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#129989 - 03/29/03 12:41 PM Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Congress has enacted a new law which is in violation of Ammendment 1 of the U.S. Constitution providing the Separation between Church and State. I certainly have no objection to prayer and fasting and days set aside for that purpose. In fact, all religions have such days. However, I do not think the government has the right to dictate to a person's conscience when he should and should not pray. I do not think the government has the right to interfere in a person's conscience at all. That is between the person and God. Prayer is the result of an individuals relationship with God. Prayer is a conversation between the individual and God, whatever he may concieve God to be. The government has absolutely no right to dictate what a person prays for or when that person converses with God. It is God, through the Holy Spirit who leads us into prayer. Not the government ! The people of this country have been praying for our troops in Iraq, WITHOUT the U.S. Government telling us we have to do that. It is also the right of the people to choose not to pray for our troops or not to pray at all. Past adminstrations as is cited in this article, such as Abraham Lincoln encouraged the people to fast and pray during times of war and that is fine. However, they did not DICTATE a law telling the people to fast and pray. In his letter to a church in 1802 you can see that Thomas Jefferson was very much against this. Enough is enough already! The people of this country need to wake up and be alert as to what proposals the Bush administration and the Right-Wing Conservatist's in Congress are pushing through while they have us distracted with their War in Iraq. It's my opinion that if Congress puts any act into law it should be a law stating that stupid people aren't allowed to vote.

THE HOUSE

Endorsed Fasting and Prayer Resolution Passes. Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) introduced a Fasting and Prayer Congressional Resolution (H. Res 153) Wednesday. The resolution then passed by a vote of 346 to 49 with 23 abstaining on Thursday, a number greater than the 2/3 required under "suspension" rules. The resolution directs the President to proclaim a day for "humility, prayer and fasting for all people of the United States ... to seek the guidance from God." The resolution concluded that the day of fasting and prayer should be used to "...gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."

The preamble of the resolution states the purpose of the resolution as: "Recognizing the public need for fasting and prayer in order to secure the blessing and protection of Providence for the people of the United States and our Armed Forces during the conflict in Iraq and under the threat of terrorism at home."

This country is the greatest military power on earth and the envy of people everywhere for our wealth and standard of living. But we as Americans must never forget that all our blessings come from our Creator. It is God who has sustained our country since its founding, through many wars and potential disasters. In times of danger, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, to the wars of the twentieth century, our leaders have traditionally encouraged the people to humbly pray for America's survival.

Prior to H.Res. 153 the last successful call to fasting and prayer was issued by the Congress on March 30, 1863. At the bequest of the Senate President Abraham Lincoln called for the nation to humble itself before God and proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer.

During the 106th Congress Congresswoman Helen Chenowtih (Retired) offered HR 94, a call to repentance, fasting and prayer. On June 30, 1999, the bill was voted on under "suspension" rules. Under those rules a bill may be sent directly to the House floor by the Leadership without committee hearings and a bill cannot be amended, however, it must receive a 2/3 vote to pass. The vote was 275 for and 140 against with 11 abstentions and as a result it failed. Virtually all of the 140 against were democrats. The House leadership and most of the nation were stunned that the House had rejected prayer by any margin. As a result, Congressman Akin's H.Res. 153 is the first congressional resolution for fasting and prayer to pass since the Civil War.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter

Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to answer a letter from them, asking why he would not proclaim national days of fasting and thanksiving, as had been done by Washington and Adams before him. The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which lead to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today: "Separation of church and state."

The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion.

Note: The bracketed section in the second paragraph had been blocked off for deletion, though it was not actually deleted in his draft of the letter. It is included here for completeness. Reflecting upon Jefferson's knowledge that his letter was far from a mere personal correspondence, he deleted the block, he says in the margin, to avoid offending members of his party in the eastern states.

This is a transcript of the letter as stored online at the Library of Congress, and reflects Jefferson's spelling and punctuation.

Mr. President

To mess? Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem & approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful & zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more & more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate 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. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

(signed) Thomas Jefferson
Jan.1.1802.


Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#129990 - 03/29/03 03:35 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

Are you certain HR-153 is the "law" you claim it is?

Are you certain it compels a person or persons to do or refrain from doing anything?

If there is no compulsion attached to HR-153, are you certain it's unconstitutional?

The First Amendment merely prohibits the government from establishing an official religion. AND further prohibits the government from interfering in citizens free exercise of the religion of their choice.

Thomas Jefferson made it clear what he meant by the "wall of separation between Church and State." Jefferson made it perfectly clear that voluntary association with religious principals were not prohibited.

[Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.]

Therefore, the Congress is free to pass a resolution that is voluntary and compels no compliance, the President is free to sign it and citizens are free to observe it or not as they choose. If they choose to observe the resolution, they are free to implement it in the religion of their choice and in their own way and there is no Constitutional issue whatsoever.

jwhop


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#129991 - 03/29/03 04:08 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
I wanted to provide you with the sites from the above articles. I noticed many of them did not come out in my original post:

Endorsed Fasting and Prayer Resolution Passes.

Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)

Fasting and Prayer Congressional Resolution (H. Res 153)

Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter: Establishment Clause

Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#129992 - 03/29/03 04:09 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
And they didn't come out in the last one either. Sorry
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#129993 - 03/29/03 04:10 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Yes, I am certain.
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#129994 - 03/29/03 04:27 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Hi moonflower

I'm very familiar with Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. I've used it many time against those who suggest the Congress can't pledge allegiance to the flag, have a prayer before sessions, have religious artifacts in their offices and all the other silly arguments some want to make.

Jefferson's letter doesn't come close to saying what groups opposed to any contact between religion and government want it to say.

However, I have personally used the separation of church and state argument to have my children transferred to another school district. We lived in California in a district with a terrible school, academically. They made the unfortunate mistake of adopting a nickname for the school of "Red Devils" and painted a large red devil on the side of the gym which was visible from the street. I sent the school district a certified letter demanding they either change the name and take down the painting or grant a transfer to another school district. They decided not to fight and my children went to the number 1 school in the state, academically, which was my intent from the beginning.

jwhop

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#129995 - 03/29/03 04:36 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Well, if you're certain moonflower, perhaps you'll point out to me the section of HR-153 making it compulsory for anyone to observe the object of the act. Because it would be the compulsion that would make it unconstitutional.

jwhop

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#129996 - 03/29/03 07:02 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
Gregory Offline


Archangel

Registered: 02/20/99
Posts: 6619
Loc: North Bend, WA USA
I think this is a very interesting issue in which there is merit to both sides.

There IS an argument for unconstitutionality, jwhop, in that the "compulsion" lies not in forcing people to follow the resolution's suggestions, but rather in compelling those who might be atheists, or whose religious beliefs do not include fasting, for example, to nonetheless support and pay for the machinery of government which occupied some portion of its time and resources formulating this resolution, debating and voting on it, printing and distributing it in the Congressional Record, and so on.

Considering that the framers of the resolution had the good sense not to specify any particular religion (e.g., Christianity), it is a blurring of the constitutional wall between church and state that doesn't really bother me personally ... especially considering that a belief in God however conceived (even as a strictly impersonal "order of nature" if that's how some see it) is an intrinsic and inescapable element of this country's legal foundation: the whole concept of "natural law" depends on the presumption of a higher power as the giver of the "unalienable rights" embodied in the constitution ... which is exactly the reason why these rights cannot be abridged even by majority rule (or executive order! )

Still, even though the blurring of that line is a minor one in this instance, my own inclination would be to side with Jefferson in declining to use government as an avenue of religious expression at all, no matter how broadly inclusive or non-compulsory the expression may be, it does "establish" certain religious practices (prayer and fasting) as officially approved by the government. Though that be the tiniest of cracks in the wall between church and state, it is just such tiny cracks that are the the first signs of a dam bursting ... and the first tiny breach makes the second just-slightly larger one that much easier to justify. That's the thing about principle: unless it is upheld as an absolute even were it seems harmless (or indeed even of positive benefit), it moves from the realm of principle to the realm of utilitarian guideline. And utilitarian guidelines are ALWAYS vulnerable to changing moods, opinions and popular trends ... exactly the forces that absolute principle is designed to withstand without wavering.

