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GonzoTheGreat
08-03-2010, 12:01 PM
Is freedom of religion fully implied in freedom of speech (freedom of expression, more generally)?
For some reason, I started wondering what else might be needed to guarantee freedom of religion, and I can't come up with anything.

Obviously, individual rights have to exist, so that vigilantes can't enforce a "standard religion" with the government standing aside saying "it is none of our business". But here, I am concerned only with the relationship between state and citizen, so I'm going to ignore this kind of thing further. Wish it were that easy for everyone in reality.

If nothing else is needed for freedom of religion beyond freedom of expression, and if a proper country already has the latter, then it would not be necessary at all to enshrine freedom of religion in law. Which seems logical, but unlikely. So I am probably overlooking something, though I can't figure out what.

Neilbert
08-03-2010, 12:09 PM
Yes, but that doesn't get churches a tax exemption so......

One Armed Gimp
08-03-2010, 12:32 PM
Freedom of Speech can not exist without Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech alone would not be enough to stop the government from establishing a state religion. The first amendment in the American constitution not only allows individual citizens the right to practice what they want religiously, but also sets a barrier between religion and government so that one can not overly influence the other. If the government were allowed to to setup a state religion, it could then enforce those rules on its citizens in the name of said religion. One could challenge those rules in say the Supreme Court. That would lead to State Religion vs. Freedom of Speech. If the State Religion wins, you do not have true Freedom of Speech. If Freedom of Speech wins the government would not be allowed to enforce the State Religions beliefs and/or values systems on it citizens, creating a rift between government and religion, which is what Freedom of Religion does.

You can not have FoS with out FoR.

Neilbert
08-03-2010, 01:11 PM
If Freedom of Speech wins the government would not be allowed to enforce the State Religions beliefs and/or values systems on it citizens,

So what you are saying is that freedom of religion is superfluous, and falls under the umbrella of freedom of speech?

One Armed Gimp
08-03-2010, 01:36 PM
I am not saying that Freedom of Religion doesn't extend from Freedom of Speech, only that it is a necessary component to Freedom of Speech and needed to be stated. The same could be said about Freedom of the Press. Making sure that those separations, between government and religion and government and the press, are there explicitly, eliminates some of the major threats to Freedom of Speech such as a state sponsored religion or state run press.

Crispin's Crispian
08-03-2010, 03:00 PM
I'm not sure your logic leap really works.

One could challenge those rules in say the Supreme Court. That would lead to State Religion vs. Freedom of Speech. If the State Religion wins, you do not have true Freedom of Speech. If Freedom of Speech wins the government would not be allowed to enforce the State Religions beliefs and/or values systems on it citizens, creating a rift between government and religion, which is what Freedom of Religion does.You're suggesting that it is impossible to question or speak out against a religion while still abiding by its rules? Or rather, that the government could not enforce state religion if someone spoke out against it? I don't see that being the case.

I can speak out against a law I find atrocious, and no one can stop me. However, if I break that law I am still accountable no matter how loudly I opposed it.

Now, if the state religion prohibited certain types of speech by moral (and thus state) law, I suppose you'd have a problem. But theoretically a state religion could exist without said prohibitions.

Sei'taer
08-03-2010, 04:10 PM
In the US, our constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It explicitly states Congress shall make no law. Since this was a federal issue and not a state issue, then I don't see why there couldn't be a state religion. The federal gov't wouldn't be able to sponsor it, but apparently the state could. I'm sure there have been legal opinions written about this. But then, you get to the fourteenth amendment and everything changes.

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I think the bolded part is probably the best part to point to in this instance. It basically says that the states have to abide by the smae rules defined in the bill of rights. If you were a slave, then you have all the rights accorded a citizen of the US, regardless of how the states feel about it. That would include freedom of religion.

I believe it was Jefferson who said that the seperation of church and state was guaranteed by the constitution because it created a wall between gov't and religion.

Why the want to know Gonzo? Being religiously persecuted today?

