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Church and State

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by curefiend, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. curefiend

    curefiend New Member

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    I find it worrying that a certain sect of the population no longer believes in the seperation of church and state, and as a matter of fact is supportive of mixing and blending the two. I would say this clearly shows a naive perspective of history. It would be easy for me to drop the cliche argument against church and state by pointing out the theocratic regimes in the Middle East, or even point to periods in the past where church and state were united, resulting in much religious persecution.

    It is also a spit on the founding fathers intentions to assume that they did not want a seperation between church and state. Aside from the first ammendment in the bill of rights, there have been a number of other documents that state their opinions on the matter. If the founding fathers truly wanted it to be a Christian state, they could have easily done so during the founding of the country but they refused, even during the Constitutional Conference, they voted down a Christian qualification in order to run for office.
     
  2. TheGuru

    TheGuru New Member

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    I wouldn't call it a "spit" on the founding fathers, but I also worry that certain people no longer believe in the separate of church and state.
     
  3. Archangelwolf

    Archangelwolf New Member

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    Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, in particular, were ADAMANT about the separation of church and state.

    I, too, am concerned; as I believe that ANY religion is a private affair. However, this is a two-edged sword. Many Christians who believe in separation contradict themselves; because they say that Christianity is still the majority. The Constitution was created to protect the individual rights and freedoms of even the SMALLEST minorities. Therefore, when it comes to public buildings, state buildings, etc., I must agree with the some of the courts' decisions in that regard. In the conservatives defense, however, we must not forget that the Ten Commandments was a big influence on our own Bill of Rights. That in itself, regardless of belief, is indisputable; and should be considered.

    Arch.
     
  4. Phenom

    Phenom New Member

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    I'd say it was ingenius for the founding fathers to do this.
     
  5. MarkVI

    MarkVI New Member

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    The separation of church and state is incredibly important.
    Church, as I'll call it here, tells us how to live our lives.
    State does not, nor should it.

    We give up some of our rights for safety, like the right to drive where ever you want as fast as you want. We have speed limits and red lights for a reason. It's a compromise.

    Church is not to be mixed with state, the outcome is a theocracy that will alienate or even prosecute those who aren't in the same religious clique.

    Church is a personal choice, my choice may differ from yours. We're allowed to have that. In this country we have a freedom of religion, and from religion. If we choose, we don't have to practice a religion and the government can't do anything about it.

    The ideologues who have a stranglehold on any country's government isn't going to be for the people.

    We can't make everyone happy, but we should try to understand others and why they think the way they do. It may open our eyes to why we think in our own ways.

    There's a pursuit of happiness, not a guarantee of it. We have to figure that out on our own. :rolleyes:
     
  6. InterestedParty

    InterestedParty New Member

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    Wow, I would have rather gotten to know a few of you before I felt compelled to respond in such a manner that is going to clearly put me on the outside looking in to your community.

    No where in the Bill of Rights does it say that you have the right to freedom from religion. You have the right to freedom of religion. I don't give a hoot what the Supreme Court says. They were clearly legislating from the bench, not interpretting the Constitution.

    And this is a minute detail, but driving is not a right. It is a priviledge. If it was a right anyone at anytime could do it. You have to *earn* a license to be able to drive. You know this. So in this case, you have not given up any right such as driving fast for safety.

    Thomas Jefferson believed government at all levels could accommodate religious expression -- even worship services -- as long as it was voluntary and the state didn't pick favorites. It was Thomas Jefferson who first used the words 'Separation of Church and State' when he wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut on January 1, 1802 containing the phrase that is familiar in today's political and judicial circles "a wall of separation between church and state." This phrase has become well known because it is considered to explain the "religion clause" of the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment *of* religion ...,"

    2 days after sending the letter to the Baptists on January 3, 1802....