Far better, in my opinion, for the authors of this resolution to exhort us to prayer and meditation in their own personal speeches, as expressions of their own convictions, than to make such exhortations in the name of official government pronouncements. Thus I would agree with Jefferson's thoughtful decision to refrain from proclaiming "national days of fasting and thanksiving," even though he was himself a religious man who upheld precisely those values.

Love,
GREG
_________________________
LOVE alone is eternal and unconquerable.

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#129997 - 03/29/03 07:38 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: Gregory]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Here is the speech of Congress woman Jane Harmon explaining to Congress why she could not vote yes on H.RES 153. I agree with you and Jefferson, Greg. It's not a good idea for the government to be involved in religion at all, in any way. It would be a good idea for the National Council of Churches, which represents all religions, to declare a day of prayer and fasting for our country and our troops. I'm sure they would have gotten around to doing just that. So I feel the government is "stepping on the toes" of the NCC and like Congress woman Harmon, they are in violation of the Constitution.


SPEECH OF
HON. JANE HARMAN
OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2003
Ms. HARMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to explain my vote on House Resolution 153 , a resolution ``recognizing the public need for fasting and prayer in order to secure the blessings of Providence for the people of the United States and our Armed Forces during the conflict in Iraq and under the threat of terrorism at home''.
Like all Americans, I strongly support our nation's Armed Forces and hope for the successful completion of their mission in Iraq and their safe return home. But, upon taking the oath of office, each Member of Congress has sworn to uphold the Constitution. As such, we must carefully differentiate the intent of the resolution we vote on from its language.
House Resolution 153 has the laudatory goal of protecting our troops and our citizens from harm. But, despite the sponsor's intentions, the actual language calling for prayer and fasting and asking for the intercession of Providence violates, in my view, our Constitutional obligation to respect the separation between church and state.
The resolution may reflect the religious views of some of our citizens as well as some of our Members. But, it may also offend the religious views of others and, consequently, be divisive rather than unifying--a concern clearly anticipated by our Constitution. Thus, I cannot vote yes in support of the resolution.



Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#129998 - 03/29/03 07:45 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: Gregory]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
The problem with what you're saying Greg is that the government is not violating the First Amendment in that it is NOT establishing a religion. No religion is specified and besides, the First Amendment never encompassed the notion that government was to have nothing to do with religion in general. The government regulates religious sects in various and sundry ways.

Now, if you want to make the argument that Congress is wasting time and atheists are bearing the cost and therefore government is infringing on their rights, well then in that case I will argue that abortion is anti-religion and therefore cannot be imposed by or paid for by government either. If citizens are so self absorbed and critical of simple non binding and voluntary acts, then it's time we have an in-depth examination of all the law that is directly anti religion. It's a two edged sword. If you insist on absolute neutrality, we can open up lots of Pandora's boxes.

If the test is going to be whether or not someone's religious beliefs are infringed by non compulsory acts, then we can have a look at all the acts that violate the religious beliefs of the various religions and are also compulsory

It wouldn't be difficult to establish that atheism is a religion. Religion isn't necessarily tied to a belief in God.

The dam isn't always about to break open and submerge America in a sea of Christian fanaticism.

jwhop


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#129999 - 03/29/03 07:50 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Jwhop,

Perhaps it is not Congress and others who are misinterpreting Jefferson's letter. It clearly states in his letter that he is against the interference of goverment in religious matters. Since he is one of our founding fathers who authored the Constitution, I trust him to know what he is talking about. Thomas Jefferson obviously felt that declaring a day of fasting and prayer was not a good idea because of the separtion between church and state provided in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S.

FYI I am very much in favor of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school. That is an act of patriotism and has nothing to do with religion. I do not think that people who are upholding the Constitution of this country are posing "silly arguments."

Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130000 - 03/29/03 07:55 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
The First Amendment according to who's interpretation of it, jwhop. Yours or Congress? You are putting your own "spin" on the Constitution. Where is your proof to back up your statement that the First Amendment to the Constitution just means that government can't begin it's own religion and does not cover anything else to do with religion? Apparently Thomas Jefferson did not see it your way. He interpreted it differently.

Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130001 - 03/29/03 08:38 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
There is a lot of information at these sites regarding the First Amendment including who the founders were, what they said, why they said it etc. The tripod site also explains the narrow interpretation, which would be jwhop's interpretation, and the broad interpretation which is the one that Jefferson and Madison held and the U.S. Congress follows to this day.

http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/constitution/amdt1.html


http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/view2.htm

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: AN OVERVIEW

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The part of the Bill of Rights that is most important to the separation debate is the First Amendment, in particular, the two religion clauses of the first Amendment. These clauses deal precisely with the issue of what government can and cannot do with respect to religion. Below, we lay out the wording of these clauses, and what is at issue in their interpretation.

The establishment clause makes up the first ten words of the First Amendment. It reads as follows:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...
The free exercise clause makes up the next six words of the Amendment. It reads as follows:


or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Together, these clauses comprise the most specific statement in the Constitution about the powers of the federal government over religion. It is interesting, for example, to note that both clauses are phrased in the negative, that is, they describe what the federal government cannot do with respect to religion. Hence, if the framers gave some power to the federal government over religion, they must have specified it elsewhere in the Constitution.

While both clauses are important to religious liberty, it is the establishment clause that has become of the focus of the current debate over separation. In particular, the clause is generally interpreted in one of two mutually exclusive ways. The narrow interpretation (favored by accomodationists), holds that the clause bans only the establishment of a state church or religion. A classic statement of this position is found, for example, in J. M. O'Neill's Religion and Education Under the Constitution, p. 56, where he holds that the First Amendment proscribes only "a formal, legal union of a single church or religion with government, giving the one church or religion an exclusive position of power and favor over all other churches or denominations." On this line Congress might do any of a number of things that aid religion so long as it doesn't directly establish a state church.

In contrast, separationists favor what is known as the broad reading of the First Amendment. This reading holds that the First Amendment bans not only the establishment of a state church, but the establishment of any religious belief or practice by law. Hence, separationists would hold that, eg., when government requires prayer in the public schools, it establishes a religious practice and is, hence, illegal. The classic statement of this position is Justice Black's majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education. These issues are discussed throughout our section of the web page devoted to the case for separation.

Some other controversies concern the interpretation of the word "establishment" in the First Amendment, what the framers meant by "respecting" establishment, and why the framers modified the word establishment with the word "an." We take on all these issues in our section on the grammar of the establishment clause.



As noted elsewhere in this site, much of the present controversy over separation has to do with the interpretation of the religious clauses of the First Amendment. In this section we present some grammatical reasons for thinking that the First Amendment should be interpreted as a broad ban on the power of government over religion. We will do this in two sections. First, we will present several grammatical arguments in favor of the broad interpretation of the First Amendment. Second, we will address the most important grammatical arguments in favor of a narrow reading.








Love, Connie

_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130002 - 03/29/03 09:30 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

Thomas Jefferson is not the author of the United States Constitution. Jefferson was in France when the Constitution was being written and hammered out by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

jwhop

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#130003 - 03/29/03 09:59 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
Terri Offline
Dreamer, Writer, Lover
Archangel

Registered: 05/31/00
Posts: 3571
Loc: Toronto, ON
OMG - FRANCE?!?!?! Are you sure he still ought to be considered a founding father?

Sorry, I couldn't resist

Love,
Terri
_________________________


Love bears all things, Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

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#130004 - 03/30/03 12:05 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: Terri]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Terri



Well, let's just say France has undergone a radical change since Jefferson's time.

jwhop

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#130005 - 03/30/03 12:50 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Ok, so he signed the Constitution. He also wrote many articles regarding the Constitiution. Not THE articles of the Constitution but articles.

Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130006 - 03/30/03 01:11 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

Thomas Jefferson neither wrote or signed the United States Constitution. Jefferson was a Virginian. The Virginia Delegates who signed the Constitution were James Madison and John Blair. As I told you, Jefferson was in France acting in the capacity of Minister to France during the Constitutional Convention.

jwhop


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#130007 - 03/30/03 01:44 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
It was the Declaration of Independence I guess I was thinking of. One of the articles I was researching on did say that Jefferson wrote many articles regarding the Constitution. In his biography it said he was better with the pen than he was in public speaking.

