Disestablishmentarianism, Constitution, SCOTUS & UN


Flag, Constitution & Bible

John R. Houk

© July 4, 2016

 

I’m not a huge believer in the American’s Left interpretation of the Disestablishmentarian Clause of the First Amendment:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or … (Amendment I: FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SPEECH, PRESS, ASSEMBLY, AND PETITION; National Constitution Center)

 

The Left and Secular Humanists interpret this clause as meaning religion (Founding Fathers meant Christian Church) and State must be absolutely separated from each other. No government in the Church and no Church in the government. But you can read the clause. Tell me where it is written that a separation must exist. YOU CANNOT because there is no such wording!

 

All the clause says is that the Congressional Branch of the Federal government shall make NO LAW establishing a state religion or as the Founders understood, no state Church established by the Federal government.

 

In fact, did you know that several of the original 13 States retained their Established Christian Church for some time after the U.S. Constitution became the law of the land for the United States of America? The Federal government was constitutionally forbidden from enacting any law pertaining to religion on State level because of the Disestablishmentarian Clause in the 1st Amendment and the 10th Amendment which states:

 

 “The Tenth Amendment was intended to confirm the understanding of the people at the time the Constitution was adopted, that powers not granted to the United States were reserved to the States or to the people. It added nothing to the instrument as originally ratified.” – United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716, 733 ([SCOTUS Decision of 2/14] 1931). – “About the Tenth Amendment”; Tenth Amendment Center)

 

It is a bit interesting that the Tenth Amendment Center in the quote above, that a 1931 SCOTUS decision is used as an affirmation of the purpose of the 10th Amendment. Why is it interesting? Because SCOTUS is the very reason that the Left has successfully utilized the term Living Constitution to make laws not authorized by the Original Intent of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Of the Thirteen Original States after the Constitution was ratified in 1789, several had Established Churches even after the Civil War. Here is post-ratification State Established Churches with the year Establishment ended:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • South Carolina – 1868 (Actually a SCOTUS decision ended all State support of Christian institutions in 1925 to be retroactive to 1868: “14th Amendment to US Constitution was ratified by South Carolina in July 1868. The US Supreme Court ruled that this amendment ended state support of religion in all US states in ruling of Gitlow v. New York, 1925” [The link within the quote is by the Blog Editor])

 

 

 

… (Religion in the Original 13 Colonies: ProCon.org; Last updated on 1/6/2009 7:26:00 AM PST)

 

I believe most of these states disestablished soon after the Constitution was ratified but was involved in some kind Church oriented support via organizations until the end date list above. In all cases it was the state legislature that ended Church Establishment and not SCOTUS. Primarily in the early 20th century SCOTUS began extra-constitutionally whittling away at the religious freedoms of the Christian Church influencing government on the local, state and federal level.

 

Here is an excerpted short scope on how SCOTUS evolved to acquire more power than intended by the Framers of the Constitution:

 

Marbury v. Madison, 1803

A law repugnant to the Constitution is void.”

 

With these words, Chief Justice John Marshall established the Supreme Court’s role in the new government. Hereafter, the Court was recognized as having the power to review all acts of Congress where constitutionality was at issue, and judge whether they abide by the Constitution.

 

 

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857

The Constitution does not consider slaves to be U.S. citizens. Rather, they are constitutionally protected property of their masters.”

 

Chief Justice Roger Taney authored this opinion— one of the most important and scorned in the nation’s history. Dred Scott, a slave, had moved with his master to Illinois, a free state. He moved again to a slave state, Missouri, and filed suit to gain freedom, under that state’s law of “Once free, always free.” Taney held that Scott had never been free at all, and cited Constitutional grounds for placing the slavery decision in the hands of the states. In trying to put an end to the slavery controversy, Taney instead sped the nation toward civil war. The decision was later overturned by the Thirteenth Amendment.

 

 

Roe v. Wade, 1973

The Constitutionally implied right to privacy protects a woman’s choice in matters of abortion.

 

Norma McCorvey sought an abortion in Texas, but was denied under state law. The Court struck down that law, on grounds that it unconstitutionally restricted the woman’s right to choose. The opinion set forth guidelines for state abortion regulations; states could restrict a woman’s right to choose only in the later stages of the pregnancy. Later modified but not overruled, the decision stands as one of the Court’s most controversial.

 

(Twenty-Five Landmark Cases in Supreme Court History; ConstitutionFacts.com)

 

Specific to throwing out Original Intent Disestablishmentarian Clause:

 

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

 

 

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

 

 

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

 

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

 

 

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:

1) the government action must have a secular purpose;

2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;

3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

 

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.

 

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State’s moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

 

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987) Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of “creation science” in all instances in which Uncons[titutional] evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

 

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

 

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

 

(U.S. Supreme Court Decisions (arranged by date); Secular Web – Internet Infidels)

 

I find it ironic that an atheistic group like the Secular Web provided the information I needed to demonstrate the manipulation by SCOTUS of the 1st Amendment Disestablishmentarian Clause away from the Founding Fathers’ Original Intent.

 

You have to realize that the Leftist transformation agenda implemented strongly by Obama would continue if Crooked Hillary is elected by either adoring Dem voters and/or duped anti-Trump voters. A Crooked Hillary Administration would certainly nominate more SCOTUS Justices that would adhere to the Living Constitution principles over Original Intent principles. It is the Living Constitution principles is what has allowed SCOTUS to successfully erode the U.S. Constitution as the Founding Fathers intended it as a tool of limited government by We The People as opposed to the ruling elites of the Establishment from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

 

The elitist Establishment is very supportive of the globalist agenda of the United Nations. It is my humble opinion the Left of America and the globalist Left of the UN is using Islam as a tool to completely disenfranchise Christianity as the moral influence of the Western World. This is the reason the Multiculturalists of Europe, the American Left and the UN is hot to encourage Muslim migration to Western nations. The Leftist gamble to use Islam as a tool is dangerous to the point of idiocy.

 

The purists of Islam – often called Radical Islam by blind PC Westerners – have their own agenda. These adherents of the literal wording of the Quran, Hadith and Sira desire to establish a global Caliphate under the submission principles of Sharia Law. There is no room for Western Liberty or the U.S. Bill of Rights in Islam. Western principles of Liberty and the rule of Law are absolutely contrary to Islamic principles of submission. By the way, the Arab to English of Islam is peace is a lie. The phrase is better rendered Islam is submission is the more accurate translation.

