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Five myths about church and state in America

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posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 02:18 PM
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I wanted to post this article and get some viewpoints. I am hoping there are some subject matter experts here who can elaborate, confirm, or deny.
I find the first section interesting that the seperation of church and state amendment applied only to federal, and not to states. In any court proceeding, I wonder if this was factored.

The second section I argree with. In fact many of the states odd shapes( like Maryland) were simply to satisfy different religious sects.

I think this is very telling about the priority of religion of the founding fathers:


The American Revolution was actually a low point in American religious adherence. Sociologists have shown that no more than 20 percent of the population in 1776 belonged to a church. Then, under the influence of evangelical expansion during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, church membership grew rapidly until, by 1850, more than one-third of Americans belonged to a church. In 1890, after another round of Protestant evangelization and Catholic immigration from Ireland, Italy and elsewhere, the proportion rose to 45 percent. And in 1906, church members became a majority — 51 percent of the population.


This is not a religious debate, just an examination of the laws regading seperation of church and state.

washington post




posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 02:34 PM
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reply to post by nixie_nox
 


I guess my first question would be to show me where in The U.S. Founding Documents, any of them, that there is a "Separation of Church and State Clause"...

When you can provide that, I will give an opinion. Thanks OP.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 02:47 PM
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reply to post by nixie_nox
 


The actual text from the Constitution kept at the national archives is simply this:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, ..."

The literal meaning at the time of its writing is simply that no national religion (ala Church of England) shall be established or favored by the national government over any other.

Subsequent SCOTUS interpretations and rulings have led us to our current state.

NOTE to OP: S & F. At the time of the revolution, we were definitely an un-godly and riotous bunch of armed drunks and malcontents, and proud of it.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:14 PM
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The term "Separation of Church and State" isn't in any founding document, including the Constitution. The 1st amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

What this means is that the US Congress can not establish a national religion, nor can they make the practice of any religion unlawful.

This only applies to the federal government. A state can establish an official religion if it wants to, it is their prerogative.


The original and only intent of the "Separation of Church and State" (notice the capital S) was to protect religious institutions from the influence of the federal government. It was not to keep God out of government, or to stop school prayer. It was not to stop nativity scenes from being put up on public property at Christmas time, and it was not to keep pictures or statues of the ten commandments out of court houses. All of those ideas are just perversions of the idea invented by the progressive movement to get God and religion out of America.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:18 PM
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reply to post by theindependentjournal
 


Free exercise clause and establishment clause. The only way for the government to follow those two clauses of the Constitution properly is to enact a separation of church and state. No law concerning the establishment of religion and no prohibiting the free exercise of religion.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:19 PM
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Here is a good web site about this issue....



So where did the words "Separation of Church and State." come from? They can be traced back to a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote back in 1802. In October 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote to President Jefferson, and in their letter they voiced some concerns about Religious Freedom. On January 1, 1802 Jefferson wrote a letter to them in which he added the phrase "Separation of Church and State." When you read the full letter, you will understand that Jefferson was simply underscoring the First Amendment as a guardian of the peoples religious freedom from government interference. Here is an excerpt from Jefferson's letter. . .



The origin of Separation of Church and State



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:20 PM
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reply to post by mydarkpassenger
 


The establishment clause doesn't speak to simply establishing a state religion, it speaks to the inability of the state to endorse religion to any degree.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"

The grammar is a bit obtuse as English was slightly different back then, but this mean an establishment of any religion, not just the one. And the SCOTUS rulings have frankly been somewhat conservative on the issue.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:24 PM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


No, a state cannot establish a religion.

Article VI, Clause 2


This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.


The state governments also have no right to prohibit freedom of the press, to commit unreasonable searches, or to quarter soldiers.

When will people learn to Constitution?



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


You know...that's a clearly biased (and oddly insane) web site...I'd ignore it. Why? Well, school prayer isn't an issue. You can pray all you want in schools in America. The school merely has no right to lead prayers as it would be a prohibition of the free exercise of religion of the students in the school. In loco parentis doesn't extend to the right to impose religion.