Question 1
True or False: Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and outspoken champion for democratic principles, served as a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. At the Convention, Jefferson strongly influenced the debate, demanding broad political powers and rights for the American People.

Answer to Question 1
False. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson was serving in Paris as American Ambassador. Although several Convention delegates corresponded with Jefferson during the Convention debate, the slow communications of the day prevented Jefferson from playing a significant role in framing the U.S. Constitution.

Make my crow well done, please.



Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130008 - 03/30/03 02:15 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
You're a class act moonflower. And tomorrow, when my mind has cleared from my sacramental martinis, if I remember, I'll tell you why you can't separate God from your rights.

Since you prefer cow moonflower, let me pose a question for you. If the cow really "jumped over the Moon", (Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the Moon) and got singed on reentry, does that necessarily mean that a family in Texas is having rare barbecue beef for dinner tonight?

jwhop

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#130009 - 03/30/03 12:57 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Thanks, You're a class act yourself, jwhop. I am going to start calling you "brat" though.

I am a semi-vegetarian and rarely touch meat, but when I do, I like my cow and my meat well done. So that cow jumping over the moon better burn up on reentry or I will send it back.

Love, Connie
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130010 - 03/30/03 04:41 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

I'm a Leo, so you must have known I wouldn't serve you that crow you asked for

Of course you can get your beef cooked any way you want it.
Hey Billy Bubba, burn one for Ms moonflower.

jwhop

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#130011 - 03/30/03 05:07 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

It would be helpful if you realized that Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists was a sharp sword aimed at decapitation of the Federalists who were agitating for a Monarchy and State Religion in the United States. The Federalists had slandered Jefferson for years by calling him an atheist. Please take note that Jefferson attended church services held in the House of Representative complete with preaching to the faithful. Far from being hostile or even neutral to issues of religion in government affairs, Jefferson wouldn't give national fasts, feasts or other manifestations of religion sanction because the groups favorable to these national holidays were the one's attempting to overthrow the Constitution and establish a Monarchy in it's place.

"In gutting his draft was Jefferson playing the hypocrite, sacrificing his principles to political expediency, as his Federalist opponents never tired of charging? By no means, for the Danbury Baptist letter was never conceived by Jefferson to be a statement of fundamental principles; it was meant to be a political manifesto, nothing more."

"Analyzed with the help of the latest technology, the Danbury Baptist letter has yielded significant new information. Using it to fix the intent of constitutional documents is limited, however, by well established rules of statutory construction: the meaning of a document cannot be determined by what a drafter deleted or by what he did concurrently with the drafting of a document. But it will be of considerable interest in assessing the credibility of the Danbury Baptist letter as a tool of constitutional interpretation to know, as we now do, that it was written as a partisan counterpunch, aimed by Jefferson below the belt at enemies who were tormenting him more than a decade after the First Amendment was composed."

"It seems likely that in modifying the draft of the Danbury Baptist letter by eliminating words like "eternal" and "merely temporal," which sounded so uncompromisingly secular, Jefferson was motivated not merely by political considerations but by a realization that these words, written in haste to make a political statement, did not accurately reflect the conviction he had reached by the beginning of 1802 on the role of government in religion. Jefferson would never compromise his views that there were things government could not do in the religious sphere -- legally establish one creed as official truth and support it with its full financial and coercive powers. But by 1802, he seems to have come around to something close to the views of New England Baptist leaders such as Isaac Backus and Caleb Blood, who believed that, provided the state kept within its well-appointed limits, it could provide "friendly aids" to the churches, including putting at their disposal public property that even a stickler like John Leland was comfortable using."

"One of the nation's best known advocates of religious liberty, Leland had accepted an invitation to preach in the House of Representatives on Sunday, Jan. 3, and Jefferson evidently concluded that, if Leland found nothing objectionable about officiating at worship on public property, he could not be criticized for attending a service at which his friend was preaching. Consequently, "contrary to all former practice," Jefferson appeared at church services in the House on Sunday, Jan. 3, two days after recommending in his reply to the Danbury Baptists "a wall of separation between church and state"; during the remainder of his two administrations he attended these services "constantly."Jefferson's participation in House church services and his granting of permission to various denominations to worship in executive office buildings, where four-hour communion services were held, cannot be discussed here; these activities are fully illustrated in the forthcoming exhibition. What can be said is that going to church solved Jefferson's public relations problems, for he correctly anticipated that his participation in public worship would be reported in newspapers throughout the country. A Philadelphia newspaper, for example, informed its readers on Jan. 23, 1802, that "Mr. Jefferson has been seen at church, and has assisted in singing the hundredth psalm." In presenting Jefferson to the nation as a churchgoer, this publicity offset whatever negative impressions might be created by his refusal to proclaim thanksgiving and fasts and prevented the erosion of his political base in God-fearing areas like New England."

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danbury.html

As for Jefferson's thoughts on God and government, we can look to the document he actually did author, the Declaration of Independence. I've copied sections here for you to see from where you derive your freedoms.

WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God , entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.


WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

It seems clear Jefferson was only against the government establishing a religion, one religion taking precedence above all others with government sanction and expenditure of funds.

The 1st Amendment needs to be read exactly as it's worded, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof"

If you wish to read more into that clear wording, then you must favor removing "In God We Trust" from all the money in circulation, removing "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, halting the prayers led by ministers before Congress convenes for the days business, removing any reference to God, whether it be the word "Creator" or any other, from all monuments paid for or maintained with federal funds, removing Thanksgiving as a national holiday, removing Minister-Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday and you should also be against the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence being maintained on government property with the expenditure of federal funds. You would also be for removing these words from the last stanza of the National Anthem.

Praise the Pow'r that has made and presrv'd us a nation
And conquer we must when our cause is just
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Nor could there be ordained ministers in military units or ministers paid with federal funds officiating at funeral services at any federal cemetery, nor any reference to God on any marker within those cemeteries maintained with federal funds.

No half measures moonflower, it's all or nothing at all.

jwhop



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#130012 - 03/30/03 06:56 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
woodchiro Offline
Old hand

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 753
Loc: Kentucky
Hello Folks,

Hi Moonflower ,

Nice information about about the law our elected ones just passed. I also find the timing of this very interesting...

I have a CD from the A&E cable program called Christianity The first two thousand years. The church (sometime after the death of Christ - not sure of the exact time frame off the top of my head) was set up like government because this was something they knew how to work. Thus they structured the church like government.

I have a article from USA Today talking about the direction churches are heading towards. Churches are exempt from zoning laws so they are expanding their size to become a striving little community with resturants, gyms, and tax exemptions. The churches when sued, have been wining in the court system due to - Freedom of Religion... we know that but here is the problem I have with it.

In the name of Religion "Christianity" becomes the majority in a democratic (we know we are really a Republic) run system. This even includes Democrates and Republicans living in their owns society because they are excempt from zoning due to their religious rights under the constitution.

What about those who practice Shamanism (or other forms of religion other than Christianity) as their religious freedom? Shamanism as well as other religions where here before Christianity. The indigenous cultures who live at peace with nature and themselves have much to teach us. Understanding wisdom that can be obtained from different plants or mushrooms. These gifts from nature help us understand that we are multidimensional. Something the church (Catholic) wants to hide. Our government deems these plants are harmful to us. They step in and disregard religious freedom and put those in jail for practicing their religious freedom. The information that the government utilizes concerning these plants are schewed in their favor, and the truth is not told to the public. This includes manipulating the medical views, reviews and control of these plants.

If I'm Taoist does that mean I can be tax exempt or is that only for Christains? I see it as a "word" to hide behind for those who use it as a means for personal gain.

I realize not everyone will... but those elected can sure can use that influnce to weld power and control disguised as religious freedom - but only for those who have the same Christian religion. Shamanism would be illegal

This is my view concerning the the church and state. This law may seem insignificant but even cancer starts small and spreads quickly once it starts.