    Did you know that John Leland one of the nation's best known advocates of religious liberty, had accepted an invitation to preach in the House of Representatives on Sunday, Jan. 3, 1802 and Jefferson evidently concluded that, if Leland found nothing objectionable about officiating at worship on public property, he could not be criticized for attending a service at which his friend was preaching? Consequently, "contrary to all former practice," Jefferson appeared at church services in the House on Sunday, Jan. 3, two days after recommending in his letter to the Danbury Baptists "a wall of separation between church and state"; during the remainder of his two administrations he attended these services "constantly." Jefferson also granted permission to various denominations to worship in executive office buildings, where four-hour communion services were held. Jefferson's public support for religion appears, however, to have been more than a cynical political gesture. Scholars have recently argued that in the 1790s Jefferson developed a more favorable view of Christianity that led him to endorse the position of his fellow Founders that religion was necessary for the welfare of a republican government, that it was, as Washington proclaimed in his Farewell Address, indispensable for the happiness and prosperity of the people. Jefferson had, in fact, said as much in his First Inaugural Address. His attendance at church services in the House was, then, his way of offering symbolic support for religious faith and for its beneficent role in republican government.

    Jefferson saw no conflict between the First Amendment and the availability of public property, public facilities and even government personnel to religious bodies. At one point Jefferson remarked "that no nation could be governed without religion", he did not have in mind the corrupted variety of government churches. In this, he argued exactly as the most pious Founders did: Religious belief -- freely chosen and given wide public space -- nurtured morality and thus supported a free society.
     
  7. MarkVI

    MarkVI New Member

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    Wow, you've humbled me, InterestedParty!
    You really know your U.S. History.

    "Religious belief -- freely chosen and given wide public space -- nurtured morality and thus supported a free society."

    Religion does bring morality to a society and we're getting glimpses of what can occur when religion becomes less and less of an integral role in daily life.

    By the way, our community is just beginning and I'm eager to see it grow with opinions and viewpoints all over.
     
  8. InterestedParty

    InterestedParty New Member

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    Mark...

    Don't give me too much credit. It isn't that I know so much about US History, I just do my homework and I have the ability to copy and paste down to an artform. ;) I am not one to just take opinions or information on face value. I want to know the intent and content behind the issue and I want to see the evidence in print. So I use the internet to find it. I believe that historical references tend to be taken out of context and I believe we do a bigger injustice to ourselves and to our forefathers by just accepting peoples interpretations. I learn something new everyday. the link below is where I found the explanation discussed here. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it brings to light the reason and the intent behind the Separation of Church and State statement first made by Thomas Jefferson.

    http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danbury.html

    I urge everyone to read it and I hope that once they do they will act responsibly and not misrepresent the intent of the phrase again.
     
  9. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    The founding fathers were exceedingly precise in stating what they did and did not want the government to be. If they had wanted a separation of church and state, it would be written in the constitution. It isn't. It is clear that you have never really taken any time to examine the establishment clause of the constitution. If you had, you would not make the suggestion that there is a separation of church and state.

    I think that in order to grasp what the founders were saying when they wrote the establishment clause, you have to examine the stages it went through before it was finally accepted. If I may start at the beginning.

    James Madison penned the first draft of the first amendment in 1789 and it read as follows¦

    ”The civil rights of none shall be abridged on the account of religious belief, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience in any manner or on any pretext be infringed. “

    A subcommittee in the house promptly struck the word national from the original draft. After that, several revisions were debated on but none contained the word national. After lengthy debate, the house approved this wording¦

    "Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience."

    The senate took up debate on September 3 and the debates were conducted in secrecy so there is no record of their entire contents, but the Senate Journal does list 3 motions and votes. The record states that the motions were voted on and defeated and all three motions restricted the ban in the draft amendment to establishments preferring one sect above another. The first motion would have made the establishment clause read as follows¦

    "Congress shall make no law establishing one religious sect or society in preference to others."

    This motion failed and then a motion was made to kill the amendment which also failed then another motion was made to word the amendment as follows¦

    ”Congress shall not make any law infringing the rights of conscience, or establishing any religious sect or society.”


    This motion failed as well. A further motion was made to word the amendment as follows¦

    ”Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another.”


    This motion also failed and as a result, the senate adopted the language that the house had suggested¦

    ”Congress shall make no law establishing religion.”

    Six days later, the Senate took up the clause again. This time they changed the House amendment to read¦

    ”Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”

    When the rewording was returned to the House, it was rejected and they suggested a joint conference. The Senate refused to back down on its wording, but did agree to the conference. The committee consisted of Madison as chairman of the House conferees, joined by Sherman and Vining, and Ellsworth as chairman of the Senate conferees, joined by Paterson and Carroll. Four of the six had been members of the Constitutional Convention.

