A group of men braved much to bring us the United States Constitution. That document, the foundation of our country that allowed our history to soar, promised this in Article 1:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
Legal language requires clarity, saying what you mean.
“Congress shall make NO LAW”
NO LAW means not one, not two, not any – ever.
“Respecting an establishment of religion”
Which is why we have Christianity and an assortment of other world religions being practiced in our country.
“or PROHIBITING the FREE EXERCISE THEREOF”
let me say that again:
“or PROHIBITING the FREE EXERCISE THEREOF”
Prohibiting means the following:
Prayer suppression in schools, students suspended for Tebowing, churches shut out from renting school space on Sundays, crosses disallowed on city property, history lessons/truth constrained in mentioning the effects faith on our country’s development, Catholic hospitals suspended for refusing to commit actions that are against their faith – and the list could go on for pages and pages
Why was Article 1 created in the first place?
Article 1 was created because of Henry VIII – and his 2 daughters – one created a state religion (denomination), one instituted a different state religion(denomination) and one re-instated her father’s religion(denomination).
Henry wanted a new wife and the Catholic Church just wouldn’t cooperate – so he chucked out Catholicism and created The Church of England. Henry took his anger out on those who didn’t support him (Catholics), confiscated their property and killed Catholics.
When his daughter, Mary, inherited the crown, she re-instated Catholicism, confiscating property of Church of England adherents and, yes, killing many who didn’t support “the crown.”
When she died, Elizabeth inherited the crown, re-instated the Church of England – you get the picture. The people were at the whim of the ruler. Freedom of religion? There is no Freedom of Religion when government makes rules about it.
NPR recently did a piece on Tim Tebow. One commenter said our country ought to have “Freedom from Religion.” Another suggested he should be penalized 15 yards for making unbelievers uncomfortable – that football should be a “religi-osity”-free zone.
Freedom of Religion: of used as an act of determining; determining: to fix conclusively or authoritatively.
Freedom from Religion: from used as a function word to indicate physical separation or an act or condition of removal, abstention, exclusion, release, subtraction, or differentiation.
Words make a difference.
Freedom from Religion, that is not what is in our Constitution says – and words have meaning, legal meaning. The U.S. Constitution is a Contract with U.S. people.
Everywhere you hear, “Separation from church and state” – yet, nowhere in our Constitution is that phrase issued.
Thirty-nine delegates signed the U.S. Constitution – yet one signer’s letter carries more authority in our court system.
Thomas Jefferson wrote it in a letter – which produced the words “separation of church and state” –which leads to the question, “Does a phrase in a letter over-rule our Constitution?”
A phrase has no verb.
A phrase makes no point.
A phrase is a part of a whole
how many people know the whole?
“To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem & approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful & zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and, in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more & more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” thus building a wall of eternal separation between Church & State. Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect,
[Jefferson first wrote: “confining myself therefore to the duties of my station, which are merely temporal, be assured that your religious rights shall never be infringed by any act of mine and that.” These lines he crossed out and then wrote: “concurring with”; having crossed out these two words, he wrote: “Adhering to this great act of national legislation in behalf of the rights of conscience”; next he crossed out these words and wrote: “Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience I shall see with friendly dispositions the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced that he has no natural rights in opposition to his social duties.“]
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & the Danbury Baptist [your religious] association assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Jan. 1. 1802.” (Jefferson’s unedited letter to the Danbury Baptist Association)
Duty is defined as “That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform. Obedience to princes, magistrates and the laws is the duty of every citizen and subject; obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children; fidelity to friends is a duty; reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties; the government and religious instruction of children are duties of parents which they cannot neglect without guilt”(Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
Moral is defined as “Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
What incited this history lesson?
Health and Human Services mandating religious employers cover contraception cost. This decision, this quote, the ruling, the hijacking of Congress’s role of lawmaking, of protecting our religious freedom:
“’I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services,’ Sebelius said in a statement” (Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services) in a response to requiring all “church-affiliated hospitals, colleges and social service agencies” to provide contraception, whether it is against their faith or not (“Obama Administration Mandates Religous Employers Cover Contraception Cost”) .
Political agendas trumping religious freedom. Henry would feel right at home. He would probably just take over the hospitals that disagreed with him.
How hard is it to understand these words:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Article 1, United States Constitution)
See also Neglecting History Erodes Freedom,