Woody

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#130013 - 03/31/03 12:42 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Hi Jwhop & Woody

Between the two of you this was a lot to digest and think about. Though I am addressing what jwhop said in his post, Woody, the answers I am providing I think cover your thoughts as well. Under the Constitutional First Amendment regarding separation of church and state, a Taoist has equal rights along with any other religion including Shamens. It is just your very concerns, Woody that Thomas Jefferson worked so very hard at maintaining that separation between chuch and state.

Jwhop, first I am going to say that I am well aware that our founding fathers were very religious men. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, all reflect that as do their biographies and history itself. I would certainly hope that to this day the men who govern this country consult with God on a daily basis and worship God regularly in the religion of their choosing. I am by no stretch of the imagination anti-religion. I am a Roman Catholic and took Theology classes for four years at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. I taught 8th grade catechism for three years, served in my parish on the Parish Council and as a Eucharistic minister. Just from being at the Seminary and talking to various priests, from what I know about the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, along with the studies I had of other religions, I know that the vast majority of established religions are very much in favor of the separation of church and state guaranteed in the Constitution. It protects the churches from government meddling into religious practices and doctrines. That is also the way that Thomas Jefferson saw the First Amendment.

I am also aware that there is a movement among the Religious Right that sees the First Amendment and the present system of government as secularhumanism. The Religious Right have their own agenda and I am also aware that they have managed to influence a significant portion of the Republican party, including George Bush and many of the Republican Congressmen. In fact, Pat Robinson is a Senator now. There is at least one Roman Catholic priest that was a Senator and Thomas Jefferson was very much against that as well according to his quotes and writings. Here is an excerpt from an article in the St. Anthony Messenger ( a RC publication) concerning this:

http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/bullough_16_2.html

The change, in my opinion, was due to the shift in the United States from small-town to urban-centered life. In rural southern America, where the Southern Baptists had been dominant, there was a sort of unconscious Christian underpinning for almost all aspects of life. Prayer in schools, for example, was natural, since it was assumed that everyone agreed although they might be Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, or Episcopalians. The village atheists and even the humanists could be tolerated in the small town, but mostly such people were regarded as harmless eccentrics. Many of those who had previously looked upon separation of church and state as a general version of Christian toleration and denial of any established church saw a new danger in secularism, i.e., the state is vigorously neutral when it comes to religion, and they interpreted the new situation as "godless atheism."

While giving lip service to church-state separation, they put the issues in terms of preserving traditional morality, reinvigorating the family, and of overcoming secularism, which is seen as having no morality and implied the "removal of government" from our lives. In a sense, this is turning the clock back. Although Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority has come and gone, it has been replaced by other groups emphasizing the need to return to God: Pat Robertson and his Christian Coalition; Gary Bauer and the Family Research Council; James Dobson's Focus on the Family; Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America; Louis Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition; Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum; the National Right to Life Committee; and a host of others. These groups have become more doctrinaire, as shown by the heresy trials and seminary takeovers among the Southern Baptists and the Missouri Synod Lutherans. They are trying to resurrect the Puritan version of God's kingdom in the New World. Theirs is a vision of America that has always existed and in fact only began to be challenged effectively in the last part of this century.

Although they couch much of their campaign in Christian moral terms, i.e. school prayer, the voucher system, attacks on reproductive rights, and what have you, basically their attack is on secularism, which they read as humanism, and on multiculturalism, which they view as un-Christian. The spectrum of Christian America having not only synagogues but mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples, is anathema to their beliefs.

Although the United States is the most religious country in terms of numbers of believers and churchgoers among the major nations of the world (due I think primarily to our continued effort to retain a separation of church and state), the militants will not rest because things have not turned out as they believed they would, with the establishment of a new kingdom of God in the United States. This issue is further complicated because the militant Christians have captured a significant section of the Republican Party , in part because they have an agenda, while the opposition, the majority, is in disarray, because we ourselves have not adjusted to the changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the redefinition of the enemy. The Soviet Union represented godless atheism, state control, lack of freedom, and many other things, some of which had merit, but others were inimical to humanism. Its collapse, however, has given strength to those who saw the world in black-and-white terms, godless atheism versus Christian belief. In the battle between church and state, the secularists have been winning. No wonder the Christian right is fearful and so politicized.

In the long run, I think the Christian right will be defeated, but only if humanists remain vigilant and build new coalitions. I hope that humanists do not become identified with one particular party, as the Christian right has been, since on many issues we humanists disagree. But I think we need to unite to preserve our vision of the United States as expressed by James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and others. In the long run it has been more viable. Theocracy, entrenched as it may be in American thought, is not based on a real understanding of human nature, whether it be Calvin's Geneva, Plymouth's Pilgrims, Massachusetts' Puritans, Mormonism's United Order, or any other number of such attempts including, in my estimation, the secular utopia to which many communists subscribed and which for a time they thought the Soviet Union was on the way to achieving. The initial group in all these cases might well have been believers, but as new generations come along, conditions changed, belief declined, and it became necessary either to maintain it by forced conformity, adopt compromises, or, as has happened in the past, abandon the movement all together, as happened in the Soviet Union.

Humanists at least have reality on their side. . It might seem somewhat outlandish to equate the Religious Right with the founders of the Soviet Union, but their endpoint is very much the same, the utopian kingdom of God or man, and to the believer any means is justified to bring this closer. In the present context of the United States it means a full-scale assault on separation of church and state and on secular humanism. From their viewpoint, we are the enemy.

Now it isn't that the Roman Catholic faith thinks God should not be a large part of the lives of government officials and citizens, they just don't want government interfering in any religous doctrine, practice or any way at all. That poses a danger that has happened all through history. We see in history what happens when government and religion unite. In England Kings used bishops to promote their agendas in the name of religion and priests and bishops were corrupted by Kings. It caused war after war and religious persecutions. The Roman Catholic Church itself got very corrupt because of the marriage between the Church and state at the time. It was looking back at history that made Thomas Jefferson so convinced that there should be a complete separation between the government of the U.S. and the churches. He saw the same thing happening in this newly formed country if that was not clear, so he did everything in his power to promote separation. Which goes way beyond just saying that the U.S. government should not form it's own church or religion. He wanted to protect the worships and beliefs of all religions so that none were in danger of being persecuted either by the government or other religions.

I am quite aware that certain authors of the Religious Right movement in this country have distorted the Danbury Letter written by Jefferson to suit their own agenda:

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/arg1.htm
ARGUMENT ONE: The phrase "separation of church and state" is not found in the Constitution

Absolutely true, and absolutely irrelevant. As noted earlier, separationists take this language from Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he argued that the Constitution created a "wall of separation between church and state." But, as noted above, separationists have never taken the phrase as anything more than a handy (if historically significant) summary of the intent of the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Separationist scholar Leo Pfeffer, for example, notes:


"No magic attaches to a particular verbalization of an underlying concept. The concept at issue here is more accurately expressed in Madison's phrase 'separation between Religion and Government,' or in the popular maxim that 'religion is a private matter.'" (Church, State, and Freedom, pp. 118-119).
Second, accommodationists don't apply this argument consistently. Pfeffer, for example, observes that:


(T)he phrase "Bill of Rights" has become a convenient term to designate the freedoms guaranteed in the first ten
amendments; yet it would be the height of captiousness to argue that the phrase does not appear in the Constitution. Similarly, the right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term "fair trial" is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer to home, who would deny that "religious liberty" is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance which all these terms, including "separation of church and state," have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles (pp. 118).

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/arg2.htm

ARGUMENT TWO: Jefferson's "separation of church and state" letter was hastily written and does not accurately represent Jefferson's view of church and state.

On the contrary, Jefferson saw his letter to the Danbury Baptists as an important opportunity to clarify his policies concerning church and state and, hence, crafted the letter carefully. Indeed, Jefferson was so concerned about the wording of his letter that he sent a working draft to at least two people, Gideon Granger, his Postmaster General, and Levi Lincoln, his Attorney General. According to historian Dumas Malone (Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805, p. 109), Granger wanted nothing in the letter changed. Lincoln, on the other hand, thought it would be prudent to eliminate the part of the letter in which Jefferson emphasized his opposition to proclaiming days of fasting and thanksgiving, on the grounds that this might cost him political support in the eastern states, which had long-established traditions of government proclamations of thanksgiving. Accordingly, Jefferson omitted this portion of the letter.

