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Old 08-21-2006, 12:24 AM   #16
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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


While God is not mentioned in the final wording of the Constitution, he is mentioned in every major document leading up to it. Connecticut is still known as the "Constitution State" because its colonial constitution was used as a model for the United States Constitution. Its first words were: "For as much as it has pleased the almighty God by the wise disposition of His Divine Providence…"
God. Not Christ, this statue pretends otherwise.

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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

Ben Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention, said: "...God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
Ben Franklin along with many of the founding fathers held a very Unitarian theology.


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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

Sounds like the founding of a Christian nation to me.
Really then why allow freedom of religion? If the intent was, as you say, only to not govern a paticular denomination, then why not make it a Christian nation?

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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

Even George Washington who certainly knew the intent of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, since he presided over their formation, said in his "Farewell Address": "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars." Sure doesn't sound like Washington was trying to separate religion and politics.
Religion will always play a part in politics, but he kept it out of the government. There's a difference.


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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

This view, that we were a Christian nation, was hold for almost 150 years until the Everson v. Board of Education ruling in 1947. Before that momentous ruling, even the Supreme Court stated that we were a Christian nation. In
I guess we grew up.

What the founding fathers did know is that they weren't perfect, and they didn't create a perfect document to govern a country. Hence why they created the document to be ammendable.

Some of the other things the founding fathers believed in that we know longer do is:

slavery
not allowing blacks or women to vote
public hangings
the list goes on and on...
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:45 AM   #17
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


God. Not Christ, this statue pretends otherwise.

Ben Franklin along with many of the founding fathers held a very Unitarian theology.
First, I said Religious nature of the founding of the USA, not "Christian". However, most of the founding fathers were Christians.

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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Really then why allow freedom of religion? If the intent was, as you say, only to not govern a paticular denomination, then why not make it a Christian nation?.
No one wanted a theocracy, I'll grant you that. However, this nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian values, which is what those people in the statue article want a return to.


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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Some of the other things the founding fathers believed in that we know longer do is:

slavery
not allowing blacks or women to vote
public hangings
the list goes on and on...
Nice.. compare Judeo Christian values to those.

You think our country is failing because people want a return to Judeo Christian values.

I think that the fact that our nation's high court has made it legal to kill human life in the womb is much scarier. I believe that the nation will be judged harshly by God for that abomination, unless we repent and overturn that decision.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:05 AM   #18
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Jon Meacham has a very interesting book out. American Gospel.

“In his American Gospel, Jon Meacham provides a refreshingly clear, balanced, and wise historical portrait of religion and American politics at exactly the moment when such fairness and understanding are much needed. Anyone who doubts the relevance of history to our own time has only to read this exceptional book.”–David McCullough, author of 1776
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:11 AM   #19
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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


First, I said Religious nature of the founding of the USA, not "Christian". However, most of the founding fathers were Christians.
I was speaking specifically of the statue.


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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

However, this nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian values, which is what those people in the statue article want a return to.
And what do they mean by return to? How have we constitutionally moved from that?

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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

Nice.. compare Judeo Christian values to those.
Where did I compare the two? I just stated a fact. That our founding fathers had some very conflicting ideals. Do you not agree?

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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

You think our country is failing because people want a return to Judeo Christian values.
Once again, where did I say this? This statue doesn't say Judeo-Christian values to me. This statue speaks of wanting a theocracy to me.


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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest

I think that the fact that our nation's high court has made it legal to kill human life in the womb is much scarier. I believe that the nation will be judged harshly by God for that abomination, unless we repent and overturn that decision.
Peronally I don't think God will judge us by our nation but us as individuals.

If God judged us as nation's all Americans would be destined for hell.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:25 AM   #20
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I doubt very much that the map God works from pays much, if any, attention to borders. That - will all respect - is a very American idea.
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Old 08-21-2006, 02:23 AM   #21
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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


Basically you're scared by people who know about the religious nature of the founding of our country, and want a return to that.

