Church and State

20 01 2006

The Founders’ purpose for the First Amendment is not compatible with the interpretation given it by contemporary courts. The Founders intended only to prevent the establishment of a single national denomination, not to restrain public religious expressions.

The constitutional prohibition against “an establishment of religion” forbade only the federal establishment of a national denomination. Earlier generations long understood this, and thus prevented any misapplied enforcements of those constitutional provisions. Notice, for example, Justice Joseph Story’s clear articulation:

“We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence, than the framers of the Constitution).

Notice the same clear understanding expressed in the 1853-1854 House and Senate Judiciary Committee reports:

“What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed defining what a man must believe; it must have rites and ordinances which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive and penalties for the nonconformist. There never was an established religion without all these.”

All accusations of “separation of church and state” must be weighed against this critera to determine if some denomination has been established by the government.

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