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/arg3.htm



ARGUMENT THREE: Thomas Jefferson actually said that the wall of separation between church and state was "one directional."

This claim, frequently encountered on the internet and widely circulated by the religious right, serves as an excellent example of the lengths to which accomodationists will go to challenge the plain meaning of Jefferson's words. No one knows where this claim originated, but it was popularized by religious right author and anti-separationist activist David Barton in the first version of his hour-long videotape "America's Godly Heritage" (a second version omits this claim; see Rob Boston, "Sects, Lies, and Videotape," Church and State, April 1993). Additionally, Barton uses the "one-directional" language, without directly attributing it to Jefferson, in his 1989 book, The Myth of Separation, p. 42. Indeed, the claim was so widely accepted in religious right circles that it was repeated by the head of the Colorado branch of the Christian Coalition before the 1992 Colorado state Republican Party convention ("Sects, Lies, and Videotape," Church and State, April 1993).

Barton's claim is that Jefferson makes the following statement about his "wall" metaphor in his letter to the Danbury Baptists:

That wall is a one directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government."
Needless to say, Barton's claim is pure fantasy. Jefferson made no such statement, either in the Danbury Baptist letter or in any of his other writings. No professional accommodationist scholar gives Barton's claim the slightest credence. Still, the story continues to circulate, and has now become so widely disseminated among religious right activists that it has all but assumed the status of a religious "urban legend."

Barton's "one directional" wall story is only one of the many ways that the religious right attempts to discredit Jefferson's staunch separationism.

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/arg12.htm

Jefferson's Danbury letter was written mearly to assure Connecticut Baptists that the Constitution did not permit the establishment of a national denomination.

In recent years some accommodationists have attempted to discount the significance of Jefferson's Danbury letter by arguing that the "wall of separation" metaphor was intended only to assure Baptists that the Constitution would prohibit Congress from establishing Congregationalism as the national religion. On this line the "wall" metaphor is to be read as an endorsement of non-preferentialism, as opposed to a reference to the general absence of federal power over religion.

We don't know who first made this argument, but it was popularized by anti-separation activist David Barton in his 1992 book, The Myth of Separation. On page 41 of Myth he argues as follows:

Although the statesmen and patriots who framed the Constitution had made it clear that no one Christian denomination would become the official denomination, the Danbury Baptists expressed their concern over a rumor that a particular denomination was soon to be recognized as a national denomination. On January 1, 1802, President Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists in a letter. He calmed their fears by using the now infamous phrase to assure than the federal government would not establish any single denomination of Christianity as the national denomination (p. 41).

True to form, Barton's assertion contradicts virtually everything we know about the Danbury letter. First, there is no evidence that the Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson because of a rumor that "a particular denomination was soon to be declared a national denomination." Barton does not evidence this claim, and the argument is implausible on it's face: the First Amendment had been in effect for about a decade, and it was universally understood that Congress had no ability to declare a national religion (see Thomas Curry, The First Freedoms, ch. eight; Leonard Levy, The Establishment Clause, chs. 4-5). It is difficult to believe, in other words, that any group of well informed citizens--let alone Baptists, who were generally knowledgeable on issues of religious freedom--would have taken such a preposterous rumor seriously.

Second, a good deal of Jefferson's correspondence with religious groups during his presidency is extant, and nowhere in this correspondence do we find Jefferson addressing rumors of a national religious establishment. If a national establishment was the context of the Danbury letter, the Danbury Baptists were, so far as we can tell, alone in that concern.

Third, and more important, a copy of the Danbury Baptist's letter to Jefferson survives, and it utterly contradicts Barton's reading. The letter does not mention a national establishment; rather, the letter is concerned with the lack of religious liberty Baptists enjoyed in the state of Connecticut. The Baptist complaint was that the Connecticut state constitution did not prohibit the state from legislating about religious matters. As a consequence, they argued, "...what religious privileges we [Baptists] enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen."

The "degrading acknowledgements" referenced here refers to a system of religious taxation that forced many Connecticut Baptists to support the established Congregationalist church. According to church/state scholar Derek Davis, Connecticut law allowed the Baptists to rout their religious taxes to their own churches, but this involved locating and filling out an exemption certificate, and many Connecticut communities either made it difficult to obtain the certificates, or refused to approve the exemptions once submitted (see, "What Jefferson's Metaphor Really Means," Liberty, Jan/Feb, 1997, p. 13). Beyond this, the Baptists found the law unjust and discriminatory in that it favored Congregationalism over other denominations. According to Davis, the Connecticut Baptists began a petition campaign in 1800 to put pressure on the state legislature to rescind the tax. The letter to Jefferson appears to have been a part of that campaign:

Knowing that an attempt to convince the Federalist majority in Connecticut to remove the state's establishment laws might fail, the Danbury Association thought that they could achieve their goal by siding with the Jeffersonians and eventually driving the Federalists out of power. The Danbury Baptists' letter to Jefferson was, then, not only a gracious statement of appreciation for like-mindedness on a burning issue; it was also a well-planned political move ("What Jefferson's Metaphor Really Means," p. 13).
In the third paragraph of the letter the Baptists observe that Jefferson "is not the national legislator" and that "the national government cannot destroy the laws of each state," further indicating that the concern of the Danbury Baptists was the state's Congregationalist establishment. Their hope, apparently, was that Jefferson might use both his own moral influence as a beloved founder and the bully pulpit of his office to convince the Connecticut legislature to rescind the establishment:

O)ur hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved president, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these states and all the world, till hierarch and tyranny be destroyed from the earth.
Ironically, in his 1996 book, Original Intent, Barton rejects his 1992 interpretation of the Danbury letter. Nowhere in the book does he reference any rumor about a national establishment. Rather, Barton now argues the Baptists first wrote Jefferson to express their concern that the First Amendment might be interpreted to allow Congress to regulate religious expression! This view, over course, is absurd, and we refute it here.

In summary, there is no evidence that the context of the Danbury letter was a rumor of a national establishment. On the contrary, the concern of the Danbury Baptists was religious oppression in the state of Connecticut. Jefferson used the letter as an opportunity to express his own views that the First Amendment created a "wall of separation between church and state." This was no mere assurance that Congress could not establish a national religion. It was a response to the very thesis of the Baptists' letter: that religious rights are by nature inalienable. The Baptists wanted that view to prevail in Connecticut. Jefferson's metaphor assured them that this was already true on the national level, and that the federal government had no right to legislate on religious matters in any way.

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/arg13.htm

Jefferson's Danbury letter was written to address the Danbury Baptists' fears that the First Amendment might be misinterpreted.

In his 1996 book, Original Intent, David Barton advances a remarkable theory about Jefferson's Danbury letter. According to Barton, the Danbury Baptists originally wrote to Jefferson about their "grave concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment," in particular, that the Amendment might allow the federal government to regulate religious expression.

Here is the relevant passage from Barton's book:

...(N)ow having a President who had not only championed the rights of Baptists in Virginia but who also advocated clear limits on the centralization of government powers, the Danbury Baptists wrote Jefferson a letter of praise on November 7, 1801...[quotation from letter omitted]...
However, in that same letter of congratulations, the Baptists also expressed to Jefferson their grave concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment:

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 no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific...[T]herefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State] we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights.

The inclusion of Constitutional protection for the "free exercise of religion" suggested to the Danbury Baptists that the right was government-given (thus alienable) rather than God-given (hence inalienable), and that therefore the government might someday attempt to regulate religious expression. This was a possibility to which they strenuously objected--unless someone's religious practice caused him, as they explained, to "work ill to his neighbor" (pp. 43-44)

As is the case with his 1992 explanation of the Danbury letter, this argument is completely contrary to the facts. The Danbury Baptists were concerned with religious discrimination in the state of Connecticut; their letter to Jefferson does not reference the First Amendment or the federal Constitution in any way. Moreover, Barton knows the letter does not refer to the First Amendment; the ellipses in his quotation from the letter, above, omit exactly those words that would indicate to the reader that the constitution referenced here is the Connecticut state Constitution, and not the federal Constitution. Here is the section of the letter Barton quotes, with the omitted parts restored in italics:

But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and 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: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.