There are other photos that really scare me, and are what I see as a sign of "our failing country".
They created a secular state built on the values of the enlightenment, a bunch of deists founding a nation built on tolerence and the free exchange of ideas and importantly without specific endorsement or persecution of belief. That is what secularism is; while people would suffer a bit if America brought in elements of theocracy and state chuch it would definitely rekindle the importance of secularism and why it matters.
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Old 08-21-2006, 02:43 PM   #22
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar



If God judged us as nation's all Americans would be destined for hell.
Why do you think that?
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Old 08-21-2006, 03:29 PM   #23
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They created a secular state built on the values of the enlightenment, a bunch of deists founding a nation built on tolerence and the free exchange of ideas and importantly without specific endorsement or persecution of belief. That is what secularism is; while people would suffer a bit if America brought in elements of theocracy and state chuch it would definitely rekindle the importance of secularism and why it matters.


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Old 08-21-2006, 03:59 PM   #24
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Why do you think that?
Slavery, War, inequality, worship of the all mighty dollar, list goes on and on.
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:02 PM   #25
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Slavery, War, inequality, worship of the all mighty dollar, list goes on and on.
But you never go see the good things Americans do. Does that mean all the people in Saudi Arabia are destened for hell. Treatment of woman. Oil is there god. There king is there God. Capital punishment. discrimination against homosexuality??

All I know is I hope McCain or Leiberman run. I want either one of them to win.
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:12 PM   #26
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But you never go see the good things Americans do. Does that mean all the people in Saudi Arabia are destened for hell. Treatment of woman. Oil is there god. There king is there God. Capital punishment. discrimination against homosexuality??
You're missing the point and context of my statement. 80's said we're going to be judged harshly by God if we don't overturn abortion...so take a look at my last few post and you can see my response.
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Old 08-21-2006, 09:10 PM   #27
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If America were to become a nation that uses religion rather than law for guidance, we'd be a theocracy like the one our government wants so badly to take out in Iran. And just like the one we set up in Iraq (oops). This kind of thinking will be the end of our planet if we don't wise up.
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Old 08-22-2006, 12:57 AM   #28
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80s, if you're going to cut and paste something that long, you should really cite your sources. And actually, the author of this article (assuming "Tex Browning" is really its author...and that you're not Tex Browning!) should too, since he appears to have pilfered most if not all of it from David Barton's poorly regarded writings and/or his films.

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While God is not mentioned in the final wording of the Constitution, he is mentioned in every major document leading up to it.
How many of those documents have legal status?
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Connecticut is still known as the "Constitution State" because its colonial constitution was used as a model for the United States Constitution. Its first words were: "For as much as it has pleased the almighty God by the wise disposition of His Divine Providence…"
According to the official state website of Connecticut (ct.gov), the reason Connecticut is called that is simply because it was the first US state to have a written Constitution (1638). You can read that Constitution here; it bears no noteworthy resemblance to the US Constitution. On the other hand, England's Bill of Rights (1689) and to a lesser degree the Magna Carta (1215) are widely acknowledged to have served as sources for the US Constitution, as did the Constitution of the Dutch Republic (1579; aka Union of Utrecht).

Anyhow, Connecticut maintained an established state church--the Congregationalist church--until 1818...hence Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists (which this same article you've posted references), who'd initiated contact with Jefferson because they sought his help in persuading the state of Connecticut to stop taxing them to support the Congregationalists. So I don't really understand why anyone would cite Connecticut's first Constitution as a worthy examplar of American-style freedom of religion, when it permitted this.
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Most of the fifty-five Founding Fathers who worked on the Constitution were members of orthodox Christian churches and many were even evangelical Christians. The first official act in the First Continental Congress was to open in Christian prayer, which ended in these words: "...the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen". Sounds Christian to me.
So what? They were all white and male as well--should we conclude anything from that (besides the circular argument that this violates "Christian values"--which would've been news to most of them--whereas being a Christian doesn't)? And what about the other Continental Congresses? The Constitutional Convention sessions didn't open with prayers, Christian or otherwise--Franklin did propose that, but it was rejected, and Franklin's own notes from the Convention remarked that "with the exception of 3 or 4, most thought prayers unnecessary."
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Ben Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention, said: "...God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
On the other hand, Franklin also said (1780; in a letter to the pro-American British pamphleteer, Richard Price):"When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."

