AU, ACLU: Promotion of Religion is not Legislators’ Job

11 06 2008

Americans United for Elimination of Church and Religion Separation of Church and State and the ACLU filed a brief (pdf) on Monday in a federal appeals court in Texas telling the court, “promotion of religion is not legislators’ job.” The brief is in reference to Texas’ “moment-of-silence” statute. The amendment added “pray” to the statute’s list of activities for students during the moment of silence. Here is Barry Lynn’s statement on the brief:

“Students were already allowed to pray, meditate, or reflect under the statute before it was amended,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “The addition of the word ‘pray’ where it wasn’t needed clearly shows that legislators intended to promote religion, and that’s not their job.”

While judges in the last 61 years might feel a similar sentiment, that is not the case when looking at the context of the founding era. Article III of the Northwest Ordinance (a federal law which legal texts consider
as one of the four foundational, or “organic” laws) is the only section to address either religion or public education, and in it, the Founders couple them, declaring:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

Sounds like promotion of religion is more than just the legislators’ job…it’s their duty. But Americans United and the ACLU do not look at context. They prefer to pluck a few quotes from two Founders (Jefferson and Madison) out of context and twist them to fit the mold of their agenda.

But judicial precedent substantiates the reasoning that religion and government go hand-in-hand. In Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), though many legal controversies marked this case, on the issue of Christian teachings in this government-run school, all parties had agreed: the plaintiff’s lawyers said education without Christianity was “repugnant;” the city’s lawyers declared it “obnoxious”; and the Supreme Court said that it could not be permitted—moral principles in schools must be taught from the Bible.

The context of the case demonstrates the mind set of the Founders, especially in regards to education. Christianity was instrumental in the everyday lives of the Founders and the country at the time.

Still not satisfied? Here are some quotes of Founders on education:

Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, helped found five colleges, and was the first founder to propose free public schools. In his publication entitled A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a Schoolbook, he wrote the following: “Before I state my arguments in favor of teaching children to read by means of the Bible, I shall assume the following propositions: First, that Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obeys its precepts, they will be wise and happy; Second, that a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way; Finally, that the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.

Thomas Jefferson is often cited as a strict separationist who insisted on religion and government being kept apart. During George Washington’s term as president, Jefferson was president of the District of Columbia school board. As such, he made the Bible one of the primary reading texts for the District of Columbia public schools. Why? In his own words, Jefferson noted, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens.” Jefferson also used to be remembered for saying, “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis–a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Gouverneur Morris was a founder whose name is less familiar to us than that of other founders, but who was the most active member of the Constitutional Convention, speaking 173 times on the floor of the Convention. In fact, it is his penmanship which graced the original draft of the Constitution. How did this founder feel about the Bible and public education? Gouverneur Morris stated, “Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore, education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.”

Noah Webster was a soldier during the American Revolution, spent nine terms in the Connecticut legislature, three terms in the Massachusetts legislature, and four terms as a judge. Webster was very prolific as an educational textbook writer and as an educator. He was also outspoken about the importance of Christianity to education and government. In the preface to his famous dictionary, Webster stated, “The Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed …” Webster was so convinced of this truth that he even included Bible verses in textbooks he wrote, including his Webster’s Blue-back Speller, which was the standard spelling textbook in America until the 1930s.

Extracting a few quotes from Jefferson, Madison, or Paine is hardly proof that the majority of Founders felt religion and government should be separate. This is ignorance at best, intellectual dishonesty at worst.

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11 responses

11 06 2008
Bad

You still don’t seem to provide any justification for why students would need legislators to help them do something they are already perfectly capable of doing on their own, or what the legitimate purpose of any such specific religious endorsement or instruction is. Every power and authority the government has is taken from the people. Why exactly do the people need to cede their authority over their own religious devotions and observances to the government?

And why are so many conservatives fans of big government when it comes to telling them when and how to pray?

11 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

==…[S]aid the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State…”…legislators intended to promote religion, and that’s not their job.”==

Like, after Jefferson wrote THAT letter to the Baptists, a week later, he led prayer in the halls of Congress? THAT wasn’t his job, either???

America isn’t a Christian nation? That’s not the evidence presented in these:

http://www.lightsource.com/ministry/pathway_to_victory/20070624/
http://www.lightsource.com/ministry/pathway_to_victory/20070701/

11 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

==You [TR] still don’t seem to provide any justification for why students would need legislators to help them do something they are already perfectly capable of doing on their own…==

Cuz students, for example, need the official endorsement and reminder by the legislative members of the Right to have the opportunity to worship on public property. Secularists wanna deny them that Right, and, so, such enablement and empowerment encourages the students to do what they are capable of doing.

==…or what the legitimate purpose of any such specific religious endorsement or instruction is.==

There is no specific religion, nor religious obligation, endorsed, nor promoted. The legisation simply encourages those who feel imposed upon by secularists and pagans and unbelievers not to pray, and it says, “Never mind them! Go ahead andpray, if you want.”