Clearly, the constitution described here is the constitution of the state of Connecticut. Unlike the Connecticut constitution, the federal Constitution was not "ancient," was not adopted at the time of the revolution, didn't allow religion to be "the first object of legislation," did not subject Baptists (or any other denomination) to "degrading acknowledgments" as a condition of receiving religious privileges, and contained procedural safeguards that prevented government from assuming religious powers (the First and Tenth Amendments). Barton omits the italicized words knowing full well that if he included them in his quotation many readers would recognize that something is amiss with his account of the Baptists' letter.

Why does Barton argue that the Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson out of a concern about the potential misinterpretation of the First Amendment? Briefly, the argument serves as a foil for his belief that the First Amendment prohibits only preferential establishments of religion. Barton's argument is that the Danbury Baptists were concerned that, if the national government was allowed to limit religious expression, it would do so preferentially, thereby creating a preferential establishment of religion. Accordingly, Barton reads Jefferson's reply to the letter is nothing more than an endorsement of non-preferentialism:

Thomas Jefferson had no intention of allowing the government to limit, restrict, regulate, or interfere with public religious practices. He believed, only with the other Founders, that the First Amendment had been enacted only to prevent the federal establishment of a national denomination...[omitting a quotation from a letter from Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, which we treat elsewhere].
Jefferson committed himself as President to pursuing what he believed to be the purpose of the First Amendment: not allowing the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, or any other denomination to achieve the "establishment of a particular form of Christianity."

Since this was Jefferson's view, in his short and polite reply to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, he assured them that they need not fear; the free exercise of religion would never be interfered with by the government (p. 45).

Once again, Barton's argument is at variance with the facts. The Baptists' concern was not about free exercise; it was about Connecticut's religious establishment, which taxed Baptists for the maintenance of Congregationalist churches unless they submitted to the "degrading" practice of obtaining exemption certificates which routed their tax money to their own congregations (see Derek Davis, "What Jefferson's Metaphor Really Means," Liberty, January/February, 1997, pp. 12-18). Baptists were free to worship in the state of Connecticut; their concerns were with establishment and its attendent effects. Additionally, Jefferson's reply to the Baptists is not specific to the issue of free exercise. On the contrary, the only mention of free exercise in the Danbury letter is in conjunction with the establishment clause, which together are held to erect the "wall of separation between church and state." Finally, if Barton is correct that Jefferson believed that the effect of the First Amendment is to prohibit government from "limit[ing], restrict[ing], regulat[ing], or interfer[ing] with public religious practices," then the Amendment prohibits all religious laws, not just preferential ones. Barton's evidence, in other words, even if it were true, would not lead to the conclusion he wants to reach.

Barton's 1996 account of the Baptists' letter is simply the latest in his long line of attempts to minimize the significance of Jefferson's "wall of separation" metaphor (his other attempts are examined here and here). It's a sad commentary on the state of accommodationist scholarship that one of the leading spokesmen for that cause is so willing to play fast and loose with the facts. Barton's mistakes are not of the sort that one can ascribe to honest scholarship. They are the product of a mind that is either incapable of seeing the truth, or presenting the truth with integrity.

There's more stayed tuned for Part ll.

Love, Connie





_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130014 - 03/31/03 01:14 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
Part ll:

From all that Thomas Jefferson wrote, and from all his quotes in letters to others, all he said in fact, you can see that Jefferson's "wall of separation" between church and state goes WAY beyond just not allowing the govenment to establish it's own church. Jefferson held to the broad interpretation of the First Amendment that has been the interpretation of Congress and the Supreme Court throughout the history of this country. All of the following are taken from writings and letters of Thomas Jefferson which I obtained from the Library of The University of Virgina web site.



Thomas Jefferson on Separation of Church and State

All quotation taken from Andrew Lipscomb and Albert Bergh, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, in 20 volumes. Additionally, a great collection of Jefferson quotes can be found on the Jefferson pages at the University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States, and a primary architect of the American tradition of separation of church and state. Like many of the founders, Jefferson was a prolific writer and frequently commented on both religion and Constitutional Law. Jefferson authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, one of the most important separationist documents of the eighteenth century.

A good discussion of Jefferson's attitude toward separation and public education can be found in an extract from Leonard Levy's Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side.

Constitution gives no power over religion to the federal government:

Believing 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 (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).
Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle (letter to Robert Rush, 1813).
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in 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 United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority (letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808).
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its 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 and 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 and 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... Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents (letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808).
No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose (Letters to the Methodist Episcopal Church at New London, Connecticut, Feb. 4, 1809).
To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own (Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779).
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the power of the federal government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction of state or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies (Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address).
In justice, too, to our excellent Constitution, it ought to be observed, that it has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. The power, therefore, was wanting, not less than the will, to injure these rights (Letter to the Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pittsburg, Dec. 9, 1808).
On the benefits of religious liberty:

...(O)ur rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. In neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg (Notes on Virginia, 1785.
Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only (Notes on Virginia, 1785.
...(T)o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness (Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1789).
...(P)roscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it (Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1789).
We have solved by fair experiment the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries (Letter to the Virginia Baptists, 1808).
Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that...of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support (Reply to Baptist Address, 1807).
Skepticism toward religious authority:

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man (Letter to J. Moor, 1800).
The clergy...believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion (Letter to Benjamin Rush, 1800).
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes (Letter to von Humboldt, 1813).
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own (Letter to H. Spafford, 1814).
Thomas Jefferson, moral relativist:

Nature has constituted utility to man the standard and test of virtue. Men living in different countries, under different circumstances, different habits and regimens, may have different utilities; the same act, therefore, may be useful and consequently virtuous in one country which is injurious and vicious in another differently circumstanced (Letter to Thomas Law, 1814).
As the circumstances and opinions of different societies vary, so the acts which may do them right or wrong must vary also, for virtue does not consist in the act we do but in the end it is to effect. If it is to effect the happiness of him to whom it is directed, it is virtuous; while in a society under different circumstances and opinions the same act might produce pain and would be vicious. The essence of virtue is in doing good to others, while what is good may be one thing in one society and its contrary in another (Letter to John Adams, 1816).
Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts only in which all religions agree (for all forbid us to steal, murder, plunder, or bear false witness), and that we should not intermeddle with the particular dogmas in which all religions differ, and which are totally unconnected with morality (Letter to J. Fishback, 1809).

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/statute.htm

Jefferson's Bill for Religious Freedom

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JEFFERSON'S DRAFT (1779)



_A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom_



SECTION I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men

depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence

proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind

free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by

making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to

influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil

incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness,

and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion,

who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it

by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to

extend it by its influence on reason alone; that the impious

presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as

ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired

men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their

own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible,

and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established

and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world

and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions

of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and

abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to

support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is

depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions

to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and

whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is

withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which

proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an

additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the

instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependance on

our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or

geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the

public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to

offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or

that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those

privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow

citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the

principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by

bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who

will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these

are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are

those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of

men are not the object of civil government, nor under its

jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his

powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or

propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a

dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty,

because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his

opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments

of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that

it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for

its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts

against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and

will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and

sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the

conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural

weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous

when it is permitted freely to contradict them.



SECT. II. WE the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no

man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,

place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained,

molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise

suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all

men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their

opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise

diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.



SECT. III. AND though we well know that this Assembly, elected

by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no

power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with

powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act

irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare,

and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural

rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to

repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an

infringement of natural right.

