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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/10/14

The Rapidly Eroding Wall of Separation Between Church and State

By The Initiative For Universal Peace, Freedom and Justice  Posted by E. J. N. (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   43 comments
Message E. J. N.

Re-posted from The Rapidly Eroding Wall of Separation Between Church and State by The Initiative For Universal Peace, Freedom and Justice, 5-12-2014 revision.

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
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Considering the April 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that legislative bodies can begin their meetings and sessions with prayer even if it plainly favors a specific religion, Americans should be concerned about the destruction of the "wall of separation between church and state" that was established by America's Founders and Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Americans now need to know the truth, and it helps to consider the words of Thomas Jefferson, the greatest champion for religious freedom.

"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, & 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 separation between Church and State." -- Thomas Jefferson

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting 'Jesus Christ,' so that it would read 'A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion,' the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Muslim, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination." -- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography

In the latter statement, Jefferson was referring to his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but Jefferson's views, which were reflected in the statute, actually had great influence, not only in the creation of Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits any religious requirement or test for holding office, but also in the creation of the First Amendment clause that prohibits any law regarding the establishment of religion. And that can be accurately understood only by realizing its true intent and purpose.

As for the use of the term "our religion" in Jefferson's statute, while that was perhaps an acknowledgment that most European Americans at that time were from an English Anglican Christian background, the fact is that Jefferson's beliefs were more identified with Deism, like most of the other Founders and Framers. Moreover, some of the Founders, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, were Freemasons. And Deists and Freemasons respect all religions that worship the Deity by whatever name.

That in fact is why in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution the Founders and Framers used generic religious terms like "Creator," and "Nature's God," and "Divine Providence." They purposely did not use words specific to one religion --- because they understood that a nation cannot have freedom of religion unless government is neutral regarding religion and shows no favoritism.

That is why on the Supreme Court building, the South Wall Frieze includes figures of lawgivers from the ancient world and includes Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius, and Augustus. The North Wall Frieze shows lawgivers from the Middle Ages on and includes representations of Justinian, Muhammad, Charlemagne, John of England, Louis IX of France, Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, John Marshall, and Napoleon. Furthermore, Muhammad was included in the frieze as an important figure in the history of law.

All those facts have been ignored and even denied by the "religions right" and Christian Dominionists, so the Supreme Law of the Land and the intent of the Founders must be honored.

The great thing about it is that it provide religious freedom for all, and it requires government to respect all religions equally.

That means, of course, that Christian churches should be able to sponsor and organize public events to celebrate Christian holidays. However, churches should obtain the required permits and pay all the fees required by the local government. No government, whether municipal or state or federal, should have anything to do with organizing or paying for such events. Moreover, all local and state governments should allow and enable Jewish Temples, Muslim Mosques, Buddhist Temples, Hindu Ashrams and all other religious organizations to organize and sponsor public events that celebrate their religious holidays too. And public prayer to open or close legislative sessions or other government functions should be silent prayer, during a moment of silence, so that each person may pray in their own way.

That would be only fair, and constitutional.

As it is, that kind of fairness and justice does not exist in America. Due to the political action of theocratic Christian Dominionists during the last 30 years, many conservative Christians feel that they deserve to dominate and rule. They have even been acting against the rights of other religious groups, and they expect government to honor their demand for superiority and supremacy and even sponsor Christian events at public expense.

That is actually in violation of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders, because their intention was that names and terms specific to one religion would not be permissible in government documents or in prayers or addresses before government bodies or during government functions. Their official documents and their own public speeches were consistent with that, and nowhere in them will you find the name of Jesus.

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E.J. is a progressive activist serving to help promote an initiative based on Jeffersonian principles regarding government and religion -- principles which Abraham Lincoln said are "the axioms of a free society."

E.J. has closely examined (more...)

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