Constitutional Clash; Religious Liberty Against Church/State Separation.

Advocates of the Religious Liberty Restoration Amendments want the Free Exercise (of religion) Clause to be ranked higher than the Establishment Clause.  The Establishment Clause does not permit government to pass any law  establishing a religion.

Religious liberty advocates deny the clash.  They say the government would step in and balance the church/state separation with religious liberty whenever necessary.

Even if they sincerely believe this, it is quite naive.   It is very difficult for either the government or individuals to get into court to address a grievance.

Courts have not grown in size with our population or standard of living.  They expend considerable effort to keep people out of court simply because they do not have the capacity to hear but a fraction of the cases requested of them.

In addition, the Liberty Amendment concept places religious concerns above non religious concerns.  Someone refused a prescription by a religious pharmacist might be inconvenienced or burdened financially by being required to go elsewhere to get services.  The nonreligious customer would be trumped by the religious pharmacist.  Their rights would not be balanced.

I wonder if atheists could go to court and successfully argue, “Our faith is viloated with  ‘under God’ in the pledge.  We demand the pledge be recited twice, once with it and once without it?”

A group that includes liberal members of several religions said, “We support the separation of church and state and believe public policy should not impose or privilege any religious viewpoint.”  Amen.

http://www.thenation.com/article/168533/whos-afraid-secular-government

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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15 Responses to Constitutional Clash; Religious Liberty Against Church/State Separation.

  1. Michael Ross says:

    The First Congress, which approved the religious establishment clause of the first ammendment, also appointed a Protestant chaplain.

    ” By our form of government, The Christian religion is the ESTABLISHED religion”
    ~Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice, apponted by President George Washington 1799

    • entech says:

      Amazing that a country should fight so long for liberty. Fight to shake of the chains of King George who declared a God given right to rule and had an established Christian church to prove it.

      Amazing that such a country should begin throwing it away so quickly by adopting an established religion.

    • Stan says:

      Amazing that a country should fight so long for liberty. Fight to shake of the chains of King George who tried to force everybody into the Church HE established as a secular power and declared HIMSELF as the head of the church. Mainly so anyone could live by the religion of their choice.

      Amazing that such a country should begin throwing it away so quickly by adopting an laws which would restrict those rights.

      Entech. The north American continent was first settled by people who were being persecuted for theire faith. When freedom was finally established the intelligent founders of this country decided to make sure thast there was not a state established religion such as Norway has. There the ministers are state employees and don’t even have to really be Christian to have the job and the church is supported by taxes.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Stan 6:32 “The north American continent was first settled by people who were being persuted for their faith.”

        I read that sentence twice in disbelief. I recall you saying you talk to faculty at St. Cloud State University. Please go to the anthropology department and check to see who “settled” the North American continent first, native peoples or Europeans.

    • entech says:

      Not quite right. It was actually Henry VIII that started that business. Just a local leader instead of a foreign one – easier to get your own way. You want to say that an established state church equates to a secular power – check a couple of definitions. Forcing people into the church of the monarch was a favourite pastime Queen Mary for instance did her best to persecute the Church of England out of existence in retaliation for Church of England monarchs trying to fore the Roman Catholic church out of existence, bit like a seesaw until a brief period when Cromwell hated them both equally. Not quite sure of the intention of the last sentence para. 1 – certainly when his predecessor William of Orange was invited back in the restoration a constitutional monarchy and religious freedom were part of it. But it was not in any way religious equality, and did not prevent persecution in the form of exclusion from any position of power.

      Para 2. ?

      America was certainly first settled by people fleeing persecution for the faith. Unfortunately they soon carried on the tradition with Quakers being hanged (a practise incidentally stopped by the previously mention King George) and the famous Danby letter, the main aim of which was to prevent a minor religious group being persecuted by a major religious group. According to Mr. Ross;
      ” By our form of government, The Christian religion is the ESTABLISHED religion”
      ~Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice, appointed by President George Washington 1799

      Perhaps, the intention of your intelligent founders was to ensure that no particular “Denomination” had a controlling power. This is a very intelligent move because at different times when any denomination had power it used it mercilessly. Catholic mostly, but only because they had the longest period of dominance, from about 1520 all through Britain and Europe there were wars between all denominations for influence and dominance.
      Norway is interesting, relatively peaceful move from Catholic to protestant to secular over the last thousand years (disestablishment was implemented this year)

      I am perfectly happy for anyone with religious ideas to be permitted to form an organisation and for the state to be prevented from interfering with any legal activities that they carry out. Equally no religious organisation should have any influence on matters of state.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 4:39 That’s not the only strange thing Supreme Court Justices have said. Remember, they confirmed the inferiority of black people, among other things. The Continental Congress spent the entire summer of 1787 hashing out what the country was to be about, writing its Constitution. Some minutes were kept. Hundreds of letters describing what went on survive to this day. At no time during the entire summer was the notion that the country would be a “Christian Nation” every even mentioned. The only time religion came up was when Benjamin Franklin tried to pass a motion to start each session with a prayer. That was voted down.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    God’s Law resists tyranny. The Apostale James called it “The perfect Law of Liberty” (James 1:25)
    http://www.allanstime.com/Government/Perfect_Law_of_Liberty.htm