More quotes and writings of Jefferson on separation between church and state:

Government Intermeddling in Religion

"I consider the government of the United States 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 United States. 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." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:428

"In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies." --Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural Address, 1805. ME 3:378

"Our Constitution... has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the consciences of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to New London Methodists, 1809. ME 16:332

"I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its 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 and 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 and 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... Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:429

"To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own." --Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. ME 2:302, Papers 2: 546

"It is... proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States 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 less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed?... Civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:428


Religion Intermeddling in Government

"Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science." --Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:281

"Ministers of the Gospel are excluded [from serving as Visitors of the county Elementary Schools] to avoid jealousy from the other sects, were the public education committed to the ministers of a particular one; and with more reason than in the case of their exclusion from the legislative and executive functions." --Thomas Jefferson: Note to Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:419

"No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination." --Thomas Jefferson: Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:425

"I do not know that it is a duty to disturb by missionaries the religion and peace of other countries, who may think themselves bound to extinguish by fire and fagot the heresies to which we give the name of conversions, and quote our own example for it. Were the Pope, or his holy allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression on our peace and faith." --Thomas Jefferson to Michael Megear, 1823. ME 15:434


Establishments of Religion Undermine Rights
"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.

"The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind." --Thomas Jefferson to Moses Robinson, 1801. ME 10:237

"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1810. ME 12:345

"[If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierrepont Edwards, July 1801. (*)

"This doctrine ['that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers'] is the genuine fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors, wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold." --Thomas Jefferson: Report for University of Virginia, 1818.

"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78

"The advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from [the clergy]." --Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305

"The clergy...believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion." --Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173

"Believing... 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, 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." --Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802. ME 16:281

"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose." --Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:127

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." --Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813. ME 14:21

http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/jeffschl.htm

Jefferson, Religion, and the Public Schools.

This extract is taken from Leonard Levy's book, Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side, pp. 8 - 15, footnotes pp. 188 - 189.

Jefferson's consistency in applying the principle of the separation of church and state was also evident in the field of education. It has been contended that he advocated the use of public funds in Virginia for a school of theology for the training of clergymen; that he approved of elaborate arrangements for the students of private theological schools to share the facilities of the University of Virginia; that he recommended that a room in the university be used for worship; and that he did not protest against the use by Virginia of tax monies on behalf of religious education. It has been contended, in other words, that his principle of total separation was not put into practice. (15)
In matters of education, however, Jefferson was a complete secularist, never deviating in any significant degree. In 1778 he submitted, in a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, a comprehensive plan for public education at the primary and secondary levels.(16) Religious instruction was completely absent from the proposed curriculum at a time when it was a prominent feature in schools everywhere else. The omission was deliberate; Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia: "Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history."(17) Religion was also conspicuous by its absence from Jefferson's plan of 1817; his Bill for Establishing a System of Public Education enumerated only secular subjects. In an effort to eliminate possible religious influence in the public schools, Jefferson specified that ministers should not serve as "visitors" or supervisors, and provided that "no religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practised" in violation of the tenets of any sect or denomination.(18) Clearly, Jefferson opposed the use of public funds for the teaching of religion in the public schools.

Jefferson's first proposal on higher education came in 1779. His Bill for the Amending of the Constitution of the College of William and Mary stated that the college consisted of "one school of sacred theology, with two professorships therein, to wit, one for teaching the Hebrew tongue, and expounding the holy scriptures; and the other for explaining the commonplaces of divinity, and controversies with heretics." There were six other professorships divided among a school of philosophy, one of classical languages, and another for teaching Indians reading, writing, and "the catechism and the principles of the Christian religion." Jefferson proposed to abolish both the school of theology with its professorships of religion and the school for teaching Indians. In place of the school for Indians he proposed that a missionary be selected by a newly constituted faculty who would not teach religion but investigate Indian "laws, customs, religions, traditions, and more particularly their languages." Jefferson's missionary was to be an anthropologist charged with reporting his findings to the faculty and preserving his reports in the college library. In place of the school of theology and the professorships of religion, Jefferson proposed simply a professorship "of moral philosophy" and another "of history, civil and ecclesiastical."'(19)

Jefferson's proposed bill failed because of Episcopalian opposition. However, in the same year, 1779, he and Madison as visitors of the college instituted such changes as could be made by executive authority without legislative approval. In 1821 he summarized the changes by writing: "When I was a visitor, in 1779 I got the two professorships of Divinity ... put down, and others of: law and police, of medicine, anatomy, and chemistry, and of modern languages substituted."(20) A comparable statement appeared in his Notes on the State of Virginia where he remarked that the school of divinity was "excluded."(21)

Jefferson was never satisfied with the education offered by the College of William and Mary. Failing to achieve adequate reform of the college, he turned to the establishment of a new state university. He also attempted in 1814 to transform Albemarle Academy, a small private school. He wanted an enlarged institution, offering instruction from the primary grades through college and post-graduate training, that would be supported in part by public funds. At no point in the entire curriculum before the professional level was there any provision for religious education. However, one of the "professional schools" was to be devoted to "Theology and Ecclesiastical History," to which would come the "ecclesiastic" as would the "lawyer to the school of law."(22) Here is an inconsistency, indicating Jefferson's support of the use of tax monies on behalf of religious education, although only at the graduate level. It is not irrelevant to stress, however, that Albemarle was privately established and endowed, though it was to be aided by public funds. More to the point is the fact that never again, after the failure of this proposal, did Jefferson renew it.

In 1818, for instance, his academic plan for the newly authorized state university included ten professorships and thirty-four subjects, none of them relating to religion. This curriculum, which was adopted, was laid out in a report, written by Jefferson as chairman of the commissioners for the University of Virginia, which stated: "In conformity with the principles of our Constitution, which places all sects of religion on an equal footing... we have proposed no professor of divinity ... Proceeding thus far without offence to the Constitution, we have thought it proper at this point to leave every sect to provide, as they think fittest, the means of further instruction in their own peculiar tenets." The report also stated: "It is supposed probable, that a building ... may be called for in time, in which may be rooms for religious worship ... for public examinations, for a library."(23) The very conditional phrasing of this sentence suggests that Jefferson was seeking to fend off an anticipated barrage of criticism against the university as a "godless" institution. In fact he was under constant pressure from church groups to make suitable provision for theological training and religious worship at the university. The "supposed probable" room which might in time be a place for worship was a concession to those, who, as Jefferson reported in a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, used the absence of a professorship of divinity to spread the idea that the university was "not merely of no religion, but against all religion."(24)

Opposition to the secular character of the university resulted in a postponement of instruction, forcing additional concessions to religious interests. In 1822 Jeffer- son, as rector of the university, and the Board of Visitors, among them Madison, proposed in the most reluctant language to accept a suggestion "by some pious individuals... to establish their religious schools on the confines of the University, so as to give their students ready and convenient access and attendance on the scientific lectures of the University." This report noted also that the religious schools would offer places where regular students of the university could worship as each other." The report concluded that 'if the legislature questioned "what here is suggested, the idea will be relinquished on any surmise of disapprobation which they might think proper to express."(25) The legislature did not, however, take the eager hint to scrap the plan which involved no public expense.

