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Posts Tagged ‘Separation of Church and State’

There is a pattern here; in fact, pretty much the same story can be told about energy policy, environmental policy, health care policy, education policy, and so on.  In each case the officials making policy within the Bush administration have a history of highly radical views, which should suggest that the administration itself has radical goals.  But in each case the administration has reassured moderates by pretending otherwise —  by offering rationales for its policy that don’t seem all that radical.  And in each case moderates have followed a strategy of appeasement, trying to meet the administration halfway while downplaying both the radicalism of its policies and the trail of broken promises.  The young Kissinger had it right: people who have been accustomed to stability can’t bring themselves to believe what is happening when faced with a revolutionary power, and are therefore ineffective in opposing it.
I should admit at this point that I am not entirely sure why this is happening — why we are now faced with such a radical challenge to our political and social system.  Rich people did very well in the 1990s; why this hatred of anything that looks remotely like income redistribution?  Corporations have flourished; why this urge to strip away modest environmental regulation?  Churches of all denominations have prospered; why this attack on the separation of church and state?  American power and influence have never been greater; why this drive to destroy our alliances and embark on military adventures?  Nonetheless, it’s increasingly clear that the right wants to do all these things.
  —  Paul Krugman
From his book: “The Great Unraveling
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The nation has offended Providence.  We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgment of God; without any recognition of His mercies to us, as a people, of His government, or even of His existence.  The [Constitutional] Convention, by which it was formed, never asked even once, His direction, or His blessings, upon their labours.  Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God.
  —  Yale Seminary President Timothy Dwight
Address to students, July 23, 1812
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Gordon S. Wood, in his 1992 book, “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” states that, by the 1790’s only about 10% of the American population regularly attended religious services to quote just one statistic.  Not exactly an indication of a wholehearted national commitment to Christianity!  It is a matter of simple historical fact that the United States was not founded as, nor was it ever intended to be, a Christian nation.  That there were strong, long-lasting Christian influences involved in the nation’s earliest history, due to the Puritan settlements and those of other religious persons escaping European persecution, cannot be denied.  But that is a long way from saying that colonial leaders, by the time of the outbreak of the Revolution, were intending to form a nation founded on specifically Christian principles and doctrine.
We Christians do ourselves no favor by bending history to suit our prejudices or to accommodate wishful thinking.  Rather than continue to cling to a “Moral Majority”-style fantasy that says America is a Christian nation that needs to be “taken back” from secular unbelief (we can’t “take back” what we never had), it would be much healthier for us Christians to face reality, holding to what Jesus himself said in the Gospels: that Christians should never be surprised at the hostility with which the gospel would be greeted by the world, because most people would fail to believe in him, thereby strongly implying that, in every age and country, Christianity would always be a minority faith.
  —  Rev. Richard T. Zuelch
Letter to the Editor
Los Angeles Times
14 August 1995
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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.  Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.  No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance.  No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.  Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.  In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between church and State.”
 —  Justice Hugo Black
In the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion of : “Everson v. Board of Education“, 1947
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The business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth, and of every particular man’s goods and person.  And so it ought to be.  For the truth certainly would do well enough if she were once left to shift for herself.
  —  John Locke
From: “Letters Concerning Toleration
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We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion.
Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same.  For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land.  What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice?  We sought liberty – freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves.  This then we sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning.  What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty?  I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts.  These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes.  Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.  While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.  And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women?  It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes.  That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.  A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few – as we have learned to our sorrow.
What then is the spirit of liberty?  I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith.  The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2,000 years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.
And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans creates it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all;  in that spirit of liberty and of America so prosperous, and safe, and contented, we shall have failed to grasp its meaning, and shall have been truant to its promise, except as we strive to make it a signal, a beacon, a standard to which the best hopes of mankind will ever turn; In confidence that you share that belief, I now ask you to raise your hand and repeat with me this pledge:
I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands — One nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  —  Judge Billings Learned Hand
Presented in 1944 during “I AM an American Day
Judge Hand was the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals in New York
[Interestingly, the above “quote” is not the one which originally appears in my journal.  It appears there are several versions of the speech with the last paragraph different in each.  I have here an amalgamation of three – including the one from my journal.
Also, note the difference in the Pledge of Allegiance from what it appears today.  In the 1950’s, under pressure from the Catholics, the Congress “officially” altered the Pledge to include the words “…One nation, under God, Indivisible…”.  This was a reaction to the threat of the Godless Communist.  I sometimes wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought of this change as they almost universally favored a separation of Church and State.  —  KMAB]
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Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
 

—  James Madison

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