U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 11-28-2011, 06:50 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis, IN
67 posts, read 62,864 times
Reputation: 91

Advertisements

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AMENDMENT 1

In recent decades, some Fundamentalist Christians have waged a concerted effort to alter how the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is to be interpreted, by promulgating the notion that the clause does NOT demand the separation of church and state. And their primary method of achieving this goal is quite simple: By aligning themselves with the Republican Party and helping elect GOP candidates for the presidency, groups on the Christian Right are reshaping our nation's judiciary in order to advance their Accommodationist position. (As everyone knows, the president can appoint federal judges, including those needed to fill vacant seats on the U.S. Supreme Court.)

My thesis statement: I argue that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment requires that we keep church and state separate, despite dissent from Accommodationists who are altering the federal courts with their aforementioned method. They often argue that merely because the exact words "separation of church and state" are not contained in the Establishment Clause, the clause doesn't make such a requirement. But, regardless of the EXACT words found therein, the principle of separation is obviously there.

Historically speaking, it should be noted that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were quite clear when it came to church/state separation. In 1785 -- six years before the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution -- Madison penned his "Memorial and Remonstrance", a statement which sought to quash the renewing of a tax levy establishing a state-supported church in Virginia. Moreover, Jefferson mentioned a "wall of separation between church and state" when discussing the First Amendment in his often cited letter to the Danbury Baptists (dated January 1, 1801).

The Bill of Rights, which included the First Amendment, was added to the Constitution in 1791. Oddly enough, over one hundred and fifty years would pass before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving the Establishment Clause. The landmark case of Everson v. Board of Education (1947) set a precedent by incorporating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus cracking down on state and local governments whose laws weren't neutral when it came to religious matters. Despite the fact that the opinion of the court ruled no beach of separation in Everson, all nine justices were influenced by Jefferson and Madison, and the opinions of the court recognized the contributions of both men in late 18th century Virginia. Indeed, Justice L. Black’s opinion acknowledged the necessity of an "impregnable" wall between church and state, and his broad reading of the Establishment Clause set the tone for the Court's future rulings (especially when Chief Justice Earl Warren was head of the Court from 1953 - 1969).

As a Separationist, I subscribe to Black's broad interpretation of the Establishment Clause, an interpretation that prohibits ANY entanglement between church and state. On the contrary, Accommodationists subscribe to a very narrow reading, believing it only prohibits the establishment of a state church.

I welcome arguments from both sides of this debate.

Last edited by grindlemeister; 11-28-2011 at 08:19 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 11-28-2011, 09:41 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 27,741,368 times
Reputation: 4000
It is pointless to look for absolute black or white in much of anything and certainly in the Constitution. As the jurisprudence of them has come increasingly to underscore, the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses work in tandem to define religion as an individual right and matter in this country, one in which the state has no directly assigned role to play. It may neither inhibit nor promote religion, but must defend the individual rights of one citizen against the potential excesses and overzealousness of another. This does not mean that there can be no contact or relationship between the state and religious organizations in any absolute sense. It merely means that the purposes of such contacts and relationships must be strictly and carefully limited.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-28-2011, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,024 posts, read 10,138,347 times
Reputation: 8868
I'm a Canadian and a Christian. The entire idea of a Christian political movement is actually a contradiction in terms. Christians are tols very clearly in the bible to "Be in the world but not of the world" There is nothing at all more worldly than politics.

If you take Jesus and his teaching to his people as an example then Christians have no business at all in politics. Never once did Jesus teach anything about changing the exceedingly wicked society of his day. He never told his people to get active to change the secular structure or the political system. There was even an attempt to drag him into political issues by the leaders of the Jews by asking him was it OK to pay taxes to Rome. He replied to give to Rome what was Rome's and give to God what s God's. His answer so obviously separated Church from state.

I think it's exceedingly clear in the US constitution that this separation is fundamental to the entire republican system of government. The so called Christian right in the USA heaps dung on the head of Jesus Christ almost every time they open their ignorant mouths. This movement is no more Christian than my dog is. It's nothing but an attempt to force their ideas down other people's throats under the guise of Christianity. Their ideas about taxation, justice, foreign affairs and so on have ZERO to do with the gospel.
Is it any wonder at all that the founders did not want these holier than thou hippocrates making laws from what they percieve to be The will of GOD????????????????????
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-28-2011, 12:14 PM
 
267 posts, read 131,025 times
Reputation: 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by grindlemeister View Post
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AMENDMENT 1

In recent decades, some Fundamentalist Christians have waged a concerted effort to alter how the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is to be interpreted, by promulgating the notion that the clause does NOT demand the separation of church and state. And their primary method of achieving this goal is quite simple: By aligning themselves with the Republican Party and helping elect GOP candidates for the presidency, groups on the Christian Right are reshaping our nation's judiciary in order to advance their Accommodationist position. (As everyone knows, the president can appoint federal judges, including those needed to fill vacant seats on the U.S. Supreme Court.)

