Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley Many who read the title to this article might think that the second most controversial topic in America today is whether the United States should continue its war in Iraq. Those who thought that would be, in fact, dead wrong. This article is really about facts, not about our involvement in trying to make Iraq and its people adopt a democratic society, but to revisit the place God occupies in our public institutions and in our society.
Oliver "Buzz" Thomas explored this topic recently in USA Today (10-15-07), America's largest daily circulation newspaper. Thomas is a minister, lawyer and author of 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job). First off, we have the oldest written constitution in the world, however, the United States Constitution was not the first constitution written in this country, that distinction belongs to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639. The U. S.
Constitution was written in 1787, was ratified and went into effect in March 1789, exactly 150 years after Connecticut's constitution. Very few of our citizens could tell you when our Constitution came into being, and even fewer could tell you much about God's place in our U. S. Constitution. Thomas says many Americans do not know what our Constitution says about our first freedom: religious freedom. Ask most Americans what the Constitution says about God, and their answer may surprise you.
"One nation under God?" No, that is in our Pledge of Allegiance. "Endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights?" No, that is in our Declaration of Independence. A recent survey by the First Amendment Center asserted that 55% of Americans believe the our Constitution establishes us as a "Christian nation" and while nearly all Americans say freedom of religion is important, only 56% of the survey respondents think it should apply to all religious groups.
The plain truth is that the U. S. Constitution says nothing about God. There is not a single reference to "God" in our Constitution. The only reference to religion in our Constitution appears in Article VI which says "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
" Most colonies did have religious qualifications for public office at the time. The Carolinas, for example, even went so far as to require that all elected officials be Protestant. If you were a practicing Christian, but not a Protestant, you apparently did not qualify for public office in the Carolinas. Only 2 years later, in 1791, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution—popularly known as the Bill of Rights—were ratified by the first session of the First Congress. The first of those amendments said in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Oliver Thomas suggests that Congress likely did so because of concern about "the corrupting influence the institutions of church and state have on each other when either becomes too cozy.
" By cozy, one might assume powerful and dominate. The idea is that our government is to remain neutral and no citizen should be advantaged or disadvantaged because of his or her religious faith. The separation of church and state does not mean the separation of God and government or of religion and politics. Get that straight.
The First Amendment limits only the power of government, not the power of the people or the power of any church. Churchgoers can establish and practice their own religion. They can also promote political issues and candidates, but they do so at the cost of potentially losing their IRS tax-exempt status since there is no tax deduction for partisan causes, only charitable causes. People can practice freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government to redress (remedy or set right) grievances.
This means power to the church and power to the people but no power to government to establish or use religion as a whipping tool to do its bidding. The plain truth is that the Bill of Rights says nothing about God. There is not a single reference to "God" in our Bill of Rights. We owe a debt of gratitude to the framers of our Constitution for limiting (as least on paper) the power of our government, and the politicians and bureaucrats who run it. There is, of course, no limit to the lying, cheating, stealing, self-centeredness and self-righteousness of the politicians and bureaucrats who pursue their own agenda for their own personal gain at our expense while serving under the guise of serving us. H.
L. Mencken (1880-1956), the American journalist and literary and social critic said, "You can never underestimate the stupidity of the American people." It would be even more difficult to underestimate the lying, cheating, stealing and lack of morality practiced by our prominent elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats. For the record, there are references to "God" in our Declaration of Independence and also in our Pledge of Allegiance, but not in our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
One might conclude that given these facts, the majority of our U. S. Supreme Court justices see no problem in kicking God out of our public schools because public schools are government property of a legal entity. This action does not preclude us from keeping God in our churches and homes.
Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. Read my 3-part series on "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know". Find my Blog at: http://www.edbagleyblog.com http://www.edbagleyblog.com/LessonsinLife.html