Nearly forty years ago I attempted to gain a comprehensive legal definition of religion. To my dismay, I discovered that there is no legal definition. Indeed religion can only be defined by what it is not! It seems as though the separation clause of the U.S. Constitution disallows the courts to define religion [or so they think] because it would somehow codify religion which is forbidden as an act of "respecting" it. The Constitution offers no such limitation on the court's overview of religion. Hence the court has taken on the role of supreme protector of religion without identifying what religion is.
My concern arose because of the unique position I was in as an attorney. I had recently broken the binds which had bound me close to my membership in the Mormon Church. It had taken over five years of struggle with church leaders.
Because of the international notoriety gained from that action, I received many requests from members of various denominations not only of the Mormon Church to come to their aid as against the, [what shall I say?] the "ungodly" action of their respective churches against them.
Foremost were the actions of the Mormon Church by way of its subordinate levels of priesthood administration who led the discrimination against those members who for some reason or other had taken an intellectual position antagonist to the published or preached ecclesiastical position or doctrines of the subordinate order. [ The church (Mormon Church per se) is the creation of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The priesthood came first and the church second in the order of "re-establishment". As such they are two separate but entwined entities with the priesthood superior to the church]
In non-Mormon situations as well, the pleas I received were mostly about "shunning"; the practice of alienation of former members of any particular order which included breaking up families by practices of members and the hierarchy of those orders.
Clergy advising the one partner to divorce the other in order to save the woman or the man [depending on the offender] from being dragged into the kingdom of "Satan" and thus save them from a destiny of hell. Protecting the children of the union from a loss of faith thus preserving the membership well being of the order is always at issue.
Economic sanctions against the offender are another action of the order. From Utah I received complaints from many professionals who were driven out of business due to the overbearing presence of the church in the lifestyles of members. Medical doctors and dentists who lost patients; pharmacists who could not gain or keep employment within their community.
In one case I was advised that a prominent medical doctor had been excommunicated because he had looked of the corpse of John Singer, a notorious Mormon fundamentalist, who had been shot in the back with a 12 gauge shotgun blast. The viewing was in the mortuary and his client was the widow of victim Singer. The charge against the doctor was "cavorting with a known excommunicant". It was a sad thing to have to report to the doctor that there was nothing I could do about it.
And I heard from Utah farmers who had to compete against the church economically in the production and sale of agricultural products. The church operating out of tax free property and using donated labor in its production.
After all the legal reasoning as to why Churches do not have to comply with civil law as foisted on the legal community by the court, the final insult is the weak argument that as a member of a church, the individual feeling damaged has only the recourse of leaving the church. And of course uprooting completely because of shunnig. The underlying argument is, "you joined the church and so you are bound by its rules no matter how they may be offensive to the bill of rights of the U.S. Constitution".
That argument fails to recognize the fact that the majority of church members are born into and brainwashed in the order from infancy never having been able to exercise free will about the faith in the first place That brainwashing comes about by the scurrilous doctrine that the parents will be heavenly rewarded only if they raise their children in the faith.
I argue how any organization deals with its members has to be protected by the Bill of rights or any other law made out of the Bill of Rights which deal with employment issues in which members or non members of a social order religious or otherwise. are affected. Employment being a physical non religious matter easily determined non-religious in nature.
To give free reign to religion to deal with its members or society in general in any manner that can easily be determined non-religious in nature is totally wrong. It does in fact allow for the creation of racketeering influenced corrupt organizations [RICO] seeking shelter from prosecution. In my observation, the vast majority of religious organizations are clearly a racket against God and humanity.
Yes it is true, that the founding fathers wished to see no state sponsored religion adopted by government. But the founding fathers did not intend that rules of equity would be abandoned by the courts in favor of organized religion. Equity was the child of the Church of England and it was designed to give relief to church members who were being wronged by the church. These wrongs were righted by the courts of Chancery. While we do have equity in our laws it unwittingly stops at the door of the church.
As with corporate privileges beginning with Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U.S. 394 (1886) and recently Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010) , 558 U.S. , 130 S.Ct. 876 (January 21, 2010, Ruling corporations as "persons", The Supreme Court has also read into the separation clause conditions which the founders never intended.
(The) "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the full exercise thereof;"" [U.S. Constitution; Amendment I] does not grant to the courts the right to allow religion to harm anyone in any way, member or not.
The two words which come into play are "respect-ing" and "regard-ing"
Respect or respecting means: admiration, esteem, consideration, appreciation, deference, reverence, veneration, courtesy, politeness, civility, attentiveness, etc.
