Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Separation of Church and State is the Law: Read Your Constitution!


"Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them realize that religion has no place in public policy." - Barry Goldwater


         The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of RightsThe Free Exercise Clause is the accompanying clause with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause together read, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Article VI of the United States Constitution establishes that senators and representatives, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support the Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the United States. These, of course, are just the regulations in the US Constitution. Just for everyone's information right up front. The Founders were not Christians in the modern sense. They were Deists. They believed that a god created the natural and scientific mechanisms that make the universe operate the way that they do and then stepped out of the equation to give we humans the chance to make a way for ourselves.

The United States Supreme Court has had its say, as well: 

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that federal anti-bigamy statutes do not violate the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

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.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

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.

Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) 

Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state's attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

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: 

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 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.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City's ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.
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.



        So, what does this all basically mean? It means, essentially, this. I, the person who believes organized religion to be nothing more than the most effective form of social control in human history, cannot, by Constitutional Provision, walk into your place of worship and tell you who or what you can or cannot worship. However, this also means that you, who believes that I and people like me are nothing but godless heathens cannot, by Constitutional Provision, force me in any way to worship in your religion if I do not choose to do so of my own free will. Essentially, we are both legally protected from being forced to endure each other's endless ranting and uncensored  swill if we do not choose to listen to it. This means that it is illegal for me to come for your bibles, and it is illegal for you to silence me because you think I am seeking to destroy your faith. At least for once, please understand that I could care less what you believe. If you want to believe in the preeminent, yet invisible, space daddy in the sky, who makes special appearances to condemn and spank people who do not believe in him, you can do that. I am a respecter of the Constitution. I will uphold that arrangement, so long, as you hold up your end of the bargain and leave me the heck alone. This is the personal essence of these laws.



        Now, why might the Founders have placed such provisions in the US Constitution? One can only imagine. Maybe, its because the Founders, while they were certainly far from perfect, had a firm grasp of history. They were very aware of what religion can become when it is given the powers of state. The Romans, before their conversion, were notorious for burning alive, feeding to hungry animals, executing in the arena, and using as a scapegoat for tragedy, any Christian that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Interestingly enough, during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, which held absolute power over the souls of all Europe for nearly a millenium, did the same thing to people. They tortured and murdered Jews, Muslims, and any Catholic who spoke out against the Church. The would put people on the rack, in the Iron Maiden, they would hang people, they would burn them alive, they would rip their guts out, and they would gouge out their eyes or cut out their tongues, among other things. In fact, a member of the clergy wrote a handbook on how to identify a witch or warlock and what to do with them once they had been caught. The text was known as the Malleus Maleficarum, or the Witches' Hammer. The most ignorant of all the lines in the text is this. To test a woman for a witch, place in her in a vat of water with a weight around her neck. If she floats, she is a witch. If she sinks and drowns, she is innocent. How ignorant and lopsided is that? The most real and common reason for such a test was actually so that the church could confiscate the properties of women whose husband's had died without an heir or men whose wives had died and had no heir. It was nothing more than an early case of Real Estate Fraud.


        There is also an experience much closer to home that helped the Founders to come to the decision to write the Separation of Church and State into the Constitution and the Supreme Court to defend it. Can you guess what it might be? It should not be difficult. It was an affair domestic to this continent, and while it occurred before the United States was even a gleam in the Founders eye's, it left a historical impression upon them that they did not want to ever see realized in their new nation. Look back to the 1620s to 1630s in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and its surrounding areas. What happened in this time period that could so worry the Founders that they made sure to put the restrictions on religion in government that they did? Might it have to do with the Salem Witchcraft Trials and other similar occurrences? I say other similar occurrences because the trials at Salem were not the only farcical charades of the day committed against people who simply understood god differently than the political powers of the day. They were just the most famous. It most certainly has everything to do with it! The hysteria caused by these occurrences was ridiculous. Innocent people were killed, entire communities were disrupted, and memories of European Inquisitions were reignited. Imagine what it would be like if something like this occurred on a national scale in 1776, let alone, now? The result would be a disastrous waste of life. 


        This was all made possible because Salem and the surrounding cities were ruled by colonial governments that were based on biblical law. They were known as Theocracies, and they based their entire system on how pious you and your fellow citizens were. Deviance was not accepted, and as can be seen from Salem, many times it was punishable by death. It was chaotic, and it was contrary to human liberty. The Founders knew this and made sure that the laws of their new country would prevent such hysteria from occurring in the United States. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am writing this because I am truly worried that something like this could very well happen in the United States now. I keep hearing people say that they believe that the bible should be law. They think that the Affordable Healthcare Act is bad because people should rely on churches, or they say that they believe that church attendance should mandatory for all citizens. They also believe that deviance form their norm should be punishable by law. Let them try and come at me with that mess! People that believe this crap are either so demented that they are beyond mental reparation or they are ignorant of this country's own history and the history of Europe. Either way, they are a threat to American democracy and should never be allowed to realize their goals. Never!


        They have intentionally attempted to deprive citizens of legal services because they did not agree with their lifestyle, they have attempted to justify enslaving or misusing people through the manipulation of biblical scripture, they have justified persecution and beatings of people from different religions, and they, among countless other violations, have held up needed legislation meant to help the American people live better lives, simply because their beliefs or lifestyles were not in accordance with their book about the invisible space daddy in the sky that was written by the hands of men. Worse, they try to call it the divine word of God! I know of no God in this world that would be okay with murdering people because they look, feel, or believe differently than their followers. The only such gods that justify such actions are those created in the heads of people overcome by fear and xenophobia. So, here is what I propose. Leave your religion out of the government, and I will spend my entire life fighting, and dying if I have to, to ensure that you are able to believe your swill. The First Amendment also affords you that right. All I ask is that as fellow citizens, you afford me the same respect. If you are unable to do that and you come after me with some ridiculous charge that you say is justified by some god you believe in with the intent of using death to punish me, I will fight you to my last breadth with everything that I can muster, and I will show you as little mercy as was shown to our own ancestors who were burned at the stake for questioning the power and authority of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. There will be no quarter given. I am not sure that you are truly ready for that though, and in all honesty, no one ever should be.


7 comments:

  1. Hear, Hear! For additional details regarding seventeenth-century New England theocracy and Roger Williams's opposition to it, see my book "The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience" (Pittsburgh: Philosophia Publications, 2015).

    ReplyDelete
  2. And yet in still no purported non-Christian can ever get elected.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Screw Bernie. What a sellout. I actually heard him say he would vote for the most evil thing living. Hillary!

    ReplyDelete