Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts on "Separation of Church and State" and the Federal ruling of the National Day of Prayer as Unconstitutional.

I assert that the 1952 law signed by President Truman that calls for a national day of prayer is NOT unconstitutional, unlike the federal judge, Judge Barbara Crabb, who has ruled that it is unconstitutional. In other words, I believe this Judge Crabb, and any who believe she is right, is indeed wrong. And here is why I assert such a claim.

The Constitution, in the 1st amendment, states,
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

First we must look at the phrase, "establishment of religion." American judges and people in general, both in the government and in the general populace have misinterpreted and misunderstood this phrase for many years. Anyone familiar with the religious aspects of the American Revolution, particularly the Quebec Act of 1774, and more particularly the "Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts," a society connected with and sanctioned by the Anglican Church, or rather the Church of England, a state sponsored national church/religion, the national church of England, thus making Christianity the national religion of England, will know that what Americans feared the establishment of a national religion and church, not religion itself or religious beliefs in general inside the government. This society, in 1767, tried to pass a piece of legislation through Parliament that would call for the establishment of an Anglican bishop in America, thus furthering the Church of England in America. Although no members of parliament picked up on or supported this piece of legislation produced by the Society, and although it had no connection to the Townshend Revenue Acts that happened to be going through parliament at the same time in 1767, the Americans saw these two bills as intimately connected, and as a means of enslaving the colonies and taking away their liberties. Here is a synopsis of what the Americans were feeling at the time, taken from my notes from my Revolutionary America class, Hist. 371 at BYU.

"- The conspiracy in the Americans view was that the Society For Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts was out to take away their liberties.
- A society of the Anglican Church in England
- Americans saw the Townshend Acts and the movements of this society as tied together and a great conspiracy to take the liberties of Americans away.
- They saw this as a conspiracy to appoint an Anglican Bishop in the American colonies
- John Adams said it wasn’t the bishop that was the problem, but that Parliament had the authority to approve this measure
- Local ministers in New England and the other colonies were hired and fired by their congregation/laymen, both Puritan and Anglican churches
- The Fear was that the appointed Anglican Bishop in American would begin appointing the local ministers.
- There were no members in Parliament that were supporters of this plan, and they knew it would upset the Americans. There wasn’t necessarily the probability that this would happen, but it was the fear that it could happen, or might happen that made the Americans fear this.
- The Americans exaggerated the fears of things that could happen. It’s the imputation of the motive that is most important. It’s what is anticipated that could happen is what makes the Americans and British act toward each other they way they did.

Thus, Americans feared an establishment of a national religion that would take away their liberties of not only practicing their own religion or religious beliefs, but of choosing their own clergymen as well. They also feared that if parliament had or asserted it had the authority to appoint an American Anglican bishop, then who knows what else parliament would try to assert it's authority over in the American colonies? They did not fear religion or religious beliefs in general in the government, but rather feared legislation that would promote a national religion or church, or abridge the freedom of any religion to practice freely in America.

Thus, the phrase, "establishment of religion" meant solely the establishment of a national/state church or religion, the national government promoting one religion or church over any others. Further proof of this comes in the Oxford English Dictionary, (and I use Oxford because the founders of the U.S.A were BRITISH colonists, and asserted themselves prior to Independence as BRITISH subjects or Englishmen; thus they spoke English, and were brought up learning the English language, or the language of England):

The definition of the word "establishment" is,

"esp. The ‘establishing’ by law (a church, religion, form of worship). (See ESTABLISH v. 7.) a. In early use, the settling or ordering in a particular manner, the regulating and upholding of the constitution and ordinances of the church recognized by the state. b. In 17th-18th c. occasionally the granting of legal status to (other religious bodies than that connected with the state). c. Now usually, the conferring on a particular religious body the position of a state church."

Examples of these uses of "establishment in 17th and 18th century literature:

"a. 1640-1 LD. DIGBY Sp. in Rushw. Hist. Coll. (1721) IV. 172 A Man..that made the Establishment by Law the Measure of his Religion. 1706-7 Act 5 Anne c. 5 Securing Ch. Eng., Acts of Parliament now in Force for the Establishment and Preservation of the Church of England.

b. 1731 E. CALAMY Life (1830) I. v. 401 The allowance of the law is of necessity a sufficient establishment [of dissenting worship]. 1792 COKE & MOORE Life Wesley II. iv. (ed. 2) 355 Mr. Wesley's great desire to remain in union with the Church of England..would not allow him to apply for a legal establishment.

c. 1662-3 Addr. of Commons to King 27 Feb. in Cobbett Parl. Hist. (1808) IV. 262 In time, some prevalent sect will..contend for an establishment. 1788 PRIESTLEY Lect. Hist. v. lvii. 449 There is no place where there are more forms of religion openly professed, and without the establishment of any of them than Pennsylvania. 1792 BURKE Let. Sir H. Langrishe Wks. VI. 318 The perpetual establishment of the confession of Faith, and the Presbyterian church government. 1813 MRQ. LANSDOWNE in Ho. Lords 8 Mar., They [Catholic Petitioners of City of Limerick] asked for no establishment of their own Church. a1832 MACKINTOSH Causes Revol. Wks. 1846 II. 227 Toleration..was sometimes sought by Dissenters as a step to~wards establishment. 1886 EARL SELBORNE Def. Ch. Eng. I. iv. 77 All such relations of the Church to the State as those which are summed up in the term ‘Establishment’."

