Protect church-state separation' during papal visit, group urges

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has warned officials in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia to “respect separation of church and state” during the …


If you asked all 300,000,000+ in the U.S. to define “separation of church and state,” you would undoubtedly get 300,000,000+ different answers … if you got that many at all.

The metaphor of a ‘wall of separation’ is bad history and worse law. It has made a positive chaos out of court rulings. It is an extra-constitutional construct that should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. – William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

…The ACLU makes repeated reference to ‘the separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. … state recognition of religion that falls short of endorsement is constitutionally permissible. – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, ACLU of Kentucky vs. Mercer County, KY

And if you were incredibly lucky, one of those answers might be accurate. :wink:

Like maybe it isn’t in our Constitution at all but in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote…

God bless!

Yes, that’s what extra-constitutional means [see post #2]. :thumbsup:

Everyone knows if you tell a lie often enough, most people will eventually believe it’s the truth. :banghead:

Especially if they are already pre-disposed to believe it.

I may show video of his. Is it in my public school classroom. And I’m not in communion with him.


Just because something isn’t constitutional does not mean that it is not something that we should uphold. Also because our understanding of what this means has changed since Thomas Jefferson first wrote about it does not mean that is abandoned. It is essential to protect against one form of majority faction. (ellipsis)

OK. I’ll bite. Tell us what Jefferson meant, and how it is different from today’s understanding.

It is essential to protect against one form of majority faction.

Why is the default position of the majority always wrong?

Which of the previously mentioned 300000000 different views would you like me to compare it to. You can read the largest list I could find of his “thoughts” on the subject.

Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).
Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle (letter to Robert Rush, 1813).
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority (letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808).
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises and the objects proper for them according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the Constitution has deposited it… Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents (letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808).
No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose (Letters to the Methodist Episcopal Church at New London, Connecticut, Feb. 4, 1809).

To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own (Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779).
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the power of the federal government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction of state or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies (Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address).
In justice, too, to our excellent Constitution, it ought to be observed, that it has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. The power, therefore, was wanting, not less than the will, to injure these rights (Letter to the Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pittsburg, Dec. 9, 1808).
Our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. In neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg (Notes on Virginia, 1785.)
Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only (Notes on Virginia, 1785.)
Proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it (Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1789).
We have solved by fair experiment the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries (Letter to the Virginia Baptists, 1808).
Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that…of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support (Reply to Baptist Address, 1807).

Why is the default position of the majority always wrong?

This is not what majority faction is.

Nice try, but you are the one who made the comment


So I repeat, tell us what Jefferson meant, and how it is different from today’s understanding of what he meant. You should then explain why we should abide by today’s “understanding” instead of the previous. After all, the “understanding” captured by the First Amendment then was debated and ratified, not the “current” one. When you are done with that, you might as well explain why either understanding should be used to interpret law, since neither is in the constitution.

This is not what majority faction is.

I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

faction, n. 1. a group or clique within a larger group, party, government, organization, or the like: [e.g.,] a faction in favor of big business.

You obviously have no clue what I meant when I used “majority faction” (read federalist papers for reference). I said separation of church and state is an essential protection against majority faction. I gave you all that Thomas Jefferson had written on the subject. Read them and figure out what you think he meant. If there are 3 million different understandings of what this is it would imply that at least 2,999,999 of these views have changed. Asking how an interpretation of what someone said has changed implies that people even know what he said on the subject. I become confused when you ask about a unified understanding 3 million different views. The constitution is not a static document nor is our understanding of any of it’s propositions. It is for the people to discuss the merit of the original intent verses the current consensus, if such a thing exists, and wether they are different or not. We do not only use the constitution to interpret law nor could we only use the constitution to interpret law.The constitution is not theópneustos nor is our understanding of the document infallible.

This is all besides the point sense we already agree, I assume, that this idea is not constitutional. I think the underlying contention here is that you believe there are an exorbitant amount of thoughts of this subject. Where as I believe there to be probably less than 5 main thoughts on this subject. When I used “our understanding” I meant the current compilation of understandings save for the one that concurs with the original, if such a thing exists and if we could even know that it does. If you have primary sources I will look them up

If you do not comply with my title… I will not feed trolls. Have fun though.

You make a statement, and I’m supposed to back it up, or guess what you think Jefferson meant? Sorry, I’m not doing your work for you.

They are partially right.

The pope is a foreign ruler, and if he is here for diplomatic purposes, it’s the governments job to pay for his protection, and diplomatic services etc. His diplomatic activities should be covered by public money.

But the pope is also a religious leader. And not a penny of public money should be going to any religious activity the pope is planning to do while he’s here.

You can be in charge of making sure that doesn’t happen.

I would prefer to leave that responsibility up to the people who have that responsibility.

Self-government means self-government.

Not in keeping with the way we treat foreign leaders. The fact that he is also a religious leader also doesn’t matter. He is incapable of establishing a state church in these United States. Public money can and should be used, for security, etc., and for treating him with the respect deserved by both of his offices, the leader of a foreign state, and the leader of a faith communion of which many Americans are members.


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