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"What Wall of Separation Between Church and State?"

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  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    That's the title of an article just published at OpEdNews.com

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/What-Wall-of-Separation-Be-by-E-J-N-Christiani...

    It was re-posted from The Rapidly Eroding Wall of Separation Between Church and State, which has since been expanded.

    It reveals the actual intent of the Founders of America and the Framers of the Constitution regarding freedom of religion, and it also exposes the error of misguided theocratic Christian Dominionists.
  • Democrat
    Athens, GA
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    I so love the US for it's separation of Church and State. And, I so hate the right-wing today for working to violate the first amendment. And, shame on the Supreme Court for not protecting ALL citizens from religion and the state (like praying at the start of a government meeting).
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    In my view prayer is not the problem. The problem is the erroneous assumption that one religion should dominate and act as if it is the State Religion.

    As the article suggests: " ... 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."

    Another way to make it constitutional would be to have representatives from every religion in America offer prayers. But it seems to me that is impractical, so I agree that a moment of silence for silent prayer would be the best solution and the best way to honor the Constitution and the intent of the America's Founders and the Framers of the Constitution.

    That would even be consistent with what Jesus of Nazareth said about prayer:'

    "When you pray, do not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues [and churches] and on street corners, so that they may be seen of men. I say to you, They have their reward. But when you pray, pray to God which is in secret; and God which sees in secret shall reward you openly." -- Matthew 6:6

    As Thomas Jefferson said, "....religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship ..."
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Guy Dwyer Wrote: In my view prayer is not the problem. The problem is the erroneous assumption that one religion should dominate and act as if it is the State Religion.
    I could not agree more. It's almost as if we have completely forgotten what the meaning of the First Amendment is and why 'We The People' chose to put it number one. The First Amendment is supposed to protect people of all faiths and specifically prevents government sanctioned religion. These directives were considered so important that they were written before the 'Freedom of Speech' clause. It's an absolute shame how five Catholics on the Supreme Court have decided that their religion is the best.

    The Matthews 6:6 quote is one I sincerely wish more people would live by. Too many Christians, especially Evangelicals, feel this need to broadcast their religion to everyone in earshot and don't take into account that people may not want to hear it. Prayer is a personal affair and needs to stay that way.
  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    As the article points out, Article 6 and the First Amendment were based on Jefferson's view of religious freedom.

    "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

    The article points out that:

    "In that 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."
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:
    Guy Dwyer Wrote: In my view prayer is not the problem. The problem is the erroneous assumption that one religion should dominate and act as if it is the State Religion.
    I could not agree more. It's almost as if we have completely forgotten what the meaning of the First Amendment is and why 'We The People' chose to put it number one. The First Amendment is supposed to protect people of all faiths and specifically prevents government sanctioned religion. These directives were considered so important that they were written before the 'Freedom of Speech' clause. It's an absolute shame how five Catholics on the Supreme Court have decided that their religion is the best.

    The Matthews 6:6 quote is one I sincerely wish more people would live by. Too many Christians, especially Evangelicals, feel this need to broadcast their religion to everyone in earshot and don't take into account that people may not want to hear it. Prayer is a personal affair and needs to stay that way.
    Guy and Jared; completely agree; the Koran chapter 36:85 says the same ( just kidding)
  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    Just something that will be of interest to those of you who believe the April Supreme Court ruling on prayer was wrong.

    The following has been added to the article I cited since it was first published, and I quote:

    The truth is that the Founders' wall of separation between church and state has been eroding for a very long time.

    In fact, it has nearly been destroyed because of the theocratic political action of Christian Dominionists that has been increasing for the last 60 years, and quickening since 1981. And that is why the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices were able to get away with ruling as they did in the April 2014 prayer case.

    Those biased Justices ruled that prayer obviously favoring one religion over others is alright and constitutional, but it is not. The correct ruling was issued by Justice Breyer in a dissenting opinion, and Justice Kagan also wrote a dissent joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

    They all agreed that the decision by five Republican appointed Justices violated the First Amendment clause regarding religion, and they pointed out that even though the town that brought the case was predominantly Christian, in that town there are several churches from different denominations that hold different views, and there are Jewish and Buddhist Temples as well. Therefore, the opinion of the four fair Justices was that prayer in the name of Jesus Christ was unconstitutional. (And in terms of social justice, it was simply unfair and inconsiderate.)

    In addition, the April Court ruling by the five biased ruling Republican-appointed Justices broke some significant Supreme Court precedents.

    For example, Justice John Paul Stevens once delivered the Court’s opinion that "the simple enactment of this policy, with the purpose and perception of school endorsement of student prayer, was a constitutional violation."

    Justice Stevens continued, writing that "such a system encourages divisiveness along religious lines and threatens the imposition of coercion upon those students not desiring to participate in a religious exercise. Simply by establishing this school-related procedure, which entrusts the inherently non-governmental subject of religion to a majoritarian vote, a constitutional violation has occurred."