Jefferson explained that in order to silence the calumny that the university was atheistic, "In our annual report to the legislature, after stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets, on the confines of the University.'(26) In 1824, shortly before the first classes, Jefferson and the Board of Visitors adopted formal regulations which provided that the "religious sects of this State" might "establish within, or adjacent to, the precincts of the University, schools for instruction in the religion of their own sect." Students of the university were "free, and expected to attend religious worship" at the "establishment" of their choice on condition that they did so in the mornings before classes, which began at 7:30 A.M. The same regulations also provided for the use of one of the university's rooms for worship as well as for other purposes, although the students were enjoined by the regulation of the previous paragraph to attend services in the theological seminaries surrounding the university."(27)

No part of the regular school day was set aside for religious worship. Possibly the proposal that a room belonging to the university be used for worship was intended originally as a makeshift arrangement until the various sects established their own schools of theology. None in fact did so for several decades, and Jefferson did not permit the room belonging to the university to be used for religious purposes. In 1825 he rejected a proposal to hold Sunday services on university property. The Board of Visitors, he wrote, had already turned down an application to permit a sermon to be preached in one of the rooms on the ground that "the buildings of the Univ. belong to the state, that they were erected for the purposes of an Univ., and that the Visitors, to whose care they are commd [commanded or committed] for those purposes, have no right to permit their application to any other." His position was that the legislature had failed to sanction a proposal to use university facilities for worship and that, consequently, an alternative plan had been adopted "superseding the Ist idea of permitting a room in the Rotunda to be used for religious worship."(28) The alternative plan was the one permitting the different sects to establish their own divinity schools, without public aid, independently of the university. The university did not even appoint a chaplain while Jefferson was its rector. "At a time when, in most colleges and universities of the country, ministers were presidents and common members of boards of control, daily chapel attendance was compulsory, courses in religion were required, and professors of theology and doctors of divinity had a prominent place on the faculties, the University of Virginia stood out sharply in contrast with its loyalty to the principle of separation of church and state."(29)

Jefferson cared very deeply about religious liberty. Diligent study and thought had given him a systematic theory, the most advanced of his age, and he put it into practice. His position was clearly defined, publicly stated, and vigorously defended. Although it exposed him to abusive criticism he carried on his fight for separation of church and state, and for the free exercise of religion, throughout his long public career without significant contradictions. In sum his thought on religious liberty was profoundly libertarian, and his actions suited his thought.

"The Constitution to which we are all attached was meant to be republican, and we believe to be republican according to every candid interpretation. Yet we have seen it so interpreted and administered, as to be truly what the French have called, a monarchie masque." --Thomas Jefferson to Robert R. Livingston, 1800. ME 10:177

"I do then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal Constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the States, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended, who therefore became its enemies." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:76

"When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless." --Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803. ME 10:418

"In every event, I would rather construe so narrowly as to oblige the nation to amend, and thus declare what powers they would agree to yield, than too broadly, and indeed, so broadly as to enable the executive and the Senate to do things which the Constitution forbids." --Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1793. ME 1:408

"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:449

Thomas Jefferson would be very much opposed to much of what George W. Bush is doing as president, including this preemptive stike on Iraq:

Cautions Before Entering War

"The lamentable resource of war is not authorized for evils of imagination, but for those actual injuries only which would be more destructive of our well-being than war itself." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1801. ME 10:249

"We wish to avoid the necessity of going to war till our revenue shall be entirely liberated from debt. Then it will suffice for war without creating new debt or taxes." --Thomas Jefferson to W. C. C. Claiborne, 1808. ME 12:187

"Our right may be doubted of mortgaging posterity for the expenses of a war in which they will have a right to say their interests were not concerned." --Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1820.

"Give us peace till our revenues are liberated from debt, and then, if war be necessary, it can be carried on without a new tax or loan, and during peace we may chequer our whole country with canals, roads, etc. This is the object to which all our endeavors should be directed." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Leiper, 1808. ME 12:65

"We have borne patiently a great deal of wrong, on the consideration that if nations go to war for every degree of injury, there would never be peace on earth. But when patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality." --Thomas Jefferson to Mme de Stael, 1807. ME 11:282

"Our duty is... to act upon things as they are, and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be. Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place." --Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806. ME 3:424

"Both reason and the usage of nations required we should give Great Britain an opportunity of disavowing and repairing the insult of their officers. It gives us at the same time an opportunity of getting home our vessels, our property, and our seamen -- the only means of carrying on the kind of war we should attempt." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1807. ME 11:266

"[I] opposed the right of the President to declare anything future on the question, Shall there or shall there not be war?" --Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1793. ME 1:404

"The power of declaring war being with the Legislature, the Executive should do nothing necessarily committing them to decide for war in preference of non-intercourse, which will be preferred by a great many." --Thomas Jefferson to George Clinton, 1807. ME 11:258

"The making reprisal on a nation is a very serious thing. Remonstrance and refusal of satisfaction ought to precede; and when reprisal follows, it is considered as an act of war, and never yet failed to produce it in the case of a nation able to make war; besides, if the case were important enough to require reprisal, and ripe for that step, Congress must be called on to take it; the right of reprisal being expressly lodged with them by the Constitution, and not with the Executive." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on the Capture of a British Vessel, 1793. ME 3:250

Another Jefferson quote concerning religion and state.

"I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its 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 and 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 and 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... Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:429

It is... proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States 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 less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed?... Civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller,

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." --Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814. ME 14:119

"I have been just reading the new constitution of Spain. One of its fundamental bases is expressed in these words: 'The Roman Catholic religion, the only true one, is, and always shall be, that of the Spanish nation. The government protects it by wise and just laws, and prohibits the exercise of any other whatever.' Now I wish this presented to those who question what [a bookseller] may sell or we may buy, with a request to strike out the words, 'Roman Catholic,' and to insert the denomination of their own religion. This would ascertain the code of dogmas which each wishes should domineer over the opinions of all others, and be taken, like the Spanish religion, under the 'protection of wise and just laws.' It would show to what they wish to reduce the liberty for which one generation has sacrificed life and happiness. It would present our boasted freedom of religion as a thing of theory only, and not of practice, as what would be a poor exchange for the theoretic thraldom, but practical freedom of Europe." --Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:128

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson: Bill for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers 2:545

http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1650.htm

"Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry." --Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. ME 2:301, Papers 2:545

Freedom of Religion

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

I am certain that Thomas Jefferson would also be horrified by the marriage of corporations and government as well.

Love, Connie









_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130015 - 03/31/03 01:15 PM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: moonflower]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
Moonflower

The Constitution isn't open to revision by anyone short of the amendment process.

The First Amendment means exactly what it says and nothing more: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The intent of the framers of the Constitution is obvious as was Jefferson's. There were National days of Thanksgiving and Prayer in the years immediately after the ratification and further Jefferson attended church services held in the chambers of the House of Representatives additionally permitting church services by various groups to be held on federal property.

Believe what you wish but as for me, I'll take the original intent of the Founders and let their actions speak for themselves concerning their views on the First Amendment.

Notice that nowhere in the Amendment do the words "separation of church and state" appear.

jwhop

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#130016 - 04/02/03 01:46 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
moonflower Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2026
Loc: South of the Thumb, MI, USA
The original intent was in everything that Jefferson said regarding the First Amendment and everything he did to guard it. The orginal intent is not up for discussion or for someone from the religious right to dicker with for his own agenda.

The facts and the truth are in all of Thomas Jefferson's writings, and all he said regarding the matter.

Regarding your last statement, which is the same thing stated by the religious right, that those words were not said in the Constitution, that was explained in the material I provided and is totally irrelevant. No where in the Constitution does it use the words " free trial" either.

Love, Connie


Edited by moonflower (04/02/03 01:50 AM)
_________________________
We cannot heal another person as healing comes from within. We can stimulate the radiance of others by being a light ourselves. - unknown author

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#130017 - 04/02/03 08:17 AM Re: Another Enacted Law Violating the Constitution [Re: jwhop]
jwhop Offline
Old hand

Registered: 08/28/00
Posts: 1078
Loc: Madeira Beach, FL
moonflower

What is it you don't understand about the framers of the Constitution showing both their own interpretation and intent by the actions they took regarding religion, legislation they enacted and acts they permitted by religious organizations on Federal property?

Let me recap for you.

The activities of the times immediately after the Constitution was ratified show the intent of the framers regarding 1st Amendment issues visa vie religion. They enacted national days of fasting, prayer and thanksgiving.

Jefferson himself, attended church services in the House of Representatives starting in 1802 and continued Sunday after Sunday all through his 2 terms in office. By the way, the House of Representatives chambers are Federal property.

Jefferson himself permitted various religious denominations to use Federal property for their religious service and other functions.

Now you can choose to take the opinion of those who for political reasons wish to change the clear meanings of the Constitution, including the First Amendment over the people who wrote it, acted on it and interpreted it by their own actions if you choose.

I'll take the clear wording of the First Amendment and the actions of those who wrote it and lived in the time it was written as conclusive as to what it means.

If someone wants to change the Constitution, let them do it legally, through the amendment process, as the Constitution requires.

It's incredible to me that someone who says they love the Constitution would choose to see it construed out of existence by judges and groups who wish to put their own political spin on it.

jwhop

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