My thesis statement: I argue that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment requires that we keep church and state separate, despite dissent from Accommodationists who are altering the federal courts with their aforementioned method. They often argue that merely because the exact words "separation of church and state" are not contained in the Establishment Clause, the clause doesn't make such a requirement. But, regardless of the EXACT words found therein, the principle of separation is obviously there.

Historically speaking, it should be noted that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were quite clear when it came to church/state separation. In 1785 -- six years before the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution -- Madison penned his "Memorial and Remonstrance", a statement which sought to quash the renewing of a tax levy establishing a state-supported church in Virginia. Moreover, Jefferson mentioned a "wall of separation between church and state" when discussing the First Amendment in his often cited letter to the Danbury Baptists (dated January 1, 1801).

The Bill of Rights, which included the First Amendment, was added to the Constitution in 1791. Oddly enough, over one hundred and fifty years would pass before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving the Establishment Clause. The landmark case of Everson v. Board of Education (1947) set a precedent by incorporating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus cracking down on state and local governments whose laws weren't neutral when it came to religious matters. Despite the fact that the opinion of the court ruled no beach of separation in Everson, all nine justices were influenced by Jefferson and Madison, and the opinions of the court recognized the contributions of both men in late 18th century Virginia. Indeed, Justice L. Black’s opinion acknowledged the necessity of an "impregnable" wall between church and state, and his broad reading of the Establishment Clause set the tone for the Court's future rulings (especially when Chief Justice Earl Warren was head of the Court from 1953 - 1969).

As a Separationist, I subscribe to Black's broad interpretation of the Establishment Clause, an interpretation that prohibits ANY entanglement between church and state. On the contrary, Accommodationists subscribe to a very narrow reading, believing it only prohibits the establishment of a state church.

I welcome arguments from both sides of this debate.
It does not say, separation of Church and state. It says, Congress not to make a law 'forcing' people to believe in any one religion. Remember, people left, to have religious FREEDOM, which they didn't have. Our money says, 'IN GOD WE TRUST'. it is not the intention of the founding fathers to eliminate religion, but to support it. That is my opinion. Most of the founding fathers were Deist. They believed in a 'higher power'.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-28-2011, 01:13 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 27,741,368 times
Reputation: 4000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
It does not say, separation of Church and state.
It doesn't have to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
It says, Congress not to make a law 'forcing' people to believe in any one religion.
It doesn't say anything of the sort. It says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The state is stuck in neutral on both counts. Its only proper role is in assuring that the religious rights of each individual are protected from the unwanted advances of others who would abridge them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
Remember, people left, to have religious FREEDOM, which they didn't have.
People like the Pilgrims wanted anything but religious freedom. They fled lands where they were persecuted in favor of lands where they could do the persecuting themselves, and do it just as viciously and moreso.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
Our money says, 'IN GOD WE TRUST'.
Only lately, and it won't for long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
...it is not the intention of the founding fathers to eliminate religion, but to support it.
Which is why they kept the state out of it. Religion has flourished in this country as the result as in almost no other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumntimetwo View Post
Most of the founding fathers were Deist. They believed in a 'higher power'.
Only a handful were Deists. The rest were professed Christians of one sort or another. Some were even the equivalent of modern-day fundies, and they pushed for God and Jesus to be included in the proposed Constitution. They were fortunately shouted and voted down by delegates mindful of the disturbing and deleterious effects such debate had regularly brought upon the Continental Congress.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-28-2011, 09:57 PM
Status: "My eyes are rolled back so far I can see my brain." (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Here.
13,374 posts, read 11,879,321 times
Reputation: 15715
As a somewhat religious (but non-Fundamentalist) Christian and a Republican, I believe in the separation Church and State. For me, matters of religion are on such a higher plane than matters of governance that there should be no need for mixing the two. I don't believe in prayer in public schools because I don't believe in public schools. I don't believe in nativity scenes on government property because I believe we have too much government property. I think that abortion is murder, but if the majority of Americans believe that it is okay to kill unborn humans, then the law should reflect that.

I disagree that Jesus never spoke out against political leaders. Although the region that Jesus lived in was part of the Roman Empire, it was essentially left up to the Jews to rule themselves. Jesus spoke out constantly against the ruling class of Jews (Pharasees). That's not to say that Jesus would oppose a separation of Church and State, but more like he would oppose a government that oppresses people using religion as a justification (which is what the Founding Fathers opposed).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-29-2011, 04:05 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,024 posts, read 10,138,347 times
Reputation: 8868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Retroit View Post
As a somewhat religious (but non-Fundamentalist) Christian and a Republican, I believe in the separation Church and State. For me, matters of religion are on such a higher plane than matters of governance that there should be no need for mixing the two. I don't believe in prayer in public schools because I don't believe in public schools. I don't believe in nativity scenes on government property because I believe we have too much government property. I think that abortion is murder, but if the majority of Americans believe that it is okay to kill unborn humans, then the law should reflect that.

