Jesus Christ. You know..that passage I quoted for you from Matthew.

    Because as far as I can tell…you’re just one more right winger who has pathetically weak faith in the religion you all claim to follow. You’re a CINO. Christian In Name Only.

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  11. Nick K says:

    Fake, the problem with your logic can be summed up by this: Most of the Founding fathers thought that slavery was okay and they denied women the right to vote. Should we go back to those standards as well? You can say hat the separation of church and state as it is is not what the founding fathers intended..but the fact of the matter is that’s exactly what they intended. Maybe not all of them. But considering the fact that the treaty of Tripoli says what it says and what Article 6 of the US Constitution says…..you are arguing pure bullshit. And considering the 14th amendment binds the states to treat its citizens equally…you’re arguing even more bullshit.

    Oh and by the way..Article 6 of the US Constitution says, and I quote, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”

    Have fun arguing that the states have the right to favor one religion over another…when they are barred from requiring that a holder of elected public office be a member of any religion.

    You need your medication, Fake, your brain has shut off.

    Every time government has mixed with religion the result has been oppression, persecution, and mass murder. Sorry, if you want to act like the Taliban I suggest you move to Pakistan/Afghanistan.

    Because the last time a state was allowed to impose one religion on its citizens..two Catholic churches, a nunnery were burned to the ground and 20+ people lost their lives. As Ed correctly pointed out for you, child, the reason the Catholic parochial school system exists in this country is because we Catholics were at the time the minority here..and we quickly discovered that your precious Protestants paid only lip service to the idea of equality and religious freedom.

    The one thing that has changed from then, Fake, that you should pay attention to…is that I and my fellow Catholics are now the majority here. So please, continue to argue that a state has the right to favor one religion over another and the only result will be is that the states will favor my denomination of Christianity over yours.

    Don’t play this game, Fake, you’re not going to win anything by it.

    And I noticed you never bothered to answer the question. Why do you have such a problem in letting the kids pray or not by their own choice? Why, in your world, does the government need to tell them to pray?

    And I find it hilarious that you..a member of a party that just loves to claim that government should stay out of people’s lives..thinks that the government should stick its nose into the lives of the people in one of the most personal and divisive ways possible…through religion. Engaging in much hypocrisy there, Fake? Admitting that you’re a fake conservative and a fake Republican?

    There is no equality in this country if government, on any level, is allowed to favor one religion over the rest. And is your faith so weak, Fake, that you need government to prop it up for you like a crutch? Religion is the single most divisive thing in the history of the world, Fake, and you want to mix it with government? What do you think would be the result?

    And I find it cute that you attack me personally, Fake. What? Can’t disparage the message so you try to disparage the messenger?

    Don’t play that game with me, Fake, I’ll do far worse to you. My only “problem” is that I have to deal with right wing jackasses like you who have no ability to think through their own positions and believe that their 1950’s fantasy world is reality.

    Fake writes:
    Whether you think this was somehow “bad” or later came to be viewed as “unconstitutional” in the 20th Century

    Yeah except it didn’t come to be viewed as bad or unconstitutional in the 20th century. It was long before that. Lets see..there’s the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1890. District vs Weiss to be specific. THen there is the Minnesota state Constitution which specifically forbids any such thing. I’m sure you have a rough idea of when Minnesota became a state. Then there is the fact that the Treaty of Tripoli specifically says it and that was signed in the last part of the 18th century. Then there is the fact that the US Constitution specifically forbids religious tests to be used for any elected position, federal state or local. That was…wait for it..again the late 18th century. Then there is President Grant when he said “Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and private
    schools entirely supported by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.”

    Then there is Madison where he said “”The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
    -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

    John Adams: “. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”

    Jefferson: “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”
    -Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

    “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.”
    -letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”
    -letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT

    And lastly Ben Franklin: “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

    So tell me, Fake, why does Christianity need the crutch of government?

    Sorry, Fake, the states have to obey the US Constitution in all respects. Yes I know you and your fellow right wingers just love edging up to the line that divides patriotism and treason by acting like the traitors that started the US civil war…but that line of thinking is still treason no matter how nicely its wrapped.

    It’s time for you to drop your Taliban act.

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  12. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t think Nick needs more medication. Less provocation from people determined to screw up history in order to screw up policy might help, though. Can we get medication to them?

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  13. Ed Darrell says:

    See the problem? Of course the Founders thought it was O.K. for States to mildly support religious expression by having State schools dis Catholics or having kids pray.

    In 1875, when he proposed it the amendment to the Constitution, James G. Blaine was Speaker of the House — but about a century late to be a “founder”:

    Blaine Amendment

    In 1875, to promote the separation of church and state, Blaine proposed the Blaine Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of public funds by any religious school. It never passed Congress but a majority of states subsequently adopted similar laws.
    James G. Blaine

    Catholics denounced the Blaine Amendment as anti-Catholic. It was strongly supported by Protestants, especially Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. Blaine, who actively sought Catholic votes when he ran for president in 1884, believed that his amendment would forestall the danger of bitter and divisive agitation on the question.

    Blaine wasn’t supporting any religious showing in schools, but was instead trying to block Catholics from getting state support. That’s exactly contrary to your assertion.

    So, no, they didn’t support state support of religion, and no, the Blaine Amendment was not an action by the founders.

    In fact, as a historical matter, it was just a fact that most kids in elementary school and in college regularly prayed while in school.

    In a conversation with Daniel Boorstin, I asked him if he knew of any evidence that prayers were recited in schools prior to 1945 (he was a historian and Librarian of Congress, often writing on issues of education’s history in the U.S.). He said he knew of no significant claim to such information.

    When the Supreme Court looked for information on prayers in schools, they could find no evidence of such practices prior to 1946. (See the school prayer cases.)

    You say it was common? Based on what evidence?

    Whether you think this was somehow “bad” or later came to be viewed as “unconstitutional” in the 20th Century is not my argument — I am simply saying that as a historical matter there are certain mild forms of State support for religious expression that the Founders wouldn’t have given a second thought to and school prayer is one of those forms.

    I’d love to see some evidence to support your claims. We’ve argued about it in legal circles for half the 20th century, without being able to find evidence of prayers, not even in the schools of Utah.

    If you’ve got evidence, it would be groundbreaking historical work. Got some?

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  14. Fake Herzog says:

    “When considering that, remember the history of the public schools, and sectarian schools. Catholics founded a rather large educational system in America because they objected to the anti-Catholic views taught in the local schools, often with the express endorsement of the state governments.”

    My bolding added.

    See the problem? Of course the Founders thought it was O.K. for States to mildly support religious expression by having State schools dis Catholics or having kids pray. In fact, as a historical matter, it was just a fact that most kids in elementary school and in college regularly prayed while in school.

    Whether you think this was somehow “bad” or later came to be viewed as “unconstitutional” in the 20th Century is not my argument — I am simply saying that as a historical matter there are certain mild forms of State support for religious expression that the Founders wouldn’t have given a second thought to and school prayer is one of those forms.

    P.S. Does Nick K need a higher dose of medication?

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  15. Nick K says:

    Lets see. Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11:
    “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,”

    Signed by President John Adams, negotiated under Washington’s presidency and ratified without dissent by the Senate of 1797.

    Oh look, fake, that is what the founding fathers intended. Once again you and your fellow conservatives betray the founding fathers.

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  16. Nick K says:

    Fake writes:
    I suspect the founders (and most early Americans) would side with me and most modern-day conservatives when we argue that things like school prayer are clearly constitutional.

    Madison wouldn’t. Adams wouldn’t. Jefferson wouldn’t. Franklin wouldn’t. Washington wouldn’t. Sorry, school prayer..or rather organized school prayer led by the schools is not constitutional. You have no right to make someone listen to your prayers against their will. You have no right to make a captive audience of someone elses kids and make them listen to your prayers. If your kid, Fake, wants to pray he or she can do so on his or her own. They don’t get to compel others to participate or listen to.

    And you, brother Christian of mine, might want to bother to remember what Jesus Christ said on this issue. Or did you never read Matthew 6:5-6?

    It reads: 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Now tell me, Fake, why is it that so many conservatives claim to be such Christians…but they can’t obey Jesus Christ on the simplest of things?

    Sorry, if you were my kids teacher in their public school and you told them to pray..I would have you fired, I would sue you for violating their civil rights, I would bankrupt your ass and make damn sure you never worked as a teacher in any public school again and if the school even tried to defend you I would go after them.

    And I’m Christian, fake. Your rights to your religion, child, do not grant you the right to make others participate or listen to your prayers. Nor do you have the right to teach them your religious beliefs against their will.

    So again, Fake, if your kids want to pray in school they can do so on their own. But there is no right to make the kids around them listen or participate. Else your kids are violating those kids rights to their own religious beliefs in the sense your kids are violating those kids rights to be free from your kids religious beliefs.

    That’s right, fake, the right to believe in religion includes the right to be not believe in religion. “Freedom of” includes “freedom from” else there is no “freedom of” in the first place.

    And you can sit there and pretend that you and your precious conservatives are right all you want…but once again you are flat out dead wrong. Oh and your also being completely morally deficient. This idea that some religion has the right to have the government prop it up like a crutch and compel the citizens to listen to or participate in that religion’s prayers…is a hallmark of the Taliban.

    So be careful what dogs you choose to lie down with, Fake, because you’re picking up a lot of fleas.

    Like

  17. Nick K says:

    Fake writes:
    Yes, formal established churches are not allowed, but public support for general displays of religious belief that might make some people feel uncomfortable (e.g. athiests)?

    So you don’t mind public support for general displays of nonreligious belief right? After all..that is the requirement of the US Constitution, both the 1st and 14th amendments.

    As for school prayer…what exactly is your problem with leaving it up to the kids themselves whether they want to pray or not instead of having the schools force them to do so?

    And as Justice Blackmun said in writing for the majority in Lee vs Weisman: The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate…. When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

    Sorry, Fake, you do not have a country predicated on the belief that everyone is equal…if the government is allowed to favor one religion over the rest.

    So I suggest you drop the Teleban act.

    Like

  18. Nick K says:

    Fake, you should ask yourself this question. If the government can support religion in that fashion..then whose religion? Oh and please don’t say “Christianity” because you know full well there isn’t just one Christianity in this country..there is as many Christianity’s as there are denominations…plus probably more..in this country.

    SO then the question becomes “Which denomination?” and I can guarantee you, Fake, that it wouldn’t be yours. After all..yours isn’t the majority.

    So perhaps just perhaps you shouldn’t take positions that are guaranteed to screw your particular denomination of Christianity over, yes?

    Like

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    Yes, formal established churches are not allowed, but public support for general displays of religious belief that might make some people feel uncomfortable (e.g. athiests)?

    Public support, meaning what? Idaho voting money to the Mormons to lead prayers at football games? Georgia giving money to Baptists to spruce up the churchyard?

    No. They didn’t mean that. Washington objected mildly that he didn’t see a need for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, because — after all – shouldn’t everyone support institutions that promote morality? I think it was George Mason who asked him how to levy and appropriate the taxes on such an issue, and Washington got the point. Washington supports voluntary support of the churches, and there is no way to get the state in the middle of that fight without making support of a church mandatory. Washington himself objected to supporting his own nominal faith when the clergy didn’t support the revolution; he didn’t want to license clergy or any ecclesiastic group to dictate policy. That is the territory for the individual, and with very few exceptions, the founders were clear on that (John Jay seemed a little fuzzy at times, but he didn’t ask for state support of his Bible Society).

    So what is “public support” of religion? How is public support of one religion not an attack on differing beliefs?

    When considering that, remember the history of the public schools, and sectarian schools. Catholics founded a rather large educational system in America because they objected to the anti-Catholic views taught in the local schools, often with the express endorsement of the state governments. Don’t forget the Bible riots in Philadelphia (Protestant, or Catholic? “Pick right, or I’ll kill you.”) Remember that more than a dozen states have mini-Blaine amendments — no aid to parochial schools, because the only parochial schools in the state were Catholic, and Catholics were not to be helped.

    And look at the 20th century decisions on purchase of textbooks for parochial schools, or provision of bus service, because those ‘helped the student, not the sect.’

    If you’re asking merely for permission to follow your own religion, in public, you’ve got it. But don’t expect the state to intervene to force anyone else of any other faith to genuflect on your cues, or fail to genuflect.

    What sort of “public support” is not also an establishment of religion?

    I suspect the founders (and most early Americans) would side with me and most modern-day conservatives when we argue that things like school prayer are clearly constitutional.