    Joining Justice Stevens in his opinion were Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. They were right then, and their opinions are right today.
    __________

    I think what he have is a rogue court favoring not only the wealthiest few, but also favoring Christian Dominionists. But, Congress won't be able to overrule them until there is a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

    Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution contains provisions that enable Congress and the states to overturn such Supreme Court decisions with ordinary legislation. One of those provisions is in Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2, which states that there are exceptions to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, and Congress may overrule the Court through the legislative process.

    The Founding Fathers carefully wrote the Constitution to protect the republic against a rogue Court, including the “Exceptions Clause” because they foresaw the potential problems that could be caused by a partisan Court that serves special interests (as the present Court does).
    .
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Guy Dwyer Wrote:

    Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution contains provisions that enable Congress and the states to overturn such Supreme Court decisions with ordinary legislation. One of those provisions is in Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2, which states that there are exceptions to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, and Congress may overrule the Court through the legislative process.

    The Founding Fathers carefully wrote the Constitution to protect the republic against a rogue Court, including the “Exceptions Clause” because they foresaw the potential problems that could be caused by a partisan Court that serves special interests (as the present Court does).
    .
    I have seen that reference to Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2 quoted often, but somehow it doesn't seem to be a clause that is used by the legislative body when their laws are regularly overturned or rewritten by SCOTUS...especially the Roberts Court which seems to regularly grab power beyond their Constitutional charge.

    Here's the exact words of Clause 2:

    "In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

    I don't suppose we could really expect anything like that from this Congress, especially Boehner's House, which isn't interested in doing anything useful.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt Wrote:
    Guy Dwyer Wrote:

    Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution contains provisions that enable Congress and the states to overturn such Supreme Court decisions with ordinary legislation. One of those provisions is in Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2, which states that there are exceptions to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, and Congress may overrule the Court through the legislative process.

    The Founding Fathers carefully wrote the Constitution to protect the republic against a rogue Court, including the “Exceptions Clause” because they foresaw the potential problems that could be caused by a partisan Court that serves special interests (as the present Court does).
    .
    I have seen that reference to Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2 quoted often, but somehow it doesn't seem to be a clause that is used by the legislative body when their laws are regularly overturned or rewritten by SCOTUS...especially the Roberts Court which seems to regularly grab power beyond their Constitutional charge.

    Here's the exact words of Clause 2:

    "In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

    I don't suppose we could really expect anything like that from this Congress, especially Boehner's House, which isn't interested in doing anything useful.
    I completely agree; indeed no one has the guts to overturn it.
    I think the only right thing is as Jared said:

    The Matthews 6:6 quote is one I sincerely wish more people would live by. Too many Christians, especially Evangelicals, feel this need to broadcast their religion to everyone in earshot and don't take into account that people may not want to hear it. Prayer is a personal affair and needs to stay that way.
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Schmidt Wrote: I have seen that reference to Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2 quoted often, but somehow it doesn't seem to be a clause that is used by the legislative body when their laws are regularly overturned or rewritten by SCOTUS...especially the Roberts Court which seems to regularly grab power beyond their Constitutional charge.

    Here's the exact words of Clause 2:

    "In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

    I don't suppose we could really expect anything like that from this Congress, especially Boehner's House, which isn't interested in doing anything useful.
    .
    You are of course correct that Congress has not taken advantage of Clause 2 and probably will not as long as either the House or Senate is dominated by Reaganite Republicans or Libertarians or any others who are infected by Christian Dominionism and/or American hegemony.

    However, that could change, and I believe it will change.

    I believe that any day now more people will get the message that will liberate and empower all of us --- by totally exposing the attitudes, ideologies, beliefs and myths that have brought the world to this terrible state of affairs, and showing the people exactly how the humble, gentle, kind, generous, peaceful and meek majority of us shall indeed inherit the earth.
    .
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Guy Dwyer Wrote:
    Schmidt Wrote: I have seen that reference to Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2 quoted often, but somehow it doesn't seem to be a clause that is used by the legislative body when their laws are regularly overturned or rewritten by SCOTUS...especially the Roberts Court which seems to regularly grab power beyond their Constitutional charge.

    Here's the exact words of Clause 2:

    "In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

    I don't suppose we could really expect anything like that from this Congress, especially Boehner's House, which isn't interested in doing anything useful.
    .
    You are of course correct that Congress has not taken advantage of Clause 2 and probably will not as long as either the House or Senate is dominated by Reaganite Republicans or Libertarians or any others who are infected by Christian Dominionism and/or American hegemony.

    However, that could change, and I believe it will change.