 

So when I read that the UN is giving special privileges to Islamic worshippers over Christian worshipper (as well as excluding other non-Muslim religions), it chaps my hide a bit.

 

In case you don’t follow the duplicitous hypocrisy of the United Nations, that world body has elevated “radical” Muslims to high positions. Notoriously Saudi citizens are on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in leadership positions.

 

And more recently I discovered from Eagle Rising that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Evidently UN globalism is dictating to sovereign nations how they teach Christianity to children in private and public schools. In this report on the UNCRC is saying children experiencing compulsory Christian rituals is violating their freedom of conscience:

 

… the CRC said that demanding that children engage in daily acts of Christian worship at school may go against their “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

 

 

“The Committee is concerned that pupils are required by law to take part in a daily religious worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ in publicly funded schools in England and Wales, and that children do not have the right to withdraw from such worship without parental permission before entering the sixth form,”

 

Here’s the full article.

 

JRH 7/4/16

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The United Nations Said Teaching Christianity to Kids is Wrong for This Reason

United-Nations- logo 

By Tim Brown

July 1, 2016

Eagle Rising

 

Here is just another in a long line of examples of why the United States needs to not only defund the United Nations, but remove ourselves from it and the organization from our soil. In a recent paper put out by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the CRC said that demanding that children engage in daily acts of Christian worship at school may go against their “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

 

The Telegraph reports:

 

Britain must stop forcing children to attend Christian school assemblies because it undermines their human rights, a United Nations committee has said in a controversial new report.

 

The authors called on ministers to repeal a law demanding a daily act of Christian worship at schools because it may contradict a child’s “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.

 

The report was produced by an 18-person group of “independent experts” of “high moral character” including representatives from Bahrain, Russia and Egypt.

 

Critics dubbed the demand “ludicrous” and said the government should responded by “respectfully” putting the report “in the bin”.

 

It was just one of 150 recommendations about where Britain could be contravening the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child.

 

“The Committee is concerned that pupils are required by law to take part in a daily religious worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ in publicly funded schools in England and Wales, and that children do not have the right to withdraw from such worship without parental permission before entering the sixth form,” reads a portion of the report.

 

Surely, Oliver Cromwell is rolling over in his grave as he was one who defended Protestant Britain from King Charles’ tyranny and treason.

 

“The Committee recommends that the State party repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship in publicly funded schools and ensure that children can independently exercise the right to withdraw from religious worship at school,” the report added.

 

Britons called the report “ludicrous” and “mad.”

 

“The collective act of worship is not an indoctrination exercise,” Parliament Minister David Burrowes told The Telegraph. “It is recognizing and respecting the Christian heritage of the country and giving people an opportunity to reflect before the beginning of the day. The UN should spend more time doing its main job of preventing war and genocide rather than poking its nose in other countries’ classrooms. We can respectfully put those kind of reports in the bin where they belong.”

 

However, some in the UK were all too happy with the report, namely anti-theists.

 

The British Humanist Association Director Pavan Dhaliwal said, “The UK state fails its young people in far too many ways today. Almost uniquely among economically developed countries, it segregates them in schools along religious lines. We are pleased to see the UN agree with us that UK law needs to change.”

 

So, parents have been sending their kids to school knowing full well that this has been going on, but don’t have a problem with it because they hold to Christianity, right? On what authority does the UN act to even recommend interfering or giving advice or counsel to anyone regarding children, Christianity, education or parenting? They just simply are attempting to usurp authority.

 

Parents have a duty before God, apart from any law being enforced on them, to train up their children and teach them the Law of God. They should be doing this at home, in my opinion. I have constantly encouraged parents to take advantage of free homeschool curriculum and remove their children from public indoctrination centers. While I agree that if there is going to be schooling like in Britain that having the Bible taught and expounded upon is a good thing, I do not agree that it somehow violates a child’s human rights. In fact, leaving a child without a worldview based on the teachings of the Bible leaves them open for all sorts of faulty thinking, much like those of the British Humanist Association. They forget that true liberty only exists under the Lawgiver, and that only tyranny exists apart from Him.

 

Reposted With Permission From Freedom Outpost.

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com

______________________

Disestablishmentarianism, Constitution, SCOTUS & UN

John R. Houk

© July 4, 2016

____________________

The United Nations Said Teaching Christianity to Kids is Wrong for This Reason

 

About Tim Brown

 

Tim Brown is an author and Editor at FreedomOutpost.com, husband to his wife, father of 10, jack of all trades, Christian and lover of liberty. He resides in the U.S. occupied Great State of South Carolina. Tim is also an affiliate for the brand new Joshua Mark 5 AR/AK hybrid semi-automatic rifle.

 

Copyright © 2016. EagleRising.com is a member of Liberty Alliance. All rights reserved. 

 

About Eagle Rising

 

Eagle Rising seeks to share breaking news about culture, media, politics, etc., from a Christian perspective.

 

Eagle Rising is a division of Bravera Holdings, LLC. Founded in 2013 by Gary DeMar and Brandon Vallorani.

 

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Disputing Separation Church/State Part 7


No Nation Survives without Law

John R. Houk

© April 5, 2014

 

Dougindeap left a comment on the post “The Truth about Separation of Church and State” at NCCR which is a cross post of an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) brochure that provides reasons for the concept of Separation of Church and State as SCOTUS has set in stone today is and was not a correct interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

 

It is my habit to usually post my perspective on a comment then place the comment below my thoughts. Since Dougindeap divided his comment into eight parts to refute the ADF points. So as I initially began to respond to Dougindeap’s original comment which resulted in various parts with the title “Disputing Separation Church/State” (which as of this writing is up to six parts). You can read an edited version of that comment at the end of my thoughts at SlantRight 2.0 or the NCCR blog. You can read Dougindeap’s unedited comment version at NCCR HERE. I am bucking my typical course and take a valiant effort to briefly take each of Dougindeap’s points to put in my two-cents. I say briefly because I can tell that the six parts of “Disputing Separation Church/State” could go on much longer than I desire to devote to the subject. I have to say something though because I disagree with Dougindeap as much as he disagrees with me. Sadly the slant of the reader’s politics will line the reader with Doug or myself.

 

So here we go.

 

dougindeap commented on The Truth about Separation of Church and State

April 2, 2014 at 8:12 PM

 

[Blog Editor: Dougindeap uses the abbreviation “ALF” when I suspect he was thinking Alliance Defending Freedom which would “ADF”. I mention this for clarity’s sake because we all post comments hurriedly in which typos or missing words occur and not as a criticism of Dougindeap.]