Uno
08-03-2010, 04:20 PM
In the US, our constitution says:



It explicitly states Congress shall make no law. Since this was a federal issue and not a state issue, then I don't see why there couldn't be a state religion. The federal gov't wouldn't be able to sponsor it, but apparently the state could. I'm sure there have been legal opinions written about this. But then, you get to the fourteenth amendment and everything changes.



I think the bolded part is probably the best part to point to in this instance. It basically says that the states have to abide by the smae rules defined in the bill of rights. If you were a slave, then you have all the rights accorded a citizen of the US, regardless of how the states feel about it. That would include freedom of religion.

It's a well-known fact that religious establishments persisted in both Massachusetts and Connecticut into the 19th century. Not surprisingly, Adams disagreed with Jefferson about this issue. The Virginia solution was total separation, the Massachusetts solution was limited establishment. Note that only in the early 20th century was the Bill of Rights generally understood to apply also to the states. I believe it was an interwar development.

I feel there is a tendency to confuse freedom and equality here. Freedom of religion means the right to worship (or not) according to the dictates of your conscience. It does not necessarily means that your beliefs are accorded equality with other belief systems, such as the official religion of the state in a country with a religious establishment.

One Armed Gimp
08-03-2010, 04:20 PM
I'm not sure your logic leap really works.

You're suggesting that it is impossible to question or speak out against a religion while still abiding by its rules? Or rather, that the government could not enforce state religion if someone spoke out against it? I don't see that being the case.

I can speak out against a law I find atrocious, and no one can stop me. However, if I break that law I am still accountable no matter how loudly I opposed it.

Now, if the state religion prohibited certain types of speech by moral (and thus state) law, I suppose you'd have a problem. But theoretically a state religion could exist without said prohibitions.

Freedom of Speech includes expression, certain religions don't like certain forms of expression, rather than create a specific example, I left it up to the reader.

If a government were to pass a law, based on the state religions belief system, saying people should dress a certain way. You take it to court saying how you dress is protected under Freedom of Speech. Then you have State Religion vs. Freedom of Speech.

Ivhon
08-03-2010, 04:21 PM
In the US, our constitution says:



It explicitly states Congress shall make no law. Since this was a federal issue and not a state issue, then I don't see why there couldn't be a state religion. The federal gov't wouldn't be able to sponsor it, but apparently the state could. I'm sure there have been legal opinions written about this. But then, you get to the fourteenth amendment and everything changes.



I think the bolded part is probably the best part to point to in this instance. It basically says that the states have to abide by the smae rules defined in the bill of rights. If you were a slave, then you have all the rights accorded a citizen of the US, regardless of how the states feel about it. That would include freedom of religion.

I believe it was Jefferson who said that the seperation of church and state was guaranteed by the constitution because it created a wall between gov't and religion.

Why the want to know Gonzo? Being religiously persecuted today?

Jefferson was not a great political philosopher. Shouldn't take anything he said too seriously.

One Armed Gimp
08-03-2010, 04:23 PM
To clarify, by State Religion, I mean a national government established religion.

Sei'taer
08-03-2010, 04:24 PM
Jefferson was not a great political philosopher. Shouldn't take anything he said too seriously.

You're right. John Locke was an idiot too.

Uno
08-03-2010, 04:35 PM
Now, if the state religion prohibited certain types of speech by moral (and thus state) law, I suppose you'd have a problem. But theoretically a state religion could exist without said prohibitions.

It's hardly a theoretical issue, since a number of countries do combine religious establishment and freedom of worship. A state church may mean nothing more than that the state pays the salaries of the clergy, maintains the church buildings, and probably also makes major religious festivals state holidays. It doesn't have to mean that the state enforces religious orthodoxy, though it western European countries it generally means that the state meddles some in the internal affairs of its church, especially to root out what it sees as discrimination against certain categories of people.

Crispin's Crispian
08-03-2010, 04:54 PM
Freedom of Speech includes expression, certain religions don't like certain forms of expression, rather than create a specific example, I left it up to the reader.

If a government were to pass a law, based on the state religions belief system, saying people should dress a certain way. You take it to court saying how you dress is protected under Freedom of Speech. Then you have State Religion vs. Freedom of Speech.
I see what you're saying. If you include expression of religion as a type of free speech, you can't impinge on one without impinging on the other.

