|The sad (and frightening) devolution of the 1st Amendment . . .|
Posted by: Russ Walden ® |
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More particularly, the "Establishment Clause:"
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .."
This was the basis for Thomas Jefferson's now infamous letter to the Danbury Baptist Church, in which he wrote:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and 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 separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."
. . .
As James Adams later affirmed: “Jefferson’s reference to a ‘wall of separation between Church and State’ … was not formulating a secular principle to banish religion from the public arena. Rather he was trying to keep government from darkening the doors of Church.”
. . .
Courts have subsequently pushed this modern misinterpretation of separation increasingly outward to the point where the First Amendment’s injunction that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” now means:
• an individual student may not write a research paper on a religious topic or draw religious artwork in an art class, or carry his personal Bible onto school grounds
• an individual student may not say a voluntary prayer at a football game, graduation, or any other school event
• a school may not place a Bible in a classroom library
• a choir may not sing a religious song as part of a school concert
• cadets at a state military academy may not engage in offering voluntary prayers over their meals
Clearly, none of these activities involve “Congress” “making a law.” The Framers of the First Amendment had designed that provision to limit government, not citizens. However, its modern misapplication now routinely results in decisions that would be egregiously untenable to the Founders as well as to every subsequent generation after them – except today. Consequently:
• A state employee in Minnesota was barred from parking his car in the state parking lot because of a religious sticker on his bumper.
• A five-year-old kindergarten student in Saratoga Springs, New York, was forbidden to say a prayer over her lunch and was scolded by a teacher for doing so.
• A military honor guardsman was removed from his position for saying, “God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America” while presenting a folded flag to a family during a military funeral – a statement that the family had requested be made at the funeral.
• Senior citizens who regularly gathered at a community center in Balch Springs, Texas, were prohibited from praying over their own meals.
• A library employee in Russellville, Kentucky, was barred from wearing her necklace because it had a small cross on it.
• College students serving as residential assistants in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, were prohibited from holding Bible studies in their own personal dorm rooms.
• A third grader in Orono, Maine, who wore a T-shirt containing the words “Jesus Christ” was required to turn the shirt inside out so the words could not be seen.
• A school official in Saint Louis, Missouri, caught an elementary student praying over his lunch, lifted the student from his seat, reprimanded him in front of the other students, and took him to the principal, who ordered him to stop praying.
• In cities in Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Nebraska, and elsewhere citizens were not permitted to hand out religious literature on public sidewalks or preach in public areas, and were actually arrested or threatened with arrest for doing so.
. . .
Barton, David. The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, WND Books. Kindle Edition.
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