Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Establishment Clause

This is a placeholder post on notes/quotes related to the Establishment Clause and the Separation of Church and State:

Thomas Jefferson's 'Notes on the State of Virginia' where it talks about Religion (which you can get free online):

Jefferson wrote in 1802 on the CHURCH AND STATE, Wall of separation: Believing 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 R. to A. Danbury Baptists viii, 113. (1802)

William F. Jamieson writing in 1873 'The clergy a source of danger to the American republic':
Notwithstanding the Constitution affirms that no "religious test" should exist, its framers were still fearful that some loop-hole remained through which danger of a religious character might come to the nation. Hence, at the very first session, of the first Congress, the first amendment to the constitution was made:
"Congress shall make 'no law respecting an establishment of religion, of prohibiting the free exercise thereof," etc.
With what jealous care did the Fathers of this Republic guard against the interference of religionists with the affairs of the State? With what solicitude did they lay the foundations of this Nation? They were aware of the despotic power of Religion, whenever, and wherever, it assumed control of human affairs. They apprehended danger to the Republic by the ever meddlesome clergy. They feared the very calamity that has come upon us—religious dictation in civil affairs. Is it not suggestive that the first amendment^ to the Constitution of our country should be on the subject of religion 1 The clergy never accepted the situation, and throughout our whole history have labored to inculcate opinions at variance with the principle of Self-Rule. In order to get the reins of government in their own hands they propose to blot out this first amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," and put the following, which I copy from the aforementioned pamphlet, in its place: "The free exercise of the Bible-revealed Christian religion, the observance of the Christian Sabbath, and everything requisite to the promotion of gospel Christianity, without denominational preference, shall be congressionally sustained and supported; and the freedom of the press and of speech, unless in matters of obscenity and profanity, shall not be abridged, or the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Let that principle be carried out, and freedom of speech and of the press would be at an end in this country, as they are in nearly all lands in the old world where Christianity and other equally despotic systems of religion bear rule.
The author of the pamphlet entitled, "Christian Amendments of the Constitution of the United States" reports Dr. Bushnell as saying, "From the Atheistic error in our prime conceptions of government has arisen the Atheistic habit of separating politics from religion." But that sagacious and noble Statesman, Thomas Jefferson, rejoiced that religion and the state were completely divorced in the new nation.

Lief H. Carter's 'An introduction to constitutional interpretation: cases in law and religion' (1991), which contains an entire chapter on this subject.

And, further, ask yourself how a Nation who had declared man was "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" could then enshrine into law the slavery and utter possession of one man by another. One is an ideal, the other is the reality. This Nation has failed AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, to uphold the ideals upon which it was founded. That is no excuse for failing to right those wrongs.

There have been MANY instances were the government has been involved in the establishment of Religion - but those past transgressions are no excuse for continuing them into the future.

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