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Monday, December 29, 2008

Separation of Church, State Poll

I meant to give the final tally and discuss last week's Dakota Voice poll (or "quiz" for those sensitive about the word "poll") last night, but I picked up a nasty bug sitting in the cold Friday while my children enjoyed some ice skating.

Also had a grueling day yesterday with some unexpected and unpleasant developments that had me running from about 1:30 am for something like 18 hours, with just a few pauses and a couple of cat-naps in there.

The question was:

The phrase that in America there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state appears in:

Most got it right, but there were a few very misinformed answers, especially those who thought it was in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

Here's how the answers broke out:

George Washington’s Farewell Address (1%)

the Mayflower Compact (4%)

the Constitution (6%)

the Declaration of Independence (3%)

Thomas Jefferson’s letters (84%)


Indeed. "Separation of church and state" appears only in Thomas Jefferson's letters, specifically a letter to some Baptists in Danbury who were concerned about erosion of religious liberty.

Jefferson's letter, dated January 1, 1802, said in part:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Interesting that secularists and God-haters should use a letter intended to assure a group of Christians of religious liberty should be perverted to attack the very religious liberty the letter defended.

Even more interesting (and sad) that the First Amendment, which prohibits government interference in the free exercise of religion, has been perverted to quash free exercise of religion.

All the more proof that free people must be diligent and alert people, if they want to maintain that freedom. In a fallen world, there is never a shortage of evil men on the lookout to diminish freedom.

The new poll/quiz is up: What does the Tenth Amendment provide?


10 comments:

cinemaphile85 said...

Bob,

You're making some sweeping generalizations here. Assuming that your interpretation of Christianity is the correct one, and that anything else is a rejection of God (which as you've said elsewhere could qualify as hating God), the secularists and God-haters you're talking about include:

Muslims
Jews
Hindus
Mormons
Wiccans
Shintoists
Buddhists
Jains
Sikhs
Jehovah's Witnesses
and of course atheists, agnostics, skeptics, naturalists, etc. (insofar as these schools of thought can be considered religions unto themselves)

I agree with your conclusion - it's sad that a lot of people exploit the First Amendment to stifle other people's religious expression. But what you can't (or won't) realize is that many atheists/agnostics/skeptics want the same thing you do: to express their religious beliefs freely and without censorship. But when they do, you get all worked up and say that they're just "attacking" your god.

Well, if that's true, then every time a Hindu goes to temple, he's attacking your god. Every time a Jehovah's Witness walks door-to-door handing out tracts, she's attacking your god. Heck, a Muslim attacks your god five times a day when he prays toward Mecca! Are THEY perverting the First Amendment to attack the very religious liberty that document was meant to defend?

If a group of American Muslims gathered in your town with banners and loudspeakers proclaiming DEATH TO THE INFIDELS! ALLAH IS THE ONE TRUE GOD!, would you respect their First Amendment right to do so? If we truly are a free people, you would. After all, they are just stating what the Qur'an says. (Sort of reminds me of how Christians often say, "I'm not trying to offend you, I'm just stating God's Word.") Who are you to censor them?

Now, if that same group of Muslims converted more and more people to Islam and grew to the point that Christianity became the second largest religion in America, would you still think that Muslims were attacking your religious freedom? Would you try to stop them? If you say yes, then we really do not have religious freedom in this country at all. And the sad truth is that we don't.

What the First Amendment should really say is this: "Americans are free to believe whatever they want and to express those beliefs without restriction...just as long as Christianity stays on top." Maybe then we could finally admit the obvious, which is that America is a Christian theocracy. Maybe not officially, but certainly de facto. We may talk about how all faiths are respected and sanctioned equally in America, but at the end of the day, you can only be accepted and valued as a real American if you're a Christian (and a conservative Christian at that). Jews are welcome, Muslims are welcome, Hindus are welcome...just as long as they stay in the minority.

And if it seems like Christianity's numerical superiority is being threatened, the evangelicals will rally together, indoctrinate more people to their religion, and see to it that Americans think the way Christians want them to think, behave the way Christians want them to behave, and vote the way Christians want them to vote. Because if you're a Muslim living in America, you are under the umbrella of Christianity, and the Christian fascists will prevent you from changing that.