    Not Thomas Jefferson. He said among the first things we needed to do was get the Bible out of all school work. It was a lousy reader, which is what it was usually used for, Jefferson noted. And the book too easily led to moral corruption of young minds. Get the Bible out, Jefferson said, and then there would be time to teach morality instead (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV if I recall correctly). Madison thought it contrary to the Constitution without the First Amendment to have a preacher pray at the openings of legislative sessions. Not even Patrick Henry favored prayers in schools.

    I think you may underestimate how conscious people were of religious discrimination during the Revolutionary Period, and how much the resolved not to repeat the errors of England and France and the rest of Europe. As Jefferson put it:

    The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.

    “Infidel of every denomination.” How could any school prayer scheme protect the infidels from prayer?

    And, while we’re at it, remember Washington’s words on religious discrimination:

    It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    I don’t think that includes forcing kids to pray.

    My quick summary of the First Amendment, for the purposes of schools and other state actions:

    The government may not tell people when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, what to pray to, what to pray for, or whether to pray at all.

    School prayers require the government to tell kids when, where and how to pray, and what to pray for, and whether to pray. Strikeout.

    Thanks for taking the time to look the references up, Fake Herzog. An open mind is a wonderful thing to encounter, on any issue.

    Like

  20. Fake Herzog says:

    Ed,

    Thanks for the history lesson — you make a strong and compelling case that a formal established church is something our founders (and most Americans) were quite allergic to, despite a few state constitutions giving half-hearted legal support to the institutional framework for such churches.

    I still think the broader question of what was meant by “separation of church and state” is open to a lot of interpretation. Yes, formal established churches are not allowed, but public support for general displays of religious belief that might make some people feel uncomfortable (e.g. athiests)? I suspect the founders (and most early Americans) would side with me and most modern-day conservatives when we argue that things like school prayer are clearly constitutional.

    But that is a different can of worms which we aren’t going to resolve in this combox.

    Again, your knowledge of early America is impressive and I appreciate the pointers.

    Like

  21. James Hanley says:

    Shea wants to know what else she said that was wrong. OK, this is wrong, Shea:

    the days of silence mandated by the school and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

    The days of silence are not “mandated” by anyone. The school districts do not mandate them, because the Constitution prohibits them from requiring to support a political position. It is something students do voluntarily, and school districts cannot do anything about it because it is a non-disruptive event.

    So you are perpetuating a falsehood when you claim that someone is “mandating” student participation in a day of silence. Given that you seem to be claiming to be a Christian, I have to ask whether you’re sincere enough to be bothered by bearing false witness, or are you just another liar for Jesus?

    Like

  22. Ellie says:

    Thanks for bringing up Patrick Henry, Ed. I’ve often asked those who wish to tear down the wall between Church and State if they’d be happy paying Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s salary. I’ve never had any takers.

    Like

  23. Ed Darrell says:

    Obviously, other States had different ideas, although my guess is that they wouldn’t be happy with most of current First Amendment jurisprudence as it has ‘evolved’ through the 21st Century.

    Yeah, other states had stronger clauses for separation of church and state, and other states had much older clauses. John Locke wrote the charters for both Carolinas, and both of those charters guaranteed freedom of worship decades before the American Revolution.

    One thing is clear and consistent: Once the march toward religious freedom got going, no state backtracked, ever. Not every state got rid of every vestige of establishment by 1778, but only one (Massachusetts) continued any vestige of establishment past 1816. No state stopped and said, ‘hey, we ought to bring back the state church.’ Virginia’s Patrick Henry proposed to have the state pay Episcopalian clergy for teaching through the week, but even that was too close, and the Virginia legislature instead brought up Jefferson’s old Statute for Religious Freedom (after thousands of Virginian’s signed Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance), and passed it instead, vitiating completely any thought that Virginia would backtrack. Madison, the floor leader in that fight, went almost directly to Washington’s house (I exaggerate only slightly), then on to Philadelphia for the convention there. Madison did not push a constitution with religion built-in, and when pushed to add a bill of rights to bolster state religious freedom clauses (foremost), he did it.

    Some people didn’t get the message. Many have tried to twist it. But our lawmakers have been consistent in the protection of separation of church and state, with no significant opposition until recently.

    Like

  24. Ed Darrell says:

    Maybe my comprehension skills are rusty, but this seems like a clear case of using government power to support religion

    It would seem that way, yes — but that’s not the history. Prior to 1778, everyone was required to pay the state, who paid the clergy for the Congregationalists. It was a firm marriage of state and church. That ended with the constitution and bill of rights written by John Adams. Although the legislature proposed to honor the notion of no official religion, the people rejected a 1778 proposal for a state constitution that did NOT include a bill of rights. Adams, newly back from his work in France, was elected to the 1780 convention, appointed to the committee to draft and was handed the drafting chores. He included freedom of religion as a first thought, and not as an afterthought. See the official history from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, here.

    The only vestige of the old church establishment was that the state would collect tithes as taxes, but was not required to. I think it’s fair to imagine that a town might bond to build a building for a church under the third article, it didn’t happen, and in any case, Massachusetts did not have an official church, nor did it offer support to churches, after 1780. Adams thought later that the prohibition needed to be stronger, a higher and stronger wall between church and state — but that was not achieved until 1833.

    The Massachusetts bill of rights, the first order of that 1780 Constitution, has stood for freedom of worship and freedom of religion ever since, in fable, history and law (David McCullough’s preference for a more accurate description notwithstanding). No misreading, and no misunderstanding of history, can change that now.

    Like

  25. Fake Herzog says:

    Ed,

    Maybe my comprehension skills are rusty, but this seems like a clear case of using government power to support religion:

    “Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.”

    An interesting question arises as to whether or not the State invoked this power, but even if they didn’t, I suspect it was because “towns, parishes, precincts” were already requiring citizens to pay for “the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.” In other words, I think it was taken for granted that folks would use government power (whether that power was at a local level or at the State level) to enforce religious morality.

    Obviously, other States had different ideas, although my guess is that they wouldn’t be happy with most of current First Amendment jurisprudence as it has ‘evolved’ through the 21st Century.

    Like

  26. Nick K says:

    US Constitution, Article 6, 3rd paragraph:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    Like

  27. Nick K says:

    Fake apparently ignores the fact that any religious oaths required by the states is blocked from the start from the US Constitution. Or did you not know, Fake, that the US Constitution forbids religious oaths?

    And did you also forget that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land?

    Like

  28. Ed Darrell says:

    Massachusetts was one of only four of the 13 colonies that did not completely disestablish churches by 1778 (See almost any edition of Hudson’s Religion in America). So you’re quoting a minority authority at best. Massachusetts clung on to this bizarre by our standards plan that the state could collect tithings that people paid voluntarily, but not interfere with the spending of the money — nor was there a penalty for not supporting a church. So you’re not quoting a minority authority that agrees with your point.

    Plus, that document contained a rather clear religious freedom clause, even if it’s not so broad as we favor today.

    For example, up front, in the state bill of rights, religious freedom is endorsed (this is the article before tithing collections):

    Art. II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

    Yes, states required religious oaths — but with a wink and a nudge. That oath you note clearly excludes Jews. So did South Carolina’s, but that didn’t stop them from electing Jews or appointing Jews, and ignoring the requirements. In point of fact, few of those religious restrictions were enforced anywhere, any time. And by 1789, the Constitution obliterated their enforceability (effect took longer).

    So, I stand by my statement, that in each state Constitution, separation of church and state prevailed, and still does — including the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, if you bother to read the paragraph just above the one you cite.

    Like

  29. Fake Herzog says:

    “…in the bills of rights of each of the states and in each of the states’ charters, they set up a separation of church and state.”

    Constitution of Massachusetts, 1780

    Art. III. As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffcused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of the public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

    […]

    CHAPTER VI.

    Article I. Any person chosen governor, lieutenant-governor, councillor, senator, or representative, and accepting the trust, shall, before he proceed to execute the duties of his place or office, make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:

    “I, A.B., do declare that I believe the Christian religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth; and that I am seized and possessed, in my own right, of the property required by the constitution, as one qualification for the office or place to which I am elected.”

    Like

  30. Nick K says:

    To quote:
    many of the founding fathers (John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Eugene Belknap) repeatedly enumerated the benefits (and even the necessities) that religion brought to government.

    And many of the founding fathers, including John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison considered Christianity to be a crock and wanted it nowhere near the government. BTW, the supposed Adams’ quotes found by David Barton in which you think he said religion should be mixed with government are known fakes. Barton pulled them out of his ***.

    Because the question becomes…if religion can be brought into the government…then whose religion? And if Christianity..then which denomination? Or did you not realize, Shea, that your denomination of it is a minority in this country among Christians?

    So you might want to recognize the wisdom behind the separation of church and state that it prevents such nonsense. And that, among others, the Wisconsin Supreme Court was right when it said in 1890: “There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights. malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.”

    Like

  31. Jim says:

    Hello Shea!

    In asking us for feedback, you suggest we should show you where your ideas are wrong. Several of us have.

    I would refer you to my prior response of April 16th as an example.

    I do sincerely applaud you for coming back to engage. That seldom happens with some of the usual suspects.

    With warmest Easteride blessings.

    Jim

    Like

  32. Ed Darrell says:

    many of the founding fathers (John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Eugene Belknap) repeatedly enumerated the benefits (and even the necessities) that religion brought to government.

    The founders would extoll the virtues of religion, especially in regard to constraining the baser nature of people (which makes policing less necessary).

    But they did not claim that the First Amendment should be overturned, nor did they argue that church should be brought into government. In the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, in the bills of rights of each of the states and in each of the states’ charters, they set up a separation of church and state.

    Please don’t bother with the quotes. Half of them will be false (are you a fan of David Barton? Pity); all of them will be irrelevant. The founders did not err in creating a secular government, and they did not backtrack on the idea of religious freedom, especially in the idea of getting the church out of government.

    Like

  33. Ed Darrell says:

    Shea, I wrote earlier:

    Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in about 1830 that America’s great religious fervor and religious freedom was the result of the Constitutional separation of church and state.

    It’s still true.

    Do you see something different? Where?

    And, can you show me where Jesus said to hate, harass and persecute homosexuals, Mexican workers (papered or unpapered), or any other group?

    I was not stunned, just wondering if you had any serious defense.

    Still wondering.

    Like

  34. Nick K says:

    Oh and sorry, I’m not one to put women up on pedastals just because they’re women. A woman wants that treatement from me she can earn it.

    Because I saw a ditz like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, just for example, make the stupidest, hateful, fearmongering and just plain vile statements repeatedly and every time they get called on it their defenders scream “How dare you treat a woman this way.” As if having breasts and a vagina means they’re immune from being stupid, being hateful, being vile or getting called on their fearmongering.

    So if you want to play the game, Shea, then expect to play the full nine innings. You want to say something stupid then I’m going to call you on it. You want to act like an asshole then I’m going to call you on it…especially if you somehow pretend you’re doing so in the name of God. Because to be blunt..Christianity has a bad reputation with certain people because of Christians just like you. And I don’t recall Jesus granting permission for us Christian’s to act like assholes or attack people in His name.

    If you can’t handle playing the full nine innings, so to speak, then get out of here.

    Now if you want to apologize for your earlier asshole behavior then I’ll apologize for calling you out on it.

    And my near saint of a mother and saint of a grandmother, bless their souls, would agree with me. They didn’t suffer fools long and neither do I.

    Like

  35. Nick K says:

    SHea writes:
    Hmmm, so I either stunned all of you into silent agreement (except Nick who has the upbringing and manners to call a girl an asshole…LOL =)

    If a girl is being an asshole then you think I should pretend otherwise? Sorry, one does not get to hide behind gender and then turn around and complain one is being treated different because of that gender. Pick one, which will it be? And considering you were being offensive to others I should treat you nicely why? Hell you were offending me and I’m Christian.

    You were wrong about the treaty of tripoli, you’re wrong about the separation of church and state and you’re wrong when you say Christianity compels you to act like an asshole to non-Christians. Want your faith to be respected? Then respect other faiths and also nonfaiths.

    Now I’m sure you think your Christianity compels you to be an asshole to those aren’t Christians..but then that brand of Christianity has as much to do with true Christianity, God and Jesus Christ as Hitler has to do with being a friend of the Jews. You ain’t going to convert anyone to Christianity by attacking them. But then that’s not the aim is it? The aim of what you were doing was so you could convince yourself that you’re oh so superior then all those nonChristians.

    And lets see..you don’t show up for nearly 3 weeks and then suddenly you do show up and think you won? Oh please, get over yourself little girl.

    Like

  36. Shea says:

    Hmmm, so I either stunned all of you into silent agreement (except Nick who has the upbringing and manners to call a girl an asshole…LOL =) OR you are all so mad at me that you cannot write! But really, tell me what else I have said wrong. I do not say this out of conceit or arrogance, I am not fake or putting on a show. I really want to know.

