Separation of Church and State Big Myth

By special guest author Rev. Chris M. Fluharty of Missouri – Secularist will have you believe that the establishment clause is violated any time religion and government cross. The establishment clause was created to prevent the federal government from creating a national church, such as the Church of England, and to keep the government from corrupting the church. The anti-federalists wanted a state-sponsored church, but the federalists were opposed to this and eventually pushed for the establishment clause. In fact, many Southern colonies had state churches well into the 1840s. So much for the so-called wall of separation of church and state. One should read, in context, Jefferson’s letter before using this term so out of context. The intent of the founders was very clear by their actions in office. They had chaplains and have opened Congress in prayer every day since its inception and before. Jefferson used federal money to evangelize the Native Americans. The Capitol was used for many years as a place of worship. I can go on but I made my point.

As for a “Lemon test,” I think Pounders (see Right to Pray Blurs Church and State) is building a huge straw man here, as no such test exists in the establishment clause. This “right to pray amendment” is redundant sure enough, but the other “hidden” provisions are needed, to protect, increasingly eroding freedoms. The entire amendment is available for anyone to read, so if it is hidden it is because one is to lazy to read the amendment they are voting on (much like our elected officials today).

First off, elected officials have been inviting clergy to pray since the founding of Missouri. This is indeed a right they already enjoy. However, to protect that right, an amendment is needed to keep liberal judges from forcing their personal agendas onto the citizens of Missouri. As long as no one is forced to participate, and no preference is given to a single denomination, than it is constitutional. That is elementary constitutional law.

As for the students objection clause. If a “Christian” parent is foolish enough to subject their kids to the liberal indoctrination centers known as public schools, then they should not complain when the public schools want to brainwash their kids with junk science and outright propaganda. Unfortunately, some parents cannot homeschool or they prefer to forfeit their God ordained duties to the government, so for them the clause should be there. They already have the right to object to school work that violates their beliefs, but like the clergy prayer, at any time some activist judge may take that away.

So, the amendment is needed and should be affirmed by the citizens of Missouri no matter their personal creeds or convictions. I hope voters educate themselves on the issue and vote soundly and not based on propaganda.

(The above was written in response to an article by Mr. Tyler Pounders entitled: “‘‘Right to Pray’ blurs church, state,” July 30, 2012) When Rev. Fluharty sent in his beliefs on the matter, the Springfield News Leader decided not to print his letter and instead neatly hide it on the bottom of their opinion page on the website. Yet for the last few days at the Springfield News Leader, there has been one liberal ranting after another of anti-church, anti-faith, anti-truth. Typical media bias for sure.)

 

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One Response to Separation of Church and State Big Myth

  1. dougindeap says:

    Separation of church and state 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) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), 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, 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 constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

    Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    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. 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.

    Jefferson, by the way, did not use federal money to evangelize Native Americans. See C. Rodda, Liars for Jesus (2006), Chapter Three, Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen (available free on line http://www.liarsforjesus.com/).

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