The only way you could have school led prayer in a public school would be to somehow create an all-inclusive prayer that would include all of the contradicting beliefs on religion and the nonreligious. And that would be either impossible or an insanely long speech.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:35 PM
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Originally posted by nixie_nox


The American Revolution was actually a low point in American religious adherence. Sociologists have shown that no more than 20 percent of the population in 1776 belonged to a church.


This is an often-overlooked fact by those who rabidly insist that America was founded as a christian nation or on christian principles. Those pining for "the good old days" of a high religious population are often unaware of this fact and fail to realize that if the country has gone to hell in a handbag it did so when religiosity became rampant.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:55 PM
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From the point of view of this taxpaying individual -- a nativity or a god blessing is the establishment of a religion - it is certainly not my religion and not my blessing. I dont trust people who are driven by the hope that they may be the ones to enable an apocalypse.

I pay my share of taxes -- I am involved in my community and politics. Why should I have to suffer the slings and arrows of your religions.



posted on Apr, 25 2011 @ 03:59 PM
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nixie


I find the first section interesting that the seperation of church and state amendment applied only to federal, and not to states.

That's correct. However, after the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, and so all levels of government under the United States must now observe the same kinds of restriction in religious matters as the Bill of Rights imposed on the federal government.

Until the adoption of Fourteenth Amendment, states could (and some did) establish tax-supported religions (although this became unpopular long before the Civil War) or have religious tests for holding public office (vestigial and unenforceable provisions can still be found in some states' laws). The First Amendement prevented the federal government from interfering with those arrangements.

As usual in politics and religion, both sides spin the truth. The United States was not founded as a "Christian Nation," and the Founders did not uniformly promote "freedom from religion," either.

Hope that helps.

-

edit on 25-4-2011 by eight bits because: so many keys, so little time.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 06:09 AM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


No, a state cannot establish a religion.

Article VI, Clause 2


This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.


The state governments also have no right to prohibit freedom of the press, to commit unreasonable searches, or to quarter soldiers.

When will people learn to Constitution?


The following assumes that one believes that the Constitution is what it is and means what it means. In other words, that it IS NOT a "living and breathing" document. I know that is the Progressive view point, but perhaps they should take some time to read the Federalist Papers.



In the end, the 1st Amendment not only prevents the establishment of a national religion, but it also prohibits government aid to any religion, even on an non-preferential basis, as well as protecting the right of the individual to choose to worship, or not, as he or she sees fit. The Bill of Rights, however, had no effect on how a state treated its churches. Unlike today, the Bill of Rights applied only to the rules and laws of the federal government. The states were still free to establish churches, to direct church taxes be paid, and to even require attendance in church, all within the bounds of the state's own constitution. As noted, many did. While the "free exercise" clause is undoubtedly referring to an individual right, the "establishment" clause refers to a state power. This clause not only prohibited the federal government from establishing a national religion, it prevented the federal government from forcing a state to disestablish any state religion.


The Constitution and Religion



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 08:42 AM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


You know...that's a clearly biased (and oddly insane) web site...I'd ignore it. Why? Well, school prayer isn't an issue. You can pray all you want in schools in America. The school merely has no right to lead prayers as it would be a prohibition of the free exercise of religion of the students in the school. In loco parentis doesn't extend to the right to impose religion.

The only way you could have school led prayer in a public school would be to somehow create an all-inclusive prayer that would include all of the contradicting beliefs on religion and the nonreligious. And that would be either impossible or an insanely long speech.


I don't believe that schools should force prayer on anyone, although I do believe that they should set aside time for students if they wish to pray as an individual or group. I haven't been in school in 15 years, so maybe they already do that. I don't know. The purpose of the website I provided was to show the section that speaks about when the idea of Separation of Church and State was first talked about, using that specific term. The rest you can do with what you wish.

The First Amendment says nothing about it, although many have interpreted it to mean Separation of Church and State. I know that you are an Atheist, and I have no problem with that, for that is your right and I respect your opinion. Unlike a lot of Atheists that I come across, you actually articulate your point of view very well and you even have made me think about some things from some of your postings in other threads.