    Like

  37. Nick K says:

    Oh this copy of the Treaty of Tripoli isn’t the one in the Library of Congress…but have fun arguing its somehow wrong:

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp

    Lets see…the first sentence of article 11 starts with: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,”

    Signed by President John Adams after being ratified without one vote of dissent by the Senate of 1797.

    Have fun arguing against Yale and history there, Shea.

    Like

  38. Nick K says:

    Shea writes:
    Tolerance is not the calling of Christians.

    The translation of the above is: I’m going to call myself a Christian but damn it if I actually practice what Jesus taught.

    Shea, you are the living embodiment of what Ghandi meant when he said ““I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Like

  39. Nick K says:

    Shea writes:
    What if a Muslim wants to stop class and face Mecca to pray? Would you allow that? There are countless stories in the media of Christians being harassed

    Gee…what part of “not disrupt class” do you have trouble understanding?

    Shea writes:
    For one example, read about Christians (and not just Christians!) coming in on the days of silence mandated by the school and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to promote tolerance of homosexuality. My only point is that this whole, “its ok as long as they aren’t being disruptive,” is a one way street. Homosexuals (insert any political or religious group here) can be free to force their opinions, but people (and not necessarily Christians) cannot protest that. I don’t get it.

    And yet curiously…there is no actual evidence that any Christian has been harassed or you would have provided it. And *gasp* expecting Christians to be tolerant? The horror!

    Oh wait..what was that Jesus said about “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Quit pretending that all of Christianity has a problem with homosexuals, we don’t. Only a very small segment of Christianity is so butthurt, and I use that term deliberately, that it’s getting itself into a conniption fit at not being able to force others to abide by their supposed religious beleifs. I point you back to the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” before you respond. Your religious beliefs does not grant you the right to make the life of a homosexual hell. So you want tolerance for being a Christian? Then practice a little tolerance yourself.

    As for why I called you a Pharisee..that’s because you’re more worried about supposed rules then what is actually right.

    Oh and considering Bryan Fischer of the so called “American Family Association” has launched a campaign of hatred and intolerance towards Muslims, including demanding that they convert to Christianity…what was that again about supposed persecution of Christians in this country?

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-again-calls-ban-muslim-immigration-and-mosques

    You say: Obviously we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but loving others requires instruction and correction.

    Okay..then consider this as one example of that from one Christian to another…you are being an intolerant asshole in God’s name. Secondly, you are forgetting the fact that your right to your religious beliefs stop where you stop. Meaning…you have no right to compel others to abide by or even listen to your religious beliefs. You have every right to be an evangelical Christian just as I have every right to be a Catholic who thinks you’re suffering from the delusion that the government of this country exists to prop up your apparently weak faith. And when this country has acted morally…its acted in opposition to those who share your views.

    Thirdly you’re forgetting one more thing: The laws of this country don’t answer to the Bible. And this Christian would fight against any of my fellow Christians who tried changing that. Unlike you I bother to remember what happened repeatedly in Europe every time religion and government mixed. People got persecuted, oppressed…and killed.

    Again…your religious beliefs dont grant you the right to be an asshole in Gods name.

    Oh and by the way, I did check my facts on the Treaty of Tripoli. Or are you saying that the one in the Library of Congress is a fake? It says exactly what I said it says. I’ve been arguing against dimwits who want to blow up the separation of church and state in this country for the better part of 15 years, Shea. Do you really want to pretend that I don’t know what I’m talking about?

    And quit spouting stupid shit like “left wing schools.” I’ve noticed the right wing has a tendency to invent conspiracys to explain stuff it doesn’t like. It only makes the right wing combinations of these adjectives: stupid, insane, crazy, dimwitted, ignorant, out of touch with reality, and bullshit con artists.

    WHich tends to be the main reason I thank God every day I’m no longer a Republican.

    Like

  40. Shea says:

    Hi again guys :) Thanks for responding to my complaints again)). Ok, so I will just respond to each of you in turn, I guess.

    Nick: “The kids can pray when they want…as long as they’re not disrupting class or compelling others to listen or participate.”
    What if a Muslim wants to stop class and face Mecca to pray? Would you allow that? There are countless stories in the media of Christians being harassed (for lack of a better term) for any number of things. For one example, read about Christians (and not just Christians!) coming in on the days of silence mandated by the school and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to promote tolerance of homosexuality. My only point is that this whole, “its ok as long as they aren’t being disruptive,” is a one way street. Homosexuals (insert any political or religious group here) can be free to force their opinions, but people (and not necessarily Christians) cannot protest that. I don’t get it.
    Also, what do you mean I was a Pharisee?

    Jim: Yes, I don’t mean physical persecution of Christians around the world where they are being put to death for their faith. That is obviously a huge problem that lots of people overlook. I am involved with sending Bibles overseas to numerous restricted countries, and the persecution of Christians around the world is devastating. How do the Beijing Olympics get so much coverage when Christians are being killed for attending an underground church meeting? I have no clue. However, I am referring to the types of court cases that say that the Bible cannot be read or children cannot pray. Again, I understand that kids CAN pray silently, so I don’t want anyone coming back and saying the same thing that you have already just said.
    Ellie: “Being beaten or starved is hardly a consequence of being a Christian in the United States of America, which is where I live and where I experience no discrimination because of my faith.” Um, that was an EXAMPLE. Examples are what helps people make their points. They are not the core of the argument itself. My point, which I thought was fairly simple, is that just because no one is telling YOU that YOU cannot pray at a court house, does not mean that those things are not going on in the world. In like fashion, I am obviously not being beaten, but some people ARE. Also, while it is good to live in America where we have freedom of religion, I desire to see Christians whose faith is so strong that it does come under scrutiny…that people do look at us and say, “Hey, you guys are different. You aren’t from this world.” So many people who I have never met have approached me with those kinds of words, and it warms my heart to know that there is a palpable change in my life because of God’s saving grace at work in my life. Pray that more and more Christians are called out of their lethargy; I don’t just want to fit in, I want to live out of this world.
    Ed: Yes, I am pretty sure that your head IS out of the sand :) many of the founding fathers (John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Eugene Belknap) repeatedly enumerated the benefits (and even the necessities) that religion brought to government. I’ll be happy to share those quotes with you =) And no, Jesus does not tell me to hate homosexuals, or Mexicans, or any other group. The Bible does teach me to love my neighbor, and especially those who ‘persecute’ or curse me. However, Jesus repeatedly got angry and frustrated with the leaders of His day (even calling the Pharisees white washed tombs and venomous snakes!). Whenenver a Christian becomes upset, it seems like a cop out for non-Christians to come back and say, “You are a Christian. Your God calls you to be loving towards everyone.” As for Alexis de Tocqueville, this is what he wrote, “
    Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention ; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing different courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.”
    So you still see this in America today, huh? Well, that’s good because I think you are much more optimistic than I am. Conformity to the world around us is NOT the calling of Christians. Tolerance is not the calling of Christians. Obviously we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but loving others requires instruction and correction. Letting others believe whatever they want to believe is not loving, neither is it caring for their needs. That kind of apathy and self centeredness is really closer to hating an unbeliever than anything else.

    I apologize in advance for any typos I may have…its 2 in the morning and my brain is fried…lol

    Like

  41. Nick K says:

    Since I didnt notice this at the time my apologies for the late response:

    But to me it seems like the government IS telling us when to pray, they are telling us we can’t. If freedom of religion means you can worship any God you want, but just not in government, thats not freedom. I am a Christian (if you haven’t figured that out) and I personally don’t care if a kid prays or if they don’t. I just want to make sure that they CAN if they want to.

    The kids can pray when they want…as long as they’re not disrupting class or compelling others to listen or participate.

    Your problem with that is?

    Here, read this: http://www2.ed.gov/Speeches/04-1995/prayer.html

    And as for pharisees…you do realize that earlier you were one of the “pharisees” right?

    Like

  42. Jim says:

    Hello Shea!

    Since this conversation goes back a way, could you refresh my memory? Just who do you claim is being persecuted in the USA?

    If you’re saying Christians are being persecuted in other parts of the world — and we need to address that persecution — I couldn’t agree more. Today, Christians are put to death for their beliefs in places like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and, presumably, Saudi Arabia. It’s getting much, much worse for Christians in Iraq, too. As evil as Saddam Hussein was, he did not persecute Christians for some reason.

    Of course, as Christians, our call is not merely to care for “our own” but for ALL human beings. I am sure you would agree that Jesus is every bit as heartbroken when a Buddhist is executed in Afghanistan as when a Christian is beheaded in Saudi Arabia. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” is not just the Golden Rule. It is “The Great Commandment” and the only thing that keeps “The Great Commission” from turning into imperialism.

    As to modern America, it is far more likely for a Wiccan or a Muslim to be persecuted for openly expressing their faith than for a Christian. Atheists, practitioners of non-Christian religions and even Christians deemed not sufficiently conservative can be openly discriminated against in our military academies. But Evangelical Christians are celebrated at every turn.

    In fact, I am having a difficult time thinking of a single case in which fundamentalist or evangelical Christians have been discriminated against in my lifetime here. I am 45. Admittedly, there have been a few instances where the law required some clarification to allow things like student-driven, after-school Bible studies and prayer meetings. But thanks to groups like the ACLU, which defended the rights of evangelicals, those meetings are permissable.

    So I think you really need to enumerate some specific examples if you are claiming domestic persecution. If it’s international persecution of Christians you are up in arms about, then count me with you. And Ellie, too. No one should be persecuted for their faith or their lack of religion. Ever. Whether they are Christian or not.

    Peace my friend!

    Jim

    Like

  43. Ellie says:

    Shea, of course it was meant to be offensive. It it had not been, you would have phrased it another way.

    Being beaten or starved is hardly a consequence of being a Christian in the United States of America, which is where I live and where I experience no discrimination because of my faith. Part of that is because we do have that First Amendment protection. That’s why we Anglicans can no longer put Baptists in the stocks in the middle of the Public Square for not attending Morning Prayer. Nor can the Congregationalists kick the Anglicans out of their territory. I’m quite happy about that.

    Like

  44. Ed Darrell says:

    Okay, my head is out of the sand, and looking around me, I see here in the U.S. as Ellie said: ” . . .[N]o discrimination [against Christians], no oppression, only freedom. Nobody stops me from praying, nobody stops me from attending church, or Bible studies, or church meetings.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in about 1830 that America’s great religious fervor and religious freedom was the result of the Constitutional separation of church and state.

    It’s still true.

    Do you see something different? Where?

    And, can you show me where Jesus said to hate, harass and persecute homosexuals, Mexican workers (papered or unpapered), or any other group?

    Like

  45. Shea McLaughlin says:

    Elle says, “I feel no discrimination, no oppression, only freedom. Nobody stops me from praying, nobody stops me from attending church, or Bible studies, or church meetings.”

    Yeah, well no one is starving me, or beating me, or abusing me, or persecuting me either, but there are people who are, and I still care about them. As a Christian, God has called us to care about the world around us. The mindset you just showed is exemplary of parochialism. Get your head out of the sand and look around you. (this wasn’t mean to be offensive, but so many Christians just care about themselves, which is why everyone else misinterprets them. They use the whole, “oh, Jesus tells us to love everyone,” when Jesus wasn’t afraid to call the Pharisees out on issues that they were wrong about.)

    Like

  46. Ed Darrell says:

    But to me it seems like the government IS telling us when to pray, they are telling us we can’t.

    Nothing’s stopping you from praying at any time.

    Or, are you insisting the world stop to listen to you pray? That’s not legal — you can’t dragoon the government into your evangelizing.

    Who has told you you can’t pray, when, and where?

    Like

  47. Ellie says:

    Shea, I too am a Christian. I feel no discrimination, no oppression, only freedom. Nobody stops me from praying, nobody stops me from attending church, or Bible studies, or church meetings. Why, just yesterday, I drove to church passing along the way, 6 other Christian Churches, a Christian Science reading room and a JW’s Kingdom Hall. I’ve prayed in restaurants — a public place — and the Prayer Police have not come to take me away. I’ve prayed in private, and the Thought Police have not knocked down my door to take me away to a gulag. If I want to “celebrate the reason for the season” by placing a Giant Blow Up Baby Jesus on my front lawn, I’m free so to do.

    There is no oppression of Christianity in this country and all the rightwingnut “conservative” Christian talking heads saying there is, does not make it so.

    That’s all I will say on the matter, because I do not make it a habit to argue with people who are younger than most of my grandchildren. That’s not an attempted insult, it’s just a fact. You could ask one of my grandchildren.

    I made this one small exception, because I (perhaps mistakenly — wouldn’t be the first or the last time I made a mistake) thought that your declaration of Christianity was to insinuate that you were the only one here. You are not.