    For decades before the rise of Hitler, Christians were subjected to arguments like the following from pastors and theologians based on a private-public, two-kingdom theory:
    “The Gospel has absolutely nothing to do with outward existence but only with eternal life, not with external orders and institutions which could come in conflict with the secular orders but only with the heart and its relationship with God.”
    “The Gospel frees us from this world, frees us from all questions of this world, frees us inwardly, also from the questions of public life, also from the social question. Christianity has no answer to these questions.”
    Once the Christian understands the moral significance of the state, Wilhelm Hermann declared in 1913, “he will consider obedience to the government to be the highest vocation within the state. For the authority of the state on the whole, resting as it does upon authority of the government, is more important than the elimination of any shortcomings which it might have. . . . For the person who is inwardly free, it is more important [that] the state preserve its historical continuity than that he obtain justice for himself.”

    While many Germans might have been opposed to Nazi policies at a personal level, they had been conditioned to believe — because they were Christians living in two kingdoms operating with two sets of standards — that they could not do anything about these rapidly implemented policies at a political level.

    The day may come when the State starts attacking you and me. While our churches might speak out against the action of the State, they might not intervene to save us.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 3:36 “While our churches might speak out against the action of the State, they might not intervene to save us.”

      If history is any guide, especially the “dark ages” of the inquistions and the desire by so many contemporary Christians, Muslims and whatever, to combine government and religion, the church will not “intervene to save us” from the government because it will be the government.

      • Michael Ross says:

        You are talking about a biblically illiterate age. Only kings queens, and clergy had Bibles as they were copied by hand and extremely expensive. The people were told what the Bible said by the Roman state church. What the masses were told kept the people in bondage. In the 15th century offset printing was developed and Bible was the first book off the press and was then mass produced. It got Bibles in the hands of ordinary people and they discovered they had been lied to by their overlords in church and state. This led to the founding of the first biblically literate society, America. While certainly not a utopia, the new-found knowledge in God’s word has produced the most personal freedom, material abundance, and safety and security in our own borders for the common man the world had ever seen.

        The Centennial (1876) hymn writer penned the words of what in 1892 was adopted as our national hymn, ‘God of Our Fathers wrote’: “Thy Word our Law, Thy path our chosen way”

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfc4KBO7R4c
        (Sorry if this being by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir offends some evangelicals. I know their theology sucks but their choir is great)

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Michael 4:12 “the new-found knowledge in God’s word has produced the most personal freedom, material abundance and safety and security in our own borders for the common man the world has ever seen.”

          Certainly the last half of that sentence is a reasonable observation. That all of it can be attributed to the god lacks documentation. I think it could argued just as successfully that the U. S. has been successful exclusively because it passed on the opportunity it had to be a Christian nation”.
          So much of the rest of the world has floundered because of religious governments.

          As to little tidbites folks toss out, there is an offical hymn, a Supreme Court judge said we are a Christian nation, some official wrote it to someone else in a letter (there are lots of these), they said stuff in speeches, etc., there is one fact that remains unaltered. The founding fathers could have included the phrase “Christian nation” in the Constitution. It seems like it would have been ratified if they did that. Also, on the basis of how they campaigned for ratification, bringing up god in their campaign speeches, it seems like they knew they could have included the “Christian nation” thing and it would have passed.

          But, they went another direction. It’s not there. That trumps all the other extraneous tidbits people toss out there

          • Michael Ross says:

            I believe I delt with this topic in a 2008 article published by the Forum.

            https://secure.forumcomm.com/?publisher_ID=1&article_id=199063

            I don’t really believe in the Constitution for the very issues you mentioned. I believe we should envoke the name of Christ in our official documents. He gave His name and we are to identify with that Name, the Name that is above all names. After all He identifies with us. His favorite name for Himself is The Son of Man. Our Constitution should begin by naming Christ as Lord and His Word, the Holy Scriptures, the final authority in all the affairs of men. In that it does not do this, I believe our Constitution is fatally flawed.

  3. charles says:

    “Someone refused a prescription by a religious pharmacist might be inconvenienced or burdened financially by being required to go elsewhere to get services.”

    A Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment would have no bearing on this example. The fact that you keep bringing it up (in the other posts about Measure 3) raises the question of whether you really understand Religious Liberty Restoration Amendments.

    • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

      From what I read the Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment is the exact same as Measure 3 was, if this is true. Then you are wrong saying it will have no bearing on this example. It WILL have bearing. Why should religious beliefs be held above governmental law?

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