To clarify, by State Religion, I mean a national government established religion. Yes. I was a little confused by Taer at first. ;)

nameless
08-03-2010, 05:54 PM
If nothing else is needed for freedom of religion beyond freedom of expression, and if a proper country already has the latter, then it would not be necessary at all to enshrine freedom of religion in law. Which seems logical, but unlikely. So I am probably overlooking something, though I can't figure out what.

There's more to religion than just talking about God. Protected religious ceremonies may not fall under the aegis of "freedom of expression." For example, the Church of Native America's dispensation to use peyote in their rituals does not really have anything to do with free speech or free press.

GonzoTheGreat
08-04-2010, 04:04 AM
There's more to religion than just talking about God. Protected religious ceremonies may not fall under the aegis of "freedom of expression." For example, the Church of Native America's dispensation to use peyote in their rituals does not really have anything to do with free speech or free press.Then again, a number of Mormon groups claim that polygamy is also a part of their religion, yet in that case the (ordinary) laws against bigamy apparently trump the Constitution's freedom of religion.
So it would seem that this is not so much a matter of the law providing extra protection, as of a bunch of judges picking and choosing, and deciding that they aren't bothered by a couple of Injuns sniffing (or whatever it is they do with it) peyote. But that same ruling could have come about, if those judges had simply ruled "using peyote is their way of expressing their religion, therefor it falls under freedom of expression".

Freedom of Speech can not exist without Freedom of Religion.That is the claim which I want to pursue in this thread, yes. Well done on picking that up. Now I have to reset my patronisation detector. Should've switched it off before I started typing.

Freedom of Speech alone would not be enough to stop the government from establishing a state religion.No, but it would make it a rather toothless affair. As another poster points out, it would amount at most to the government paying (some of) the costs of that religion. Which happens anyway, in the USA too, but then in the way of tax exemptions.
They could not make you worship in that religion, as that would conflict with your freedom of religion.

The first amendment in the American constitution not only allows individual citizens the right to practice what they want religiously, but also sets a barrier between religion and government so that one can not overly influence the other.However, as quite a few theists have pointed out, that particular Amendment does not in any way at all protect atheism. It very explicitly does not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion.
Or at least, the religion part of the Amendment does not. The freedom of expression part, though, does allow one the choice of not expressing any religion.

If the government were allowed to to setup a state religion, it could then enforce those rules on its citizens in the name of said religion.Such as prohibiting blasphemy on the television and radio? The government can do that anyway.
Such as not permitting bars and pubs close to churches? The government can do that anyway.
Such as making churches tax exempt? The government can do that anyway.

One could challenge those rules in say the Supreme Court. That would lead to State Religion vs. Freedom of Speech. If the State Religion wins, you do not have true Freedom of Speech.But if the Constitution trumps lower laws, than the State Religion could not win, if it wasn't part of the Constitution.
Mind, over here, in the Netherlands, we have the rather ludicrous situation that judges can't test laws for constitutionality. So this is a bigger potential problem for me than it should be for Americans.

If Freedom of Speech wins the government would not be allowed to enforce the State Religions beliefs and/or values systems on it citizens, creating a rift between government and religion, which is what Freedom of Religion does.Yes, and, as I said, I think that Freedom of Speech should win, if it were properly implemented in the Constitution, so there shouldn't be any need for a Freedom of Religion addition.
And, on top of that: if the government is going to ignore Constitutional freedoms anyway, then having Freedom of Religion in there won't help you either.

You can not have FoS with out FoR.What would be the consequences of having FoS without explicit FoR too?

