U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Politics and Other Controversies
 [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)
 
Old 01-07-2008, 08:02 AM
 
415 posts, read 556,180 times
Reputation: 33

Advertisements

Here's an interesting essay on separation of church and state. The author makes the mistake of reading the Constitution according to his personal views that moral leaders should speak out boldly, without restraint or inhibition, against corruption and immorality in civic life and that religious liberty was a benevolent grant of the civil state.
City of O'Fallon, IL
255 South Lincoln, O'Fallon, IL 62269 ph618) 624-4500 fx618) 624-4508
The Separation of Church and State - Dec. 27, 2006

A Weekly Note from Mayor Gary L. Graham
“Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking”

I recently received a copy of Imprimis, which is a monthly publication that comes from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. The October 2006 issue featured an article entitled Origins and Dangers of the “Wall of Separation” Between Church and State. The article was adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on September 12, 2006 during a Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar on the topic, “Church and State: History and Theory”. I found it to be very enlightening and I hope you do too.

The article begins by saying that no metaphor in American letters has had greater influence on law and policy that Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state.” For many Americans, this metaphor has supplanted the actual text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and it has become the standard explanation of the notion that the First Amendment separated religion and the civil state, thereby mandating a strictly non-religious government.

The judiciary has embraced this figurative language as a virtual rule of constitutional law and as the organizing theme of church-state jurisprudence. Writing for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, Justice Hugo L. Black asserted that the justices had “agreed that the First Amendment’s language, properly interpreted, had erected a wall of separation between Church and State.” The continuing influence of this wall is evident in the Court’s most recent church-state pronouncements.

The Rhetoric of church-state separation has been a part of western political discourse for many centuries, but it has only lately come to a place of prominence in American constitutional law and discourse. What is the source of the “wall of separation” metaphor so frequently referenced today? How has this symbol of strict separation between religion and public life become so influential in American legal and political thought? What are the policy and legal consequences of the rise of separationist rhetoric and of the transformation of “separation of church and state” from a much-debated political idea to a doctrine of constitutional law embraced by the nation’s highest court?

On New Year’s Day, 1802, President Jefferson penned a missive to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. The Baptists had written the new president a “fan” letter in October 1801, congratulating him on his election to the “chief Magistracy in the United States.” They celebrated his eager advocacy for religious liberty and chastised those who had criticized him “as an enemy of religion, Law and good order because he will not, dares not assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.” At the same time, the Congregationalist Church was still legally established in Connecticut and the Federalist Party controlled New England politics. The Danbury Baptists were a beleaguered religious and political minority in a state where a Congregationalist-Federalist party establishment dominated public life. They were drawn to Jefferson’s political cause because of his celebrated advocacy for religious liberty.

The president allied himself with the New England Baptists in their struggle to enjoy the right of sharing their beliefs as an inalienable right. efferson 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, & 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 & State.

The conventional wisdom is that Jefferson’s wall represents a universal principle concerning the prudential and constitutional relationship between religion and the civil state. This wall had less to do with the separation between religion and all civil government than with the separation between the national and state governments on matters pertaining to religion (such as official proclamations on days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving).

Jefferson’s wall separated the national government on one side from state governments and religious authorities on the other. This construction is consistent with a virtually unchallenged assumption of the early constitutional era: the First Amendment in particular and the Bill of Rights in general affirmed the fundamental constitutional principle of federalism. The First Amendment, as originally understood, had little substantive content apart from its affirmation that the national government was denied all power over religion matters. Jurisdiction in such concerns was reserved to individual citizens, religious societies, and state governments.

The phrase “wall of separation” entered the lexicon of American law in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1878 ruling in Reynolds v. United States. The Reynolds Court was drawn to the passage, not to advance a strict separation between church and state, but to support the proposition that the legitimate powers of civil government could reach men’s actions only and not their opinions.

Nearly seven decades later, in the landmark case of Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court “rediscovered” the metaphor and elevated it to constitutional doctrine.

Metaphors are a valuable literary device. They enrich language by making it dramatic and colorful, rendering abstract concepts concrete, condensing complex concepts into a few words, and unleashing creative and analogical insights. The problem with metaphors is that their uncritical use can lead to confusion and distortion. A metaphor compares two or more things that are not identical. A metaphor’s literal meaning is used non-literally in a comparison with its subject. While the comparison may lead to useful insights, the dissimilarities between the metaphor and its subject can distort one’s understanding of the subject. Distortions perpetuated by the metaphor can be sustained or even magnified. This is the case with the “wall of separation” metaphor.

The judiciary’s reliance on an extra-constitutional metaphor as a substitute for the text of the First Amendment almost inevitably distorts constitutional principles governing church-state relationships. While the “wall of separation” may very well express some aspects of First Amendment law, it seriously misrepresents or obscures others, and has become a source of much mischief in modern church-state jurisprudence.