 

Dougindeap:

 

You have succeeded in gathering quite a collection of arguments about separation of church and state, nearly all of which I’ve seen and seen debunked many times. I won’t attempt to touch on every one of the many points, but will take the ALF items one by one.

 

1. While Jefferson’s first use of the term “separation of church and state” may have been in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, he hardly was the first to use the term.

 

Certainly Jefferson’s letter had nothing to say about limiting public religious expression. ALF contends against a strawman. No one contends that Jefferson said any such thing.

 

It is important to distinguish between “individual” and “government” speech about religion. The constitutional principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. (Students also are free to exercise and express their religious views–in a time, manner, and place that does not interfere with school programs and activities.) If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

 

JRH:

 

I believe Dougindeap has correctly expressed the meaning of the First Amendment until he gets to the part I took the liberty to highlight with bold print.

 

When Doug says the government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, he is correct to the extent those individuals are under the direct mandate of the government. The problem is the Left Wing assumption that all instruments of the government are representative of the Federal government. THIS WAS NOT THE ORIGINAL INTENT of the First Amendment.

 

The Bill of Rights which are actually the first ten Amendments of the U.S. Constitution provides an intent that must apply to the First Amendment as enumerated in the Tenth Amendment:

 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

 

Just as Doug points out the First Amendment prevents the U.S. Congress to establish a State Church or to make any laws that prohibits the free exercise of religion. The Tenth Amendment brings specificity in that the State government or “the people” (implying local government such as Counties or cities) can define how individuals working as instruments of government are defined on the State and Local level. Hence the Federal government did not end Established Churches on the State level. The States individually disestablished State Churches as it became obvious the State Established Churches were slipping into the minority among Christian denominations in the various States. Ironically Massachusetts one of the most Liberal States in the American Union today was the last State to disestablish their State Church in the 1833. States’ Rights ended the Established Church in the USA and not the enforcement of the Federal government. In the same manner of Original Intent each State has the power of the law to limit or encourage government instruments such as employees from sharing their individual faith.

 

Dougindeap:

 

2. Justice Hugo Black was not the first to “insert” separation of church and state into American jurisprudence. Not by a long shot. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court first used that term in 1878 in Reynolds v. United States, where it quoted Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists while interpreting the First Amendment.

 

JRH:

 

In Reynolds v. United States Dougindeap fails to mention the reason for the unanimity of SCOTUS in the 1878 religious Liberty case before them. George Reynolds a citizen of the then Territory of Utah was a Mormon that married more than one wife. Reynolds was convicted of bigamy. Reynolds demanded his First Amendment rights of Religious Liberty. The 1878 SCOTUS officially was more concerned about social norms than Religious Freedom. In Christian America in 1878 bigamy was not only illegal it was also a heinous sin. The reality of the 1878 SCOTUS decision was upholding traditional Christian values over the cult of Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints). Mormons then and now believe in the supremacy of the Book of Mormon and certain so-called Mormon prophetic pronouncements (Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price) over the traditional Christian values of the Holy Bible. SCOTUS upheld the conviction of George Reynolds in 1878 unanimously. I have no doubts Mormons consider themselves Christians however their theology is so divergent from the orthodox practices of Christianity an intelligent evaluation even today would come to the conclusion Mormonism at best is its own religion and at worst a cult spin-off Christianity. It should be noted the powers that be in Mormonism had the remarkable revelation that marriage is between one man and one woman in order for the Utah Territory could become the sovereign State of Utah in 1890.

 

As to the 1878 SCOTUS unanimous opinion referencing the Jefferson to Danbury Baptists letter WallBuilders provides the actual intent of that Court opinion:

 

Earlier courts long understood Jefferson’s intent. In fact, when Jefferson’s letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947Everson case – the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today’s Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson’s entire letter and then concluded:

 

Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson’s letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. (emphasis added)[12]

 

That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson’s intent for “separation of church and state”:

 

[T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State. [13]

 

With this even the Baptists had agreed; for while wanting to see the government prohibited from interfering with or limiting religious activities, they also had declared it a legitimate function of government “to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

 

That Court, therefore, and others (for example, Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People), identified actions into which – if perpetrated in the name of religion – the government did have legitimate reason to intrude. Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc. (Excerpted from – The Separation of Church and State; By David Barton; WallBuilders.com; January 2001)

 

Dougindeap:

 

3. First, ALF tries to pass off the Supreme Court’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education as simply a misreading of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists–as if that were the only basis of the Court’s decision. Instructive as that letter is, it played but a small part in the Court’s decision. Rather, the Court discussed the historical context in which the Constitution and First Amendment were drafted, noting the expressed understanding of Madison perhaps even more than Jefferson, and only after concluding its analysis and stating its conclusion did the Court refer–once–to Jefferson’s letter, largely to borrow his famous metaphor as a clever label or summary of its conclusion. The notion, often heard, that the Court rested its decision solely or largely on that letter is a red herring.

 

Second, it is ALF that has confused its history. Contrary to its assertion, Justice Black did not write that the Danbury letter may be accepted “almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect” of the First Amendment.” Rather Chief Justice Waite wrote that in Reynolds v. United States. Black, moreover, did not repeat that statement in Everson.

 

Finally, the further notion, suggested by ALF and advanced by some, that the Supreme Court’s recognition of the constitutional separation of church and state in Everson is all Justice Black’s doing is laughable. It bears noting that all nine justices in the Everson case read the Constitution to call for separation of church and state, and indeed all of the parties and all of the amici curiae (including the National Council of Catholic Men and National Council of Catholic Women) did as well; no one disputed the principle, they differed only in how it should be applied in the circumstances of the case.

 

JRH:

 

Actually Hugo Black equally emphasized Jefferson and Madison together. Doug fails to mention that Black’s Majority Opinion included both Jefferson and Madison’s efforts on a State level in Virginia to disestablish any Church to receive tax support because such taxation would be discriminatory toward non-established Christian denominations. Hence Jefferson and Madison were not arguing the removal of recognized Christian Morality but rather the removal of taxpayers’ paying the salary of a State established Clergy. AND so yes, Hugo Black misappropriated the work of Jefferson and Madison use of a States’ Rights issue to apply to Federal authority. Hugo Black attempts to solidify the Church/State separation by adopting Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. How did Black connect a States’ Rights issue to Federal authority? Then Black used the presumption that the Fourteenth Amendment which officially ended Slavery in all the States by Federal rule of law, then by extension Black presumed the Fourteenth Amendment nullified the Tenth Amendment which in turn pertained to individual State sovereignty bowing to the will of the Judicial and Executive branches of government. This interpretation had the effect to keep the influence of Christianity outside the scope of State level and local level government parameters in the rule of law.