I am not saying that Freedom of Religion doesn't extend from Freedom of Speech, only that it is a necessary component to Freedom of Speech and needed to be stated. The same could be said about Freedom of the Press. Making sure that those separations, between government and religion and government and the press, are there explicitly, eliminates some of the major threats to Freedom of Speech such as a state sponsored religion or state run press.I thought of another example, which I suspect you will agree is rather ludicrous, but may help bring it into perspective:

Freedom of Supporting a Water Polo Team. FSWPT (pronounced "fsoopt") is not explicitly guaranteed by any law in any country that I'm aware of. But, as far as I know, if you have FoS anywhere, then you also have FSWPT.
And why? Well, because water polo fans do not bother to try to force their views on others by all means available. Saying that FoR is necessary is a rather serious indictment against religious people in general. It may be warranted; perhaps I am too optimistic about the reasonableness of believers.

One Armed Gimp
08-04-2010, 09:47 AM
That is the claim which I want to pursue in this thread, yes. Well done on picking that up. Now I have to reset my patronisation detector. Should've switched it off before I started typing.

I don't think you know how to turn it off. :p

No, but it would make it a rather toothless affair. As another poster points out, it would amount at most to the government paying (some of) the costs of that religion. Which happens anyway, in the USA too, but then in the way of tax exemptions.
They could not make you worship in that religion, as that would conflict with your freedom of religion.

You are not making much sense there, or did not understand that I was talking about Freedom of Speech without an explicitly stated Freedom of Religion. If there was Freedom of Religion, using the US Consitution as the model, then the federal government could not create a National Religion or Church. My point is, if you have only Freedom of Speech stated explicitly, you open the door to allowing the government to create or declare a National Religion which could start to impugn on Freedom of Speech.

However, as quite a few theists have pointed out, that particular Amendment does not in any way at all protect atheism. It very explicitly does not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion.
Or at least, the religion part of the Amendment does not. The freedom of expression part, though, does allow one the choice of not expressing any religion.

Thats BS. The Freedom of Religion in the US Constitution protects Atheists from being forced to believe in a religion. It allows you to worship as you please, or not worship at all. I am not sure how you think that it would not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion. Keep in mind that being exposed to religion and having a religion are two entirely different things.

Such as prohibiting blasphemy on the television and radio? The government can do that anyway.
Such as not permitting bars and pubs close to churches? The government can do that anyway.
Such as making churches tax exempt? The government can do that anyway.

Of course it can. The point is that you don't have some religous official telling the government what to do as you might have in system without Freedom of Religion. Without Freedom of Religion being explicitly stated you open the door to the slippery slope towards Theocracy.

But if the Constitution trumps lower laws, than the State Religion could not win, if it wasn't part of the Constitution.
Mind, over here, in the Netherlands, we have the rather ludicrous situation that judges can't test laws for constitutionality. So this is a bigger potential problem for me than it should be for Americans.

Yes, and, as I said, I think that Freedom of Speech should win, if it were properly implemented in the Constitution, so there shouldn't be any need for a Freedom of Religion addition.
And, on top of that: if the government is going to ignore Constitutional freedoms anyway, then having Freedom of Religion in there won't help you either.

In a perfect world, yes constitutionality of Freedom of Speech would triumph over Freedom or Religion and hopefully set a precendent. But then we have the seperation of Church and State outlined in precedent instead of in the Constitution, a dangerous thing in book.

I thought of another example, which I suspect you will agree is rather ludicrous, but may help bring it into perspective:

Freedom of Supporting a Water Polo Team. FSWPT (pronounced "fsoopt") is not explicitly guaranteed by any law in any country that I'm aware of. But, as far as I know, if you have FoS anywhere, then you also have FSWPT.
And why? Well, because water polo fans do not bother to try to force their views on others by all means available. Saying that FoR is necessary is a rather serious indictment against religious people in general. It may be warranted; perhaps I am too optimistic about the reasonableness of believers.

Its more of an indictment against Theocracy and the corruption that comes with power than anything. Your FSWPT scenrio is pointless. It would be less pointless if say the government created a Federal Water Polo Support Association and started mandating laws effecting support of Polo Teams.

The concern is not the people forcing their views on others, thats easy to ignore and block out if need be. Its the open invitation to allow the government the ability to intermingle with religion, which in and of itself is a powerful force.