Now, you don’t have any problem with Muslims spreading out their prayer rug five times a day on public property and carrying on with theyr prayers, do you.

==Every power and authority the government has is taken from the people. ==

Including Christians.

==Why exactly do the people need to cede their authority over their own religious devotions and observances to the government?==

They aren’t.

Just as Libtards/Libzis go shopping for Libtard judges to override and overrule votes of the People, we go to the legislatures to pass laws to protect us from the pressures and promotions of secularist religious impositions on us. It works both ways, huh.

==And why are so many conservatives fans of big government when it comes to telling them when and how to pray?==

Government isn’t telling anybody how to pray, nor when, just as you say government shouldn’t tell anybody that they shouldn’t be able to view pornography. If you don’t wanna pray, don’t. If you see somebody praying, turn your back — change your channel, in effect — and go about your own bidness. It’s as easy as your telling us changing the channels is.

11 06 2008
Bad

Secularists wanna deny them that Right, and, so, such enablement and empowerment encourages the students to do what they are capable of doing.

No we don’t. We really don’t. While there are still isolated cases of bureaucrats going overboard and restricting private expression, secularists generally denounce these quicker and louder than their enemies.

The people pushing the lie that prayer is “banned” in public schools are primarily people on the right-wing, pro-religious government side of things.

The legisation simply encourages those who feel imposed upon by secularists and pagans and unbelievers not to pray, and it says, “Never mind them! Go ahead andpray, if you want.”

The problem is that the people pushing the myth and pushing the “solution” are the exact same group of cynical exploiters: the religious right.

Now, you don’t have any problem with Muslims spreading out their prayer rug five times a day on public property and carrying on with theyr prayers, do you.

We don’t have any problem with private individuals expressing their religious opinions in public. Or even, in some cases, making reasonable accommodations for people’s religious needs. In fact, we’d defend these rights to the death.

Government isn’t telling anybody how to pray, nor when,

Of course they are: that’s exactly what these sorts of laws and declarations entail: government pretending that it’s the business of politicians when and how and in what way to pray.

12 06 2008
It’s a theory but we don’t want any new ideas « Truth and Reason

[…] that religion in schools is a violation of the First Amendment. In fact, religion in schools was encouraged by the Founders: Judicial precedent substantiates the reasoning that religion and government go […]

13 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

==”Secularists wanna deny them that Right, and, so, such enablement and empowerment encourages the students to do what they are capable of doing.”

No we don’t. We really don’t. ==

Yes, you do. You really do; and, so, praying students need the stamp of encouragement from the legislature that they will get the backup needed to pray in comfort.

==The people pushing the lie that prayer is “banned” in public schools are primarily people on the right-wing, pro-religious government side of things.==

That’s the Libtard PR, anyways.

==We don’t have any problem with private individuals expressing their religious opinions in public.==

Yes, you do. In fact, wherever necessary and possible, you people go running to Big Brother to stop open prayer.

== Or even, in some cases, making reasonable accommodations for people’s religious needs. In fact, we’d defend these rights to the death.==

http://thumbsnap.com/v/OQxqMyDI.jpg You gotta be joking.

13 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

==”Secularists wanna deny them that Right, and, so, such enablement and empowerment encourages the students to do what they are capable of doing.”

No we don’t. We really don’t. ==

Yes, you do. You really do; and, so, praying students need the stamp of encouragement from the legislature that they will get the backup needed to pray in comfort.

==The people pushing the lie that prayer is “banned” in public schools are primarily people on the right-wing, pro-religious government side of things.==

That’s the Libtard PR, anyways.

==We don’t have any problem with private individuals expressing their religious opinions in public.==

Yes, you do. In fact, wherever necessary and possible, you people go running to Big Brother to stop open prayer.

== Or even, in some cases, making reasonable accommodations for people’s religious needs. In fact, we’d defend these rights to the death.==

24 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

“Atheism is a religion,” according to the federal court opinion b’lo:

http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/EG0RLQR3.pdf

28 06 2008
Mr. Incredible

THIS IS THE LINK:

Atheism is a religion:

http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/EK1FG3DS.pdf

29 06 2008
Bad

I don’t know quite what the point is if you are going to simply lie about what we want and think. Sure you can claim we want to do all sorts of things that we don’t. So what? You can claim the moon is made of cheese: that doesn’t make it so.

Students rights to pray are already protected under the constitution, and have been defended over and over in the courts, with supposedly anti-religious groups like the ACLU supporting that right.

2 07 2008
Mr. Incredible

==I don’t know quite what the point is==

How can you possibly not know what the point is????

==if you are going to simply lie about what we want and think. ==

I’m not lying.

==Sure you can claim we want to do all sorts of things that we don’t.==

Like what?

==You can claim the moon is made of cheese: that doesn’t make it so.==

That’s true; but I haven’t claimed that.

==Students rights to pray are already protected under the constitution…==

Then why are schools stopping them? Why the pressure to stop praying on school properties??

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