So in the end, you're no different from those "God-haters" who attack religious liberty. If you care to disagree, then go ask a Muslim how he feels every time you say his god is a barbaric myth. In fact, go ask all two billion of them.

Bob Ellis said...

No, only in your simplistic, God-hating logic does a Jew or Hindu going to temple constitute an attack on God.

Since the early days of America, we have had freedom to worship the god (or God) of our choice in the manner of our choice. And every generation until the last two or three has recognized that the United States is a Christian nation founded by Christians on Christian principles...which includes the recognition that the state cannot mandate authentic worship of any particular deity.

If Muslims want to demonstrate, they have a First Amendment right to do so. Though if they seriously advocate violence against the innocent, they may be breaking the law--law that exists for a reason that even you should be able to grasp.

When people practice their own religion, they are not necessarily attacking other religions or attempting to censor other religions.

Secularists, however, have been on a 60-year campaign to erase Christianity from the public square, constituting a blatant and aggressive attack on religion.

cinemaphile85 said...

One of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," is it not? That means that if we worship any deity but Yahweh, we are committing a sin, which is always an offense against God. Since my logic is too simplistic and God-hating, please explain how a Hindu (I never said Jew, you did) going to temple and worshipping false gods like Vishnu and Shiva does not violate the Second Commandment and therefore does not constitute an attack on God.

And since you seem to shy away from every comment I make about how you should go talk to a Muslim, it makes me wonder if you know or have known any Muslims at all. You should, because I think it would be eye-opening for someone as self-assured as you. Imagine surrounding yourself with people who believe you hate their god, and who look at you with the utmost pity as they shake their heads, saying, "Poor Bob, if he only knew the Truth, maybe he would reject his false worldview and accept Allah as the one true God." You wouldn't convert, of course, but at least you'd learn a little humility: you are not the only person in the world who is absolutely certain that his religion is right.

Bob Ellis said...

I believe I said before that God give us the freedom to believe him, or to follow other gods, including the god of self. There are eternal consequences to be paid, but we have that freedom in this life.

Surely you aren't as obtuse as your questions and objections would otherwise indicate. I really don't believe you are. However, your pathetic attempts to justify license and rejection of God with attacks on God's truth really get old after a while. As much as I enjoy hearty debate, I'm really losing interest in responding to you at all.

Corey said...

Bob Ellis said... "And every generation until the last two or three has recognized that the United States is a Christian nation founded by Christians on Christian principles"

My Reply:
Wow, you’re a real idiot!

I hope you realize it is people like you that cause September 11th 2001, and it is people like you who will be the reason any and all Americans on US soil and abroad, along with anyone that supports people like you, are harmed in any way shape or form.

It is people like you that are so uneducated that you would rather have Americans die all over the world, and then accept the fact that Christianity was not and never will be the national religion of America.

Why is it Fundamentalist Christians always whine about being persecuted, saying you are a minority, when in the same breath you state that Christianity is the most popular religion in America and have infiltrated the Military and change laws on a daily basis in Congress, trying to push your fundamentalist agenda; oppressing those who won't convert. Why not just do it like it has always done; via a sword...that is how Christianity became the most popular religion in the USA and many places all over the world. It is NEVER because some mythical holy spirit "moved" you; it is always by a choice; convert or die!

You people need to off yourselves...that is the only way America and the world will be saved from you.

Corey Mondello
Boston, Massachusetts
www.CoreyMondello.com

Proud Secular, Atheist, Vegetarian, Socialist, Gay Male!

Bob Ellis said...

Cory, you demonstrate that there's always something new to be seen in the world. In all my years, and in all the years I've been doing Dakota Voice, I don't think I've seen such a vociferous demonstration of ignorance.

It seems you have, in some hard to fathom manner, confused Christianity with Islam. A simple check of an online encyclopedia will quickly reveal several fallacies where you attributed characteristics of Islam to Christianity.

America's Christian heritage is prolific and obvious to all but the most dedicated God-haters. Just click on the "Christian Heritage" link under "Topics" on the left side of the page. But be prepared--if your mind is only the slightest bit open, you're going to quickly find out that you've been wrong about a lot of things on a profound level.

Go ahead; click that link, if you dare. The truth will set you free!