 

Dougindeap:

 

4. That the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, to some who once mistakenly supposed they were there and, upon learning of their error, fancy they’ve solved a Constitutional mystery. To those familiar with the Constitution, the absence of the metaphorical phrase commonly used to name one of its principles is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., Bill of Rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

 

Contrary to ALF’s supposition, separation of church and state rests on much more than just the First Amendment. It is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of “We the people” (not a deity), (2) according that government limited, enumerated powers, (3) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (4) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (5), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day (by which governments generally were grounded in some appeal to god(s)), the founders’ avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which affirmatively constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions.

 

JRH:

 

Doug mistakenly equates the lack of the words “Wall of Separation of Church and State” in the Constitute is the same as other civics terms not being the Constitution such as “Bill of Rights, separation of powers (i.e. in branches of government), checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty” and so on. The reason Doug is mistaken because all those other terms are specifically spelled out in the Constitution BUT the term “Wall of Separation of Church and State” is not spelled out AT ALL The First Amendment ONLY spells out that Congress cannot make a law to Establish a State Church and that Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion.

 

Dougindeap:

 

5. While the First Amendment undoubtedly was intended to preclude the government from establishing a national religion as you note, that was hardly the limit of its intended scope. The first Congress debated and rejected just such a narrow provision (“no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed”) and ultimately chose the more broadly phrased prohibition now found in the Amendment. During his presidency, Madison vetoed two bills, neither of which would form a national religion or compel observance of any religion, on the ground that they were contrary to the establishment clause. While some in Congress expressed surprise that the Constitution prohibited Congress from incorporating a church in the town of Alexandria in the District of Columbia or granting land to a church in the Mississippi Territory, Congress upheld both vetoes. Separation of church and state is hardly a new invention of modern courts. In keeping with the Amendment’s terms and legislative history and other evidence, the courts have wisely interpreted it to restrict the government from taking steps that could establish religion de facto as well as de jure. Were the Amendment interpreted merely to preclude government from enacting a statute formally establishing a state church, the intent of the Amendment could easily be circumvented by government doing all sorts of things to promote this or that religion–stopping just short of cutting a ribbon to open its new church.

 

JRH:

 

Dougindeap quotes James Madison’s first writing of a proposed First Amendment: “no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed”. I suspect Doug is implying Madison’s influence spoke for all the Congressmen in constructing religious freedom as imputed by Federal government authority en toto as opposed to States’ Rights. That is DEFINITELY not the case because of House deliberation the First Amendment’s form ratified as law is what was sent to the States for ratification. Hence States’ Rights coupled with the Tenth Amendment became the actual Original Intent of the First Amendment which included the individual States upholding the primacy of the values of the Christian religion by which all Denominations upheld regardless of varying theological dogma.

 

Since the Declaration of Independence led to the Articles of Confederation which were then superseded by the U.S. Constitution in 1789 shows that the Founding Fathers bowed to the will of ‘We the People’ in the promotion of the very least the promotion of Christianity as what will maintain the general welfare of the people of the new USA.

 

Here’s an abbreviated list of the Continental Congress pushing Christian Morals and Values for the General Welfare (1774 – 1789):

 

1. Congress’ First Act: A Resolution to Pray – September 6, 1774

 

2. Congress Ordered Purchase and Printing of Bibles – September 11, 1777

 

3. Congress Expressly Promoted Religion – October 12, 1778:

 

Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof.

 

4. The Declaration of Independence – formally adopted it on July 4, 1776, and signed it August 2, 1776. The Declaration directly appeals to God at least four times

 

5. Congress Appointed Days Of Prayer, Thanksgiving, and Repentance – In the approximately fifteen years of its existence, the Continental Congress approved at least fifteen proclamations calling on the states to appoint days of special worship or honor to God. Dates enumerated from 1777 through 1787.

 

The above lists remarkable does not contain the Northwest Ordinance enacted by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation July 13, 1787. The legislation has 14 Sections and the Fourteenth Section has Six Articles. The purpose for the Northwest Ordinance was to establish a Central government rule of law for expansion westward from the Original 13 States and a method of admitting new sovereign States to the United States of America (then under the Articles of Confederation). Christianity and Religious Freedom combined are expressly part of the designs of the Northwest Ordinance.

 

Sec. 13. And, for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected; to fix and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said territory: to provide also for the establishment of States, and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a share in the federal councils on an equal footing with the original States, at as early periods as may be consistent with the general interest: (Bold emphasis Blog Editor’s)

 

Sec. 14. It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, That the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:

 

Art. 1. No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory.

 

Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. …

 

The two bills James Madison vetoed was done correctly. The bills’ goals were to Establish the Episcopalian Church in the city of Alexandria within the District of Columbia and provide public funds to buy land for a Church in the Territory of Mississippi. On a Federal basis the First Amendment specifically states that Congress can make no law establishing a Church. AGAIN this has nothing to do with the laws enumerated to the several States not in the U.S. Constitution (Tenth Amendment).

 

My above thoughts on the history of the Courts and Church Establishment already refute the Doug’s claim that Church/State Separation issues is “hardly a new invention of modern courts.”

 

Dougindeap:

 

6. Dreisbach’s fundamental error is his largely unspoken and unexamined presumption that the Constitution’s separation of church and state is merely a First Amendment textual matter. As noted above, however, it is rather a bedrock principle of our Constitution, resting on much more than the First Amendment.

 

JRH:

 

Already proved this line of thinking is in error by Dougindeap.

 

Dougindeap:

 

7. The Constitution, including particularly the First Amendment, embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to undercut our secular government by somehow merging or infusing it with religion should be resisted by every patriot.