    The majority of people in this country who proclaim a religious faith, are, in fact, Christians. We are free. May that wall of separation stay strong, so that all of us remain free.

    Like

  48. Shea says:

    Sorry it takes forever for me to get back…So much homework.

    Ok, here’s the part that I still don’t get. Ed, you said (and Nick said this to some extent as well), “Any private citizen may pray at any time. Even a public citizen may pray, privately. Darrell’s rule: The government may not tell us when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, how often to pray, what or whom to pray to, nor what to pray for. Those are unalienable rights left to each individual — even convicted felons.”

    But to me it seems like the government IS telling us when to pray, they are telling us we can’t. If freedom of religion means you can worship any God you want, but just not in government, thats not freedom. I am a Christian (if you haven’t figured that out) and I personally don’t care if a kid prays or if they don’t. I just want to make sure that they CAN if they want to. But this separation of church theology is making it so that’s not possible. At least that’s what it seems like to me. I don’t think the government should force you to to be a Christian, or a Muslim or a Buddhist. But if you want to be any of those things in PUBLIC then you should have the option of doing so.

    So if the Jews or Muslims wanted to pray or talk about their God in public, you would say the same thing to them? Most people say they would, but I’m not so sure. America is increasingly secular and hostile towards Christians especially. This is why this issue is so complicated, I guess.

    By the way, if you guys are sick of me, I can just shut up. =)

    Like

  49. Nick K says:

    SHea writes:
    I’m just confused by exactly what type of religion should or should not be allowed in government.

    None of them. That is what “secular” means. Oh and please don’t confuse “secular” and “atheist.” They’re not the same thing.

    Shea writes:
    It seems to me that its only Christianity thats the problem for you.

    I’d have the same problem if it was a group of Hindu’s demanding that there be, for example, public school-led Hindu school prayer.

    First off, both Ed and me are Christians. I’m a lifelong Catholic.

    The reason that it seems that we are specifically targeting Christianity, to you, is as Ed explained…they’re, or rather small groups of them, are the ones actively trying to violate the separation of church and state.

    There was a town in either South or North Carolina that was allowing Christian ministers to open the city council meetings with Christian prayer. Then a wiccan woman asked to open a city council meeting with a wiccan prayer. The city council refused. Now, if the city council had allowed her, plus representatives of all other religions who asked for the honor, I’d have no real problem with them opening the meeting with a prayer.

    But that’s the point, Shea. If you allow one religion to have an honor or a position then you have to allow all of them. You don’t get to pick and choose. So it is all of them…..or none of them. There is no inbetween on the subject. The government can not favor one religion over the rest. It cannot favor some of the religions over the rest of the religions. It has to treat every religion exactly the same.

    A Congressman who happens to be Christian can no more legislate Christian religious law into US law or an individual states law, then a, for example, a Muslim Congressman can or a Hindu Congressman or a Jewish Congressman. They can not force others to participate in their religious beliefs through the force of the US government nor force others to abide by their religion’s religious laws through the force of the government.

    And if you were my kid’s teacher in their public school and you told them to pray I would have you fired and do my utmost best to have your teacher’s license stripped and I would also bankrupt you with a very large civil rights lawsuit. And if the school tried to protect you I would go after them to. And I’m Christian. Your rights to your religious beliefs, Shea, do not grant you the right to force those religious beliefs on others using the government. Your rights to your religious beliefs end where another person’s rights to be free from your religious beliefs start.

    Like

  50. Ed Darrell says:

    Do you think all religions should be not allowed in the state besides Christianity?

    That is the structure of our government, yes. No church, no synagogue, no mosque, no circle, no religious entity has any formal role in our government. Nor does our government have any formal role in any religious entity. As Jefferson said it:

    Where the preamble [to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom] declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.

    Every denomination and the infidels of every denomination — all have their own religious rights, and the government shares none of them.

    What if a Muslim wants to pray? Is that ok?

    Any private citizen may pray at any time. Even a public citizen may pray, privately. Darrell’s rule: The government may not tell us when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, how often to pray, what or whom to pray to, nor what to pray for. Those are unalienable rights left to each individual — even convicted felons.

    Government may not lead the prayers. That’s the same as saying when and where to pray, what to pray for, and how to pray — and to whom or what to pray, depending on the prayer. If a Moslem wishes to pray, let ’em. If a Christian wishes to pray, let ’em. Neither of them gets the right to insist that you or I pray with them, however. In schools, kids may not stop on the stairs during the evacuation for a fire, to pray. But apart from that, kids can pray anywhere, any time.

    I’m just confused by exactly what type of religion should or should not be allowed in government.

    None in government. Separation of church and state.

    If the Constitution is saying that there can be no public expression of religion in the state, does that mean that EVERY religion is banned?

    Expression of religion is specifically protected by the Constitution. In the First Amendment, there is the establishment clause, banning any and all government establishment of religion, and there is the free exercise clause, protecting individuals’ free exercise of religion.

    Free exercise does not include the privilege of claiming government endorsement of one’s own faith, however.

    Do the football players wish to pray before a game? Let ’em. They may not be instructed by a government agent — the coach — in when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, etc.

    But the players themselves may pray any time, anyhwere.

    Their faith does not matter.

    It seems to me that its only Christianity thats the problem for you.

    No, it’s just that generally it’s only Christians who claim that they have a right to impose their faith on others, which they don’t. It’s only Christians who claim that their faith has special privileges under the Constitution that others don’t (the “Christian nation” claim).

    Jews don’t demand Jewish prayer in schools. Moslems don’t demand Moslem prayer before football games in Santa Fe, Texas. Wiccans don’t demand the right to build a Wiccan altar (whatever that might be) at the Lincoln Memorial, nor on the top of El Capitan. Only Christians do those things, oddly enough.

    So, it’s only Christians whose hands we have to slap, “Get your hands off my free expression, keep your hands off my government.”

    I’m a girl by the way =)

    Nice to have you come back to ask, regardless your gender, or anything else.

    Like

  51. Shea says:

    Do you think all religions should be not allowed in the state besides Christianity? What if a Muslim wants to pray? Is that ok? I’m just confused by exactly what type of religion should or should not be allowed in government. If the Constitution is saying that there can be no public expression of religion in the state, does that mean that EVERY religion is banned? It seems to me that its only Christianity thats the problem for you.

    I’m a girl by the way =)

    Like

  52. Nick K says:

    Apparently. It’s quite a shame. At least he was apparently willing to listen and possibly learn.

    (No, not being sarcastic, promise.)

    Like

  53. Ed Darrell says:

    Guess we scared Shea away.

    Like

  54. Aside from oversight and the approval/rejection of apppointments, the job of the legislature is to make laws. It is in legislating that the congress acts. If the congress can make no law regarding the establishment of religion, then de facto there is a separation right there of church and state.

    It’s quite plain.

    JMJ

    Like

  55. Nick K says:

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?– James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the Virginia General Assemby, June 20, 1785

    It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State. — James Madison, letter to Robert Walsh written “late in his life,” in Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom (1987) p. 39, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner,

    Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and civil government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations.

    The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles.

    The danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S.– James Madison, being outvoted in the bill to establish

    Like

  56. Nick K says:

    Oh I forgot one part so my apologies for this:

    US Constitution, Article 6, Paragraph 3:
    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Tell us, Shea, if the Founding Fathers wanted what you say…then why would they go out of their way to ban any religious test from being used to determine whether someone could hold any Office or public trust in the United States government, the states or the US military?

    Like

  57. Nick K says:

    Let me give you a clue what happens when religion starts mixing with government.

    Back during middle part of the 19th century in the city of “Brotherly Love” Philly the majority decided that in Philly’s public schools there should be bible instruction. A minority group objected to that idea because they claimed it imposed upon their rights to their religious beliefs.

    The majority refused to listen or accomodate that minority. THe protests and the denunciations of those protests grew stronger and louder until eventually they turned violent and into riots. In the end, Shea, two christian churches were burned to the ground and several dozen people were killed.

    The majority group in Philly were the Protestants.
    The minority group in Philly…were the Catholics. The Catholics objected to the reading of the King James Bible in the public schools and the compelling of their kids to listen to it. After all..we Catholics don’t think much of the King James Bible. But the Protestants wouldn’t listen, they claimed that as they were the majority they could do what they want. Those two Christian churches that I said were burned down? Those were Catholic churches burned down by those Protestants. The result of those riots ended up creating the Catholic parochial school system in this country. Because we discovered that we simply couldn’t trust the then majority to respect our rights to our religious beliefs and to not have their religious beliefs forced down our throats. The separation of church and state, Shea, exists to protect the rights of the religious minorities in this country from having their rights trampled on by the majority. It also protects the country as a whole from falling to the religious conflicts that so wracked the world…and still do.

    It was not meant to be a one way wall, a one wall is a asinine idea. You lose nothing by the separation of church and state being what it is. And dismantling it as you want would accomplish nothing…other then to make religion in this country a hollow thing. The country would not become stronger or be restored if the separation of church and state was gone. It would become weaker and likely be destroyed.

    Like

  58. Nick K says:

    Shea wrote:
    I think we also disagree on what the 1st Amendment was for. The wall of Separation of Church and State which the modern court promotes only came into effect in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case. Am i right?

    No, that wasn’t when it came into being. Tell me, Shea, how do you have a one way wall? And if religion can stick its nose into government then pray tell..which religion? Christianity? Islam? Judaism? Hinduism? Buddhism? Or do we go down to the denominations and try to decide whether it’s Catholic? Lutheran? Baptist? Reform Judaism? Orthodox Judaism? Jehovah’s Witness? Mormom? Shiite? Sunni?

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court said in the 1890’s “”There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights. malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.” in Weiss vs District board.

    President Grant said “Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and private
    schools entirely supported by private contributions. Keep the church and
    state forever separate.”

    ANd that treaty of tripoli you so like to dismiss was negotiated under President Washington and President Adams. It was negotiated, in part, by Thomas Jefferson and it was ratified without one vote of dissent by the senate of 1797.

    They knew better then you seem to, Shea, that what happens when you mix religion and government is that the government starts to persecute and oppress those who don’t happen to belong to the “favored” religion.

    You lose nothing by the separation of church and state as it is, Shea. Indeed..it is the one thing that has kept this country from falling to the religious civil wars that so wracked Europe. This country, Shea, is as religious as it is not in spite of the separation of church and state…but because of it.

    You don’t have everyone being equal when the government declares that it favors people of one religion over people of other religions. You don’t have equality when one religion is given special status and special rights over the rest.

    Leave the separation of church and state alone, shea, it’s done nothing to harm you or this country. So why are you trying to harm it?

    Like

  59. Ed Darrell says:

    I’d rather three times than not at all. No problem.

    Like

  60. Shea says:

    ok, make that three times. I’m really sorry.

    Like

  61. Shea says:

    Oops-sorry that got posted twice-you can ignore the second one.

    I’m still some what of a novice at leaving comments =)

    Like

  62. Shea says:

    Actually I go to a private classical school, but for your purposes its close to homeschooling. Ed, thank you for your response to my response, and I sincerely mean that. I am sorry if I made a sweeping generalization in your case (yes I had rhetoric and logic for six years too=). I guess the main thing that bothers me is the way most of America’s youth does not care enough about the preservation and cultivation of our American heritage-whatever that might be. I actually have read most of the original state constitutions and letters and writings of the founding fathers themselves, so I guess we are both doing a little stereotyping. I also know who Attila the Hun was-Age of Empires was my favorite computer game when I was younger =)

    Yes I actually did think that the Mayflower carried mostly Christian men over. (partly because of John Witherspoon). Would you care to enlighten me?

    As to the 5%, I counted Benjamin Franklin, Hugh Williamson, and John Wilson. I’m pretty sure Washington wasn’t, though you’ll probably disagree. I also don’t think Madison was either.

    I think we also disagree on what the 1st Amendment was for. The wall of Separation of Church and State which the modern court promotes only came into effect in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case. Am i right? When Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he was telling them that the government would be kept out of their freedom to worship as they chose. He also wrote a similar letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church saying, “Our excellent Constitution…has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary.”

    You said,
    No, my high school teachers taught the same falsehoods you spout here, from their “free” Cleon Skousen stuff. Skousen was wrong then, they were wrong to teach that, just as you get history and the effect wrong here.

    May I ask what type of school you went to? I was under the impression that public schools taught America was not Christian because that would violate the Constitution. (unless of course, you did not attend a public school)

    Nick: Shea, do you really want to claim you know better then someone who’s Masters degree is Political Science?