As you said, and as I agreed with, in a perfect world Freedom of Religion would be seen as merely an extension of Freedom of Speech and no more would be needed. But do you really trust that to happen? I don't and the writers of the American Consitution didn't either. You quash the problems by stating outright that there is Freedom of Religion. Now, why don't they do the same for Water Polo Support? Let's be honest, there is much less of a problem there.

Saying FoS can not exist without FoR is probably a bit harsh. In a perfect world FoS could stand on its own, but we do not live in a perfect world.

Uno
08-04-2010, 10:04 AM
Thats BS. The Freedom of Religion in the US Constitution protects Atheists from being forced to believe in a religion. It allows you to worship as you please, or not worship at all. I am not sure how you think that it would not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion. Keep in mind that being exposed to religion and having a religion are two entirely different things.

The framers, or at least some of the more influential of the lot (Adams, Jefferson) meant freedom of religion to protect irreligion, as well, but Gonzo is not necessarily talking just about the US, as such.

But this talk of theocracy is rather misleading, to my mind. In the European tradition, state churches have generally been under the control of the secular authorities, not the other way around. A loyal church does what it's told. If the state has no interest in enforcing religious orthodoxy, there's nothing the state church can do about that.

GonzoTheGreat
08-04-2010, 11:10 AM
You are not making much sense there, or did not understand that I was talking about Freedom of Speech without an explicitly stated Freedom of Religion. If there was Freedom of Religion, using the US Consitution as the model, then the federal government could not create a National Religion or Church.Makes sense. So, in the USA, you couldn't have, for instance, a Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplain_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representat ives), since that would be an obvious violation of this rule that the government can't make a national religion.

Perhaps someone should inform your elected representatives. They don't seem to have caught on to this self evident truth, yet.

My point is, if you have only Freedom of Speech stated explicitly, you open the door to allowing the government to create or declare a National Religion which could start to impugn on Freedom of Speech.I'll repeat: how is that different from the current situation?

Thats BS. The Freedom of Religion in the US Constitution protects Atheists from being forced to believe in a religion. It allows you to worship as you please, or not worship at all.That is because of the precedents set by the rulings of judges, not because the law actually says anything at all about unbelief.

I am not sure how you think that it would not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion. Keep in mind that being exposed to religion and having a religion are two entirely different things.Could you please explain to me which part of the US Constitution you think gives freedom not to believe, and why you think so?

Of course it can. The point is that you don't have some religous official telling the government what to do as you might have in system without Freedom of Religion. Without Freedom of Religion being explicitly stated you open the door to the slippery slope towards Theocracy.And how is this different from the faith based initiatives a previous president was so happy with?

In a perfect world, yes constitutionality of Freedom of Speech would triumph over Freedom or Religion and hopefully set a precendent. But then we have the seperation of Church and State outlined in precedent instead of in the Constitution, a dangerous thing in book.That is precisely what is the case in, for instance, the UK. There the monarch (queen, at the moment) is officially the head of the state church. But there's at least as much religious freedom there as there is in the USA, and far less interference on religious grounds by all sorts of faith based groups.

Its more of an indictment against Theocracy and the corruption that comes with power than anything. Your FSWPT scenrio is pointless. It would be less pointless if say the government created a Federal Water Polo Support Association and started mandating laws effecting support of Polo Teams.I know that it is pointless. What I am wondering is: would the two cases really be as different as you fear?
It may very well be that you are right, that religion is indeed inherently hostile towards freedom, and that trusting in reason in this case would lead to theocracy. I hope and think that it wouldn't be inevitable, but I may be overly optimistic here.

The concern is not the people forcing their views on others, thats easy to ignore and block out if need be. Its the open invitation to allow the government the ability to intermingle with religion, which in and of itself is a powerful force.But that would only be possible if that government started interfering with the freedom of expression of religious people.

As you said, and as I agreed with, in a perfect world Freedom of Religion would be seen as merely an extension of Freedom of Speech and no more would be needed. But do you really trust that to happen?That is indeed the big question. I hope it would. But I have to admit that I'm happier about discussing it here, rather than trying it out in reality and then seeing whether I was right.