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Bob: I'm afraid you are quite mistaken. The phrase "separation of church & state" is not =only= found in Jefferson's letter, it is also in Madison's letters. Thomas Helwys (teh 1st Baptist) was the first to explore the concept in 1613 when he wrote about in his book & told the English King that the crown had no place in dictating a man's religious conscience & there was to be a hedge between the crown & one's faith. Roger Williams (1st Baptist in America) was expelled from Boston in 1633 because he said there should be a hedge in the garden of the world between gov't & the church. John Lelabd & Isaac Backus were Colonial VA Baptists & they openley called for the Wall of Separation. While the Baptists approached the concept from the theological perspective, John Locke came to the same conclusion from the political spectrum. The Enlightenment & Baptistic ideal of separation" came to fruition with Madison when he neearly lost the election to retain his Congressional seat to John Leland. After a meeting under a tree, Leland dropped out of the race & Madison agreed to insert the "separation of church & state" in the Bill of Rights. The =phrase= is not there, but the principle certainly is; just like the phrase "right to a fair trial" is not there but it is a truism.

Bob Ellis said...

I'm afraid (for your sake) that I am not mistaken.

Madison may have mentioned it in one of his letters, but that was not an option in the poll was it? Nor did the poll question state that the correct answer was the only place the phrase could be found, did it?

In your zeal to attempt to make me appear wrong, and to advance your transparent agenda of secularism, you've demonstrated yourself to be a duplicitous, shallow reader.

What's more, Madison never did, as you claim, "insert the 'separation of church & state' in the Bill of Rights," did he? You might want to look again: the phrase isn't there. No amount of wanting it to be there or wishing it were there is going to make it magically appear there.

That is because the founders understood that while a theocracy or a state-run church are bad ideas, we desperately need religion and morality to keep our civilization healthy and thriving.

The Founders made this truth and their recognition of it abundantly clear:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. – George Washington’s Presidential Farewell Address

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – John Adams

It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations…of republicanism and of all free governments. – John Adams

While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. – Samuel Adams

It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of religion and morality. – Abraham Baldwin, signer of the Constitution

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. – Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. – Benjamin Franklin

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement – John Hancock

Righteousness alone can exalt them [America] as a nation…The great pillars of all government and of social life: I mean virtue, morality and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. – Patrick Henry.

The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society…We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. – Thomas Jefferson

The Holy Scriptures…can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses. – James McHenry, signer of the Constitution, Secretary of War

I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. Therefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man toward God. – Gouverneur Morris, penman and signer of the Constitution

Religion and morality…are necessary to good government, good order and good laws, for “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice” – William Paterson, signer of the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained. – George Washington’s Inaugural Address

The law…dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. – Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Constitution

Let it never be forgotten that there can be no genuine freedom where there is no morality, and no sound morality where there is no religion…Hesitate not a moment to believe that the man who labors to destroy these two great pillars of human happiness…is neither a good patriot nor a good man. – Jeremiah Smith, Revolutionary soldier, judge, U.S. Congressman, Governor of New Hampshire

It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs whether any free government can be permanent where the public worship of God and the support of religion constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape. – Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Court Judge, Father of American Jurisprudence

Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society – George Washington

Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. – Daniel Webster

Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown—general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land. – Daniel Webstser

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity. – John Adams

Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. – James Wilson, signer of the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Judge

Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country…God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy one may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both. – John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration

No country on earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed it would be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass. – George Washington (how deeply sad that we have betrayed Washington’s confidence)

When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust [civic responsibility]; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. – Noah Webster


Sorry, no historical revision allowed at Dakota Voice.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Bob: I think you may have, also, forgotten what you actually wrote.

In your response to me you said...


Madison may have mentioned it in one of his letters, but that was not an option in the poll was it? Nor did the poll question state that the correct answer was the only place the phrase could be found, did it?


Problem is that is not what you said ...


Indeed. "Separation of church and state" appears only in Thomas Jefferson's letters, specifically a letter to some Baptists in Danbury who were concerned about erosion of religious liberty.

Any history major or poly sci major knows you blew that one big time.

Bob Ellis said...

Again, someone not so zealous to rewrite history and deceive people would have understood the context in which it was said: it appears only in Thomas Jefferson's letters [not in any of the other four options presented here--certainly not in the Constitution, as secularists would have everyone believe].

It's just hard to deal with it when you want things to be a certain way, but facts, the Founders, and history are all against you, isn't it?

 
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