 

Wake Forest University has published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. I commend it to you. http://tiny.cc/6nnnx

 

JRH:

 

The only contention I can agree with Dougindeap is that the First Amendment prevents the Federal Congress from Establishing a State Church and that the Federal Congress cannot enact laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Everything else not forbidden by the U.S. Constitution is the purview of each State in the Union of the United States of America. The tiny url posted by Doug does not work or at least not in my Chrome or Internet Explorer browsers. When I Googled ‘Wake Forest Q&A primer on Separation of Church and State’ I discovered Dougindeap has been posting link since at least 2010. I can find no such document online from Wake Forest. Perhaps the closest thing I can find is a PDF document entitled, “Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law”. I found two links for this document: One by Wake Forest and another posted on the Anti-Defamation League website but both are the same document. Both documents are dated January 2010. The document is a collective work by a bunch of people that are on opposite sides of the Church/State Separation issues. The document is anything but definitive. The closest section talking about the First Amendment and Church Establishment is Chapter Two of the roughly 32 page document with End Notes longer if you include acknowledgements by Wake Forest’s (at least then) Director of Wake Forest University Divinity School and the Center for Religion and Public Affairs. The Chapter Two title is “Is the First Amendment the only constitutional or legal provision that affects these issues?

 

Chapter Two clearly expresses the First Amendment is functional as a Federal law in which there is a large degree of discretion on the State level of law in which the First Amendment does not address.

 

In connection to this PDF document (Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law), the “diverse” committee that truly consisted of representation of both sides of the political spectrum on Church/State issues was led by Melissa Rogers as the Director of Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs during the PDF document’s 2010 publication. Melissa Rogers is hardly neutral a person that looks equally on both sides of the coin on Church/State issues. Rogers is a downright and overt proponent of the revisionist Left Wingers choosing to exclude the merits of Original Intent of the Constitution in relation to the opinions of the Founders on how Christianity effects the general welfare of a good society. Even the Founding Fathers in James Madison (See also HERE) and Thomas Jefferson that were closer to the secularist Enlightenment discrediting of orthodox theology of Christianity agreed that Christian Morals and Values promoted a good society.

 

Dougindeap:

 

8. While some, including myself, grow tired of the semantic wrangling over the phrase commonly used to describe or name one of the Constitution’s fundamental principles, that principle—by whatever name—remains central and essential to the Constitution and our way of life.

           

JRH:

 

Doug says he is getting weary of wrangling that Separation of Church and State is a fundamental principle of the Constitution. I myself am frustrated about Leftists trying so hard to prevent the historical nature of Christianity of being such a huge influence on the development of our nation. It is my belief that the Leftist efforts at historical revisionism is to transform America into a society that abandons Christianity as a Moral Foundation. Then replace Christianity with a Secular Humanist perspective as a foundation for societal morality. Such a humanist morality places the created on a pedestal above the Creator. No matter how lofty the ideals of man being inherently good, actual history shows that man is inherently evil. That inherent evil exists in human nature because God’s first created human being – Adam – betrayed God the Creator by agreeing with the serpent Satan and partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why did Adam consume the fruit? Satan told Eve, who Adam did not rebuke, believed the serpent that the fruit would make her and Adam like God knowing the difference between good and evil. Adam’s act of disobedience of God voluntarily sold his nature to the dominion of Satan. Since Adam was made the perpetual steward of God’s created Earth. That meant the earth also came under Satan’s control. Adam’s disobedience led to the punishment of being separated from God which is spiritual death. Humanity and Earth became cursed to a Fallen nature explaining an inherent evil nature. The inherent evil nature of man will inevitably lead to unwholesome if not downright wicked choices in which selfish desires overrule the general welfare of humanity.

 

The good news for humanity God the Creator promised a way out for Adam choosing Satan’s lie as truth rather than God’s holy union.

 

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:

 

“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel
.” (Bold Emphasis Blog Editor – Genesis 3: 14-15 NKJV
)

 

Verse 15 is God’s first Promise of a Redeemer to bring humanity back into right standing with God Almighty. Then and only then will humanity not need laws of a government to curb the inclination of a Fallen human nature. Secular Humanism is wrong, humanity is not essentially good.

 

JRH 4/5/14

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Disputing Separation Church/State Part 6


1st Continental Congress Prayer

By John R. Houk

© March 30, 2014

 

I began this post as a short introduction to Dougindeap’s comment on the post “Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2” left on my NCCR blog. However as I kept going and going (sorry about the length) I realized I just had to simply add this to the already part’s I had begun which prior to this post had reached Part Five. The way I handled this current post is by responding to Dougindeap’s Part Two comment in stages. If you wish to read Dougindeap’s Part Two comment before commencing my thoughts simply scroll down to the end of these thoughts where it is in entirety.

 

Dougindeap there is a context to the quotes. I sense that you cannot accept the context; which is the Founding Fathers’ belief in Christian Morality. There is only a controversy to the Founding Fathers’ stand on Christian Morality in Left Wing historical revisionism in the lack of understanding to the Christian gravitation toward American Deism. Many if not most of the Founding Fathers embraced a Christian Deism in varying degrees, but those degrees for the majority was the nearly universal context of Nature’s God – the Creator of Nature – being the Judeo-Context of God pertaining to a moral society. The few Deists that embraced the extreme deism from the evolution of the French Revolution was very low in rejecting morality as derived by Christianity. The great American Pamphleteer in Thomas Paine is an example of this small minority of American Deists that placed more stock in the goodness of man over the Biblical Truth of humanity’s Fallen Nature.

 

Dougindeap says,

 

In assessing the nature of our government, though, care should be taken to distinguish between society and government and not to make too much of various founders’ individual religious beliefs. Their individual beliefs, while informative, are largely beside the point. (Thus, whether you offer one or one hundred quotations of the sort you have presented, matters not one wit.) Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that establishes a secular government and separates it from religion as noted in earlier comments.

 

The Founding Fathers’ religious beliefs in Christian Morality were viewed as necessary to prevent those in government from morally degenerating. Thus preventing the government from corrupting was and is the point for Christian people to step into positions to keep government good. Without goodness in government society becomes morally bankrupt which lends to worse government and eventually the very elitist despotism that led the American Founders to rebel against British Crown rule. Indeed the Constitution kept the government out of religion with a secular government, BUT the Founders expected Christian Morality to be the measuring stick that kept government good.

 

Dougindeap your comment implies the word “blessing” had many meanings beyond what a Christian would consider a blessing derived from the 1828 edition of Noah Webster’s Diction. So I looked it up:

 

BLESS’ING, ppr. Making happy; wishing happiness to; praising or extolling; consecrating by prayer.

BLESS’ING,n. Benediction; a wish of happiness pronounced; a prayer imploring happiness upon another.

1. A solemn prophetic benediction, in which happiness is desired, invoked or foretold.
This is the blessing wherewith Moses–blessed the children of Israel. Deu 33.