Anyways, it neither case would it be legitimate to argue that here is Franklin's definitive stance on whether US law should preferentially embody Christian values. Incidentally, Franklin was openly a Deist (see below), not an orthodox Christian.
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John Adams stated so eloquently during this period of time that; "The general principles on which the fathers achieved Independence were ... the general principles of Christianity ... I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that the general principles of Christianity are as etemal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
On the other hand, he also wrote (in A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America; 1788) that "Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods...it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

Once again though, neither quote spells out what he thought the mission of the laws with regard to Christianity should be. Though if he understood "the general principles on which the fathers achieved Independence" to be those enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, well then that would be the Enlightenment Deism (and social compact empiricism) of John Locke, from whose Second Treatise on Government several phrases in the Declaration were directly lifted, and whose philosophy is figuratively stamped all over it. This is not the idea that the state or its laws should be based on Biblical precepts, but rather the idea that "all men's" rights to life, liberty and estate (Jefferson changed the latter to "happiness") are directly endowed from God, and thus inalienable. (And no, Locke did not consider disbelief in God to constitute waiving of these rights.) In other words, the divinely endowed right of kings had given way to governments which derive their legitimacy from the divinely endowed rights of the people collectively.
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Later, John Quincy Adams answered the question as to why, next to Christmas, was the Fourth of July this most joyous and venerated day in the United States. He answered: "...Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"...Quincy Adams went on to say that the biggest victory won in the American Revolution was that Christian principles and civil government would be tied together in what he called an "indissoluble" bond.
Concerning the quoted part, see above. Whether Quincy Adams ever said that bit about the Revolution is highly in doubt; it doesn't appear in any of his preserved writings, nor in any contemporary accounts, and I don't know of anyone other than Barton who attributes it to him. In any case, Quincy Adams is not generally considered one of the "Founding Fathers," which otherwise seems to be the implied gold standard here.
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The intent of the First Amendment was well understood during the founding of our country. The First Amendment was not to keep religion out of government. It was to keep Government from establishing a "National Denomination" (like the Church of England). As early as 1799 a court declared: "By our form of government the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on the same equal footing."
Yes, a court--the Supreme Court ("Court of Appeals") of Maryland, which had had an established state church, the Anglican Church, until a few years before, but had never formally spelled out what disestablishment constituted (beyond giving Catholics the right to vote, which was what the disestablishment decision hinged on). The 1799 case involved a dispute between two Dutch Reformed Christian ministers over who had the rights to a particular parsonage. In the context of that decision, the MD Supreme Court was justifying its intervention in a clerical dispute and explaining why it chose to follow the existing rules of that church (and not, say, the Anglican Church) in granting that parsonage to the one minister who belonged to the synod. They certainly weren't ruling on the federal government's relationship to Christianity, and of course they weren't empowered to.