    The members of the House delegation simply refused to accept the Senate’s wording of the amendment. They said that they would not be satisfied with a simple ban on the preference of one sect or religion over all others. After much debate, the delegation from the Senate gave in and the amendment was drafted to read as we know it today¦

    ”Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Ok, so much for the history lesson. In considering the wording of this amendment in relation to the wording of the rest of the amendments a glaring inconsistency is evident. Look at all of the rights offered for incorporation in the Bill of Rights. Now ask a couple of questions with regard to those rights¦

    1. What is the right in question?
    2. Who does the right apply to?

    When you apply these questions to the rest of the rights, the answers are obvious. Take, for example, freedom of speech. The answers are , the right to speak freely without fear of reprisal from the government and the right applies to everyone. But the establishment clause presents a problem when you try to apply the same questions why do you suppose that is?

    The clause doesn’t seem to be so much right, with regard to individuals as it is a prohibition. There simply is nothing personal about this right...so why include it in the bill of rights unless it indeed is a right?

    This clause is either the same, or different from the free exercise of religion. If it is the same then how does it enhance an individual’s religious freedom? If it is different, however, then what is it, because it isn’t a right to religious liberty.

    Since it is in the bill of rights it must be a right, but obviously not an individual right by any stretch of the imagination, then whose right is it?

    The answer that seems most obvious is that it is protecting the rights of the states. It is well documented that the states had religious establishments that were in effect for decades after the Bill of Rights was adopted and they were ended not by any federal mandate, but because of choices made by the individual states.

    If one reads the establishment clause in the historical context of new law in a new country it seems quite clear that the establishment clause was worded to protect the religious establishments of the individual states from any interference by the federal government. What other religious establishments existed in this country in 1791?

    In this light, it seems that the founders quite possibly were attempting to protect both the individual's right to religious freedom, and the state's rights to have their establishments of religion without the burden of federal interference. What they obviously did not have any mind to do was establish any sort of separation between the church and the state.
     
  10. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    And an attempt at complete separation can bear no good either. Our founders clearly didn't want a theocracy, but by the same token, they made no provision within the constitution to keep religion out either.
     
  11. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    The first amendment does not guarantee you freedom from religion, it promises you freedom of religion and if people of religion elect a man or woman, in part, because of their beliefs, it is that elected person's responsibility to adhere to those beliefs when making policy decisions.

    If you find any wording in the constitution that would establish a barrier between one's faith and one's public service, I would be interested in seeing it. Claiming a separation when you are unable to point it out in the constitution is a pointless exercise.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Exactly which part of that statement do you believe establishes a separation of church and state? And before you suggest that this nation was "founded" on secular principles, I would suggest that you reference the Declaration of Independence. The document that established this nation as a free nation. Ample reference was made in it to God and where human rights come from. By the way, the Declaration of Independence, was ratified as the law of the land prior to the writing of the Constitution and to this day has not been negated by law.

    Your "separation" of church and state is a fiction.
     
  12. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Actually, you are quite wrong with regard to the declaration not being a foundational document.

    Samuel Adams pointed out: "Before the formation of this Constitution this Declaration of Independence was received and ratified by all the States in the Union, and has never been disannulled."

    The Supreme Court declared in 1897, the Constitution is the body and letter of which the Declaration of Independence is the thought and the spirit, and it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

    Let me lay out the legal nuts and bolts of the Declaration of Independence:

    With the vote for independence from england and the ratification of the Declaration of Independence on 07/04/1776 a new entity was created. That entity was the USA. In the Declaration, the purpose of government is identified and laid out. That purpose was defined as securing the inalienable rights that we have as human beings.

    The government of the USA is organized by the Constitution. In other words, the Constitution is the bylaws of the entity, the entity being the USA. The Constitution provides the authority and the proceedures by which the representatives of "We the People", (the government of the USA) are to go about "securing" the inalienable rights that the Declaration acknowledges that we have and it is governments charge to protect.

    The Declaration brought the USA into existence and described the purpose of the USA. The Constitution is nothing more than the set of rules and proceedures by which that purpose is to be fulfilled. If the purpose of the constitution is to establish how our inalienable rights are to be secured, then action that denies any of those inalienable rights to any one or any group without specific enumeration into law explaining the whats, whys, and wherefores, is explicitly unconstitutional.