    I was taught that age doesn’t always bring more knowledge. Obviously in some cases it does. You can have all the learning in the world and not be smart. Does that make sense? I never claimed to know more but I do claim to have what it takes to know as much.

    Like

  63. Shea says:

    Actually I go to a private classical school, but close. Ed, thank you for your response to my response, and I sincerely mean that. I am sorry if I made a sweeping generalization in your case (yes I had rhetoric and logic too=). I guess the main thing that bothers me is the way most of America’s youth does not care enough about the preservation and cultivation of our American heritage-whatever that might be. I actually have read most of the original state constitutions and letters and writings of the founding fathers themselves, so I guess we are both doing a little stereotyping. I also know who Attila the Hun was-Age of Empires was my favorite computer game when I was younger =)

    Yes I actually did think that the Mayflower carried mostly Christian men over. (partly because of John Witherspoon). Would you care to enlighten me?

    As to the 5%, I counted Benjamin Franklin, Hugh Williamson, and John Wilson. I’m pretty sure Washington wasn’t, though you’ll probably disagree. I also don’t think Madison was either.

    I think we also disagree on what the 1st Amendment was for. The wall of Separation of Church and State which the modern court promotes only came into effect in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case. Am i right? When Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he was telling them that the government would be kept out of their freedom to worship as they chose. He also wrote a similar letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church saying, “Our excellent Constitution…has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary.”

    No, my high school teachers taught the same falsehoods you spout here, from their “free” Cleon Skousen stuff. Skousen was wrong then, they were wrong to teach that, just as you get history and the effect wrong here.

    Nick: Shea, do you really want to claim you know better then someone who’s Masters degree is Political Science?

    I was taught that age doesn’t always bring more knowledge. Obviously in some cases it does. You can have all the learning in the world and not be smart. Does that make sense? I never claimed to know more but I do claim to have what it takes to know as much.

    Like

  64. Shea says:

    Actually I go to a private classical school, but close. Ed, thank you for your response to my response, and I sincerely mean that. I am sorry if I made a sweeping generalization in your case (yes I had rhetoric and logic too=). I guess the main thing that bothers me is the way most of America’s youth does not care enough about the preservation and cultivation of our American heritage-whatever that might be. I actually have read most of the original state constitutions and letters and writings of the founding fathers themselves, so I guess we are both doing a little stereotyping. I also know who Attila the Hun was-Age of Empires was my favorite computer game when I was younger =)

    Yes I actually did think that the Mayflower carried mostly Christian men over. (partly because of John Witherspoon). Would you care to enlighten me?

    As to the 5%, I counted Benjamin Franklin, Hugh Williamson, and John Wilson. I’m pretty sure Washington wasn’t, though you’ll probably disagree. I also don’t think Madison was either.

    I think we also disagree on what the 1st Amendment was for. The wall of Separation of Church and State which the modern court promotes only came into effect in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case. Am i right? When Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he was telling them that the government would be kept out of their freedom to worship as they chose. He also wrote a similar letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church saying, “Our excellent Constitution…has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary.”

    No, my high school teachers taught the same falsehoods you spout here, from their “free” Cleon Skousen stuff. Skousen was wrong then, they were wrong to teach that, just as you get history and the effect wrong here.

    Nick: Shea, do you really want to claim you know better then someone who’s Masters degree is Political Science?

    I was taught that age doesn’t always bring more knowledge. Obviously in some cases it does. You can have all the learning in the world and not be smart. Does that make sense? I never claimed to know more but I do claim to have what it takes to know as much.

    Like

  65. Jim says:

    Shea,

    Lemme guess? Homeschooled?

    Like

  66. Nick K says:

    Shea, do you really want to claim you know better then someone who’s Masters degree is Political Science?

    Like

  67. Ed Darrell says:

    Shea, I’ve checked and double-checked the facts on the Treaty of Tripoli, and the other half-dozen similar treaties. Where do you claim error?

    Like

  68. Ed Darrell says:

    um, wow. I’m 17 and I’m smart enough to see that you guys know nothing about the founding of America.

    So you’ve got almost no experience reading about the founding, you’ve probably not read the original documents, and you haven’t read much of the collected works of the founders.

    Ignorance can easily be cured with reading. I hope you’ve got a good library.

    You’ve probably had a liberal education . . .

    Look up the meaning of “liberal education” someday — yes, that’s what every conservative and patriot aspires to. It doesn’t mean what you think it means. It is something you should aspire to, as a youth, and as person who cares about the future of our nation.

    Again, nothing wrong with your views that can’t be cured by education.

    . . . where your history, excuse me, social studies, teachers taught you that the founding fathers were all deists,

    While you got your views from some biased, partisan hack who lied to you about what social studies teachers teach, as well as the religious views of the founders. While normally I wouldn’t mind being reduced to a cultural stereotype, you’re just dead wrong. I grew up in the heart of John Birch Society America. Among my more aggressive U.S. history professors was an ex-CIA agent, somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun.

    Do you know who Attila was?

    . . . the Puritans and Pilgrims came over to England not for religious purposes, and that the 1st Amendment is to ban public expression of religion.

    You probably thought that the Mayflower carried a majority of religious refugees, instead of the economic refugees most of them were.

    Yes, you’re right, others know a lot more about history than you do — and what we know is more accurate, too.

    Sorry, but they were wrong, no surprise there! 95% of the 55 men that attended the Constitutional Convention were Christians, only 5% were deists!

    Red herring claim: The delegates to the Philadelphia convention specifically avoided writing anything that might be interpreted as granting any religious import to the new government. If we assume, as you wish to imply, that these men had Christian “worldviews” and intent to honor Christianity, we must note that they did so by leaving Christianity completely out of the document.

    Many of the delegates had been participants in the writing of their own state charters and bills of rights — and to a man, each of them had endorsed government free of religion and disestablishment of all churches in the U.S., especially in the states. George Mason generally is regarded as the author of the Virginia Bill of Fights, for example, which effectively disestablished religion in Virginia. You count him as Christian, and you completely ignore his views on religion.

    95% Christian and not deist, you say? Franklin and Washington as deist, who else do you count as deist?

    Madison, the most devout Christian among the most active founders, was also the single greatest exponent of the separation of church and state that you criticize here (have you read the Memorial and Remonstrance?). Madison was the guy who persuaded Mason, at almost the last minute, to put freedom of religion into the Virginia Bill of Rights. I gather from your count you think Madison a deist, which only provides more evidence that the religious leanings of the men is inconsequential to our discussion here, and a red herring argument on your part.

    You claim that these men were constructively idiot, writing a charter for a nation contrary to their own faith. You need to study history, and look up a definition for “hubris” to make sure your dictionary doesn’t have a mirror there.

    Shockingly enough, the Pilgrims and Puritans founded America for the glory of God and to reform the corrupted church of England.

    By the American Revolution, those intentions were inapplicable, if they ever were accurate. Remember, far less than a majority of the Mayflower immigrants came to America for any reason having to do with religion — and remember, when the chips were down, even and especially those religious refugees wrote a charter for their own colony that created a government devoid of religious connection, government by consent of the governed including especially the majority who were along for economic reasons, to get rich.

    You have a lot of happy study of U.S. history in front of you.

    Also, the 1st Amendment was drafted to limit the FEDERAL government, not the States!

    First, Article VI already contained the provision that kept religion out of all levels of government. Madison — the “Father of the Constitution” — made the elegant and simple arguments to Jefferson that the entire Bill of Rights was not necessary due to the structure of the government, with no role for a church in any branch of government (read my post above . . .), and no role for government in any operation of any church. In those letters, Madison made the point that all 13 colonies had already disestablished churches, and that each had a bill of rights that guaranteed freedom of religion to all people in the states.

    So, remembering it was that same James Madison who authored the Memorial and Remonstrance, and who pushed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom into law, it would be completely inaccurate and fatuous to claim that the author of the First Amendment wished to allow anyone to establish a church anywhere. Jefferson was right in 1802 when he wrote to the Danbury Baptists that our governments had erected a wall of separation between church and state, telling that congregation that their religions freedom in Danbury was protected from encroachments by the State of Connecticut and its Congregationalist majority. Connecticut was one of only four states that had even vestiges of establishment in 1787 that remained in 1801 (when they wrote for assistance against the state government’s interfering with their worship and belief). Connecticut would collect levies that churches counted as tithes — a voluntary collection that was intended to imply no endorsement of any church, and which had de minimis effect on religious freedom, either in practice or law.

    James Madison and the First Congress fully understood that the Bill of Rights applied to every state as well as the federal government. The fatuous claim that the Bill of Rights did not apply to states did not arise until Barron v. Baltimore in 1833, and then in a 5th Amendment contest on takings.

    It also made sure that the government would not have a preference within the (Christian) denominations. I bet that’s more truth than you ever learned in school.

    No, my high school teachers taught the same falsehoods you spout here, from their “free” Cleon Skousen stuff. Skousen was wrong then, they were wrong to teach that, just as you get history and the effect wrong here.

    Let me encourage you to get James Madison’s and Thomas Jefferson’s writings on religious freedom, and read them (much is available on line). Read the full, unexpurgated texts.

    You would also do well to read the decision in Torcaso v. Watkins, the first time the Supreme Court actually got directly to your claim that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to states in everything. See the case summary here, and the full text of the decision here at the Oyez site, or here at Findlaw. In that case the Court made clear that states must follow the Bill of Rights. In reality, we fought a long and bloody war on that issue from 1861 to 1865 when some who held your view of the limitations on states went overboard in their defense of the doctrine. They lost the war, Congress passed the 14th Amendment to reiterate, emphasize and clarify the law, and it remains the law today.

    Like

  69. Shea says:

    Oh, and you might want to check your facts about the Treaty of Tripoli-something else you never learned in school or the left wing media. Happy studying!

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  70. Shea says:

    um, wow. I’m 17 and I’m smart enough to see that you guys know nothing about the founding of America. You’ve probably had a liberal education where your history, excuse me, social studies, teachers taught you that the founding fathers were all deists, the Puritans and Pilgrims came over to England not for religious purposes, and that the 1st Amendment is to ban public expression of religion. Sorry, but they were wrong, no surprise there! 95% of the 55 men that attended the Constitutional Convention were Christians, only 5% were deists! Shockingly enough, the Pilgrims and Puritans founded America for the glory of God and to reform the corrupted church of England. Also, the 1st Amendment was drafted to limit the FEDERAL government, not the States! It also made sure that the government would not have a preference within the (Christian) denominations. I bet that’s more truth than you ever learned in school.

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  71. Ed Darrell says:

    Dear MOISÉS IBRAHIM,

    Kindly take your war against Opus Dei elsewhere, at least with your too-long rants in Spanish.

    Thank you.

    Like

  72. Ed Darrell says:

    Oooh, THAT Buckingham.

    He won’t pay up, I’d wager.

    For your future reference, an offer like that is called a “sweepstakes contract” and one may make the contract binding by performing. Buckingham would not get to be the judge of whether the other party had performed, if he refused to pay — it’s a binding contract, and it can be litigated.

    See the story of the Good Mr. Mermelstein.

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  73. Ed Darrell says:

    Some person of wisdom once wrote:

    Do you need inspiration? Turn to James Madison’s writings. In laying out his 15-point defense of religious freedom in 1785, Madison wrote that separation of church and state is essential to our form of government: “The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people.”

    Like

  74. mark says:

    Ed–
    Buckingham was a member of the Dover School Board. He hit up members of his church for money to purchase “Of Pandas and People” as an additional text to be used by biology classes as a counter to the evilutionist science text, passed the money (in the form of one of his own checks) to Alan Bonsell, another board member, who passed it along to his father, who bought the books. When questioned during the preliminary phase of the case, Buckingham suffered severe amnesia, claiming he did not know where the books came from.

    Like

  75. Ed Darrell says:

    Nick, the Treaty of Tripoli is just one of the several treaties I was referring to. The first one was ratified in 1786 by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation — the last one in 1816. In that 30 year period, the official policy of the U.S. government was that we are in no way a religious nation. To the Moslem Bashas in the Barbary States and other nations, this was a delightful change from dealing with European nations still working under the Pope’s order to wipe them out.

    Somebody will argue the Treaty of Tripoli was a mistake. We could allow one — but seven, over 30 years? Four different presidents? 14 different Congresses, including the Continental Congress? No, that wasn’t error. That was what was intended.

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  76. Nick K says:

    Lets not forget, Ed, the treaty of tripoli in which the Senate of 1797 ratified without dissent that said “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    Hm…wonder what “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” could possibly mean…..

    Like

  77. Nick K says:

    To quote:
    1) Slavish adherence to the founders on many issues is silly. Basing your beliefs on what they didn’t say is silly.