Incidentally, Maryland didn't permit non-Christians to hold public office until 1851, when it was allowed that a (religious) Jew might hold public office so long as he professed "belie[f] in a future state of rewards and punishments" (a belief no denomination of Judaism requires). In fact, seven states including Maryland still have laws on the books citing a belief in God and in eternal judgment as prerequisites for holding public office, and it's only because of the precedents established by Everson v. Board of Education (which the author of this article apparently deplores) that these laws are today considered unenforceable, and not justified by "states' rights."
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Even in the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Baptists of Danbury Connecticut (from which we derive the term "separation of Church and State") he made it quite clear that the wall of separation was to insure that Government would never interfere with religious activities because religious freedom came from God, not from Government.
As I mentioned above, Jefferson's interactions with the Danbury Baptists concerned their grievances with the then-established Congregationalist church of Connecticut. The claim the article makes here is preposterous; the Danbury Baptists were not worried about the (Connecticut) government "interfering with their religious activities"--it didn't, they had full freedom of worship--but rather about the fact that the Connecticut Constitution failed to prevent the state from legislating religious matters, and thus left the door open to abuses such as the one they were complaining to Jefferson about: namely, their tax dollars going to the Congregationalists. From their letter to Jefferson, which inititated the interaction: "Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty--that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals...that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors. But, sir, our constitution of government is not specific...such had been our laws and usages, and such still are, that religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights...It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men--should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ." (emphasis mine)

Jefferson's reply: "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 legislative 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." (again, emphasis mine)

So yes, it's an indictment of state/national denominations, but it's also unmistakably an indictment of state latitude in religious matters, period. Both Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists understood the latter to effectively open the door to the former, not the other way around.

And Jefferson was not the first American to approvingly refer to a "wall of separation" between church and polity: Rhode Island founder Roger Williams wrote (1644; in a public response to Puritan theocrat John Cotton, who'd been involved in banishing him): "When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day." Again, from another of his 1644 pamphlets: "An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."
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Even George Washington who certainly knew the intent of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, since he presided over their formation, said in his "Farewell Address": "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars."
Though the subsequent sentence, "The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them," suggests that A) Washington did not consider "piety" a requirement for public office and B) the whole passage is consistent with Washington's general view of religion as character-building and, thus, conducive to sound public order. Not the same thing as saying Christian ethics should be enshrined in law. (Actually, whether Washington was more an orthodox Christian or a Deist is much debated by historians, but I'm not even gonna try getting into that one.)

On the other hand, Washington also said (in a 1792 letter to Edward Newenham, of the Irish House of Commons): "Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated."
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John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and one of the three men most responsible for the writing of the Constitution declared: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty-as well as privilege and interest- of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
Jay "declared" this in a private letter (1816, long after his retirement) to Representative John Murray, one of a series of letters he wrote to Murray on the topic of whether Christianity can be reconciled with war. Although these letters read more like expository sermons than political documents, it's quite likely that with this quote (and the sentences preceding it: "Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war...Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers...who are not always wise or virtuous") Jay was taking a veiled swipe at then-President James Madison and the War of 1812 he'd persuaded Congress to declare, as well as at soon-to-be-President James Monroe (Madison's Secretary of State) and--not incidentally--the Deist beliefs of both. As a strong Federalist and an orthodox Christian, Jay found all of the above objectionable.

However, it would be very strange if Jay seriously meant to suggest that this principle be enshrined in federal law, since the Constitution explicitly forbids it: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or trust under the United States" (Article VI, Section 3).
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This view, that we were a Christian nation, was hold for almost 150 years until the Everson v. Board of Education ruling in 1947.
Everson (you can read the full decision here) doesn't say anything about being (or not) a "Christian nation." Instead it interpets the First Amendment's establishment clause (in tandem with the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause) to mean the following: "Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa." Certainly doesn't sound like anything Jefferson or James Madison (who drafted the First Amendment) would've disagreed with. As far as the other 50 or so Founding Fathers (if you're going by the usual definition of signatories to the Constitution), it would be difficult to say with certainty one way or the other, as few of them ever commented this explicitly on what they understood an appropriate state relationship to religion to look like.

