The Separation of Church and State (1 Viewer)

Maxp

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Driving back to south Alabama from Tennessee last Thanksgiving I was passed by a sheriff's deputy whose patrol vehicle had "IN GOD WE TRUST" printed on the side. The labeling was as large, if not larger, than the word "POLICE." This happened in one of the northern counties, not sure which one. It was a surprisingly jarring moment for me. In my mind, this was screaming passed the line of separation of church and state. Then today, I noticed a local Baldwin County sheriff's department vehicle with the same phrase printed much smaller on the back of the patrol vehicle. My personal belief is that all such verbiage on public property should be removed, especially when it's on law enforcement vehicles.
 

samiam5211

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This topic got me curious about the pledge of allegiance, and the "under god" portion. I discovered that it was only added in 1954, for the previous 50+ years that the pledge existed, there was no mention of god.

Also, it seems like something shifted in the last few decades. Because I have seen interviews of JFK being adamant he would adhere to separation of church and state. I think back then a lot of people were leery of electing a catholic and what he'd do once in office. Fast forward to now, and not many express those types of concerns and you see laws being passed in places like Arkansas, that, for example, give doctors an excuse not to perform certain procedures if it conflicted with their religious beliefs

The politicization of religion that really got started in the late 70s into the 80s, has not been good for politics or religion.

They should both be protected from each other.
 

SystemShock

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... meanwhile, in Arkansas, House bill 1701 was sent to the State Senate on a 72-21 vote. If passed, it'd allow intelligent design creationism in a lab coat to be taught in public schools side by side with evolution as a competing "scientific" theory. Of course, being that it involves Jeebus, they want to get'em when they young, kindergarten through 12th grade.

The rapture can't come soon enough™
 

samiam5211

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... meanwhile, in Arkansas, House bill 1701 was sent to the State Senate on a 72-21 vote. If passed, it'd allow intelligent design creationism in a lab coat to be taught in public schools side by side with evolution as a competing "scientific" theory. Of course, being that it involves Jeebus, they want to get'em when they young, kindergarten through 12th grade.

The rapture can't come soon enough™

You would think that the first amendment would require them to teach the creation myths of all religions. Unless “religion” in the constitution really means “whatever flavor of Christianity” you prefer. Muslims and Jews would be included already, but only by coincidence.
 

SystemShock

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You would think that the first amendment would require them to teach the creation myths of all religions. Unless “religion” in the constitution really means “whatever flavor of Christianity” you prefer. Muslims and Jews would be included already, but only by coincidence.

If it were to be taught along Prometheus and Brahma, fine, they can knock themselves out, but they want it taught as a competing "theory" vs the theory of evolution. They want to get religion into biology, physics, history, and chemistry classes as valid science.
 

samiam5211

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If it were to be taught along Prometheus and Brahma, fine, they can knock themselves out, but they want it taught as a competing "theory" vs the theory of evolution. They want to get religion into biology, physics, history, and chemistry classes as valid science.

Maybe they will figure out how to turn water into wine.
 

wardorican

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Of course it is.


But it is a specific one, Christianity. We know this. Anyone who says otherwise is just being dishonest, trying to make this talk about "some god" or "some religion" a sort of abstract pseudo intellectual exercise. "In God we trust", "so help me God", "God bless America"... they all refer to one god, the 3 headed god of Christianity.

And you better believe people will be up in arms if a police car said "Allahu Akbar" or even worse, "there is no God".
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

And Christianity isn't really a religion, it's a really a grouping of various specific religions. I think of it more as Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.

I rarely quote Scalia, but he makes an interesting point here, which ties to the original point I linked.


Justice Scalia, with whom The Chief Justice and Justice Thomas join, and with whom Justice Kennedy joins as to Parts II and III, dissenting.

I would uphold McCreary County and Pulaski County, Kentucky’s (hereinafter Counties) displays of the Ten Commandments. I shall discuss first, why the Court’s oft repeated assertion that the government cannot favor religious practice is false; second, why today’s opinion extends the scope of that falsehood even beyond prior cases; and third, why even on the basis of the Court’s false assumptions the judgment here is wrong.

I

A

On September 11, 2001 I was attending in Rome, Italy an international conference of judges and lawyers, principally from Europe and the United States. That night and the next morning virtually all of the participants watched, in their hotel rooms, the address to the Nation by the President of the United States concerning the murderous attacks upon the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, in which thousands of Americans had been killed. The address ended, as Presidential addresses often do, with the prayer “God bless America.” The next afternoon I was approached by one of the judges from a European country, who, after extending his profound condolences for my country’s loss, sadly observed “How I wish that the Head of State of my country, at a similar time of national tragedy and distress, could conclude his address ‘God bless ______.’ It is of course absolutely forbidden.”

