The Separation of Church and State Fallacy

The phrase “Separation of Church and State” is a fallacy in the sense that it does not exist in the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There it is folks the First Amendment to the US Constitution and all it states is that the NATIONAL (ie the Feds) government can not establish a NATIONAL, official religion of the entire United States, or prohibit anyone from exercise of any particular religion. Oh and for you atheists out there it includes you too and if we went by it like we are suppose to you wouldn’t like the First Amendment very much. What the First Amendment didn’t do was ban, prevent or abolish a STATE Religion, now before you knee jerk read those capitalized words carefully. Now some of you may not have learned this in school due to the state they are in now, but there were official STATE Religions in the United States well after the Constitution went into effect and they were constitutionally legal.

I know you are going “WHAT!” yep, that is because most people never learned that the Constitution is basically a document that tells you what the Federal Government can and cannot do, not what the States can and can not do. That is left up to each states own state constitutions. Don’t believe me? Well check it out:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids the federal government from enacting any law respecting a religious establishment, and thus forbids either designating an official church for the United States, or interfering with State and local official churches — which were common when the First Amendment was enacted. It did not prevent state governments from establishing official churches. Connecticut continued to do so until it replaced its colonial Charter with the Connecticut Constitution of 1818; Massachusetts retained an establishment of religion in general until 1833. (The Massachusetts system required every man to belong to some church, and pay taxes towards it; while it was formally neutral between denominations, in practice the indifferent would be counted as belonging to the majority denomination, and in some cases religious minorities had trouble being recognized at all.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_religion#United_States_of_America

Now what changed all that?

The 14th Amendment and the Supreme Court stretching it to mean that the Constitution no longer only applied to the National Government but to state governments too, but not always. They do make exceptions for and against different religions based on how “popular” they are in certain circles.

Again you don’t believe me do you?

You do remember that Polygamy was part of the Mormon religion don’t you? You do know that the Supreme Court stated they can interfere with your practice of that?

Although the constitution did not define religion, the Court investigated the history of religious freedom in the United States. In the ruling, the court quoted a letter from Thomas Jefferson in which he stated that there was a distinction between religious belief and action that flowed from religious belief. The former “lies solely between man and his God,” therefore “the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions.” The court argued that if polygamy was allowed, someone might eventually argue that human sacrifice was a necessary part of their religion, and “to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” The Court believed the true spirit of the First Amendment was that Congress could not legislate against opinion, but could legislate against action.

The version of Jefferson’s Danbury letter which the Court used was in fact a mistaken transcription. While the Court quoted Jefferson as writing, “the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions”, Jefferson’s original handwriting reads “the legitimate powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_v._United_States

So we have seen how Freedom from Establishment of a Religion and from prohibiting the free exercise thereof has been changed to Freedom from Establishment of a Religion and from prohibiting the free exercise thereof, except if we don’t like it and it violates our secular laws. That was the slippery slope we started down. Now we got Federal Government employees stopping people from praying on the steps of the Supreme Court, because it might offend someone. Now here is the rub remember back at the beginning I said that the First also applies to Atheists, well here is how it does it. You see that Federal Government Employee that stopped someone from praying, be it a Christian, Jew, Muslim or any other religion has now forced an Atheist practice on them: Not praying. So that employee has violated the First Amendment not just by prohibiting the free exercise thereof of that persons religion, but also by his/her own fiat or their boss or someone up the line has forced that person to practice Atheism in public. You see the First Amendment doesn’t allow Atheist practices or as it’s put non-religion to override religious practice:

Opinion of the court

The court, in an opinion by Justice Souter, held that the funding of a school district designed to coincide with the neighborhood boundaries of a religious group constitutes an unconstitutional aid to religion. Souter concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Education_of_Kiryas_Joel_Village_School_District_v._Grumet

Basically an Atheist is not harmed by the person praying nor by the employee because no one is forcing the Atheist to adopt a religious practice, but by the employee stopping the person from praying he is forcing him to an irreligion practice, you know like how the Jews had to worship in secret during the time just before and during the Spanish Inquisition.

So what does this trip through the history of the First Amendment and the warping of it all mean today. Well lets look at it in the context of the proposed “Ground Zero” Mosque.

If we use the original intent and use of the First Amendment the Federal Government has no say in the matter, but the Local and State Governments of New York City and New York State, could tell the Muslims “nope not allowed” and be constitutional.

If we use the expanded and warped usage via the 14th Amendment and the precedent of the Mormons practicing Polygamy the Federal Government can not meddle with any Muslims belief in Islam but they are allowed to meddle in the way he practices it. So again the Muslims could be told “nope not allowed” and be constitutional.

And finally we got a new can of worms that just might cost Mayor Bloomberg big time. You see there was this little Greek Orthodox church that sat in the shadow of the twin towers that was destroyed on 9/11 and they have been waiting almost 9 years to be allowed to REBUILD their church. Not build a new one, but replace one that was already there. Now if the city give the Muslims the go ahead this quickly but still hasn’t let the Greek Orthodox rebuild, there you got the Mayor favoring one religion over another which is unconstitutional. So he either has to let the Greek Orthodox build theirs or put the brakes on the Muslims.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America accused New York officials on Tuesday of turning their backs on the reconstruction of the only church destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, while the controversial mosque near Ground Zero moves forward.

The sidelined project is the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a tiny, four-story building destroyed in 2001 when one of the World Trade Center towers fell on top of it. Nobody from the church was hurt in the attack, but the congregation has for the past eight years been trying to rebuild its house of worship.

While the mosque project cleared red tape earlier this month, negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the church stalled last year — and will not be revived, according to government officials. Though the particulars of the two projects are completely different and on the surface unrelated, the church and its supporters see a disconnect in the way the proposals have been handled.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/17/ground-zero-church-archdiocese-says-officials-forgot/

So for those crying Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State, you do not have a legal leg to stand on either via the original interpretation of the 1st Amendment nor with the interpretation and precedents set by the establishment clause of the 14th Amendment. By not letting them build in that location is not meddling in their beliefs as the Supreme Court ruled but effecting their practice of those beliefs which they are allowed to do. Also you don’t have a moral leg to stand on either, not while that little Greek Orthodox Church and its congregation have had to jump through hurdles for 8 years just to get slapped in the face, while the Muslims get a fast track.

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