You quash the problems by stating outright that there is Freedom of Religion. Now, why don't they do the same for Water Polo Support? Let's be honest, there is much less of a problem there.That is true, which would suggest that religion and freedom are indeed antithetical. Not a happy conclusion, but it may be the correct one.

Saying FoS can not exist without FoR is probably a bit harsh. In a perfect world FoS could stand on its own, but we do not live in a perfect world.Some religions disagree with you. :p

Kimon
08-04-2010, 12:05 PM
Thats BS. The Freedom of Religion in the US Constitution protects Atheists from being forced to believe in a religion. It allows you to worship as you please, or not worship at all. I am not sure how you think that it would not allow someone to totally refrain from having a religion. Keep in mind that being exposed to religion and having a religion are two entirely different things.



Certainly atheists in America cannot be subjected to such extremes as being dragged before a local magistrate and made to demonstrate their piety or else be charged with heresy, but that does not mean that the government has not officially sponsered monotheistic religiosity, even if through the back door rather than through the front. Freedom of Religion only offers the protection against the establishment of a state religion, it does not safeguard against more subtle manipulation.

NB:
"One Nation Under God" (the pledge of allegiance- hence indirectly pledging allegiance to God, and we all know which one is meant...)

"In God We Trust" (on currency, so apparently Yahweh is also backing the dollar...)

Sei'taer
08-04-2010, 03:51 PM
Freedom of Religion

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

Thomas Jefferson was a smart fucker. I think he was against those things that Kimon pointed out. It appears he was over-ruled on some of them, and some were passed after he was gone. Probably made him flip around in his grave.

John Locke wrote a bunch of great stuff about freedom of religion too. Thomas Paine was another good one on religious freedom, and while I'm not sure he was an atheist (I don't think he was, just don't remember anymore...I seem to remember he had a run-in with the church of england at some point and was excommunicated, or whatever the church of england calls it) he was completely against organized religion of any kind and especially state sponsored religion. It was the two legs of tyranny or something like that.

Those three and a few others (Thomas Campbell being one) would be good ones to look up if you're wanting to understand why they wanted freedom of religion expressly noted.

Ivhon
08-04-2010, 03:55 PM
Thomas Jefferson was a smart fucker. I think he was against those things that Kimon pointed out. It appears he was over-ruled on some of them, and some were passed after he was gone. Probably made him flip around in his grave.

John Locke wrote a bunch of great stuff about freedom of religion too. Thomas Paine was another good one on religious freedom, and while I'm not sure he was an atheist (I don't think he was, just don't remember anymore...I seem to remember he had a run-in with the church of england at some point and was excommunicated, or whatever the church of england calls it) he was completely against organized religion of any kind and especially state sponsored religion. It was the two legs of tyranny or something like that.

Those three and a few others (Thomas Campbell being one) would be good ones to look up if you're wanting to understand why they wanted freedom of religion expressly noted.


I believe that what you quoted is a large reason Mr. Jefferson is being redacted from TX textbooks. Makes it hard to push the "Founding Fathers intended this to be a Christian country" line when faced with that.

Kimon
08-04-2010, 03:57 PM
Thomas Jefferson was a smart fucker. I think he was against those things that Kimon pointed out. It appears he was over-ruled on some of them, and some were passed after he was gone. Probably made him flip around in his grave.



"Under God" wasn't officially added to the Pledge until 1954. "In God We Trust" first showed up on currency in the 1860s, but wasn't made official until 1956. And, of course, one could also point to the widespread use of the Bible in courtrooms for use in swearing of oaths of honesty for witnesses, and in inauguration-oaths for presidents.

Sei'taer
08-04-2010, 04:24 PM
"Under God" wasn't officially added to the Pledge until 1954. "In God We Trust" first showed up on currency in the 1860s, but wasn't made official until 1956. And, of course, one could also point to the widespread use of the Bible in courtrooms for use in swearing of oaths of honesty for witnesses, and in inauguration-oaths for presidents.

Yes, but there were other things that were done during his time that he railed against. One that I remember was a day of prayer and fasting proposed by Samuel Miller. He pretty much lost it when it was proposed. Obviously it didn't pass. I want to say he was president at the time.