That is one model of the relationship between church and state—a model spread across Europe by the armies of Napoleon, and reflected in the Constitution of France, which begins “France is [a] . . . secular . . . Republic.” France Const., Art. 1, in 7 Constitutions of the Countries of the World, p. 1 (G. Flanz ed. 2000). Religion is to be strictly excluded from the public forum. This is not, and never was, the model adopted by America. George Washington added to the form of Presidential oath prescribed by Art. II, §1, cl. 8, of the Constitution, the concluding words “so help me God.” See Blomquist, The Presidential Oath, the American National Interest and a Call for Presiprudence, 73 UMKC L. Rev. 1, 34 (2004). The Supreme Court under John Marshall opened its sessions with the prayer, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” 1 C. Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History 469 (rev. ed. 1926). The First Congress instituted the practice of beginning its legislative sessions with a prayer. Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U. S. 783, 787 (1983). The same week that Congress submitted the Establishment Clause as part of the Bill of Rights for ratification by the States, it enacted legislation providing for paid chaplains in the House and Senate. Id., at 788. The day after the First Amendment was proposed, the same Congress that had proposed it requested the President to proclaim “ a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed, by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many and signal favours of Almighty God.” See H. R. Jour., 1st Cong., 1st Sess. 123 (1826 ed.); see also Sen. Jour., 1st Sess., 88 (1820 ed.). President Washington offered the first Thanksgiving Proclamation shortly thereafter, devoting November 26, 1789 on behalf of the American people “ ‘to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that is, that was, or that will be,’ ” Van Orden v. Perry, ante, at 7–8 (plurality opinion) (quoting President Washington’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation), thus beginning a tradition of offering gratitude to God that continues today. See Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38, 100–103 (1985) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting).[Footnote 1] The same Congress also reenacted the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787, 1 Stat. 50, Article III of which provided: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” Id., at 52, n. (a). And of course the First Amendment itself accords religion (and no other manner of belief) special constitutional protection.

These actions of our First President and Congress and the Marshall Court were not idiosyncratic; they reflected the beliefs of the period. Those who wrote the Constitution believed that morality was essential to the well-being of society and that encouragement of religion was the best way to foster morality. The “fact that the Founding Fathers believed devotedly that there was a God and that the unalienable rights of man were rooted in Him is clearly evidenced in their writings, from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution itself.” School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U. S. 203, 213 (1963). See Underkuffler-Freund, The Separation of the Religious and the Secular: A Foundational Challenge to First-Amendment Theory, 36 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 837, 896–918 (1995). President Washington opened his Presidency with a prayer, see Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States 1, 2 (1989), and reminded his fellow citizens at the conclusion of it that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Farewell Address (1796), reprinted in 35 Writings of George Washington 229 (J. Fitzpatrick ed. 1940). President John Adams wrote to the Massachusetts Militia, “we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Letter (Oct. 11, 1798), reprinted in 9 Works of John Adams 229 (C. Adams ed. 1971). Thomas Jefferson concluded his second inaugural address by inviting his audience to pray:

“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.” Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, at 18, 22–23.

.....


Besides appealing to the demonstrably false principle that the government cannot favor religion over irreligion, today’s opinion suggests that the posting of the Ten Commandments violates the principle that the government cannot favor one religion over another. See ante, at 19; see also Van Orden, ante, at 11–13 (Stevens, J., dissenting). That is indeed a valid principle where public aid or assistance to religion is concerned, see Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U. S. 639, 652 (2002), or where the free exercise of religion is at issue, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520, 532–533 (1993); id., at 557–558 (Scalia, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but it necessarily applies in a more limited sense to public acknowledgment of the Creator. If religion in the public forum had to be entirely nondenominational, there could be no religion in the public forum at all. One cannot say the word “God,” or “the Almighty,” one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation’s historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists. The Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by George Washington at the instance of the First Congress was scrupulously nondenominational—but it was monotheistic. [Footnote 3] In Marsh v. Chambers, supra, we said that the fact the particular prayers offered in the Nebraska Legislature were “in the Judeo-Christian tradition,” id., at 793, posed no additional problem, because “there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief,” id., at 794–795.

Historical practices thus demonstrate that there is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion. The former is, as Marsh v. Chambers put it, “a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.” Id., at 792. The three most popular religions in the United States, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—which combined account for 97.7% of all believers—are monotheistic. See U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2004–2005, p. 55 (124th ed. 2004) (Table No. 67). All of them, moreover (Islam included), believe that the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and are divine prescriptions for a virtuous life. See 13 Encyclopedia of Religion 9074 (2d ed. 2005); The Qur’an 104 (M. Haleem trans. 2004). Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population—from Christians to Muslims—that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.[Footnote 4]

..................

Finally, I must respond to Justice Stevens’ assertion that I would “marginaliz[e] the belief systems of more than 7 million Americans” who adhere to religions that are not monotheistic. Van Orden, ante, at 13–14, n. 18 (dissenting opinion). Surely that is a gross exaggeration. The beliefs of those citizens are entirely protected by the Free Exercise Clause, and by those aspects of the Establishment Clause that do not relate to government acknowledgment of the Creator. Invocation of God despite their beliefs is permitted not because nonmonotheistic religions cease to be religions recognized by the religion clauses of the First Amendment, but because governmental invocation of God is not an establishment. Justice Stevens fails to recognize that in the context of public acknowledgments of God there are legitimate competing interests: On the one hand, the interest of that minority in not feeling “excluded”; but on the other, the interest of the overwhelming majority of religious believers in being able to give God thanks and supplication as a people, and with respect to our national endeavors. Our national tradition has resolved that conflict in favor of the majority.[Footnote 8] It is not for this Court to change a disposition that accounts, many Americans think, for the phenomenon remarked upon in a quotation attributed to various authors, including Bismarck, but which I prefer to associate with Charles de Gaulle: “God watches over little children, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

.................