2. Any means of happiness; a gift, benefit or advantage; that which promotes temporal prosperity and welfare, or secures immortal felicity. A just and pious magistrate is a public blessing. The divine favor is the greatest blessing.

3. Among the Jews, a present; a gift; either because it was attended with kind wishes for the welfare of the giver, or because it was the means of increasing happiness.

Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee. Gen 33. (Webster’s 1828 English DictionaryBlessings; http://sorabji.com/1828/. [Noah Webster’s1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is regarded by many as the finest English dictionary ever published. The dictionary is available in many forms.])

 

Dougindeap you have to explain to me what in this definition is weighted to a non-religious meaning.

 

Dougindeap says,

 

The Constitution’s establishment of a secular government is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. (Bold Emphasis Blog Editor)

 

As I pointed out the bold print above is or at least was true in one direction; i.e. keeping government out of religion, but not the other direction of keeping religion out of government. This is a truer statement: Secular in government and religious in moral foundation of government. And when the Founding Fathers would say “religious” or “religion” they were speaking of Christianity and NOT Secular Humanism. AGAIN, this is the context of the Founding Father quotes AND this makes those quotes extremely relevant.

 

Dougindeap uses selective Left Wing historical revisionism in using the most Christian of the Founding Fathers in John Adams and the ratification of the Treaty of Tripoli between the USA and the Barbary Pirates. You can find a concise evaluation of the Treaty of Tripoli at Ministers-Best-Friend.com. You should read that entire evaluation; however after the Dougindeap quote from his comment I am offering an excerpt to get the truth out there about Left Wing revision history.

 

Dougindeap says,

 

Lest there be any doubt on this score, note that shortly after the founding, President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” No need to resort to reading tea leaves to understand that. This is not an informal comment by an individual founder, but rather an official declaration of the most solemn sort by the United States government itself. Note that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land.

 

Ministers-Best-Friend.com’s excerpt:

 

 

INTRO: In this Law Commentary we seek set the record straight about the paragraph quoted from Article 11 – assumeded (sic) – of the Treaty of Tripoli ratified by Congress on June 10, 1797during President John Adams’ administration. If there is one thing about the Treaty of Tripoli which anti-Christians cannot escape, it is the fact that no matter how you cut it, the supposed “non Christian section” (Article 11) of that treaty cannot be validated.

 

Wanting to disprove America’s Christian heritage, the Treaty of Tripoli cannot logically or historically be referenced as any “evidence” against the USA as a Christian nation whatsoever. The current modern Treaty of Tripoli so prevalent on the internet and many books and booklets, is totally fraud, a deliberate document of deceit, absolutely false, a complete forgery, and …

 

 

Furthermore, that one of only few presidents to ever be accused of atheism in a Presidential campaign – President Thomas Jefferson (holding “unusual Christian beliefs by any account”) that he led this effort to correct the forged document that made it “seem” the USA was not founded upon Christianity, is all the more compelling when carefully considered.

 

 

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and James Monroe, all worked to correct the “forged and fraudulent” Treaty of Tripoli floating in the Arabic world at that time.

 

Nevertheless, because this topic arises so often among people who have never actually studied the subject matter in the first place, an expose’ of the facts surrounding that treaty is long overdue. Let the record speak for itself.

 

The section in question, Article 11 of that treaty reads as follows:

 

“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.” [Note: “Musselmen” means Muslim]

 

(source): Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America , Hunter Miller, Documents 1-40 :1776-1818 Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931. – Treaty of Tripoli

 

 

Short version of explaining the misunderstanding about the “Treaty of Tripoli”

1) There is no original Treaty of Tripoli in existence anywhere and there hasn’t been for well over 200 years.

 

2) The U.S. ratified Treaty of Tripoli cited today as “the original” was an English version copy of an Arabic version copy of the Arabic original (now missing).

 

3) There is NO Article 11 in the Arabic version of that treaty, experts now agree that Article 11 was spuriously inserted into the English copy, and most probably by the America diplomat Joel Barlow, who helped negotiate the treaty and who was himself a skeptic of Christianity.

 

4) When the tampered English translation version was presented to Congress for ratification in 1797, in spite of Article 11 inserted and included, they had to pass the treaty anyway out of political expedience and immediate urgency to quickly stop the carnage of militant pirate attacks upon American merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Because of the situation at hand, there would be no time tore-draft such a treaty and run it through the diplomatic channels again.

 

5) Eight years later when America gained a military upper hand on the situation, this Treaty was renegotiated in 1805-6, and the “non-Christian” Article 11 phrase was conspicuously removed and absent!

 

6) Those who attempt to use the Treaty of Tripoli as so called evidence proposing that this nation was not founded on the Christian religion, typically ignore the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which formally ended the Revolutionary War.

 

This Treaty, negotiated by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams among others, is truly a foundational document for America, because by this treaty Britain recognized the independence of the United States as a nation. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 begins with the words, “In the Name of the most holy and undivided Trinity… It having pleased the Divine Providence” *

 

No qualified historian or explanatory references of any Congressional records have ever questioned, in the least, the validity of those revealing words of that treaty, as they do concerning the falsified Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli. *(Treaty of Paris, 1783; International Treaties and Related Records, 1778-1974; General records of the United States Government, Record group 11; National Archives)

 

7) The Treaty of Tripoli argument used against Christian America on the part of secular humanists (their “strongest” isolated claim that America was not established upon Christianity) is one based on a shallow examination of a the document. Its claimed “non-Christian part” is readily admitted by non-biased experts to have either been fraudulent or some entry that is unaccounted for. By any standard, the argument lacks credibility due to its obviously spurious nature.

 

 

Joel Barlow was a known Christian critic, and it was Barlow who translated the original treaty from Arabic into English, which is the version that President John Adams and the US Congress ratified.

 

It is no surprise then, from the definitive study on the Treaty of Tripoli in the Hunter Miller Notes, Government Printing Office 1931 under “NOTE REGARDING THE BARLOW TRANSLATION”, that we read:

 

“As even a casual examination of the annotated translation of 1930 shows, the Barlow translation is at best a poor attempt at a paraphrase or summary of the sense of the Arabic; and even as such its defects throughout are obvious and glaring. Most extraordinary (and wholly unexplained) is the fact that Article 11 of the Barlow translation, with its famous phrase, “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” does not exist at all.

 

There is no Article 11. The Arabic text which is between Articles 10 and 12 is in form a letter, crude and flamboyant and withal quite unimportant, from the Dey of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli.

