A different look at the First Amendment and Religion

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Deornwulf, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. Deornwulf
    Offline

    Deornwulf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Messages:
    153
    Thanks Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +28
    (I apologize in advance to any who read this posting a different board. I keep thinking that people there might be willing to do more than discuss the evils of the Bush Administration and badmouth America but nobody was interested in discussing this.)

    One of the biggest Constitutional questions that must be settled soon is what is exactly meant by "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Many here would immediately argue that it means a separation of church and state but as that phrase does not appear in the Constitution, it does not provide an easy answer.

    The crux of the matter is defining what was meant by the Framers with each of the following: Congress shall make no law, respecting, establishment of religion.

    Congress shall make no law - Was it the intention to allow the States to make laws establishing religion? Many of them did have such laws at the time. Maryland was established as a Catholic state while others were very Protestant in their legal dealings. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments would reinforce this idea but the it has been argued that the Fourteenth trumps both the States and Individual rights given in Nine and Ten in respect to religion.

    Another issue is what actions of Congress or the State are law and which are not. If Congress passes a resolution suggestion to America to have a National Day of Prayer, it is obviously NOT a law but some would argue that such an action violates the Separation of Church and State. How?

    Respecting From a legal standpoint, what exactly does this word mean? The word itself is defined by Webster http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=respect
    It can also be used as a preposition or transitive verb. The transitive verb definition states is 1 a : to consider worthy of high regard : ESTEEM b : to refrain from interfering with. If definition b was the intent, one gets an entirely different reading. It is obvious that a great deal depends on how this key word is defined.

    Establishment of religion - Once again, the crux of the matter is how these words are defined AND interpreted. What exactly qualifies for establishing a religion? If Congress authorizes tax dollars to be paid to a religious organization for services, has that organization been established? Was the phrase "establishment of religion" specifically refering to Congress establishing a State Religion like the Church of England AND forbidding others to practice any other religion?

    Which brings me to my new thoughts on the matter. If this was specifically directed towards preventing the actions taken in England in regards to religion, would Congress or the State actually be following the intent if they were to support many religions? Would allowing religious displays of more than one religion counter the "establishment of religion" if the intent was refering to only one religion? Simply put, would a public school be in compliance with the First Amendment if they offered religious courses in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism since not a single religion was receiving preference thus not respecting the establishment of religion?

    Perhaps the answer is for us to write a new Constitutional Amendment specifically defining how we are going to interpret what is meant by the First Amendment regarding religion.
     
  2. Huckleburry
    Offline

    Huckleburry Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    285
    Thanks Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Ratings:
    +20
    The church and state debate can not only consider the constitution. Its definition must also consider the corpus of decisions that have already formed a position on this matter. Precedent plays a huge role in our legal system and Supreme Court decisions are defacto laws. This is to say that the opinions of the court further refine what is said in the constitution, while reversing one decision is rare but not on heard of; reversing a batch of decisions is unheard of and inappropriate.
    Many folks have chosen to interpret the constitution in such a way as to argue that no separation of church and state exists in the constitution. To bolster their argument they often cite the religiosity of the founders. However, such a position does not hold water when the attitudes of the founders are examined. The founders above all else were concerned with the success of the country. To that end they viewed institutions that fractioned society as unhealthy to our democracy. The founders were not even in favor of political parties because they felt they generated too much friction within the society. If they took such a view on political parties then certainly they would not be in favor of any mixing of religion and politics. After all what is more divisive then issues of religion? The court has adopted the same view and has consistently ruled in favor of wide separation. When one reads the writings of our founders there can be little doubt that our founders were in favor a highly secular government. This is not to say that governors can not be religious men they can not however be religious governors. Decisions of governance should not be influenced by religious persuasion. This is the essence of separation between church and state. Constructionists tend to agree with such a strict reading of the constitution, even though it at times can be obnoxious i.e. removing the Ten Commandments from a public edifice.

    As for the school debate, religion classes are offered in public schools, teaching about religion is not the same as teaching religion.
     
  3. rtwngAvngr
    Offline

    rtwngAvngr Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2004
    Messages:
    15,755
    Thanks Received:
    511
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Ratings:
    +511
    You are wrongminded on this issue as well. Just because the leftist organization the ACLU has gotten a lot of misguided thinking inculcated in a couple decisions, doesn't mean we can't undo their idiocy. Your constipated jabbering to the contrary is insufficiently convincing. No one here wants a theocracy. BUT you are not granted the right to repress innocuous christian diplays because some hypersensitive paranoid may be offended by them. Aren't you tired of being kicked in the nuts?
     
  4. Huckleburry
    Offline

    Huckleburry Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    285
    Thanks Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Ratings:
    +20
    Hey right wing,
    you should try to argue against me rather than call me names.
     
  5. manu1959
    Offline

    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Messages:
    13,761
    Thanks Received:
    1,625
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    california
    Ratings:
    +1,626
    huckelberry,

    question .... if you take the separation of church and state arguments to their logical conclusion ... where do you end up?
     