    I believe that any day now more people will get the message that will liberate and empower all of us --- by totally exposing the attitudes, ideologies, beliefs and myths that have brought the world to this terrible state of affairs, and showing the people exactly how the humble, gentle, kind, generous, peaceful and meek majority of us shall indeed inherit the earth.
    .
    Yes Guy, I hope so, but I'm affraid the arrogance and greed is not wiped out overnight. Few people are humble, me included (wow, how do I dare to say that)
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    It's unfortunate that our founding few never got to see technology....for if they had there would have never been religious freedoms. They would have banned religion
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Dutch Wrote: Yes Guy, I hope so, but I'm afraid the arrogance and greed is not wiped out overnight. Few people are humble, me included (wow, how do I dare to say that)
    .
    I fully agree that arrogance and greed will not be wiped out overnight. Considering the reality, they may not be quelled for another generation or two. Real and lasting change happens gradually, once a seed idea is planted, nourished, and grows into something large and great.

    However, while we cannot erase the arrogance and greed of self-deluded people, we can certainly reform government so that it no longer enables greedy people, no longer allows them to bribe politicians, and no longer entitles them with privileges the rest of us don't have.

    Being humble is something we can all work on. I think Schmidt works on that a lot, which is why I have a lot of respect for him.
  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    L.A. Citizen Wrote: It's unfortunate that our founding few never got to see technology....for if they had there would have never been religious freedoms. They would have banned religion
    .
    You may be right. After all, Christianity was hijacked long ago by proud and militant hypocrites who have given their religion a bad name.

    But, as for America's Founders, as I understand it they tried to prevent what has happened. They wrote Article 6 and the First Amendment suspecting that what has happened numerous times in American history would happen. And it happened especially since the 1950s and the 1980s as the theocratic evangelical Christian Dominionists revived the movement toward "Christian" Theocracy.

    The problem is that the Founders' intentions, the spirit of the law and even the letter of the law has been ignored by Theocrats.

    That is, I believe, why the Framers of the Constitution also wrote Article 5 and Clause 2 (discussed above), so that we the people could rectify any problems and alter and reform our government as needed.
    .
  • Strongly Liberal
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    Seattle, WA
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:
    Guy Dwyer Wrote: In my view prayer is not the problem. The problem is the erroneous assumption that one religion should dominate and act as if it is the State Religion.
    I could not agree more. It's almost as if we have completely forgotten what the meaning of the First Amendment is and why 'We The People' chose to put it number one. The First Amendment is supposed to protect people of all faiths and specifically prevents government sanctioned religion. These directives were considered so important that they were written before the 'Freedom of Speech' clause. It's an absolute shame how five Catholics on the Supreme Court have decided that their religion is the best.

    The Matthews 6:6 quote is one I sincerely wish more people would live by. Too many Christians, especially Evangelicals, feel this need to broadcast their religion to everyone in earshot and don't take into account that people may not want to hear it. Prayer is a personal affair and needs to stay that way.
    .
    I agree completely, of course.

    I might add that I recently had a conversation with someone about the Supreme Court's ruling on public prayer with a person that agreed with the five Republican-appointed Justices about it. She even claimed that Congress' establishment of Congressional chaplains meant that Congress approved of Christian prayer before legislative sessions.

    I was able to educate her about that, because Congressional chaplains, like U.S. Military chaplains, are supposed to offer generic prayers appropriate to people of all faiths. They are not supposed to pray a Christian prayer unless they are helping or counseling individual Christians. And they are supposed to be trained in the customs and prayers of all religions.

    Unfortunately, during the last 30 years since the modern rise of the "Christian Right," conservative right-wing evangelicals have infiltrated the military, and the military chaplain corps, and they have blatantly violated the Constitution since if any prayer by chaplains or other invited clergy speaking before Congress obviously favors or touts any one particular religion, it is un-constitutional.

    I also pointed out to her that while Jefferson's letter about the wall of separation was not specifically about prayer, it expressed a general view and opinion of the majority of the Founders, which was that mention of "Jesus" or "Lord" or any other name or term specific to any one religion is un-constitutional.

    I also pointed out to her that regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling, Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, and Justice Kagan wrote a dissent joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. They all agreed that the decision by five Republican appointed Justices violated the First Amendment establishment clause, and they pointed out that while the town of Greece was predominantly Christian, there are several churches from different denominations that hold different views, and there are Jewish and Buddhist Temples as well. Therefore, the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ was not merely unfair and inconsiderate, it was unconstitutional.

    In addition, the April Court majority ruling broke some significant precedents.

    For example, Justice John Paul Stevens not that long ago delivered the Court's opinion that "the simple enactment of this policy, with the purpose and perception of school endorsement of student prayer, was a constitutional violation."

    Justice Stevens continued, "such a system encourages divisiveness along religious lines and threatens the imposition of coercion upon those students not desiring to participate in a religious exercise. Simply by establishing this school-related procedure, which entrusts the inherently non-governmental subject of religion to a majoritarian vote, a constitutional violation has occurred."

    Joining Justice Stevens in his opinion were Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

    The problem is that the U.S. Supreme Court has been hijacked by five Republican appointed Justices who are catering not only to the wealthiest few, but to Christian Dominionists as well.

    That's a situation we must correct.
    .