"Regard" can have similar definitions but if it were properly used in the Separation clause it would mean "in reference to".
"The Congress shall not make any law (in reference to) religion nor any law prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
has happened is that the Congress has made laws respecting (favoring) religion
and that has been supported by the Supreme Court with the pretense that it has
Among the laws respecting religion, the Congress has by way of the tax code given respect to religion by favoring its exercise by church members allowing them to deduct the tithes and donations paid to it from personal income taxes as well as incomes to the church from any source it receives them. The result is a non reportable amassing of wealth by religion. Another result is imposing a larger tax burden on non-religious citizens to cover the expenses of government not supported by religion or its tithe paying members.
The argument used in defense of such unconstitutional action is that the church as a charity is providing for assistance to masses saving the government from the cost of such services. Problem here is that the government has no duty to provide the ministrations of religion in the first place!
The recent resolution of the congress that the expression of "In God we trust" is a part of the constitutional but unspoken order of governmental intent of the founding fathers is a gross violation of the separation Clause.
What we really have is a fear by the members of the Congress and the courts that they themselves may be in line of fire of God if they should in anyway offend God. To follow the Constitution those individuals are required to act independent of their own religious philosophy and fears in delivering laws [and interpretations] pure and absent any respect for religion or religion's questionable quest.
The observations of Founders like George Washington who never saw the hand of God in the known history of the world despite all of the prayers of all the masses of humanity, clergy and lay alike ought to be considered by all of us.
Who among us can prove that God has answered our prayers? We can assert He/She has but we cannot prove it.
Indeed in my own life I was troubled by the long forgotten details of what is termed an epiphany these days when I was struck by a light on my eighth birthday. It took me thirty nine years to obtain a recall. When I did finally obtain that recall it was only after I had followed promptings to ordain a young Black male to Mormon priesthood. I had exhausted five years seeking the answer to that dilemma by beseeching top church leaders only to find they were impotent to give me an answer simply because they were not only impotent but imposters to what I had been taught they were all my life.
And so I know* , but I cannot prove outside my own experiences [began on May 8, 1937 culminating of June 9, 1978] that God has great foreboding over the quest for empire of the Mormon Church, presently personified by the Presidential candidacy of W. Mitt Romney. [Wasn't it strange that two Mormons, Romney and Huntsman were seeking the office when church membership is only around two percent of US population?]
I write, I speak but my message falls on deaf ears. Ears deafened by time and the forgotten history of the United States verses the Mormon problem. That problem was well known by presidents between the time of 1844 and 1906. That problem was one of the establishment of a kingdom within the United States converting democracy to theocracy headed by the president of the Mormon Church. See Mormon Doctrine: Bruce McConkie: 1966 pages 415-417.
are on the threshold of a critical examination of that issue this year 2012. As a
nation we have forgotten our history but the Mormon Church has not lost sight
of its goal which it has suspended since obtaining statehood of Utah in the
late nineteenth century.
As an attorney, I am crippled from bringing these issues into a court of law simply because the court would base its opinion on the years of unjustified rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the matter to be First Amendment non-judicial thus granting a safe harbor for religion [Mormon Church] to defeat the Constitution of the United States allowing it to establish its "Kingdom of God on Earth" with the Mormon President as "earth King".
However, if I had the support of people of the United States who would fund the cause I would yet again file a lawsuit to keep Mr. Romney from seeking the presidency and staking an eternal objection against any faithful Mormon from seeking that presidency ad infinitum! In the process, Americans would begin to understand the seriousness of the problem of religion interfering with a free government. Or of government respecting it!
Is there anyone out there who wishes to set up a legal fund to accomplish this? It is far more important than funding any candidate for the office of president!
This article does not
address the 1878 issue of Supreme Court interference with polygamy as a
religious doctrine taught Mormons and off-shoot fundamentalists who continue to
follow the 132nd Section of the unchanged wording of the Doctrine
and Covenants of the Mormon Church. That issue will need to be resolved at a
later time. See Reynolds
v. United States ,
98 U.S. 145 (1878)
In fact the Reynolds ruling maybe be the key to accomplish what needs to be done in the Romney matter. The simple ruling by the court that the conduct of the Mormon Church in seeking empire is seditious in nature thus a crime being perpetrated by the church thus allowing for a ban on any member of the Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood from seeking the U.S. Presidency. Reynolds was decided by the Congress making polygamy a crime in the U.S. Territories which Utah was at that time.
Douglas A. Wallace, Esq.
* See: Under the Mormon Tree available from Amazon Bookks and now on Kindle