Incidentally, the Everson decision actually rejected the plaintiff's claim that taxpayer support for parochial school transportation violated the First Amendment. The above was simply the reasoning they applied to arrive at that conclusion, and in fact they split 5-4 (against-for) on whether this should apply to the plaintiff's case or not. The majority decision (which I just quoted from) was written by Justice Hugo Black--who BTW was a devout Southern Baptist and Sunday School teacher.
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Before that momentous ruling, even the Supreme Court stated that we were a Christian nation. In 1892 the Court stated: "No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people...This is a Christian nation." There it is again! From the Supreme Court of the United States. This court went on to cite 87 precedents (prior actions, words, and rulings) to conclude that this was a "Christian nation".
This was a case (Holy Trinity Church v. US) where SCOTUS overruled a circuit court decision interpreting a provision of the US Law Code barring "contracts with aliens" to apply to the case of a New York church contracting the services of an English preacher. Citing Congressional documents related to the passage of that provision, SCOTUS ruled that it was clearly intended to apply only to manual labor and that, thus, the circuit court had erred.

The Court then proceeded to bolster this rationale with the long list of "precedents" cited above. The total doesn't come to anything like 87, but anyhow the list includes: three charters from Christian monarchs granting permission to found colonies; the Mayflower Compact; the Constitutions of 44 states which reference "God" at some point (interestingly, all those quoted from are states which either had an established state religion or a religious test for office, both forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment--though admittedly, it took Everson to clarify that); the First Amendment (!); the fact that many oaths for office include "So help me God" or the like (fully permissible, but absolutely not compulsory--Article VI, Section 3 of the US Constitution explicitly forbids that, and Everson extended this to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment); and finally, the fact that many businesses close on Sundays. In other words, a long list of things which either A) demonstrate nothing as far as whether Christianity should be a source for law, or B) would not now be considered Constitutional, since "states' rights'" is no longer considered to permit what the US Constitution forbids concerning religion.

In concluding, the Trinity decision also offered this: "Suppose, in the congress that passed this act, some member had offered a bill which in terms declared that, if...any Jewish synagogue [should enter into a like contract] with some eminent rabbi, such contract should be adjudged unlawful and void, and the [synagogue] making it be subject to prosecution and punishment. Can it be believed that it would have received a minute of approving thought or a single vote?" So, the Court clearly also understood itself here to be taking a general stance in favor of freedom of worship, period.
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In 1854, the House Judiciary Committee said: "in this age, there is no substitute for Christianity...That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.'
I'm not familiar with this one and was unable to find much about it, beyond the fact that the context was a Congressional investigation (in response to a petition) as to whether or not it's acceptable to use taxpayer funds to provide chaplains for Congress and the military. Hardly an explosive issue. At any rate, the context had nothing to do with passing a law, nor with determining whether Christian values should be enshined in law.
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It should be noted here that even as late as 1958 a dissenting judge warned in Baer v. Kolmorgen that if the court did not stop talking about the "separation of Church and State", people were going to start thinking it was part of the Constitution.
It is implicit in the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which was drafted by James Madison; see the link above (under Everson) for his views on this topic.



For the most part, all these references merely illustrate the unsurprising fact that the majority of the "Founding Fathers" practiced Christianity in some form or another...which in and of itself says nothing about what sort of polity they meant to establish, nor that they believed its laws ought to preferentially favor Biblical precepts (as interpreted by who, anyway?) over others. You would need quotes--and lots of them--explicitly advocating the latter in order to make that case...since the Constitution suggests no such thing.

And I apologize for going on so long...but as a political scientist, this kind of shoddy argument really gets me riled.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:04 AM   #29
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Old 08-22-2006, 01:04 PM   #30
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For the most part, all these references merely illustrate the unsurprising fact that the majority of the "Founding Fathers" practiced Christianity in some form or another...which in and of itself says nothing about what sort of polity they meant to establish, nor that they believed its laws ought to preferentially favor Biblical precepts (as interpreted by who, anyway?) over others. You would need quotes--and lots of them--explicitly advocating the latter in order to make that case...since the Constitution suggests no such thing.

And I apologize for going on so long...but as a political scientist, this kind of shoddy argument really gets me riled.
Is this thread still about the 2008 election?
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