The “high and impregnable” wall constructed by the modern Court has been used to inhibit religion’s ability to inform the public ethic, to deprive religious citizens of the civil liberty to participate in politics armed with ideas informed by their faith, and to infringe the right of religious communities and institutions to extend their prophetic ministries into the public square. Today, the “wall of separation” is the sacred icon of a strict separationist dogma intolerant of religious influences in the public arena. It has been used to silence religious voices in the public marketplace of ideas and to segregate faith communities behind a restrictive barrier.

Federal and state courts have used the “wall of separation” concept to justify censoring private religious expression in public (such as Christmas displays), to deny public benefits (such as education vouchers) for religious entities, and to exclude religious citizens and organizations (such as faith-based social welfare agencies) from full participation in civic life on the same terms as their secular counterparts. The systematic and coercive removal of religion from public life not only is at war with our cultural traditions insofar as it promotes a callous indifference toward religion but also offends basic notions of freedom of religious exercise, expression, and association in a pluralistic society.

Believing that religion and morality were indispensable to social order and political prosperity, the founders championed religious liberty in order to foster a vibrant religious culture in which the beneficiaries of religious freedom would inform the public ethic and to promote an environment in which religious and moral leaders could speak out boldly, without restraint or inhibition, against corruption and immorality in civic life. Religious liberty was not merely a benevolent grant of the civil state; rather, it reflected awareness among the founders that the very survival of the civil state and a civil society was dependent upon a vibrant religious culture. The unfortunate consequence of 20th-century jurisprudence is that the First Amendment, designed to protect and promote a vital role for religion in public life, has been replaced with a wall of separation that, in the hands of the modern judiciary, has restricted religion’s place in government.

Jefferson’s figurative language has not produced the practical solutions to real world controversies that its apparent clarity and directness led its proponents to expect. This wall has done what walls frequently do—it has obstructed the view, confusing our understanding of constitutional principles governing church-state relationships. The rhetoric of “separation of church and state” and “a wall of separation” has been instrumental in transforming judicial and popular constructions of the First Amendment from a provision protecting and encouraging religion in public life to one restricting religion’s role in civic culture. This transformation has undermined the “indispensable support” of religion in our system of republican self-government. This fact would have alarmed the framers of the Constitution, and we ignore it today at the peril of our political order and prosperity.

I hope that you enjoyed this excerpt from the article and that you now have a better understanding of the “wall of separation” in modern government. The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.



City of O'Fallon, IL - The Separation of Church and State - Dec. 27, 2006

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 01-07-2008, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,492 posts, read 51,426,259 times
Reputation: 24613
I do not need a relegion to make morally correct decisions, or morally incorrect ones.

When preachers use god to justify using guns to collect the tithe, tyranny has landed. When governments use god to justify the war tax it, is already here.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-07-2008, 01:16 PM
 
415 posts, read 556,180 times
Reputation: 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Graham
The article begins by saying that no metaphor in American letters has had greater influence on law and policy that Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state.”
What exactly has been the influence of the metaphor on the law, other than as a secondary authority for the Supreme Court's view in 1878 that "Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order?"

BTW, where in the hell did the Supreme Court ever get the idea that Congress had general power over our social duties?

Quote:
For many Americans, this metaphor has supplanted the actual text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and it has become the standard explanation of the notion that the First Amendment separated religion and the civil state...
The First Amendment didn't separate religion from the authority of the U. S. Government because it never had any to begin with. Religion was excluded from the powers granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Graham

...thereby mandating a strictly non-religious government.
I don't know what Graham means by a "religious government" but I'm pretty sure the founders did want any civil authority over their religion(s).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Graham
The judiciary has embraced this figurative language as a virtual rule of constitutional law and as the organizing theme of church-state jurisprudence.
Show me where the Supreme Court ever said Separation between Church and State was a rule of law.

BTW, a rule that says there must be "Separation between Church and State" is totally useless until the words "Church" and "State" are defined.

Quote:
Writing for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, Justice Hugo L. Black asserted that the justices had “agreed that the First Amendment’s language, properly interpreted, had erected a wall of separation between Church and State.” The continuing influence of this wall is evident in the Court’s most recent church-state pronouncements.
Anyone who thinks separation of church and state was put into the Constitution by the establishment clause, including Hugo Black and Thomas Jefferson, is wrong. The First Amendment didn't separate religion from the authority of the U. S. Government because it never had any to begin with. Religion was excluded from the powers granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government.

BTW, Jefferson did a much better job of explaining the exemption of religion from civil authorty in 1808 when he wrote to Samuel Miller.
I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the U S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises, it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer: and I pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem & respect.

Jefferson's reference to "that [amendment] also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S."[/b] was a reference to the Tenth Amendment which reserved to the people power over their religion, unless they had been stupid enough to surrender it to their state government, like the fools in New England did.

In his letter to Samuel Miller Jefferson pointed out that "no power" over "any religious exercise" as well as no "authority in religious discipline" had "been delegated to the general government." Jefferson should have pointed out the government was granted no power over religious opinions, as he did in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. However, Reverend Miller had only asked Jefferson to explain why he didn't issue executive recommendations regarding religious exercises.
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 > Politics and Other Controversies
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:55 AM.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

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