    Slavish adherence to the quixotic belief that you can mix religion and government and never have anything bad happen and/or maintain everyone’s equality is far more silly. And that you can interject Christianity into the government and not have 99.9999% of all evangelical protestant Republicans demanding that supposed Biblical law be legislated and that only “true Christians” be allowed to hold office is far more then silly then even that.

    If you don’t like what the Founding Fathers said then maybe you’ll accept what the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in the 1890’s: “There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights. malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.

    Or perhaps Justice Blackmun, writing for the majority in Lee vs Weisman in 1992: The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate…. When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

    Or perhaps Justice Jackson when he said:
    It is possible to hold a faith with enough confidence to believe that what should be rendered to God does not need to be decided and collected by Caesar.

    Or perhaps President Grant when he said: Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and privateschools entirely supported by private contributions. Keep the church and
    state forever separate.

    Now of course you can say I’m just quoting quotes and I am. But here’s the rub. Since no Christian is being harmed by the separation of church and state, despite stupid protests to the contrary, there’s no reason to get rid of it. And since it is what has kept this country free from the religious strife and religious wars that so wracked Europe and the rest of the world there is more then ample reason to keep it.

    But hey if you want to get rid of the separation of church and state, I’ll play. I’m sure you won’t mind it then when my church which is the single largest church in this country uses that position to have the government bury your churches 6 feet under, right? After all..if you jackanapes want to play this “What’s literally in the US Constitution” game you seem bent on..I’ll play it too…the US Constitution says that you have the right to worship…it however does not say that your church gets tax exempt status. I wonder how long your church would survive if it had to pay years, decades and possibly two centuries worth of back taxes.

    Consider this a lesson in two things:

    If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.

    And two..and more importantly…don’t mess with things you’re too stupid to understand.

    Like

  78. Nick K says:

    Mark wrotes:
    During the recent celebration of the 5th anniversary of Kitzmas, it was reported that William “Deer-in-the-Headlights” Buckingham says he has a $100 dollar bill for anyone that can show him where in the Constitution it says separation of church and state.

    And I’ll give $100 to anyone who can show me where in the US Constitution that

    1: Churches are tax exempt
    2: Where an individual has the right to own a firearm.
    3: Where it says that corporations are “citizens” and entitled to rights thereof.

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  79. Ed Darrell says:

    Geoman, you may want to pause for a moment to read the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

    VIRGINIA STATUTE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

    [Sec. 1] Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

    [Sec. 2] Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    [Sec. 3] And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.

    (From Ed Brayton’s column at Talk2Action)

    Like

  80. Ed Darrell says:

    Who is this Buckingham guy? How do I contact him to collect?

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  81. mark says:

    During the recent celebration of the 5th anniversary of Kitzmas, it was reported that William “Deer-in-the-Headlights” Buckingham says he has a $100 dollar bill for anyone that can show him where in the Constitution it says separation of church and state.

    Like

  82. Ed Darrell says:

    One way to win arguments is to obviously and intentionally miss the point. You are very good at that.

    Let’s summarize my points for simplicity.

    1) Slavish adherence to the founders on many issues is silly. Basing your beliefs on what they didn’t say is silly.

    I agree. Pay attention to the laws they actually wrote. In all 13 colonies, churches were disestablished before the end of the revolution — by 1778, actually, nine years before the Constitution was written. No state ever backtracked on that disestablishment, but instead, each state provided even greater separation of church and state in law until the Constitution. The Constitution provided zero role for churches in government — none at all. This was consistent with the role of churches in state government at the time: Zero.

    The only time anyone ever proposed to backtrack was 1785, in Virginia. Patrick Henry proposed to put clergy back on the state payroll, hoping they would daylight as teachers during the week. James Madison wrote the Memorial and Remonstrance, a petition, which makes the case that the gods wouldn’t want anything other than complete separation of church and states. Thousands of Virginians signed the petition, and in 1786, the Virginia Assembly not only rejected Henry’s proposal, but they also took up Jefferson’s proposal for a bill making more clear the separation of church and state, the Virginia Statute for Religious freedom. That proposal had lain dormant for seven years. They passed it, including the part that says, ‘we can’t bind future legislatures, but in the grand scheme of things, this separation of church and state is what any goog god would desire.’ That is still the law in Virginia.

    Article VI of the Constitution makes it illegal to have any kind of marriage of church and state, even down to the dogcatcher level. No religious oaths or tests for ANY office in the U.S.

    In ratifying the Constitution, no fewer than five states said they wanted a Bill of Rights that expressly stated religious freedom. By 1791, we had the First Amendment.

    Between 1786 and 1816, seven treaties expressly making the point that there is no religion in U.S. government.

    Pay careful attention to the words of the founders, especially those they wrote into law. Separation of church and state was their intent, and they pursued it hard from 1776 through 1833, when Connecticut vitiated the last vestige of establishment from its state government.

    What were the views of the founders on separation of church and state? They made it crystal clear in the laws they wrote in that 57 year period. We don’t need to look at what they didn’t say, and especially we don’t need to trot out “quotes” of dubious provenance to deny the laws they actually wrote. They meant what they said in the laws they wrote, and no “quote” can nullify the First Amendment nor any other law.

    As I said before, a more productive conversation would be you expressing your opinions rather than paraphrasing and cherry picking the founders.

    I think a more productive session would involve study of the words and actions of the founders. I don’t know why anyone would want to cherry pick history, leaving out all the parts they don’t agree with.

    2) Many arguments over the founder’s intent are generally a waste of time. The founders themselves were of several minds on the issue of religion and government. You focus on Jefferson and Madison because they agree (more of less) with you. By the way, you forgot Paine. You intentionally ignore numerous others that don’t agree with you. The founders were inconsistent. They said one thing and did another. They compromised. They went along with stuff they didn’t believe. I don’t insult the founders by noting this – I bring them down of the lofty pedestal you have placed them, I make them into men of their time and place. In fact I elevate you to their level. I say it ist is up to us to decide how much religon we want in goverment, as did all the other generations after the founders.

    There you go inventing history.

    I mention Madison and Jefferson because, of all the founders, they were the most adamant on religious freedom. I mention Patrick Henry because he was the polar opposite.

    But I discuss the laws because after all the compromising they did, the laws themselves represent the best view of what the collective intent of the founders was. The Constitution makes no role for the church in government, nor does it allow government any role in the governance of any faith. There is no contrary law, anywhere. On these points, there is no reason to look for further compromise — the record is solid, etched in stone, and etched in the National Archives.

    We have great sources of history. We should not ignore them.

    3) You frequently misrepresent what I say, to make it into the thing you wish I’d said, so you can rail away at that. Why do you do that?

    Cite one example. I have paraphrased your words in no place. I have quoted you fully, completely and accurately.

    Then I provided rebuttal and refutation. You have not dealt with my arguments adequately, nor at all in most cases. Why should we ignore what the laws the founders wrote say? Why should we ignore the history of what they did in those nation-formative years? You don’t say.

    Deal with the issues. Don’t accuse me of doing what I didn’t do.

    Jefferson believed that all men would eventually become Unitarians like himself. I never said he sought to actively make this happen.

    Then what was your point? In one letter, Jefferson made an off-hand remark that he thought people would turn to Unitarianism as they got more information and better education. It’s not in the laws he wrote, where he was clear in what he expected.

    The quote, or paraphrase, is wholly irrelevant to this discussion.

    Jefferson thought men should be free, and held slaves. Jefferson thought the Indians noble, then actively sought to push them off their lands. He often said one thing and did another. I merely note his many contradictions as a reason for you to stop relying on his every utterance to support your positions. Jefferson will disappoint you.

    So pay attention to those laws he wrote, those laws which survived the hurly-burly of legislative compromise. Jefferson’s words, in law, inform, and don’t disappoint, unless one favors a theocracy.

    You were the one who argued that Jefferson’s words alone, in the Declaration, should be listened to as though they are gospel, though not exactly on point to your claim that God is the fountain of rights.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter from where rights come. What matters is that governments are established among men to secure those rights, with governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (not from God or gods).

    Look at the government that was set up, with the consent of the governed: Separation of church and state.

    5) “You assume rights come from God. None of the founders did.” Did you really just write that? Seriously? Sure you want to go with the word “none”? And every single state constitution that mentions…I..dunno…us deriving our rights from god? Spend a little more time googling my friend. Maybe start with John Locke.

    Name the founder who argued that all rights come from God alone. You haven’t yet. In the end, as I noted above, it’s irrelevant: Governments are established to secure the rights, regardless their origin. But none of the founders believed there was no law before Jesus. They well understood Hammurabi’s code, the instructions Moses was given to “write down the laws,” the laws of Solon, Justinian, Suleiman and Maimonides. The historic roots of U.S. law are not limited to Christianity.

    In fact, I can’t think of any part of our government structure that comes from Christian thought. Federalism? Checks and balances? Separation of powers? Voting? We call our upper legislative body the Senate, after the Romans. Our democratic institutions are patterned on Athens and Rome, not Jesus. You may disagree — and if you do, I look forward to your explication of which parts of the Constitution flow from Christianity, specifically, with specifics on both ends.

    Go ahead. We’ll wait.

    Every single state constitution mentions God — but each and every one of them says that there is no place for God in government. Including all three of Alabama’s to pick one state populated by fundamentalists, every state constitution has a clause in the bill of rights or in the body of the document, which echoes and restates the First Amendment, some going a bit farther. Not one state constitution written since 1776 puts God or any church in any role in government. The constitutions give thanks to God, or they say we should pay heed to a divine force, but none of them make any turn to gods beyond that.

    Yes, I’ve read each one of them. I’ve been through this exercise before. You’re not going to win with the charters for Puerto Rico or Guam, either.

    John Locke? He’s the guy who wrote the charters of the Carolinas, both of which guaranteed religious freedom a couple of generations prior to the American Revolution, both of which incorporated separation of church and state.

    You seem not to have noticed that the origin of rights was not the issue. The best protection of rights, even of God-given rights, comes from a secular government separated from all churches, these men believed based on their hard experience and their long studies of history. And so they wrote laws that provided the best protection of those rights: Government, separated from churches.

    Like

  83. Jim says:

    Hi there Geo!

    Just a quick tip. You might try actually responding to Ed’s response, point by point, before weighing in with new invective and obfuscation.

    I find that a helpful approach and you will, too. Oh, people also find Ed a supremely decent fellow with whom to either agree or disagree — as long as they don’t like playing with strawmen, engaging in worn-out old (internet or otherwise) memes and bathing in hyperbole.

    You’ve some good stuff to contribute, I can see. But answer the man. Don’t join the Morgan Freeburg school of “He made a point I can’t refute so I’ll just ignore it” debate.

    Hope you and yours had a merry Christmas and will have a happy New Year!

    Jim

    Like

  84. Geoman says:

    Ha ha.

    One way to win arguments is to obviously and intentionally miss the point. You are very good at that.

    Let’s summarize my points for simplicity.

    1) Slavish adherence to the founders on many issues is silly. Basing your beliefs on what they didn’t say is silly. I would say that here, now, you are smarter than all the founders put together. Why? You have the benefit of 250 years of collective human experience with democracy and government. In addition you are probably better educated and have instant access to the web. As I said before, a more productive conversation would be you expressing your opinions rather than paraphrasing and cherry picking the founders. In fact I will probably agree with whatever you express as your own opinion regarding the role of religion and government. I certainly think you will have a valid and well considered thoughts.

    2) Many arguments over the founder’s intent are generally a waste of time. The founders themselves were of several minds on the issue of religion and government. You focus on Jefferson and Madison because they agree (more of less) with you. By the way, you forgot Paine. You intentionally ignore numerous others that don’t agree with you. The founders were inconsistent. They said one thing and did another. They compromised. They went along with stuff they didn’t believe. I don’t insult the founders by noting this – I bring them down of the lofty pedestal you have placed them, I make them into men of their time and place. In fact I elevate you to their level. I say it ist is up to us to decide how much religon we want in goverment, as did all the other generations after the founders.

    3) You frequently misrepresent what I say, to make it into the thing you wish I’d said, so you can rail away at that. Why do you do that? Jefferson believed that all men would eventually become Unitarians like himself. I never said he sought to actively make this happen. Jefferson thought men should be free, and held slaves. Jefferson thought the Indians noble, then actively sought to push them off their lands. He often said one thing and did another. I merely note his many contradictions as a reason for you to stop relying on his every utterance to support your positions. Jefferson will disappoint you.

    5) “You assume rights come from God. None of the founders did.” Did you really just write that? Seriously? Sure you want to go with the word “none”? And every single state constitution that mentions…I..dunno…us deriving our rights from god? Spend a little more time googling my friend. Maybe start with John Locke.