Davian93
08-05-2010, 07:27 AM
Thomas Jefferson was one of the greatest political minds that we've ever had. I would put him and John Adams at the top of any list in regards to American Political Thought. They were the two giants that our nation was founded upon.


He was also easily one of the Top 5 presidents we've ever had and yet he gets the crappy monument, died bankrupt (man couldn't balance a checkbook to save his life), and is now being written out of our history by a bunch of mouth breathers in Texas.

Weird Harold
08-05-2010, 04:10 PM
Makes sense. So, in the USA, you couldn't have, for instance, a Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplain_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representat ives), since that would be an obvious violation of this rule that the government can't make a national religion.

Don't confuse freedom OF religion for freedom FROM religion. The House Chaplin is "elected" by each Congress with no legal mandate to elect anyone.


That is precisely what is the case in, for instance, the UK. There the monarch (queen, at the moment) is officially the head of the state church. But there's at least as much religious freedom there as there is in the USA, and far less interference on religious grounds by all sorts of faith based groups.

That has not always been the case, and without specific safeguards of religious freedom does not have to remain the case. In the past, English Monarchs have not only authorized but encouraged persecutions and pogroms against any and all religions other than the "State Religion."

The First Amendment of the US Constitution Prohbits not only the establishment of a State Religion, but persecutions and pogrom such as have periodically swept through Europe.

It does NOT prohibit the support of religious institutions as long as all religious institutions have an equal opportunity to feed at the trough -- IOW, if one Church is tax exempt, then all Churches (aka synagogues, mosques, temples, congregations, parishes, et al) must be tax exempt.

It does not prohibit the government from funding or contracting with charitable organizations to provide services through their existing structure instead of forming a wasteful parallel government structure as long as every charitable organization with comparable capabilities has a chance at the trough.

Freedom of Religion is important and distinct from Freedom of Expression (Speech, Press, etc) because it is very easyto supress religion without suppressing anyone's right to their personal belief. It would be fairly simple to tax Roman Catholic Churches (for example) excessively so that their parish churches have to be moved to lower property value areas and their magnificent Cathedrals could be turned over to the Baptist sect of the hour.

It would be fairly simple to tax mosques and synagogues to the point that individual members of faithful could be held liable for the Tax burden and driven to bankruptcy so their property could be auctioned off to the Faithful of some tax exempt or tax supported denomination.

None of those onerous taxation schemes infringes on anyone's right to free speech or free expression -- they can say or do pretty much whatever they want -- but they do pretty severely infringe upon the practice of their religion.

Discriminatory zoning regulations could also be perverted to suppress religious freedom -- how many faithful of any religion would feel infringed upon if their house of worship could only be built within 100 yards of a pig farm above some minimum size on the downwind side of the prevailing wind patterns.

tworiverswoman
08-05-2010, 06:07 PM
There's nothing wrong with a law that CLEARLY spells out what it means, to prevent tinkerers down the line saying, "But what they REALLY meant was <insert flavor of the month political thought>."

Specifically spelling out that the Federal Government could not establish a Religion stops a lot of potential future problems in their tracks.

Humans being humans, and the majority of this country being of some Christian persuasion or another throughout its history, it shouldn't really be all that significant that there are various little "dangly bits" that show up here and there in our government institutions. There ARE provisos for alternates. For instance, an atheist is not required to swear on the Bible in a court of law, since doing so would be pointless.

So, to answer your original question, Gonzo -- I'd say, "Yeah. Freedom of Religion is required." Even though that's not what it actually says. I've already remarked once on "Freedom of Speech" and my belief that this was originally intended to relate predominantly to anti-government speech, but that's not really relevant.

I notice that the House Chaplain has been drawn from a wide variety of Christian denominations since its inception, and I find it mildly interesting to note that the current one is the ONLY Catholic ever. I would have to say that this post is as archaic and useless as the Electoral College and should really be done away with, but long-term bureaucracies create irrevocable traditions that are harder to kill than a nest of cockroaches.

nameless
08-05-2010, 06:29 PM
NB:
"One Nation Under God" (the pledge of allegiance- hence indirectly pledging allegiance to God, and we all know which one is meant...)