There is a fundamental difference in the way that you and I think, and in the way that you and I see the Constitution, and I think that it is fair to say that there is absolutely nothing that I can say that will change your mind, and there is absolutely nothing that you can say that will change my mind.

I see the Constitution as a divine document, written by God inspired men. There is no debating that fact, because it is clear by the wording of the Declaration and the Constitution that that is true. I see the bill of rights as a declaration of God given natural rights on loan from God. God gave man freedom and liberty, and it is man's duty to uphold and protect those rights. Government does not give men rights, they only grant privileges. And finally, I believe that the Constitution is not up for interpretation, and that it means today what it meant when it was written. I am going to assume that you would disagree with that. Forgive me if my assumption is wrong, but assuming that you believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as times change, then my question to you is what was the point of the Constitution in the first place? If it can be interpreted as one sees fit, depending on the situation, then why have one to begin with?



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 08:51 AM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


I find it odd that someone who is against the separation of church and state is telling me to read the document where the words first appear. I'm referring to Article VI under the current form of the Constitution...which contains the 14th Amendment, as eight bits pointed out.

And it is a living document...because history changes. If you think that the founders thought that the Constitution should stay rigid then why the hell did they include the 9th Amendment? Hell, why are you under the impression that the founders thought that the Constitution should be interpreted to the letter?



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 09:32 AM
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Originally posted by spyder550
From the point of view of this taxpaying individual -- a nativity or a god blessing is the establishment of a religion - it is certainly not my religion and not my blessing. I dont trust people who are driven by the hope that they may be the ones to enable an apocalypse.

I pay my share of taxes -- I am involved in my community and politics. Why should I have to suffer the slings and arrows of your religions.



I see your point and I respect your opinion, but does a nativity scene really bother you that much? I mean really? Don't you have better things to do than worry about something so trivial? Besides, the vast majority of people do believe in God and the religious aspect of Christmas, so why do the vast majority have to cater to the beliefs of a few in the interest of political correctness?



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 12:39 PM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 



Originally posted by OptimusSubprime
I don't believe that schools should force prayer on anyone, although I do believe that they should set aside time for students if they wish to pray as an individual or group.


Don't they have lunchtime and before and after school? Hell, my school had study hall period, so that's another hour right there to do as you please.



The First Amendment says nothing about it, although many have interpreted it to mean Separation of Church and State.


It doesn't mean a separation of the two, the separation is merely the only way to ensure the rights in that amendment to all citizens equally.




There is a fundamental difference in the way that you and I think, and in the way that you and I see the Constitution, and I think that it is fair to say that there is absolutely nothing that I can say that will change your mind, and there is absolutely nothing that you can say that will change my mind.


No, there's quite a bit that can change my mind...it's called reason and evidence. If you give me a good argument for your position and give me some good evidence to back it up I'll buckle at the knees like a schoolgirl seeing Elvis.



I see the Constitution as a divine document, written by God inspired men.


...well...you're wrong. I mean, Alexander Hamilton much? And had it been so divine and had there been inspiration...why the hell did these men argue over so much of it?



There is no debating that fact, because it is clear by the wording of the Declaration and the Constitution that that is true.


...I'm sorry, but aside from giving a date in a manner that was deemed legally appropriate at that time and mentioning no religious tests for office, the Constitution without its amendments mentions religion not once...and the Declaration is not a governing document. Hell, it only says 'endowed by their creator'...which is a vague deistic notion.

Do you know what's clear by reading those two documents? They weren't inspired by God, they were inspired by John Locke. Life, liberty, and (property) pursuit of happiness, a direct copy paste with a slight amendment. The ideas of the Enlightenment are enshrined in those documents, not the ideas of some people from the bronze and iron ages.



I see the bill of rights as a declaration of God given natural rights on loan from God.


Except...no. Keeping and bearing arms...vs....turn the other cheek. A great chunk of the bill of rights deals in legal procedure, which has nothing to do with any religious form of jurisprudence.



God gave man freedom and liberty, and it is man's duty to uphold and protect those rights.