  6. KarlMarx
    Offline

    KarlMarx Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2004
    Messages:
    3,231
    Thanks Received:
    490
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    ...
    Ratings:
    +490
    But... everyone ignores that second part of the First Amendment clause "or an law prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

    So, from where I stand, the ACLU is helping to violate the First Amendment by getting courts to stop the free exercise of religion!

    "Separation of church and state" and the free exercise of religion are mutually exclusive ideas (at least the way "separation" seems to be defined by the ACLU which is no crosses on city seals).......

    But now I wonder if stars count as religious symbols? Well, then we can't have the flag flying at public buildings!

    Or brightly colored flags? Go past a Buddhist temple and see what I mean!

    Or wheels - sometimes used by Hindus to represent karma and reincarnation. That means, all government vehicles must have their round tires replaces with square ones!

    How about trees? After all animists have been known to worship trees. No trees on public land. That means.... we'll have to cut down all those trees on public land..... send a team of lumber jacks to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Sequoia National Park and start cutting down those trees!

    Oh, how about those pesky railroad crossing signs? Those are crosses too. Well? Hey, if someone gets killed at a railroad crossing at least they'll get killed in a value neutral setting!

    Yet again, how about stone circles? Public buildings cannot have circular arrangement of stones --- after all, Druids might be about!

    Oh .... and any depiction of the sun! That's right, I forgot, the sun is sometimes represented as a religious symbol.... From now on the National Weather Service will have to say "a bright day" instead of "a sunny day"!

    Oh... and I forgot the moon! Especially crescent shaped moons. Which means no hot cross buns or crescent wrenches may be brought into schools or public buildings.

    Wait.... wait... how about any public school that has the name "devil" in its team's name? That's Satanism.... out with that.

    Now I have a thought..... Nirvana, which is nothingness, is a belief of Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. Well ... we can't have blank sheets of paper or blank walls or blank anything anywhere public. After all, we don't want to be pushing reincarnation and thoughts of Nirvana..

    And hey.... if you sneeze in a public building.... no one can say "Bless you" perhaps the more value neutral "SHUT UP!!!!!!" can be used instead.

    OH .... now I have another thought, the letters "X" and "T" ... those are crosses, out they go!!! So cities like Phoenix will have to change its name to "Phoeni". Furthermore, the letters "X" and "T" should not be used on any stationery or any sign in or on a public agency or in any name of any public agency. That means that the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, the Justice Department and just about every government agency will have to drop those pesky X's and T's from their names. The Space Shuttle should also be renamed.

    Crap! And cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul, San Diego, St. Augustine.. they'll all have to change their names.

    Oh no.... I just had another thought MOUNTAINS with religious names! Mount St. Helens is on public land.... We'll just have to change its name to "Helen".

    EXIT signs! My God man! X and T is all those EXIT signs in all those public buildings! We can't have that! Take them all down and replace them with EI signs.... "In case of fire go to the nearest marked EI sign"

    OK, I'm being my usual obnoxious self (part of my charm!). But the point I'm trying to make is if you really want to apply the separation argument to the max and across the board, you'd be banning everything symbolic from public life. Since religions make heavy use of symbols to convey ideas.
     
  7. Bullypulpit
    Offline

    Bullypulpit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Messages:
    5,849
    Thanks Received:
    378
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Ratings:
    +379
    You end up with folks practicing the religion of their choice and not bothering others in the middle of dinner with annoying folks wanting to "...Bring Jesus into your life." Fine...Jesus can come in, but y'all are gonna have to stay outside.
     
  8. dilloduck
    Offline

    dilloduck Diamond Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2004
    Messages:
    53,240
    Thanks Received:
    5,552
    Trophy Points:
    1,850
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Ratings:
    +6,403

    Bully---I swear I'm gonna find that preacher who held ya under too long when you were baptized !!
     
  9. Hobbit
    Offline

    Hobbit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2004
    Messages:
    5,099
    Thanks Received:
    420
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Near Atlanta, GA
    Ratings:
    +421

    The ruling passed down in Roe vs. Wade went contrary to all precedent, and until recently, judicial precedent was in favor of allowing religious symbols on public property. The door swings both ways, you know.

    Oh, and bully, if you truly want seperation of church and state, let's make sure evolution is not taught in schools, as that inhibits my free practice of Christianity and is offensive to me. It also endorses the religion of atheism (And dangit, lack of a god doesn't make it any less a religion. Atheism is based on faith, just like any other religion).
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  10. Deornwulf
    Offline

    Deornwulf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2004
    Messages:
    153
    Thanks Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +28
    The point I am trying to make is that if religion is put in the proper perspective, it can be an integral part of American life without taking away anybody's rights.

    I would be all for my city council putting up displays for any of the Holy Days of any of the major religions represented in my community. Why not have the schools make it a point to honor Ramadan if there are Muslim students attending to make the Christian and Jewish students aware of Islam, along with honoring Christmas and Easter, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, and Rosh Hashanah?

    People like to argue that it is not the place of the government to spend tax dollars supporting a religion. The whole argument is bullsnot! I don't consider money spent to put up decorations anything more than helping society become more culturally aware.
     

Share This Page