"In God We Trust" (on currency, so apparently Yahweh is also backing the dollar...)

That is absolutely NOT what the pledge of allegiance means. In fact, some of the earliest legal challenges to the pledge were Jehovah's witnesses who thought being required to pledge to a flag and a nation violated the "no false idols" commandment. The Supreme Court sided against them, then quickly reversed itself after the initial decision triggered a nation-wide wave of anti-Jehovah's Witness lynchings.

Weird Harold
08-05-2010, 06:40 PM
I notice that the House Chaplain has been drawn from a wide variety of Christian denominations since its inception, and I find it mildly interesting to note that the current one is the ONLY Catholic ever.

The Senate also has a Chaplain (http://senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Senate_Chaplain.htm)elected/reelected at the begining of each congress. They have also had one Catholic (in the mid-1800's) but the current office holder is unique to both houses:


Chaplain Rear Admiral Barry C. Black (Ret.)
Denomination: Seventh-day Adventist

Date of Appointment: July 7, 2003

The list of guest chaplains for both houses is more indicative of the ecumenical nature of the position as that's where the (few) non-christian chaplains are to be found.

Kimon
08-05-2010, 07:01 PM
That is absolutely NOT what the pledge of allegiance means. In fact, some of the earliest legal challenges to the pledge were Jehovah's witnesses who thought being required to pledge to a flag and a nation violated the "no false idols" commandment. The Supreme Court sided against them, then quickly reversed itself after the initial decision triggered a nation-wide wave of anti-Jehovah's Witness lynchings.

You're missing the point. By including the phrase the government was acknowledging both the existence of God (and yes, clearly the capitalized guy not just some random one) and that this God is above the nation. That is after all the clear implication of "under God". Hence, regardless of whether one actually means it, when stating the pledge one is also both acknowledging God, and paying him homage. This unwanted proskynesis is why some have spoken out against, and attempted to remove, this insertion.

GonzoTheGreat
08-06-2010, 05:05 AM
I notice that the House Chaplain has been drawn from a wide variety of Christian denominations since its inception, and I find it mildly interesting to note that the current one is the ONLY Catholic ever.Well, it depends a bit on how you see "a wide variety".

My reaction to that list was "they were all Protestants, with one single token Roman Catholic added very recently".

Weird Harold
08-06-2010, 02:27 PM
My reaction to that list was "they were all Protestants, with one single token Roman Catholic added very recently".

That single "token" is the third longest-serving House Chaplain. The Senate's token Catholic only served two years -- one term -- as did most of the Senate's Chaplains until 1920 or so.

Your "they were all protestants" applies equally to the House members who elected them. Do you really expect that a bunch of WASPs would elect a Budhist or Taoist monk or Native American Shaman to minister to their spiritual needs while in office?

Were there even any viable alternatives to some Christian denomination in Washington DC for most of the congresses to choose from?

Uno
08-06-2010, 10:33 PM
Your "they were all protestants" applies equally to the House members who elected them. Do you really expect that a bunch of WASPs would elect a Budhist or Taoist monk or Native American Shaman to minister to their spiritual needs while in office?

A Congress shaman would certainly be interesting, but that reminds me that the federal effort to exterminate Native religions and effect the conversion of American Indians to Christianity was probably the most notable violation of the establishment clause to date.

GonzoTheGreat
08-07-2010, 04:43 AM
Your "they were all protestants" applies equally to the House members who elected them.Does it really?
Have there been only a handful of Roman Catholic House members, so far?

Do you really expect that a bunch of WASPs would elect a Budhist or Taoist monk or Native American Shaman to minister to their spiritual needs while in office?No. But then, I'm sufficiently cynical to think that they did not really mean the words they spend on praising the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.

Were there even any viable alternatives to some Christian denomination in Washington DC for most of the congresses to choose from?There were the Jews, you know. And, presumably, there were Roman Catholics available in the 19th century.

After Utah became a state, there might even have been one or two Mormons who would have been willing to serve in this capacity. And, of course, L. Ron Hubbard would've been delighted.