Except...no. We have freedom and liberty, government is our agreement to cede certain freedoms for the sake of communal well being. For example, I have the freedom to kill people...but I choose not to exercise it because we have made a communal agreement that the right of another person to life and the stability of our group is far more important than my freedom to kill people.



Government does not give men rights, they only grant privileges.


You're right...the government protects rights. I'd really suggest you read up on some very basic political theory.



And finally, I believe that the Constitution is not up for interpretation, and that it means today what it meant when it was written.


Then how would it deal with:
The internet (which is really a category rather than a single item)
International corporations
Air travel
Nuclear proliferation
Television


I mean...that's just the things that are off the top of my head. Four out of the five of those things would be so beyond the understanding of the founders that they would have to consider them magic.



I am going to assume that you would disagree with that. Forgive me if my assumption is wrong, but assuming that you believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as times change, then my question to you is what was the point of the Constitution in the first place?


It was a start. It was there to set up basic protections and deal with the problems of the time and the issues of the time. They could not have dreamed up the world that exists today in their wildest dreams....even sci-fi writers couldn't have done that.

It's a great foundation.



If it can be interpreted as one sees fit, depending on the situation, then why have one to begin with?


As one sees fit? I'm sorry, but that's a bit of an illogical leap. The Constitution is a baseline for certain ideas.

Let me take an example of how you are already guilty of giving meaning to the Constitution that wasn't there:
What right do I have, under the Constitution, to post in this forum?



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 12:41 PM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


I find it odd that someone who is against the separation of church and state is telling me to read the document where the words first appear. I'm referring to Article VI under the current form of the Constitution...which contains the 14th Amendment, as eight bits pointed out.

And it is a living document...because history changes. If you think that the founders thought that the Constitution should stay rigid then why the hell did they include the 9th Amendment? Hell, why are you under the impression that the founders thought that the Constitution should be interpreted to the letter?


History changes? Not unless you have a time machine, although you are correct if you are talking about progressive "revisionist" history, you know, the lies and half truths that are taught to kids in our public education system. By the way, the 14th amendment is not in Article 6. Article 6 is about debts, supremacy and oaths. The supremacy clause does state that federal law supersedes state law, but then we are right back where we started because it all depends on one's definition of separation of church and state, and if one believes that was the intent of the first amendment. The 14th amendment talks about citizenship and electing representatives. More specifically, the original intent of the 14th amendment was to make clear that freed slaves were in fact American citizens. The sole purpose of the 14th amendment was to protect the citizenship of freed slaves.

I'm not against the separation of church and state because in it's original intent and meaning it is a good thing. What I am against is the current definition of the term because it is dead wrong. To me it is a non issue and another glaring example, among many, of progressive ignorance/deceit.

The 9th amendment simply means that other rights aside from those listed may exist, and just because they are not listed doesn't mean they can be violated. That has nothing to do with separation of church and state, nor does it have anything to do with whether or not the Constitution is a living and breathing document. This is similar to the line "we hold these truths to be self evident.." The meaning behind that is that they felt the bill of rights, among others(9th amendment), existed regardless of whether or not they wrote them down on paper, because they are natural rights granted by God. If the Constitution were literally set on fire today and it burned into ash would it still exist? Would the bill of rights still exist? Could I still own a gun? Could you still say whatever you want? The short answer to all of those questions is yes.

The only way that the Constitution is a living document is through the amendment process, and that's it. This is clear in the Federalist Papers, which were written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. The sole purpose of the Federalist Papers were to explain in greater detail what the Constitution was and the meaning behind the numerous ideas within the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist 78 "Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon them collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even knowledge of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives in a departure from it prior to such an act."


I could care less what a Federal Judge has to say about it. I could care less what any politician says about it. In my opinion, any judge or politician that feels the Constitution is "living and breathing" and would attempt to change it through the legislative or judicial process is in direct violation of their oath and should be thrown out of office. The intent of the framers is more than clear, and if you read the Federalist Papers you will know their intent. It isn't a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact. What progressives need to do is at least be honest and say "I don't care what the Constitution says or what the original intent was...I'm doing it anyway." That is what they are doing, so they might as well be honest and say it.