 

How that script came to be written and to be regarded, as in the Barlow translation, as Article 11 of the treaty as there written, is a mystery and seemingly must remain so. Nothing in the diplomatic correspondence of the time throws any light whatever on the point.”

 

4

 

It’s interesting to see that the controversial “Article 11” was in some form of ascribbled (sic) letter.

 

If Barlow didn’t outright insert it himself, a likely explanation is that the Dey of Algiers wrote this note on the Treaty face to alleviate any worry of the Pasha of Tripoli about entering into a Treaty with an “infidel” (non-Islamic) nation like the United States.

 

The translator assumed this was part of the Treaty and translated it along with the rest of the document. More than likely the clauses of the original document (missing forever) were not numbered, so the translator would have numbered this as Clause 11 between Clauses 10 and 12, as he progressed in trying to organize it.

 

Concerning the true original text of the Treaty, it is documented that none now exists: “— (T)he first source of the texts of those collections was clearly a now missing copy, as is shown by the fact that they include a certification of the text as a copy – “The 1930 Annotation in 2ND Part Treaty with Tripoli 1796: Hunter Miller’s Notes, U.S. Govt .Printing Office

 

So the truth is that the original treaty was written in Arabic and presented to the Barbary Muslim nations in that manner, yet the Arabic treaty has no strange Article 11 in READ ENTIRETY (Blog Editor: Yes this is an excerpt and still there is much more. Read the entire post for the full benefit.)

 

The excerpt is lengthy but is very important for my fellow Conservatives to know that the Left Wing history revisionists are either misinformed or deliberately misleading people on John Adams claiming the USA is in no way founded on Christianity.

 

Dougindeap says,

 

It is instructive to recall that the Constitution’s separation of church and state reflected, at the federal level, a “disestablishment” political movement then sweeping the country. That political movement succeeded in disestablishing all state religions by the 1830s. (Side note: A political reaction to that movement gave us the term “antidisestablishmentarianism,” which amused some of us as kids.) It is worth noting, as well, that this disestablishment movement was linked to another movement, the Great Awakening. The people of the time saw separation of church and state as a boon, not a burden, to religion.

 

When the U.S. Constitution became the Law of the Land in 1789, the First Amendment (1791) and Church-State Establishment was interpreted to be reserved for each individual State which the Federal government would stay aloof but by NO MEANS mandated disestablishment of any of the State Constitutions that specified a State Church.

 

Nor did disestablishment come about as a consequence of the 1787 Constitution 217 or because of the ratification of the First Amendment in 1791. Nor was disestablishment spurred forward as a downstream consequence of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Rather, disestablishment was a state-law affair that had already been percolating in some states when they first adopted constitutions in 1776 and which continued on until completed in 1833. Each state that once had an established church has a unique story to tell on its path to the adoption of religious voluntaryism.

 

… As to the First Amendment, it was well understood at the time of its ratification that the religion clauses (indeed the entire Bill of Rights) were adopted out of a felt need to restrain the new national government. 219 Thus the Establishment Clause, by its terms and its design, was to preserve—as a matter of residual state sovereignty—full authority in the states concerning how the law was to deal in any frontal way with the thorny matter of religion. 220 Indeed, it is not too strong to say that during the early republic, the First Amendment was of little use as a standard around which to rally the forces in support of disestablishment. 221 Rather, disestablishment was a state-by-state affair, and hard work at that. It was a veritable slog with the path forward marked by local concerns and local personalities, as opposed to an issue that some continental-spanning crisis had elevated to a matter of national importance. 222 (Dissent and Disestablishment: The Church-State Settlement in the Early American Republic; By Carl H. Esbeck; BYU Law Review; 11/1/04; Pg. 1449, 1450)

 

This historical fact pointed out by Esbeck further demonstrates that Christian Morality was the measuring stick for government. The First Amendment simply delegated the specifics to the several sovereign States of the early American Republic. The only guarantee was that the Federal government would make no law interfering or establishing a Christian Church on the Federal level.

 

Dougindeap’s point about a disestablishmentarian movement is correct but not because Americans were demanding secularism to overrule Christian Morality that was still considered the bedrock of good government. Rather the disestablishmentarianism movement proceeded because the Second Great Awakening (See Also HERE) spurred the growth of Protestant Denominations that essentially eclipsed and/or challenged the two most influential Denominations prior to the Second Great Awakening. The two mainstay Denominations were the Episcopal Church (formerly Anglican prior to the Revolutionary War) and Congregational Church. The Second Great Awakening spurred the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church to surpass the former majority Denominations in membership. AND THIS is what spurred disestablishmentarianism in the USA. Individual faith became more important than State institutionalized Established Churches which were typically either Episcopalian (the most preeminent) or Congregationalist. This was not a lack of interest of Christianity in government but rather a greater interest in individual Denomination members doing their part to promote good Christian men for Public Office. Of course this meant that prayer still occurred in schools supported by taxes. This meant the continued use of Public Institutions to give honor to God Almighty in the demonstration of Christian affirmation on Court Buildings, Public Buildings, City Buildings and so on to promote the general welfare of the blessings of the Christian God upon American citizens and government.

 

The American religious impulse had become popularistic, personalistic, and democratic. 241 The work of the faith was less focused on the institutional church and more on each individual; lesser attention was given to correct doctrine while greater emphasis was placed on practical living. 242

 

 

If a religious establishment is measured by the legal authority to assess taxes for church support, then disestablishment occurred in the remaining states in the following order: North Carolina (1776), New York (1777), Virginia (1776−1779), Maryland (1785), South Carolina (1790), Georgia (1798), Vermont (1807), Connecticut (1818), New Hampshire (1819), Maine (1820), and Massachusetts (1832−1833). Disestablishment in Virginia, 245 and to a lesser degree its occurrence in Connecticut and Massachusetts, has been written on extensively. (Ibid. pp. 1456, 1458)

 

Dougindeap finishes his comment on an Alex de Tocqueville quote observing that Americans had declared to him “…that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state.” The de Tocqueville quote continues: “…I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.”

 

Frankly I suspect Dougindeap was setting me up for an oft used quote attributed to de Tocqueville in the seminal work “Democracy in America,” but in which scholars have discovered is not actually in the de Tocqueville book:

 

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” (Found on a webpage that has a series of de Tocqueville quotes melded together as if they were written as one thought promoting Christianity as America’s foundation – http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/cdf/onug/detocq.html)

 

The America is great because America is good quote has been used so much it has become a lexicon adage about America attributed to de Tocqueville. Prominent politicians and American leaders including a couple of U.S. Presidents have repeated the adage. Sadly the phrase is not found in “Democracy in America”.