Again, this information is taken from the Oxford English Dictionary.

This is all further proof that the Americans of the 1760s and 1770s, especially those responsible for the writing of the different bills of rights for the different state constitutions under the Articles of Confederation, and even those elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, particularly James Madison, who is known as the "compiler" of the national Bill of Rights, feared an establishment of a national religion or church, not religion or religious beliefs in general within the actual government. They feared legislation that would promote one religion or church over any others or legislation that would curb the freedom of any one religion or all religions to practice freely in America, not legislation that promoted or encouraged (not compelled or forced) general religious practices or beliefs (of all religions/churches) within the nation, such as the 1952 National Day of Prayer law signed by Truman. Therefore, the phrase "separation of church and state" merely means there can be no one state sponsored/national church or religion or state sponsored churches or religions or any other religion/church.

Judge Crabb states, according to this news article linked below, "[I]ts sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function," Crabb wrote in the ruling. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."

This quote contradicts itself in the first place, because in the first sentence, Judge Crabb claims that the purpose of the law "is to ENCOURAGE all citizens to engage in prayer," not compel or force them to do so, but then says in the second sentence that the "government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to the individual conscience." Either way, this law is in no way forcing an individual to pray on this certain day, and either way, the choice is left to the individual, according to the dictates of his or her conscience, to decide to pray or not. There is no compelling people to choose to pray, nor is there any compelling people to make a decision to pray or not. People under this law don't even need to decide to pray or not. They could just go about their daily routine without even thinking about that decision. All it proposes, according to Judge Crabb, is that it encourages Americans to engage in pray to on this certain, but it mentions no punishment or consequence if prayer is not engaged in or even if one doesn't even think about the decision to pray or not.

Prayer takes place in every single major and probably minor world religion. Prayer is a supplication to a deity or deities, asking for help and/or forgiveness, and in thanking said deity or deities. Prayer can be found in Buddhism, Shintoism, Daoism (in the form of ancestor worship or worship of different spirits, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and even the animist religions of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. All these religions involve some worship of or praying to some kind of deity or spiritual force. Thus, this 1952 legislation, according to the accusation made by Judge Crabb, does not promote the prayer of any single religion or multitude of religions or another, nor does it prohibit the practice of prayer by any religion whatsoever. It merely encourages, according to one's individual conscience to engage in prayer according to the religion one chooses to practice. All forms of prayer belonging all forms of religion are welcome and encouraged.

This is solely a move by atheistic individuals and groups to stamp out the promotion or encouragement (not compelling) of religious belief (the belief in a god/gods or some form of deity/deities and the moral and virtuous beliefs and practices that come with them from) not only from the government, but from society as well. This is especially seen in this article from CNN when it states, "The lawsuit against the Obama administration was brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group based in Madison, Wisconsin."
The government has every right to promote or encourage religious belief in general, but not to promote or even legislate establishing one religion or church over an other or prohibit the practice of one religion/church or groups of religions/churches in the United States. The Federal government also cannot compel or force people by means of a law/legislation to practice religious belief, attend a church, or be religious in any sense. Atheism is not a religion, at least not in the traditional legal and social sense that is accepted by all the world. It can be considered a part of the Church of the Devil mentioned in 1st Nephi chapter 13, thus being considered a religion in the LDS sense because while asserting there is no God or gods, they are in form worshiping Satan and his ways and enticings (there are two churches, the Church of God and the Church of the Devil), but according to the definition of a religion accepted by the world in the linguistic sense, Atheism is not a religion. It does not believe in a supreme being or beings or in the worship of and praying to a deity or deities. Atheism believes in no such supreme being/beings or deity/deities. It is the opposite of religion. It asserts there is/are no supreme being/beings or deity/deities. Atheism is anti-religion, in both meanings of the word "anti-". It is the opposite of religion and it opposes religion. Government cannot and does not, and nor does the National Day of Prayer, dictate or compel anyone in America to practice religion or even atheism. That choice is left up to the individual according to his or her conscience. the federal and state government(s) can, however, ENCOURAGE people to practice some kind of religion or ENCOURAGE religious belief and the moral and virtuous living that comes with with it, but it cannot pass legislation that compels people to do so.

Thus, in sum, the 1952 law concerning a National Day of Prayer is not and cannot be deemed unconstitutional, especially based on the claims made by Judge Crabb in this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment