| I Just Lked the Picture, That's All
I may not be able to do much. But I'll do what I can to put a bullet through the head of
that crummy slogan "Separation of Church & State."
First, because it's Unconstitutional. I don't just mean that the precise words aren't
in the Constitution; I mean because the slogan is often construed to mean the exact opposite of what's in the First Amendment.
But didn't Thomas Jefferson come up with the slogan?
Right. And if I do everything his way I'll force my wife to stay at home on voting day and
buy me a couple of slaves and write that all men are created equal and my slaves, by God's edict, have the right to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The First Amendment prevents government from influencing religion. Doesn't the Separation
slogan do the same?
Yes. But it also attempts to do something in direct opposition to the Constitution
- it prevents religion from influencing government. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech of
all of us - church people included. And in a democracy freedom of political speech is the most vital freedom of all!
If churches fail to provide citizens input into government in times of crisis they become
much like German churches, in the early days of Nazi-ism, who failed to act while there was still time to act.
| President George W. Bush
You've been reading the website of Americans United. They're not a church; do they have freedom of political
Definitely. But there's another gimmick involved. They're a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. So
are most churches. They're tax exempt but by IRS rules they have to stay out of the political fray or they might lose
their tax-exempt status. They can speak out on public and political issues but must not oppose or promote specific candidates.
So for example the Americans United can't criticise President Bush, right?
Well, they do, big time, but maybe that's because he's not running for
office now. But they campaign hard against his federal judgeship nominees. Like here.. They have this right by IRS rules, since
federal judges are appointed rather than elected but it seems an odd rule since after they've been named by the president
they have to be "confirmed" which means elected by the Senate.
Maybe. But let's say in 2004, when the president was running for re-election, they couldn't
campaign against him, right?
I don't know if they could, but they did, like here. Publishing outspoken criticism of a presidential candidate
while the campaign is getting in full swing could surely be seen as involving oneself in the election. (And that IRS
rule isn't enforced much, anyway.)
But the way I see it Americans United is taking action on two kinds of violations. First,
where the government appears to be violating the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment and is "establishing
religion." And Second, which has nothing to do with the First Amendment, where 501(c)(3) non-profits appear to be politically
Then you're saying Americans United is helping IRS enforce tax laws, which is their right though it has
nothing to do with their "Separation" slogan. Do you suppose they're also going over the books at General Motors?
Could be. And then there's a Third item. There are plenty of posts
on the Americans United website that have nothing to do with the First Amendment OR the IRS rules -click here. These mostly express Rev. Lynn's rage toward the Christian Right,
and might be most accurately called Lynn's Blog. I recently went over his website and counted 39 posts for the first half
of 2006. Nineteen of these, or about 50%, are at least partially rants against their arch enemy, the Christian
When you get all three rolled up under "Church-State Separation" there's no way for anyone
to have a clear understanding of that slogan.
But you'd like to do away with Separation of Church & State. Does that mean you'd want religion running the
Of course not; that wouldn't be Constitutional. It just means I have more respect
for the First Amendment than for some crummy slogan that can mean whatever somebody wants it to.
What's your take on the controversy over homosexual marriage? Since religions have their
own rules on marriage, does government have any right to prescribe rules?
Well, see below.
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An old man offers to buy your daughter (age nine) in marriage for $5,000. She cries and begs
you to say "No" because she knows he beats his other two wives. But the details of this match made in heaven are approved
by your clergy and you need the cash, so you say "Yes".
Anything wrong with this scenario?
Not according to Americans United, who maintain that government
must not override the marriage rules of any church to "protect their freedom to limit
marriage on whatever theological grounds they choose."
I'm not serious. Although the above scenario might meet the standards of some religions,
of course the Americans United would consider it far beyond the standards acceptable by a decent society.
Of course a church has the right to marry a coyboy to his horse if they want to. But legally,
marriage confers rights and responsibilities and all the courts can decide is what marriages the courts will recognize and
under what conditions.
