Get d'Clu

Get a clue & wake up! The best way to lead a nation astray of its values is to keep it ignorant of its history.

FOX: The Unfriendly Skies for God

Barack Obama has taken the Left’s anti-God campaign to a whole new level.   Bill O’Reilly reported that the Pentagon has now, for the first time, decided to ban a forty-year plus tradition – the annual Airforce fly-over for Idaho’s God and Country Festival!  The reason: the fly-over would appear to endorse religion, which would violate the separation of church and state.

This radical interpretation of the First Amendment’s establishment-of-religion clause puts the Obama administration squarely in the camp of those on the Left who want to ban any display of  religion in the public square.   Now the skies have become out-of-bounds for the military to honor a patriotic tradition that happens to mention God in its title.  Yet nothing is being done, by contrast, to prevent Islamic indoctrination in our public school textbooks.

O’Reilly also mentioned that when Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University , his minions made sure that the cross appearing behind him was covered up.  What’s next?  Doing away with Christmas as a national holiday?  Dropping any reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance or on our coins?

In his visit with Pope Benedict today, is Obama going to have to first issue a disclaimer of any intent to endorse religion or, better yet, chastise the Pope for daring to criticize Islam a few years ago?

The meaning, structure and history of the constitutional text of the establishment clause belie this Norman Lear school of absolutist interpretation.  The words “establish” or “establishment” are used several times in the Constitution, in the context of instituting or creating a body, enacting a law or making an appointment.   This usage conformed to the common understanding of those terms at the time of its drafting.  The drafters expressly rejected alternative language that would have omitted the word “establishment” and said simply that “Congress shall make no laws touching religion”. 

Indeed, it was reported that during discussions in the House of Representatives, one Mr. Huntington was particularly concerned that the Amendment be drafted in such a way so as “to secure the rights of conscience, and the free exercise of religion, but not to patronize those who professed no religion at all.” It was reported that James Madison assured him on this point and that the Amendment’s intent was only to address the people’s fear that “one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion, to which they would compel others to conform.  He thought if the word ‘National’ was introduced, it would point the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent”.   Ultimately, it was decided that the intent was clear enough without adding this word. (Congressional Debates: Religious Amendments, 1789).

That is too bad, in retrospect, because we have been in a judicial muddle over the meaning of this provision for the last fifty years and the Obama administration has now turned the provision inside-out completely.  Instead, the secularist progressives’ religion is made up of radical political causes that hurt everyday Americans — like radical environmentalism (whose actual goal is the demolition of technological / industrial civilization) and “social justice” (which has evolved into a code term for “communism”).

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July 12, 2009 - Posted by | 1st Amendment, Agenda of the Left, Islam, Political Correctness | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. James Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (1817). Mindful that old habits die hard and that tendencies of citizens and politicians could and sometimes did entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he questioned whether these were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom.” His response: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.” What then, Madison further inquired, should be made of these various actions already taken in the nation’s then “short history” inconsistent with the Constitution? Ever practical, he answered not with a demand these actions be undone, but rather with an explanation to circumscribe their ill effect: “Rather than let this step beyond the landmarks of power have the effect of a legitimate precedent, it will be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex [i.e., the law does not concern itself with trifles]: or to class it cum maculis quas aut incuria fudit, aut humana parum cavit natura [i.e., faults proceeding either from negligence or from the imperfection of our nature].”

    Apart from Madison’s commentary, the legislative history of the First Amendment belies the narrow scope you would give it. The first Congress debated and rejected just such a narrow provision (actually several) and ultimately chose the more broadly phrased prohibition now found in the Amendment. As reflected in his Detached Memoranda, Madison certainly did not read the Amendment as you suggest. In keeping with the Amendment’s terms, the courts have wisely interpreted it to restrict the government from taking steps that could establish religion de facto as well as de jure. Were the Amendment interpreted merely to preclude Congress from enacting a statute formally establishing a national church, the intent of the Amendment could easily be circumvented by Congress and/or the Executive doing all sorts of things to promote this or that religion–stopping just short of formally establishing a church.

    The First Amendment thus embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion.

    Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to transform our secular government into some form of religion-government partnership should be resisted by every patriot.

    Comment by Doug Indeap | July 13, 2009 | Reply


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