 

John J. Pitney, Jr. wrote about the spurious quote:

 

… Nowhere do they appear in Democracy in America, or anywhere else in Tocqueville.

 

The authenticity of the passage came into question when first-year government students at Claremont McKenna College received an assignment: Find a contemporary speech quoting Tocqueville, and determine how accurately the speaker used the quotation. A student soon uncovered a recent Senate floor speech that cited the “America is great” line. He scoured Democracy in America, but could not find the passage. The professor looked, too – and it was not there.

 

Further research led to reference books that cautiously referred to the quotation as “unverified” and “attributed to de Tocqueville but not found in his works.” These references, in turn, pointed to the apparent source: a 1941 book on religion and the American dream. The book quoted the last two lines of the passage as coming from Democracy in America but supplied no documentation. (The author may have mistaken his own notes for a verbatim quotation, a common problem in the days before photocopiers.) The full version of the quotation appeared 11 years later, in an Eisenhower campaign speech. Ike, however, attributed it not directly to Tocqueville but to “a wise philosopher [who] came to this country ….”

 

 

It’s a shame that politicians are using a knockoff product when the real thing is so fine. Democracy in America offers profound analyses of the roles of religion, morality, and voluntary action, though its insights are subtler than the purple prose of the counterfeit.

 

 

Of course, after decades of repetition, it has in fact become an old adage. It just isn’t Tocqueville’s. (THE TOCQUEVILLE FRAUD; John J. Pitney, Jr.; The Weekly Standard; article found at Tocqueville.org; 11/13/1995)

 

So de Tocqueville’s legend did not actually pen, “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Nonetheless it does not make it any less true!

 

Here are some actual quotes that can be found in de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”. These quotes show the observation that Church/State separation only flows in one direction, viz. government separated from Christianity but not Christianity being separated from government (not necessarily in order):

 

“Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion, for who can search the human heart? but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society.”

 

***

 

“… Society has no future life to hope for or to fear; and provided the citizens profess a religion, the peculiar tenets of that religion are of very little importance to its interests. Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same.

 

It may be believed without unfairness that a certain number of Americans pursue a peculiar form of worship, from habit more than from conviction. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”

 

***

 

“… Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of the intelligence. Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place which it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength. Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom.”

 

***

 

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

 

I have known of societies formed by the Americans to send out ministers of the Gospel into the new Western States to found schools and churches there, lest religion should be suffered to die away in those remote settlements, and the rising States be less fitted to enjoy free institutions than the people from which they emanated. I met with wealthy New Englanders who abandoned the country in which they were born in order to lay the foundations of Christianity and of freedom on the banks of the Missouri, or in the prairies of Illinois. Thus religious zeal is perpetually stimulated in the United States by the duties of patriotism. These men do not act from an exclusive consideration of the promises of a future life; eternity is only one motive of their devotion to the cause; and if you converse with these missionaries of Christian civilization, you will be surprised to find how much value they set upon the goods of this world, and that you meet with a politician where you expected to find a priest. They will tell you that “all the American republics are collectively involved with each other; if the republics of the West were to fall into anarchy, or to be mastered by a despot, the republican institutions which now flourish upon the shores of the Atlantic Ocean would be in great peril. It is, therefore, our interest that the new States should be religious, in order to maintain our liberties.”

 

***

 

Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place which it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength. Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom.

 

It is clear from these quotes that the Frenchman de Tocqueville admired that government did not interfere in the realm of religion/Christianity, but he also observed that Christianity so embedded in the American did indeed fortify America and that this indeed made America good. Even though did not say it would be a great analytical summation to say of de Tocqueville observations, “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

 

JRH 3/30/14

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Dougindeap Comment to: Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2

(NCCR)

 

By Dougindeap

March 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

 

You offer a string of contextless quotations with the evident aim of showing the religious views of various founders–as if that is the way history is understood or the Constitution is interpreted. Hardly.

 

While the religious views of various founders are subjects of some uncertainty and controversy, it is safe to say that many founders were Christian of one sort or another and held views such as you note regarding religion. In assessing the nature of our government, though, care should be taken to distinguish between society and government and not to make too much of various founders’ individual religious beliefs. Their individual beliefs, while informative, are largely beside the point. (Thus, whether you offer one or one hundred quotations of the sort you have presented, matters not one wit.) Whatever their religions, they drafted a Constitution that establishes a secular government and separates it from religion as noted in earlier comments. Indeed, that aspect of the Constitution was noticed and discussed in the debates about its ratification, since some were disappointed the Constitution did not acknowledge a deity. Imagine their surprise at all you would now make of the Constitution’s allusion to the “blessings of liberty.” Suffice it to say that the term “blessing” has religious and non-religious meanings and usages. See Webster’s Dictionary (1828).

 

The Constitution’s establishment of a secular government is entirely consistent with the fact that some founders professed their religiosity and even their desire that Christianity remain the dominant religious influence in American society. Why? Because religious people who would like to see their religion flourish in society may well believe that separating religion and government will serve that end and, thus, in founding a government they may well intend to keep it separate from religion. It is entirely possible for thoroughly religious folk to found a secular government and keep it separate from religion. That, indeed, is just what the founders did.

 

Lest there be any doubt on this score, note that shortly after the founding, President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” No need to resort to reading tea leaves to understand that. This is not an informal comment by an individual founder, but rather an official declaration of the most solemn sort by the United States government itself. Note that the Constitution provides that treaties, apart from the Constitution itself, are the highest law of the land.

 

It is instructive to recall that the Constitution’s separation of church and state reflected, at the federal level, a “disestablishment” political movement then sweeping the country. That political movement succeeded in disestablishing all state religions by the 1830s. (Side note: A political reaction to that movement gave us the term “antidisestablishmentarianism,” which amused some of us as kids.) It is worth noting, as well, that this disestablishment movement was linked to another movement, the Great Awakening. The people of the time saw separation of church and state as a boon, not a burden, to religion.

 

This sentiment was recorded by a famous observer of the American experiment:

 

“On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. . . . I questioned the members of all the different sects. . . . I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America, I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835).

 

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Disputing Separation Church/State Part 6

By John R. Houk

© March 30, 2014

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Dougindeap Comment to: Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2

 

Edited by John R. Houk

© Dougindeap