    History simply denies this bit of fiction. At the time of the signing of the Constitution, there were no less than 6 states that had established churches. None of these was closed as a result of the constitution and it was more than a decade before the last one was ended and that was a result of a vote by the people of the state and nothing do do with the federal government.

    I went through the establishment clause in detail above. If you can make an argument against it, or show me where I am wrong then by all means so so but to simply make claims about what the establishment clause did when history shows that it did not indeed do those things is just silly.
     
  13. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Clearly you have no argument with my explanation of the establishment clause as the founders wrote it. You seem to believe that either there is a total separation of church and state or there is a theocracy. The fact is that there is no separation of church and state. Had our founders desired such, they would have encoded it into the constitution.

    If you believe that religious people who are elected do not draw on their morals when making policy decisions, you are sadly mistaken.

    And a court decision is not binding law. A court decision is just that and remains so until a future decision supercedes it. To date, the supreme court has reversed itself roughly 192 times.
     
  14. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Until they reverse themselves again.
     
  15. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    I read your entire post. I just didn't see anything there that merited comment.

    Your knowledge of our founding documents seems to be a mile wide and an inch deep. You seem to know the words well enough, but have little understanding of what they mean when taken in the context in which they were written. You have, as is typical of modern liberals, completely disregarded what the founders actually said and twisted some passages that you have taken completely out of context to mean what you want them to mean. The supreme court has said that it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.


    Au contraire. All men are created equal. We are all born red, and slimy with little ability to do anything but cry, eat, and eliminate. We, in this nation, are not born to position and that is the extent of what the founders meant when they said we are all created equal.

    Our inalienable rights are very nearly absolute and it is clear that you don't fully understand the nature of the legal system that protects them. Our legal system is such that in order for a right to be denied, specific legislation must be written and ratified that describes which right is to be denied, from whom it is going to be denied, and the reason that it will be denied. If you can show me specific legislation that forbids elected officials to consider policy decisions in the light of their religious beliefs, then you will have a case for a separation of church and state. If you can show me legislation that forbids a person of religion from holding office based on his or her religious beliefs, you will have a case for a separation of church and state. I don't believe you can show me either and in that case, you have no argument. You have a fiction.

    You keep saying this but the history of this nation clearly shows that you are wrong. As I have pointed out several times now, there were no less than 6 states at the time of the signing of the constitution that had established churches. That is, one couldn't hold office in those states or even be elected to federal office from those states unless one belonged to that state established church. And those state established churches continued on, in some cases for more than a decade after the signing without interference from the federal government. They ended as a result of votes by the people of those states.

    You will find no cases of religious persecution in the US after the signing of the constitution which further illustrates your lack of knowledge. You paint with a very broad, ill informed brush. You don't seem to understand that religious people can make policy decisions within the government without creating a theocracy. The branches of our government prevent the establishment of a theocracy.

    Religious people holding office and making policy decisions based on their beliefs do not constitute a theocracy. And you appear more fanatical than most religious people that I know. Painting with your broad brush, making allegations that are unfounded, and claiming words, ideas, and phrases exist in the Constitution that simply are not there.

    The US was founded with a freedom of religion. That means that religious people have exactly the same right to be elected as secular people and religious elected people have the same right to draw on their religious philosophy when making policy decisions as secular people have to draw on their secular philosophy when making policy decisons.

    You seem to percieve this as a black and white issue and it is not. I can point to far more intrusion in my life by policy instituted by people who draw on a secular philosophy than I can from people who draw on a religious philosophy. And historically, I can point to far more misery and persecution by secularists than by even the most fanatical of religious zealots.

    By the way, your reference to the "horrors" of the inquisition are laughable when contrasted to Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler et al. Over the course of the inquisition, church records indicate that less than 10,000 people were killed and they kept very good records because they were doing "God's" work. Even Saddam killed more drawing on his secular philosophy. Even the most outrageous number quoted by the wacko left doesn't even equal the number killed by Pol Pot and Pol Pot was a small timer compared to Stalin Lenin and Mao. Literally hundreds of millions of corpses may be laid at the altar of secular philosophy.
     
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