It has come to my attention that there is absolutely no constitutional basis for the separation of church and state.
Someone just asked me where, exactly, separation of church and state is mentioned in our constitution. I commented that it did not appear until the first amendment. In reply, I was told to read it again, and presented with a quote of the first amendment. Somehow that “proves” that the first amendment does not uphold separation of church and state.
What do you say to that? :smack:
Uh, the first amendment doesn’t specifically “uphold separation of church and state”?
Even an antireligious atheist such as myself can concede that. The constitution also doesn’t say anything explicit about abortion, or internet commerce, or the FCC, but (for better or worse) that doesn’t mean the government can’t do anything about them.
I think you both are missing the point. The OP says a friend or acquaintance is saying that the first ammendment doesn’t bear on separation of state and church. I get the impression the OP feels otherwise.
Watch it or I’ll throw you in the clink. Excuse me a second, I hear the plink plink of my piano. The precise wording “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution. However, it is a judicial concept of how to deal with the wording that IS in the 1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Now, I’ll slink back into silence.
“It has come to my attention that there is absolutely no constitutional basis for the separation of church and state.”
Let it be known that this statement was not made with any amount of seriousness.
Q.E.D., you got it.
Let me also add some emphasis to my original post:
“Someone just asked me where, exactly, separation of church and state is mentioned in our constitution. I commented that it did not appear until the first amendment.”
They’ve just stepped up the intelligence a notch.
"the constitution says that the government cannot make a law about religion.
however, you can see the slippery slope of ridiculousness as the court cases move along.
separation of church and state never existed, but a few people kept repeating it till the point where today, some think its included in our constitution"
I must stop talking to this person. My brain is on the verge of implosion.
The original 10 amendments were added because some of the delegates would not approve the constitution without them. They were added to alay thier fears. So apparently some felt they had been “left out” of the original document.
The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear until 1801 in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Bishop of Danbury.
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and 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 and State."
In Jefferson’s Proustian sentence, separation of church and state is clearly logically linked to the establishment clause, so the person who told you that there is no constitutional basis for the separation of church and state is being obtuse, probably a fundamentalist Christian.
Their. And you’re correct, Roger_Mexico. It may not have been directly said in exactly language the way we consider it now, but that’s why it DIDN’T say “Separation of Church and State.” It would leave other relgious topics open to gov’t control, which is what the Founding Fathers meant to make sure didn’t happen. Which is why while I CAN see saying that it’s not in the Constitution, as technically it’s not. But that’s obsurdly obtuse.
And if you want to be nitpicky, one could actually derive from the Constitution, that the ideal wasn’t separation of church and state, but that the gov’t wouldn’t be involved at ALL in religion. Including in ‘state’ itself. But that’s if the only document you’re going by is the Constitution, and not using the other documents to help interpret. Either way, silly silly.
It’s presently government policy on both Federal and State levels that the poor among us be adequately fed, housed, and provided with medical care, up to a point. It’s also the policy of most churches, synagogues, and other places of worship that alms for the benefit of the poor be collected and distributed to them.
Arguably, there is nothing untoward about a government using the auspices of the religious groups in providing such aid – and there are some sound reasons why it might wish to do so, including leverage – provided that no religious strings are attached to the receiving of such aid.
Bush’s faith-based initiative was an attempt to institute such programs; other similar programs have been in existence without protest for decades. (I volunteered at an interchurch mission that offered GED tutoring, funded by a government grant accounted for quite separately from the other church-based programs that the mission undertook.)
This would be a good example of a case where there is no “wall of separation.”
On the other hand, any action that uses government power to require or coerce an act that is demonstrably religious in nature or that unduly restricts one’s freedom of belief is quite explicitly forbidden by the First Amendment. This is where the folks arguing as your friend does, appletreats, fall into error – no matter what they think the Will of God may be, it’s unconstitutional for a government body to act officially on the basis of their belief in God.
That’s an easy one:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
What part of “establishment of religion” don’t you understand? If Congress can’t establish, nor prohibit one’s exercise, exactly what intermingling of Congress (and via the 14th, the states) and religion is left?
Just because the Constitution doesn’t say “separation” doesn’t mean the actual language in the Consitutution doesn’t compel that result…
So how are so-called “blue laws” constitutional? Seems to me, since they prohibit certain “immoral” activities on the Christian day of worship, they “are laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
And before someone points out the “Congress shall make no law” part, the 14th Amendment applies the same restriction to state governments.
“Blue laws” are constitutionally justified by the assertion that “providing for a common day of rest” has a religeously neutral, secular purpose.
It’s BS, of course, but not a lot more so than much other constitutional hair-splitting.
The congregation of the Danbury Baptist Church, technically…
Did you know the word “gullible” doesn’t appear in the Constitution?