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Old 11-16-2008, 08:43 AM
 
Location: NY
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As we all know, the First Amendment states the following in respect to religion: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

However, given the diversity of our modern-day electorate, do you think it is time for an amendment that would further refine the question of religion in order to ensure that our government truly respects and represents all American citizens regardless of their religious beliefs?

IMO such an amendment might read something like this: "The government shall not, by law or other official means, represent or appear to sanction any particular religious belief."

There are those who argue that the United States is "a Christian nation". Although the demographics support the fact that Christians are in the majority, according to law our country cannot be "a Christian nation" because that would contravene the First Amendment (because in order to truly be "a Christion nation" there would have to be an official national establishment of the Christian religion, and that we do not have).

IMO most would agree that the use of "God" in various governmental capacities is universally construed to mean the Christian God. Not the god of the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Shinto, the Wiccan, and so forth. Not even necessarily the Jewish deity. And certainly it excludes agnostics, nontheists, and atheists.

In any case, my hypothetical amendment would have the following immediate effects:

Removal of "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (which did just fine without it, thank you, until 1954; there is absolutely nothing wrong with reverting to the original "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all")

Replace any religious invocation from governmental opening ceremonies and replace it with either a moment of silence or with an invocation that is purely secular in nature.

Removal of "In God We Trust" from the currency (which also did just fine without it until 1955; I'm sure that someone can come up with an appropriate secular replacement phrase, if one is absolutely needed. Perhaps some variation of the Latin phrase Tam arte quam marte which translates roughly as "As much by art as by strength"; art in this case meaning intelligence, wit, or perhaps diplomacy)

And would it indeed be so unthinkable for politicians to end their speeches with a simple "Thank you!" instead of the ubiquitous "...and God bless America!" that seems to be de riguer nowadays, regardless of party??

IMO such an amendment would not remove any rights or recognition from the Christian population of this country: a population which, while still in the majority, does not represent quite as large a majority as it did in the past. It would, instead, remove the taint of religious favoritism from many of our Federal government's official representations and thus make those representations more truly representative of all Americans regardless of what their religious orientation is or is not.

Your thoughts?
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totallyfrazzled View Post
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

"The government shall not, by law or other official means, represent or appear to sanction any particular religious belief."
Your proposed change is just a restatement of the part of the First Amendment, up to the comma.

Your proposal leaves out the "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" part.

Under your proposed amendment, the government would be allowed to make laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion.
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:47 AM
 
Location: NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmilf View Post
Your proposed change is just a restatement of the part of the First Amendment, up to the comma.

Your proposal leaves out the "prohibiting the free exercise thereof"part.

Under your proposed amendment, the government would be allowed to make laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion.
Just to clarify: My hypothetical amendment would not replace or change any part of the existing First Amendment; it would be a separate, entirely new additional amendment. Thus, all provisions of the First Amendment would continue to apply.

IMO the first part of the First Amendment is a bit vague: What exactly is meant by a "law respecting an establishment of religion" anyway? Does it mean "Congress shall make no law that affects a religious establishment", in other words a religious entity (using the word establishment as a noun, i.e., establishment = entity or organization)? Or does it mean "Congress shall make no law that establishes a religion", in other words using the word establishment as a verb: establish = create or make official? Does or can it mean both? If not, which does it mean? 'Affect' any religion, or 'create', 'sanction' or 'make official'?

IMO the hypothetical new amendment is necessary in order to remove that ambiguity in a manner fair to all. The government would still be unable to prohibit or otherwise affect anything to do with religion or the practice thereof.
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Old 11-16-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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Not an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, Freedom of Religion also means to a lot of people that they can push their particular religious agenda or belief in any way they can without interference for any government.

For example, to curtail demonstrations at abortion clinics would curtail some their "freedom" as they feel that they are serving their god. Demanding that creationism be taught in schools also falls under the way that they feel is correct according to the way they read the scriptures.

One man's freedom FROM religion, allows another man's freedom to worship to be regulated.
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Old 11-16-2008, 01:07 PM
 
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No'because it most likely would be used to prevent people from voting their beliefs.Which is why we vote in teh first palce on my loral issues.A religoius agenda as you call it is no different than toehrs agendas. What many want to do is restict the voing rights of those that oppose them. Taht si why it is very hard to have a constitutional amendment passed .Certainly tho some staes start on the path to one constituitonal amendment and then find that more and more jump on the bandwagon.Freedom of religion is one of the fordations this country was bulit on. I would never allow the state to limit religion anymore than secular belief and the right to vote the conviction of those beliefs.But government should also not promote secular belief over religious belief by statue.
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Old 11-16-2008, 01:27 PM
 
Location: NY
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Originally Posted by texdav View Post
No'because it most likely would be used to prevent people from voting their beliefs.
But in what way would an amendment that merely states that the Federal government cannot "represent or appear to sanction" any particular belief, prevent people from voting in whatever way they choose? As they already do now.

My perception of the current situation is that the Federal government is essentially giving "free advertising" to one specific belief system: that of Christianity. Although the USA does not have an "official religion", meaning a religion established by statutory law, our Federal government nevertheless by incorporating "God" into highly visible external trappings such as its currency and the Pledge, is putting Christianity forward as the Official Unofficial Religion of the USA. And by singling out Christianity in that way, it effectively relegates any other belief system to "second-class" status.... which, for a nation that makes such a big deal out of equality, seems rather a contradictory stance to take. The Federal government is clearly expressing a preference for the Christian belief system; my hypothetical amendment would remove any visible signs of such a preference.

Put another way, IMO such an amendment would not be an attack upon religion or even upon religious belief/nonbelief; the goverment would merely be removing itself from the fray and assuming a position of complete neutrality. Which IMO is the way it should be. How can there be a true separation of church and state as long as the government continues to "advertise" a particular belief system?
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:23 PM
 
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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

"The government shall not, by law or other official means, represent or appear to sanction any particular religious belief."

Frankly, I fail to see the distinction, by law or other official means. However I would say that the former is a better piece of writing.
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Rockport Texas from El Paso
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DJm is pretty much correct - that wording although not part of the amendment is part of the US Supreme Court interpretation and as such is law.

Great day - we always hear about school prayer but how about churches paying their fair share of property Tax? You don't whine about that do you? Why should non-believers have to pay for your beliefs?
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:36 PM
 
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Well does that alkso mean the belief in abortion ? Then the list could go on to planned parentholld and many to9her spoecail interest beliefs. I teh end I really doubt any other thasn those that beleive in dictatorship- or communism/socailism would support it of elected officals. I mean they can't even pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution that has been around for years. Fat chance of this one.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:39 PM
 
Location: NY
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Originally Posted by ocean2026 View Post
.. how about churches paying their fair share of property Tax?
I've groused about churches being exempt from property taxes for more years than I care to remember..... I think it's ridiculous. Every single building, whether residential, commercial, industrial, office space, college or university, church or synagogue, whatever, should bear part of the property tax burden IMO.

Now, granted, where I stand on this issue is significantly influenced by where we live, which happens to be have one of the highest property taxes in the nation. A dinky circa-1960s house on 1/4 acre will be paying at least $5000/year; the average is more like $7000 and everyone we know is paying at least $10K/year currently (and none of us are even close to the Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous!). So to see ANY piece of property exempt from taxes, and thus forcing homeowners and other property owners to take up that slack, definitely burns my youknowwhat.

I've yet to hear a valid argument as to why houses of worship shouldn't have to pay property tax just like everyone/everything else. Anyone?
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