Friday, May 13, 2011

No Freedom From Religion (*Edited)

"The federal government has no place telling schools, municipalities, or States what religious ceremonies or monuments they can sponsor."

What the First Amendment actually says is, "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."  The First Amendment states that 'Congress' shall not, but it goes on to say that it can not prohibit the free exercise thereof, when it comes to religion.

The struggle here is between what the federal government can't do, and what it can't stop us from doing.  If a city wants to make Islam the official religion, so long as a majority of the citizens agree with the decision, Congress isn't supposed to be able to stop such an endeavor, according to the First Amendment.  So, suits against Nativity Scenes on a Court House lawns, that weren't placed by Congress, should be thrown out, according to the First Amendment.

If the power or authority isn't enumerated as belonging to Congress, then it falls to the States and Municipalities themselves to decide.  There is literally no separation of church and state issue to be found in the First Amendment. 

As long as Congress was not making the establishment directly, I think a State could well do so itself, and even enact a State Religion and make State Holidays.  Certainly, according to the First Amendment, no prohibition of religious statues or monuments on or in schools, court house lawns, or council halls.  These issues should be decided by locally 'elected' officials.  So long as they act as good representatives of their electorate then they should remain in office, and any such ordinances they issue upon this, stand a First Amendment Constitutional challenge.  

Within only the bounds of the First Amendment, the People, not the federal government get to decide what, if any religious monuments or ceremonies take place on publicly owned land or buildings.  If that means school prayer, religious monuments, of ANY nature anyone chooses.  The right to the "free exercise thereof" is an absolute right, meaning it is explicitly stated, as belonging to the individual not to states.  


Wherein you find that, "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."

Hereby the Constitution clearly limits the states' ability to infringe upon citizens with anything that would deprive them of freedoms and their protected rights.  

While not found in the Bill of Rights, there ARE Constitutional protections for citizens against state sponsored religion.

So, while there is no separation of church and state claus to be found in the Bill of Rights, there are Constitutional protections that extend from the Fourteenth Amendment to those who don't wish to have state religion or religious iconography funded with their money.