This is not to say that a display of the Ten Commandments could never constitute an impermissible endorsement of a particular religious view. The Establishment Clause would prohibit, for example, governmental endorsement of a particular version of the Decalogue as authoritative. Here the display of the Ten Commandments alongside eight secular documents, and the plaque’s explanation for their inclusion, make clear that they were not posted to take sides in a theological dispute.
 

DaveXA

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Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

And Christianity isn't really a religion, it's a really a grouping of various specific religions. I think of it more as Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.

I rarely quote Scalia, but he makes an interesting point here, which ties to the original point I linked.


Nice find. Definitely some good food for thought.
 

SystemShock

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Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
What about them?

And Christianity isn't really a religion, it's a really a grouping of various specific religions. I think of it more as Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.
[/quote]
I can't tell if you are trolling or not. Those would be denominations. They all are Christian.

I rarely quote Scalia, but he makes an interesting point here, which ties to the original point I linked.

Read up until here:
Those who wrote the Constitution believed that morality was essential to the well-being of society and that encouragement of religion was the best way to foster morality.
bullshirt.
 

wardorican

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What about them?



I can't tell if you are trolling or not. Those would be denominations. They all are Christian.



Read up until here:

bullshirt.
All three share the same God, the Abrahamic God, if you will.

If you won't be bothered to read something, then there is no point talking to you.
 
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SystemShock

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All three share the same God, the Abrahamic God, if you will.
Yeah, I know that, but what is the relevance here?

If you won't be bothered to read something, then there is no point talking to you.

Right :rolleyes:

There is no reason to keep reading. That tiresome apologetics argument is the basis for Scalia's rant. And it is bullshirt. And to get to that sentence, I had to go past " these actions of our First President and Congress and the Marshall Court were not idiosyncratic; they reflected the beliefs of the period. " Scalia either conveniently forgot or didn't know the period between the 17th and 18th centuries called The Age of Reason. He also forgot or ignore all of the other statements made by various people who signed the Constitution as law.

It's no different than arguing (like the good ol' folks in Arkansas) that creationism should be thought in science class because Newton was a Christian. It is bullshirt.

And this idea that people need religion for moral guidance, especially any of the Abrahamic religions, is bullshirt as well. We don't need the Bible - a book filled with immoral acts - to guide us morally.
 
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Nebaghead

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I can see how one might see that, but God isn't indicative of a specific religion. Could mean Allah, Christian God, Jewish God, Hindu, or anything else. There's nothing saying what you have to believe about God, up to and including not believing in any god at all.
Not Jewish, we don’t write g-d on anything. It shows disrespect because what it is written on can be destroyed.
 

Heathen

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Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Are you trying to say that the phrasing of “God” on all we’ve been discussing that makes an appearance on flags, money, plates, squad cars etc is representative of anything other than the Christian god?

Because that is very obviously inaccurate.

Even if it were accurate, the idea that one would make a “catch all” phrase for god leaves our people of religions who don’t subscribe to the idea of monotheism.

There really isn’t any way around it.
 

SystemShock

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Are you trying to say that the phrasing of “God” on all we’ve been discussing that makes an appearance on flags, money, plates, squad cars etc is representative of anything other than the Christian god?

Because that is very obviously inaccurate.

It's more than that. At best ignorant, at worst dishonest. How can you not know any reference to God in money, pledge, flags, oaths, police cars, etc. in the U.S. does not refer to the Christian god?
 

wardorican

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Are you trying to say that the phrasing of “God” on all we’ve been discussing that makes an appearance on flags, money, plates, squad cars etc is representative of anything other than the Christian god?

Because that is very obviously inaccurate.

Even if it were accurate, the idea that one would make a “catch all” phrase for god leaves our people of religions who don’t subscribe to the idea of monotheism.

There really isn’t any way around it.
Intent vs possibility. Clearly I know they mean Christian. By "god/God" by itself doesn't have to mean that, even if it often does. But there also isn't a Christian Church. There are various types of Christian churches. And really, my entire opening point was a reference to the concept that the separation of church and state has not denied a 'religious dimension' in the political realm.

And only really in the last 15-20 years has there been a bigger push to shrink that dimension.
 

wardorican

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It's more than that. At best ignorant, at worst dishonest. How can you not know any reference to God in money, pledge, flags, oaths, police cars, etc. in the U.S. does not refer to the Christian god?
So I'm ignorant or a liar?

Glad to see your vast intellect at work with such simple, binary choices.
 

brandon

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But there also isn't a Christian Church.
Imma stop you right there.

The Christian church is made up of all believers. Christian denominations are part of the Christian church.

Fair amount of scripture to support this.


And there are definitely churches out there that call themselves non-denominational, or just “Christian.”
 

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