    Like

  85. Ed Darrell says:

    The point I was making is that asserting America is a Christian nation is no less stupid than asserting the opposite, that we were secular at our founding.

    They created a secular government, intentionally leaving out any role for the church. Why do you ignore the laws they actually wrote?

    Our government is a secular government. Most of the founders — I know of no exception — regarded religion as a personal thing, not something for the state to dictate, not something for the state to promote or practice. They wrote the laws that made the secular state. What better indication of intent could there be?

    “And ask yourself this question. Who’s religion? Yours? mine? The Jews? The Muslims? The Hindus? The Buddhists?” Er. Who cares? The founders believed that religion was crucial for the existence and continuation of Democracy.

    Most of the founders believed humans should be moral, but many, like Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Franklin and others, regarded religion as too often a barrier to morality.

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that when the founders say “we need moral and honest people,” that they are saying “we need a state religion,” or “we need a powerful church that is overweening and public.” Not the same thing at all.

    That a strongly enforced private morality was necessary for the system to work. That laws alone were insufficient to control men in a free society. That government should protect and nurture religious belief, as a necessary ingredient for continuation of Democracy.

    What the founders believe was that education was essential to good morality, and therefore, to good government. You can read it in the Northwest Ordinance. You can read it in Jefferson’s plans for education in Notes on the State of Virginia.

    Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, all founded schools, but not churches. Look at their actions.

    At this point I could mention Jefferson’s on-going support of using federal money to evangelize Indians, or his belief that all men would eventually become Unitarians, but that would be poor sport.

    Jefferson didn’t support evangelizing Indians (you warned against being disingenuous with history — take your own warning). Jefferson approved the treaty with the Kaskaskias — a separate nation under our laws — by which the U.S. got clear title to Illinois, and the Kaskaskias (who had been converted to Catholicism by LaSalle, or Marquette — I forget which) got a chapel and a few hundred dollars to pay for a priest (from France, probably). Quid pro quo — no evangelizing.

    Jefferson thought people would be wise, and smart, and get wiser and smarter. He did not propose to make Unitarianism the state church.

    Like

  86. Ed Darrell says:

    Geoman said:

    Jeepers. Most of this is nonsense.

    I hate when people spend their time appealing to the legitimacy of the founders. There is the inevitable twisting and turning of logic, the fake quotes and arguments on both sides. Here’s a thought – argue why separation of church and state is a good thing. Then someone else could argue the opposite point of view. Then perhaps there could be consensus, some religion in government is okay, but not too much. Then we could all take a nap.

    Madison made that case, in the Memorial and Remonstrance. It’s still true. Among other things Madison wrote:

    7. Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive State in which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall. On which Side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for or when against their interest?

    Geoman said:

    That said, it is impossible to reconcile separation of church and state when presidents are sworn in on the bible, our money says “In God we Trust”, Moses is carved on the Supreme court building, and the declaration of independence clearly discusses how our rights were endowed by our creator. Or were the framers just kidding around about all that other stuff?M

    First, there’s no requirement that a president be sworn in on the Bible — and in fact a few have not used it. On the other hand, there’s no harm, nor any official government action, in a president picking a book to put his hand on during the ceremony. There is no establishment of religion in allowing a president-to-be the free exercise use of a Bible for the purpose. It would be a problem if the government forbade it.

    Our money says “In God We Trust,” but the Supreme Court swears it’s not a religious claim. Were it religious, of course, it would have to go. So, to keep the slogan, we have to deny that the line is religious. There’s some odd poetry in that.

    Our money didn’t carry that slogan during the founders’ years. The move so well described by Kramnick and Moore in The Godless Constitution to fix the fact that the Constitution failed to sufficiently honor God or Jesus got no serious traction until the Civil War; Lincoln refused to support their drive for the “Jesus Amendment,” but cabinet members suggested putting the slogan on a coin, to keep the movement members from making more trouble during the war. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the slogan got any backing in law — so it’s not a “founders’ beliefs” sort of thing.

    Moses on the Supreme Court Building? Not as the leader of religion, but as part of our heritage of laws — you fail to mention that Confucius is there with Moses, on the exterior. Mohammed is also there, in the Supreme Court Chamber. You might also want to consider that the Court was completed in the Great Depression, and probably does not perfectly reflect the intent of the founders — but don’t overstate what the art on and in the Court means. If you wish to give deference to a depiction of Moses in art on the Court, then you must also give deference to Mohammed, and Confucius, and Aesop. Don’t be inconsistent.

    When you get around to the art in the House Chamber, let me remind you again it’s 20th century art, but let me also call your attention to the fact that Jefferson is there, too — and so is Napoleon, Maimonides, and Suleiman. So is Solon. Which religion do you think we’re supposed to follow, from that bunch?

    In any case, as Madison predicted, this minor marriage of church and state produced corruption of the church, at least so far as keeping “In God We Trust” a religious idea. The Supreme Court says it probably no longer is.

    Jefferson writes a letter to a bunch of Baptists in Connecticut, and THAT is an official act and law of the land?

    Yeah, it is. The Danbury Baptists asked that the president intervene against the state. Jefferson, following what would later become the law with respect to executive actions on the states, sought the path of least action necessary to do the job. He consulted with the Attorney General, Levi Lincoln, about what form his action should take, and they settled on the proclamation in the form of a letter. Then they worked over the language of the letter as they would any proclamation. Critics like to call this a “private letter.” Jefferson didn’t treat it that way — it was a letter to him in his capacity as president, after all — and it is collected and catalogued as part of the official presidential papers of Jefferson, not as correspondence, and especially not as private correspondence.

    Seems to me that Jefferson had an opinion, a belief, that he expressed 25 years after helping to write the constitution.

    Jefferson’s help here was in his authoring the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which informed Madison during the Philadelphia convention. Jefferson wrote it in 1779; Madison pushed it into law in 1786, in response to Patrick Henry’s proposal to reinstate state payments to clergy in Virginia, a move towards re-establishment of the church. It was against Henry’s proposal that Madison wrote the petition known as the Memorial and Remonstrance.

    Jefferson was ambassador to France, was in Paris and did not directly participate in the convention at Philadelphia. That was Madison’s baby.

    I assume that someone (Jefferson) brought this up at some point during the drafting of the constitution, and that other framers convinced him to tone it down. If it was indeed woven into the fabric of our country as you contend, it must then be the case that it was clearly and intentionally excluded from the constitution. Take some meaning from that.

    Madison never took his eyes off that particular issue. Fortunately, perhaps, Patrick Henry refused to serve as delegate, as he was elected. Henry did not like the idea of a new nation with a central government stronger than the Articles of Confederation (and for that and his other opposition to the creation of the U.S., I think his views on state religion should be dismissed; Virginia agreed with me on that). As Madison explained to Jefferson in letters after the convention, there was no real need for a religious freedom clause in a bill of rights, since there was by design no delegation of religious duty or privilege from the people to any branch or twig of the new government. Madison was not opposed to a bill of rights, but he argued it was unnecessary because the Constitution was created so as to pose no threat to the rights people asked to be guaranteed. Madison had learned from his long experience legislating freedoms, and that showed up in the structure of the Constitution.

    By your twisted logic, not mentioning religion in Article 1 et al means religion has no role in government, but the Separation wall, which is also not mentioned, is the law of the land because Jefferson wrote it in a letter 25 years later? Come again?

    Jefferson only acknowledged the structure that was created by the Constitution. It is a fact that the church, a formal part of government in England and in the colonies, was excluded from the Constitution. You may not claim that it was included by lack of mention, either.

    Exclusion of church from government was an issue that had been debated in each of the 13 colonies separately. By 1788, following the suggestion of the Continental Congress that the colonies amend their charters to function without England, without the crown, without Parliament, and without the church, for the duration of hostilities, each of the 13 colonies disestablished all churches, with only four colonies clinging to even a vestige of establishment. Madison convinced Mason to re-open the Virginia bill of rights to include religious freedom, and it was Madison who carried on the campaign to protect and extend religious freedom in Virginia in 1785 and 1786. No one proposed to backtrack on that trend at the Philadelphia convention.

    During the convention there were a few incidents that clearly indicated the intent of the convention. Jews in South Carolina financed the participation of South Carolina, both in the revolution, and in the Philadelphia Convention. They provided the money with the full expectation that their freedom to worship and believe would not be infringed by the new government. During the convention, Jews in Philadelphia asked to meet with Washington (the president of the convention) on the issue of religious freedom — they were anxious to preserve their freedoms. This is analogous to the request of the Danbury Baptists 14 years later. Washington delegated the meeting to Madison, who assured the group that religious freedom would not be infringed.

    I don’t think there can be any serious question about just how free from religious interference these men intended the government to be. Many of them had been working since 1770 on this exact issue, in all 13 colonies, and many times. In at least 7 different treaties negotiated and ratified between 1786 (prior to the Constitution) and 1816, U.S. diplomats, executives and presidents, and the U.S. Senate, approved language that said, as the Treaty with Tripoli did, that the U.S. was not a Christian nation (and therefore had no inherent, religious opposition to Islam, and no inherent reason to war with Islamic nations). One might argue that the “founders” goofed once in failing to mention that they intended to create a Christian nation — but not 13 times in creation of colony bills of rights, not 7 times in treaties over 30 years, not in 1775 in the Continental Congress, not again in 1776 with the Articles of Confederation, and not again in 1787 with the Constitution.

    On more than two dozen occasions the colonists considered the issue of separation of church and state, and each time, they chose separation, increasing separation, less marriage of church and state. That’s no accident.

    In fact we see evidence all around us that the founders intended religion to be the cornerstone of public life, informing our politics and laws.

    No. Mason and Jefferson worked on the issue of the role of religion in common law, for example. Under common law, blasphemy was a crime. The local preacher could be the indicting authority, the prosecutor, and the judge of the law, if he chose — at common law. Jefferson wrote a new law on blasphemy that gave jurisdiction to the local, secular, county prosecutor. This was intentional, Jefferson explained: By codifying the law, it took it out of the realm of common law (judge-made law). And, Jefferson noted, no prosecutor in his right mind would ever prosecute blasphemy — so blasphemy was effectively removed from the realms of criminal behavior (Jefferson was right in his prediction, for Virignia’s future).

    When the Statute for Religious Freedom was up for final passage in the Virginia Assembly, there was a proposal to insert the word “Jesus” into the preamble, to make it clear that it referred to Christian religious freedom. Jefferson explained:

    The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.

    Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Modern Library 1993 edition, pp. 45 and 46.

    Could there be a more clear statement on what was intended than the vote of the Virginia Assembly, and the dozens of other votes in other state legislatures throughout the continent over time?

    It’s not that the “founders” forgot to mention that they intended, really, to make a “Christian nation.” They wrote the laws they intended to write. It’s a slam on the founders and our nation’s proud heritage to claim, now, that they goofed when they created religious freedom.

    If the government derives it’s legitimacy from the people, and the people derive their freedom and liberty from God…then….? How do you get to the concept that religon has no role in our government or how we govern?

    Look at the laws. You assume rights come from God. None of the founders did. They knew history much better than that. Are you arguing that, prior to the establishment of Christianity, rights did not exist? Jefferson, who read Greek already, taught himself Hebrew to read the Bible in its native languages, knew what he was doing. So did Adams. So did Madison. And though he didn’t read Latin, or Greek, nor even French, so did Washington.

    Do not insult the founders by ignoring what they said and wrote about the origins of rights, and abusing the laws they wrote to protect those rights.

    Look again at the Declaration of Independence. Why, does it say, governments are established? Where does it argue that God is a necessary participant in government? Government is not established among gods, to the founders. Make sure you get their words right.

    I should say, I’m certainly no advocate for a large religious role in government, I just don’t believe you should be disingenuous regarding our own history simply because you desire things to be how you like them.

    Where have I been disingenuous about history? Give me the specific claim, tell me the source of your correction. I don’t do this lightly.

    Like

  87. Geoman says:

    “Really? Where does it say that we get our freedom and liberty from God?” Gee where did they say that? Well, there is the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Hmmm. Not exact, but close. How about this?

    “The right to freedom is the gift of God Almighty….The rights of the Colonists as Christians may be best understood by reading, and carefully studying the institutes of the great Lawgiver and head of the Christian Church: which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” Sam Adams

    Bit extreme that one. I could bore you with a couple of dozen additional quotes, many by Jefferson and Franklin, but what would be the point? The concept was that freedom was an inherent birth right of man, a natural state of being. If you believed in God, as the Founders did, then this gift presumably originated there. This concept and belief was not alien or unusual – it was common and frequently expressed by politicians and philosophers of the time.

    The point I was making is that asserting America is a Christian nation is no less stupid than asserting the opposite, that we were secular at our founding.