*I was going to include some great websites on this matter, but you would only say that they are biased or ridiculous, so what's the point. You are set in your ways, and so am I



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 02:42 PM
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Agreed... fair enough





I know it doesn't mean the separation of the two. There are a lot of people that point to the 1st amendment as the separation of church and state. The rights are equal to all citizens because of the fact that congress can not limit one's desired religious practice. In essence, we are saying that same thing here.





In the other response I gave to you, I mentioned the Federalist Papers. That is all the proof you need in regards to the original meaning and intent of the Constitution. It goes into great detail on pretty much all subjects within the Constitution. One of the authors was James Madison, who also wrote the Constitution, so I will take his word over anyone else's.





One example does not make me wrong. The founders had their differences just like you and I have, but they all agreed that freedom and liberty were important and the ultimate goal of the constitution. Most of our founders were religious men, and those that were not at least believed in God, or a higher power. Some founders, like Patrick Henry didn't think the Constitution went far enough. For example, Henry didn't like the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Instead Henry wanted "life, liberty, and the pursuit of property." Henry felt that "pursuit of happiness" would be left up to interpretation, and the original intent of the phrase would eventually be lost. I would argue that he was correct.





Government isn't our agreement to cede anything. I cede no freedom to government for any reason. The sole purpose of government is to secure the blessing of liberty for it's people and that's it. Any legislation they enact they should be asking themselves "does this impair or limit liberty?" With rights come responsibilities, and it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that their freedom and liberty does not infringe upon someone else's freedom and liberty. Also, because our freedom comes from God, then it is only natural that one can assume that free men would abide by his law (thou shalt not kill, etc..) I think your analogy of you having the right to kill people is a far stretch. I understand your point, but it is a stretch.





OK, we are saying the same thing, so does that mean that you need to read as well? All I do is read, and I am well versed on numerous political theories, which is why I believe what I believe. Now that you have agreed that rights do not come from government, and that government is supposed to protect rights, where do you think rights come from?





Great question. I can't think of a reason the internet would need to be dealt with by the Constitution. Individual states should deal with international corporations. It's none of the federal governments business what the business dealings of a company in Indian are. Air travel is the one caveat to my beliefs. I am all for abolishing any and all agencies that are not found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution (the powers of Congress). The FAA is the one exception to that, because air travel does need to be regulated in a uniform manner, and that is best accomplished at the federal level. I'm not sure why nuclear proliferation would need to be in the Constitution, it is certainly a federal manner, but it doesn't need to be constitutionally regulated. Television doesn't need to be regulated at all by anyone... if you don't like what's on change the channel. In other words I'll leave that regulation up to the Parents.

In my opinion, there really isn't much of anything that the federal government needs to stick their nose in. The individual state governments are more than sufficient, and that was the original intent of the founders. Proof of this can be found in article 1, section 8, as well as the 10th amendment.





You are correct. This is only my opinion, but I think that it was assumed that the document was God Inspired. You have to look at it through the eyes of a founder, or even your average 18th century American colonist. They left England mostly to escape religious persecution, in order to freely practice their own religion(s) without fear of government reprisal. I also find it interesting that down at the signatures, they signed it "in the year of our Lord".





It is a great foundation, and that is what is was meant to be. You build upon a foundation. You don't change the foundation later on, because then everything falls apart. I think we are witnesses to that right now.





That isn't illogical at all. Activist judges interpret the Constitution as they see fit all the time. In fact, it has become normal for case law to take precedence. What right do you have to post in this forum? Well, technically you don't have a right because this website is privately owned and the owner(s) of this site can allow or disallow whatever they want to. You are posting in this forum because the owner(s) of ATS let you and for no other reason.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 06:26 PM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by mydarkpassenger
 


The establishment clause doesn't speak to simply establishing a state religion, it speaks to the inability of the state to endorse religion to any degree.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"

The grammar is a bit obtuse as English was slightly different back then, but this mean an establishment of any religion, not just the one. And the SCOTUS rulings have frankly been somewhat conservative on the issue.



I said "The literal meaning at the time of its writing is simply that no national religion (ala Church of England) shall be established or favored by the national government over any other. "




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