I disagree that Jesus never spoke out against political leaders. Although the region that Jesus lived in was part of the Roman Empire, it was essentially left up to the Jews to rule themselves. Jesus spoke out constantly against the ruling class of Jews (Pharasees). That's not to say that Jesus would oppose a separation of Church and State, but more like he would oppose a government that oppresses people using religion as a justification (which is what the Founding Fathers opposed).
You bring up a very good point. The only people that Jesus had harsh words for were exactly those same people who today would claim that they speak for God. There is no difference between the Christian right and the party of the Pharasses. They are both hippocrates of a high degree. They both believe that what they believe as the will of God should be imposed on all the people and they both really have only one object in mind. Personal power and wealth. They couldn't be further from the Kingdom of God if they tried. The words and teachings of Jesus fly in the face of everything they stand for.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-30-2011, 05:53 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis, IN
67 posts, read 62,864 times
Reputation: 91
I thought I'd add this. In Anderson v. Salt Lake City Corp. (1972), Chief Judge Willis Ritter, of the United States District Court for the District of Utah, ruled that a tablet of the Ten Commandments be taken down from its location in the city's Hall of Justice. He opined that the tablet was placed there solely for religious purposes, and thus, it was in violation of the First Amendment. But half a year later, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Willis' ruling because it was decided that the Decalog was the basis of our legal code, despite the fact that it's from the Bible. So, even though it had a religious source, it was decided that it had secular value too.

However, here's where it gets interesting. Sixteen years later, the Tenth Circuit was listening to an appeal from a new age religion calling itself Summum. (Among other things, they offer mummification services to their parishioners -- a tax free service.) Anyway, the federal district court denied that Summum could install a tablet of their tenets next to the Ten Commandments. So, the district court's decision in Summum v. Callaghan (1997) obviously contrasted with the Tenth Circuit's earlier ruling in Anderson (a ruling based on weak arguments which understated the religious aspect of the Ten Commandments while overstating the secular aspect). Evidently, the Ten Commandments monument is considered alright but the Seven Principals of Summum is not, which violates free speech rights by favoring one religion over another.

Facing an appeal with the Summum case, the Tenth Circuit Court was in a similar situation again. In fact, the biggest difference, this time around, was the particular religion which was requesting its chance to display its tenets in the Hall of Justice. (Keep in mind, the government recognizes Summum as a religion.) So, the Tenth Circuit overturned the district court's dismissal of the Summum lawsuit and sent the case back to the district court. And if it were decided that there was any discrimination against Summum, the actions of the county would be in violation of the Establishment Clause.

Needless to say, after the Tenth Circuit's decision in Summum, Salt Lake City County removed their Ten Commandments, lest there be the risk of having the Summum tenets installed too. Evidently, the attorney representing the Summum faith sent letters to other communities -- and of course, they also removed their Ten Commandments monuments, fearing the possibility of Summum erecting their monument of tenets. Finally, the Tenth Circuit ruled that the city of Ogden was in violation of the free speech clause by allowing the Ten Commandments but refusing Summum's Seven Principals monument. So, as with the other communities, Ogden removed their Ten Commandments monument.

I'm reminded of what Judge Ritter said in the district court's ruling of the Anderson case: "If all such religions, lodges or institutions are allowed to plant tombstone-like slabs on the courthouse grounds, the lawns will resemble a disorderly and unsightly cemetery." (This quote was from page 130, The Court and the Cross by Frederick S. Lane, Beacon Press Books, Boston, 2008.)

Since we can't have every religion put up their monuments because it just wouldn't be feasible due to limited space, I contend that no monument should be put up. The government cannot favor one religion over another.

Last edited by grindlemeister; 11-30-2011 at 06:17 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-30-2011, 07:52 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 27,741,368 times
Reputation: 4000
The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court in the Summum cases for having failed in its rejection of Summum's free speech claims to properly determine in light of then-recent Supreme Court decisions the nature of the forum that the county had opened by allowing private speech on the courthouse lawn in the first place. The primarily secular nature of the decalog display was not an issue, nor was any of the content of the proposed Summum display beyond the fact that it was deemed primarily religious in nature. The Circuit Court ruling did powerfully suggest that once the issue of forum was rightly decided, there would be very little if any case left for the county to make in defense against claims of illegal viewpoint discrimination. Indeed, it was suggested that inclusion of both religious (Summum principles) and secular (the decalog) displays would only expand the breadth and diversity of such displays, thereby enhancing the county's claim of respect for state neutrality as required under the First Amendment.

Otherwise, the various classes of forum that the state can establish do not exist in a confusing or unmanageable number. If governmental units would simply stop trying to find ways around the Constitutional command of neutrality, there would rarely be much issue over the matter.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-30-2011, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis, IN
67 posts, read 62,864 times
Reputation: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court in the Summum cases for having failed in its rejection of Summum's free speech claims to properly determine in light of then-recent Supreme Court decisions the nature of the forum that the county had opened by allowing private speech on the courthouse lawn in the first place.
Yes, the Circuit Court maintained that when Salt Lake City allowed the Ten Commandments to go up on the Courthouse lawn, the lawn, in essence, became a limited or nonpublic forum. So, by allowing some private expression, it would be unconstitutional for the government to be anything but neutral when it came to other religions wishing to have their monuments put up there too.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Great Debates
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top