    “And ask yourself this question. Who’s religion? Yours? mine? The Jews? The Muslims? The Hindus? The Buddhists?” Er. Who cares? The founders believed that religion was crucial for the existence and continuation of Democracy. That a strongly enforced private morality was necessary for the system to work. That laws alone were insufficient to control men in a free society. That government should protect and nurture religious belief, as a necessary ingredient for continuation of Democracy.

    At this point I could mention Jefferson’s on-going support of using federal money to evangelize Indians, or his belief that all men would eventually become Unitarians, but that would be poor sport.

    The founders argued for decades over this issue without resolution. They pondered it, they worried it, zigged then zagged. They never resolved it in favor of complete secularity, as the silly post here suggests.

    The reason the nation may have SEEMED secular to casual readers of the constitution was that, in order to form the Union at all, mention of God was removed. It was too big a hot button. Do we say Jesus, or god, or supreme being? So it was ixnay of the Odgay. Leaving God out of the constitution was simply an expedient political compromise to get the document done. Much like slavery, the issue of how much religion was the right amount was kicked down the road for latter generations to solve.

    “And tell us…have you read the part of the US Constitution that says that religious tests cant be used as qualification for office? Or the part that says Congress can’t establish a state religion.”

    Actually, yeah, more than a few times. Do you understand why those sections were added? What they were meant for? What specific problem they were meant to solve? You might want to look that up.

    Hey, here’s a weird fact – every state constitution in America mentions God. Ever read your own State constitution? Don’t feel bad – nobody does. Here’s a grab bag:

    “We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.”

    “We, the People of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government; for our civil and religious liberty; and desiring to perpetuate its blessings”

    “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings.”

    “We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe…”

    “Although it is the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of Almighty God; and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depends, are hereby promoted; yet no man shall or ought to be compelled to attend any religious worship, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of worship, or to the maintenance of any ministry, against his own free will and consent.” Delaware

    Every. Single. State. How is that possible if the Federal constitution requires government to be purely secular?

    Like

  88. Nick K says:

    Geo wrote:
    In fact we see evidence all around us that the founders intended religion to be the cornerstone of public life, informing our politics and laws. If the government derives it’s legitimacy from the people, and the people derive their freedom and liberty from God…then….? How do you get to the concept that religon has no role in our government or how we govern?

    Really? Where does it say that we get our freedom and liberty from God?

    And ask yourself this question. WHo’s religion? Yours? mine? The Jews? The Muslims? The Hindus? The Buddhists?

    See, thats the problem with those who want to pretend that the separation of church and state doesn’t exist. They open this country to all the religious nonsense that have caused war after war in all the rest of the world.

    Oh it was Madison too who wrote “Separation of church and state” And tell us…have you read the part of the US Constitution that says that religious tests cant be used as qualification for office? Or the part that says Congress can’t establish a state religion.

    Like

  89. Geoman says:

    Jeepers. Most of this is nonsense.

    I hate when people spend their time appealing to the legitimacy of the founders. There is the inevitable twisting and turning of logic, the fake quotes and arguments on both sides. Here’s a thought – argue why separation of church and state is a good thing. Then someone else could argue the opposite point of view. Then perhaps there could be consensus, some religion in government is okay, but not too much. Then we could all take a nap.

    That said, it is impossible to reconcile separation of church and state when presidents are sworn in on the bible, our money says “In God we Trust”, Moses is carved on the Supreme court building, and the declaration of independence clearly discusses how our rights were endowed by our creator. Or were the framers just kidding around about all that other stuff?

    Jefferson writes a letter to a bunch of Baptists in Connecticut, and THAT is an official act and law of the land? Seems to me that Jefferson had an opinion, a belief, that he expressed 25 years after helping to write the constitution. I assume that someone (Jefferson)brought this up at some point during the drafting of the constitution, and that other framers convinced him to tone it down. If it was indeed woven into the fabric of our country as you contend, it must then be the case that it was clearly and intentionally excluded from the constitution. Take some meaning from that.

    By your twisted logic, not mentioning religion in Article 1 et al means religion has no role in government, but the Separation wall, which is also not mentioned, is the law of the land because Jefferson wrote it in a letter 25 years later? Come again?

    In fact we see evidence all around us that the founders intended religion to be the cornerstone of public life, informing our politics and laws. If the government derives it’s legitimacy from the people, and the people derive their freedom and liberty from God…then….? How do you get to the concept that religon has no role in our government or how we govern?

    I should say, I’m certainly no advocate for a large religious role in government, I just don’t believe you should be disingenuous regarding our own history simply because you desire things to be how you like them.

    Like

  90. Jim says:

    Hello Ed!

    Just wanted to thank you for a well-written and erudite expression of truth, Hattip’s infantile hand-wringing and victim mentality notwithstanding.

    As a committed Christian, I am grateful to know that there are people out there — Christian, non-Christian and non-religious — who are interested in protecting church from state and state from church. Without fail, every single time humanity has embraced theocracy, it has damaged both state and religion. I do recognize people of good will on the other side of the argument would protest that they don’t endorse theocracy, per se. Maybe not even Christocracy. But they would move us a few steps down a slippery slope we’d best avoid entirely.

    I like my “10 Commandments” right where they are: posted in my home, posted in my church and (hopefully) written on my heart.

    Hope you have a happy New Year, Ed!

    Jim

    Like

  91. Nick K says:

    Hattip, here’s a link to the DOI. Where does it say “God given rights”? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

    Secondly, Hattip, you might want to realize that the US Constitution is the dominant document of the United States and is what sets up the government of the United States. All the DOI really is is a polite telling of the King of England to go **** himself by 13 then british colonies. Really, the DOI means nothing legally to the other 37 states in the United States. After all…not like Minnesota ever signed it. Nor did Hawaii or Alaska or Texas or California.

    Like

  92. Nick K says:

    Hattip writes:
    In fact, its clear intent is to keep the government out of the churches and most expressly not to keep religion out of the public square.

    If you and your fellow right wing religious whackos would quit thinking that Christianity is the only religion entitled to the public square then you’d have nothing to whine about Hattip.

    But tell us child…if you think the separation of church and state is a farce then you have no problem with my church, being the largest in this country, using the government to bury yours right?

    See, Hattip, thats what you don’t get. You lose nothing by the separation of church and state being there. Your rights aren’t being denied by it, you’re not losing a thing. All the separation of church and state does really is protect your church’s right to exist. And yet you want to pretend that what shields your religion is something that shouldn’t be there.

    Like

  93. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, God save us, I didn’t think Hattip could stoop so low:

    4) The Cultural Marxist Big Lie of the “separation of Church and state is pernicious, is propaganda, and show a complete lack of decency, honesty and honorableness. It is an assault on our very way of live.

    Neither Madison nor Jefferson was a Marxist. The Memorial and Remonstrance is a thoroughly American, patriotic document. The presidential proclamation that first established, in government the idea of a wall of separation of church and state was issued by Jefferson, a fan of Adam Smith, well prior to the inklings of Marxism (years before Marx was born).

    Claiming “separation of church and state” to be a Marxist idea is counter to history, trivially irrelevant to any discussion of U.S. law. In the adamant way its propagandists hurl the epithet, however, the claim is pernicious to understanding U.S. history and law, is propaganda, and manifests a complete lack of decency, honesty and honorableness. It is an assault on our very way of life, and an extreme expression of hostility to America, the U.S. flag, U.S. law, Mom, apple pie, and Chevrolets.

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  94. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, one more: Hattip said:

    In fact, its clear intent is to keep the government out of the churches and most expressly not to keep religion out of the public square.

    Not out of the public square, out of government. See Article IV. See Amendment 1.

    Like

  95. Ed Darrell says:

    This will be brief; I don’t plan to go deep on this.

    Hattip said:

    It would have been an extremely outlandish claim that this document was ordained by God. The religious at the time, which would be about 99* of the population, would have consider this sort of assertion blasphemous

    And yet, with the possible exceptions of the Iroquois Confederation and the Republic of Iceland, all other governments on Earth pretty much claimed that they were ordained by God. In the English tradition, from whence came most of the “founders,” it was so much an assumption that the monarch was also the head of the church in England, and is traditionally pronounced “defender of the faith.”

    Madison’s convention and Morris’s words made a simple point: Unlike almost every other government on Earth, this one did not claim to be ordained by God.

    Have you ever considered the word “ordain,” Hattip? You should — consider its meaning, where it is usually used, and what it means in the context of some entity “ordaining” the creation of a government.

    History is there, available for all. You gotta read it, though.

    It is wholly specious logic–and talk about spurious usage of supporting documents, you whole side step the mention of “God given rights” in the Declaration. Talk abut cherry picking.

    The Declaration makes no mention of “God-given rights.” Talk about picking imaginary cherries.

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  96. hattip says:

    Well, Ed, as usually you get the original archenemy wrong, lard your responses up with fallacious “logic” and add your usual dose of red herrings and straw men.

    You do so right off the bat: Inferring (and that is all you are doing) the presence of something by the absence of it opposite. The fact that the preamble does not say that it is “ordained by god” proves absolutely nothing at all. It is a civil document. It would have been an extremely outlandish claim that this document was ordained by God. The religious at the time, which would be about 99* of the population, would have consider this sort of assertion blasphemous It is wholly specious logic–and talk about spurious usage of supporting documents, you whole side step the mention of “God given rights” in the Declaration. Talk abut cherry picking.

    Here you show straightaway your usual intellectual dishonesty, not to mention a cartoonisd understanding of religious belief, doctrine and practice in the Colonial period–or even a passing understanding of the society of the time. And so it goes with all your other arguments: all equally fallacious.

    But here is the point: Since the New Deal, in line with their Cultural Marxism, the Left, embodied by the Democrat Party, has use a wholly ahistorical and fictional notion of a “separation of church and state” to create a specious set of ideological formulae to push through atheistic socialism, assault the Judeo-Christian roots of our great nation and civilization, destabilize our society and to silence all critics and political opponents. Stalinist that they are, they just cannot help themselves.

    Prior to this assault on Christianity, no one in the history of this nation publicly espoused these view the Marxist put forward as founding principles. In fact, all presidents were Sworn in on a bible

    The conservative position still holds:
    1) Nowhere in the constitutions does the phrase “separation of church and state appear”. Nor does and overt language appear to support the Marxist usage of the phrase.

    2) the Establishment Clause was there to keep the State from defining a State sanctioned or operated Denomination or Confession such as was the case with the Anglican Church in England. Moreover, it prohibits the State from placing restriction on religion in any way shape or form. In fact, its clear intent is to keep the government out of the churches and most expressly not to keep religion out of the public square. Our entire history supports this prior to the the defilement if the Constitution by the Hard :eft starting in the 1930’s.

    The most glaring example of this is the Abolitionist movement, but there are myriad others.

    3) There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution to allow the federal government to go around to court houses and state houses and force them to take down christian symbols or the ten commandments (and the fact that these are even there is blindingly clear support of #2 above). This has absolutely nothing to do with American culture, history and tradition and have everything to do with Marixist and Communist “culture and dictat.

    4) The Cultural Marxist Big Lie of the “separation of Church and state is pernicious, is propaganda, and show a complete lack of decency, honesty and honorableness. It is an assault on our very way of live.

    5) Collectivism in it various fors is a srt f secular religion. All desicussions of the matter must take this into account.

    Your post, ironically, shows your opponents to be correct: In your obtuseness and irrationality, you have inadvertently proved their point.

    There is no “separation of Church and state. It is you who push forward a “canard” (which is actually a lie_ and not you opponents.

    Pout all you want and assert otherwise, but it only shows you resistance to fact, logic, decency and common sense.

    Like

  97. Thanks, Ed. Secularists also recognize that Article 6, Clause 2 recognizes the constitution as the “Supreme Law of the Land,” not any sort of scripture.

    What amazes me is that in insisting that the phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution, while the phrase “In the year of our Lord” is significant indication that Jefferson considered it is to be a Christian document.

    They completely ignore the writings of another of the founders, James Madison, who wrote very clearly that an entanglement with religion by the state would do more harm to religion than the religious would hope; that by using the law to collect money for religious needs they would be asking the assembly to judge on religious matters to the detriment of freedom of religion.

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  98. Nick K says:

    My usual response is “So tell me…can your church afford to pay years, decades and possibly two centuries worth of back taxes?”

    If those people want churches to be able to get into the game, then those churches can pay the ticket price.

    Like

  99. Ed Darrell says:

    The indomitable Steve Bratteng writes in another forum:

    When asked where in the Constitution one can find “separation of church and state,” tell them it’s right next to the part about your right to own a gun.

    Like

  100. Doug Indeap says:

    Good points well put.

    Like

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