This article was inspired by and draws from an article by M. Stanton Evans in the November 1, 2010 edition of Human Events, page 12.
Progressives have a very disturbing habit of viewing America the “way it ought to be” (they think). This means they must take the traditions, values, history of America and force them into the progressive world view. Nowhere is this more in evidence than the progressive misuse of the 1st Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
That is all the Constitution has to say about religion, period. This simple clause does have a significant history. Freedom of conscience and religious practice was a primary motivator for the Pilgrams so it is not surprising that the Founders spent considerable effort on the subject.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights is the model James Madison used when drafting the 1st Amendment. Article XVI states:
“…all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; … “
Add to the evidence Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address:
“In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. …” (emphasis added)
Fast forward past the ratification of the 14th Amendment which included the sentence:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” (emphasis added)
to 1947 and Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township:
“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. …” (emphasis added)
A decision that (a) ignores the obvious fact allowing a governmental entity to deny the free exercise of religion does abridge the “privileges … of citizens …” and (b) puts the 14th Amendment in direct contradiction with the 10th Amendment.
But, there was still enough of the religious tradition left to allow inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and the daily scripture readings in public schools.
After 25 years of similar Supreme Court decisions, the remaining Christians in Congress passed the 1993 Restoration of Religion Act. This activated the atheist’s “automatic law suit” button.
In a 1997 decision, Justice Black wrote: “No law means no law” thus rebuilding from the mists of legend a “wall of separation” constructed solely from the bricks of “Stare decisis et non quieta movere” meaning in essensence: “We learn from our mistakes so perfectly we must repeat them evey time.”
Which brings us to the 2010 Deleware senate debate between Christine O’Donnell and the Democrat. Challanged to cite the Constitional basis for “the wall,” the Democrat foundered. O’Donnell stated, correctly, there is none, evoking snickers from the law student audience.
Such ignorence is found in lawyers and politicians. It is up to us to take up the arms of knowledge and truth and be prepared to push back against the coming night at every opportunity. It is up to us to protect our country. For, if we won’t, who will?
Visit the armory:
“Constituting America” is a free study program based on the Founding Documents. For joining “Insider Extreme” Glenn Beck University lectures on demand from scholors such as David Barton are available. Then continue to arm and equip. It’s two years until the next major battle, but there will be many skirmishes along the way.