And we already have federal and state marriage laws that over-ride religious rules:
age requirements and consent laws and marital cruelty laws and divorce laws. And laws against plural marriage that were fought
by some religious beliefs and are now in federal law and in some state constitutions,
But boy-meets-boy, boy-marries-boy, boy and boy live happilly ever after would probably
be considered just as egregious to most people today.
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A Professional Columnist's Misdiagnosis
The Reverend Clark Morphew was a syndicated columnist until about 1999.
I remembered a conservative Christian -bashing column of his and managed to find it; his
column of 2/01/97said "James Dobson maintains that Jefferson used the phrase (referring to a 'wall of Separation') in
only one letter and that it referred only to government reaching into religion. However, speaking against traditional
interpretation, Dobson maintains that it does not protect government from religion." Well, it doesn't. Congressional non-establishment
of religion certainly protects religion. But can anyone find the slightest hint in the Constitution that our founding fathers
wanted to silence churches from critiquing government?
To reinforce that statement, consider the fact that the Bill of Rights (the popular name given to the first
ten amendments) gives us no rights and doesn't pretend to. It assumes we already have those rights, and each of the ten, in
variety of wording, prevents government from taking away our rights, as shown in this paraphrase:
One: Prohibits the U.S.
Congress from taking away our freedoms of religion, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning of the
Two: Prohibits the government from infringing the right to keep and bear arms.
Protects our homes from the U.S. Military.
Four: Protects us, our homes, and our belongings from illegal search
and seizure by the government.
Five through Eight: Protects us from abuse by the governmental court system. (Well, one slight exception: the first part of Amendment VII is about
lawsuits, to which the government is usually not a party).
Prohibits the government from taking away any rights not specifically mentioned.
the U.S. government from seizing any powers over us not specifically granted to it by the
Clearly, the founding fathers believed the American People can run a pretty darn good country as long
as the U.S government gets out of our way!
But in my experience a great many people have bought into Morphew's opinion. I’ve heard them
say with certainty that it’s unlawful to talk about politics in church, especially anything as blatant as to criticize
governmental policies. But the fallacy is that “Separation of Church and State” doesn’t repeat or even paraphrase
anything in the Constitution. I’ll challenge anyone to show that when the Constitution assures freedom of speech,
(and the press, and to petition government,) it means EXCEPT FOR CHURCHES,
as that Separation slogan says it does.
That, I think, is why some Christians oppose the Separation slogan. They're not so much trying to take away
someone else's rights as to protect their own.
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The Americans United website Dec 19, 2006 says: AU Applauds Settlement of Georgia Lawsuit Over Evolution Disclaimer." Applauds?
I t seems that the local school board had affixed stickers to 35,000 science textbooks disclaiming
evolution as being a controversial scientific theory. ACLU of Georgia brought suit and won, and the school board
agreed to remove the stickers.
But what kind of an "applaudable" victory is that, to post a courtroom victory but keep the
grudge match going as strong as ever? Did either side even consider staying out of court by replacing each sticker
with one saying something like "Nothing taught in this course is meant to be construed in conflict with students'
own religious beliefs." (Though I gave quite a bit of thought to this wording someone else might improve on it).
What might this do? It might dispel anger on both sides. It might lead to private feelings
among students that maybe both sides might have some good points. It might lead evangelicals to ask "Well, why couldn't God
have created the cosmos with a big bang or created the species using an evolutionary process? If He had wanted to, that is."
And if anyone asks "Why would he have?" I'd have to say "How should I know?" (Unless it's because he chose to create a universe
of cause and effect, which was obviously the case).
It might lead scientists to at least conjecture an alternative to our present hypothesis
that the big bang occurred by something coming into being out of nothing, which our own laws of thermodynamics theorize is
It might save school boards millions of dollars in legal costs. And it might do no good at
But who is to say that it isn't worth a try?
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