Bryan G. Olson Feb-18-93 09:56AM Separation of Church and State |> In article

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Bryan G. Olson Feb-18-93 09:56AM Separation of Church and State Organization: Univ. of MD, Baltimore County Campus From: (Bryan G. Olson; CMSCIn article <4483@eastman.UUCP>, dps@mariner.forest (Dan Schaertel,,,) writes: Message-ID: <> Newsgroups: alt.atheism |> In article, rhuss+@EDRC.CMU.EDU (Robert Huss) writes: |> I thought that the separation of church and state was pretty well |> spelled out in the Constitution. In article <44838@eastman.UUCP> dps@mariner.forest (Dan Schaertel,,,) replies: |> Well it isn't spelled out at all. The constitution says the government |> shall make no religion. Further investigation into the meaning of this |> shows that what is meant is the government shall not establish a specific |> sect as the official religion. Christianity was the standard at the |> time the constitution was written. Our founding fathers had no way of |> knowing the misunderstanding this would cause. But there is nothing that |> indicates any such thing as "seperation of church and state". In fact the |> majority of the constitution is derived from the bible. Much of it is |> directly from the bible. What the first amendment actually says on the subject is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The separation phrase seems to have originated in a letter sent by Thomas Jefferson to a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Assn. of Connecticut, dated 1 Jan 1802. Jefferson wrote: I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole of the 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. While Jefferson is certainly respected as a founding father, the letter does not carry any legal weight. For an authoritative interpretation, we have to look to the Supreme Court decision of Lemon v Kurtzman, of 1971. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for the majority: The language of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment is at best opaque, particularly when compared with other portions of the Amendment. Its authors did not simply prohibit the establishment of a state church or a state religion, an area history shows they regarded as very important and fraught with great dangers. Instead they commanded that there should be "no law respecting an establishment of religion." A law "respecting" the proscribed result, that is, the establishment of religion, is not always easily identifiable as one violative of the Clause. A given law might not establish a state religion but nevertheless be one "respecting" that end in the sense of being a step that could lead to such establishment and hence offend the First Amendment. This same decision set forth the "Lemon test", a three part test to determine if a law violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. It states: First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principle or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion (citation omitted); finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." The statement that the majority of the Constitution was derived from the Bible strikes me as absurd. The Constitution is entirely devoted to secular matters, specifically, the establishment of the federal government. Where the Bible speaks of such matters, the forms of government advanced are absolutely opposed to the ideas of the Constitution. The great leaders of the Bible are chosen by God and rule by such authority. The constitution is ordained and established by "We the people", and our leaders are chosen and rule by authority which comes from the citizens. The main ideas of the Constitution came not to the Bible, but from political philosophers who redisovered Greek democracy, with its elected representatives and division of powers. =================================================================== From: Monica L Boyle To: All Msg #27, Feb-18-93 09:57AM Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State Organization: University of Pittsburgh From: (Monica L Boyle) Message-ID: <> Newsgroups: alt.atheism In number X, it reads "A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source." The 14th amendment took care to stop even a part of the nation from being taken over by a religion. It there refers to one religios view becoming politically empowered as a "danger". Can't get much more specific than that, though most intelligent people find the first and fourteenth amendments sufficient enough to believe that religion has no place in politics in this country. Monica Murphy


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