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NO “HOLIDAY” GIFTS ALLOWED AT THE HOLIDAY STORE

Posted by Andrew Roman on November 16, 2009

Christmas intolerance in the name of tolerance is alive and well in one Massachusetts town.

In a nation where the mainstream media shivers at the prospect of attributing the actions of an “Allahu Akbar” shouting mass murderer to his religion; where liberals remind the rest of us that fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Jews pose as much a threat to the safety of Americans as fundamentalist Islamists; where “offensive” religious symbols are removed from city seals and emblems because of some phantom violation of rights; where fallacious “church and state” arguments help fuel a small minority to squash the rights of a faith-based majority, the plague of moral equivalency not only thrives, it has joined forces with the anti-religion/secularism-at-all-costs movement.

At Byam Elementary school in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Christmas-related items have been banned from being sold in the store’s annual holiday gift shop. Items that depict Christmas in any way – Santa Claus, reindeer, wooden soldiers, mistletoe, angels, even red and green tissue paper – are off-limits at a school store that specifically stays open through the holidays to make money. Yet, nothing related to Christmas, or any other religious holiday, can be sold there during the holiday season. So while non-holiday-looking holiday gifts are allowed to be bought and sold in the school’s holiday store, the holiday itself is not allowed to be represented there.

Make sense?

If this doesn’t epitomize liberalism today, nothing does.

Rita Savard at the Lowell Sun writes:

After meeting with members of the Byam Elementary School PTO, two mothers asking to put the holidays back into the school’s annual holiday gift shop say Byam isn’t budging. Kathryn McMillan and Kathleen Cullen, who both have children at Byam, asked school officials to allow all holiday items at the gift shop following a ban on Santa, candy canes, stockings, and all Christmas, Hanukkah and other “religious items.”

But a meeting with some PTO parents on Thursday night grew heated as emotions got in the way.

McMillan went on to say that during the meeting, one parent – obviously university educated – got up and exclaimed, “If we allow Santa, what do we say if a child brings in a swastika? Do we allow that too?”

The brilliance and clarity of the secular left never ceases to amaze me.

“If we allow Santa, what do we say if a child brings in a swastika?”

This, of course, as we all know, is an alarming trend pervasive in many public schools across America today, and has been for decades - namely, kids carrying their Yuletide swastikas into schools that sell Santa mugs. It’s known as the dreaded Santa-Hitler Effect. As a result, school stores from coast to coast are now selling such Noel-inspired goodies as Adolf Eichmann holiday candles, Heinrich Himmler orange preserves and Josef Mengele peanut brittle.

Only university-numbed, rabid church-and-state knee-jerks can find a correlation between the symbol of an oppressive totalitarian regime responsible for the murder of millions – including six-million Jews – and the selling of a toy featuring the likeness of jolly old St. Nick.

(Is this like comparing Global Warming denial to Holocaust denial?)

Superintendent Donald Yeoman said, “It’s operated under those same rules for a number of years with success and without complaint.”

I can’t help but wonder how many “Santa” complaints or “Little Drummer Boy” grievances were received during the previous one hundred years when Christmas wasn’t banished from public view.

Superintendent Donald Yeoman told The Sun on Tuesday that the rules for the gift shop are under the authority of Byam Principal Jane Gilmore. Ultimately, said Yeoman, the policy for the gift shop was set so no child would feel left out.

And so, Mr. Yeoman, I must ask … exactly what lesson does all of this instill in our children? How do we teach our kids to tolerate differences when the symbols of those differences are banned by the very people who claim that embracing those differeences is so critical?

It’s the pathetic reality of today’s five-hundred pound gorilla in the American public school classroom.

One on hand, schools are obsessed with multiculturalism – elevating every conceivable culture and civilization to an equal plane (except the American culture, of course) in the name of deifying diversity. On the other, the Judeo-Christian value system – the ethical and moral foundation of this nation – is treated as an offensive anti-Constitutional tool of exclusion. Thus, at Christmas time, the majority belief is swept aside, removed from view and suppressed for fear of “leaving others out.” Mind you, no one is forced to buy anything at the holiday store. No one is made to believe in Christmas, or become a Christian.

Ever hear of the Bill of Rights?

Wasn’t there something about the “free exercise thereof” somewhere in there?

This isn’t a matter of “endorsing” a religion, or “establishing” a state faith of some kind – which is what every fraidy-cat, leftist with a “church-and-state” complex fearful of a theocratic regime shudders at the thought of. This isn’t about anything other than recognizing the cold-hard fact that Christmas a real holiday – a federal holiday – that is celebrated by the vast majority of Americans. The fact that there are some who don’t – like me, being a Jew – means absolutely nothing.

Sadly, if it turned out that every student in that school openly and eagerly celebrated Christmas, there would still be some politically correct, leftist boob somewhere frantically waving his pocket edition of the Constitution – or some bitter atheist trying to avenge a lifetime of feeling “left out” – hell bent on taking away everyone else’s joy in the name of preserving the “separation between church and state,” blah, blah, blah.

Personally, I never once felt left out of anything. Indeed, most of the Jews I know never felt threatened, excluded, shunned or outcast at Christmas time.

It takes nothing away from me – or anyone – to have Christmas or Hanukah trinkets sold at a school store at Christmas time. It isn’t a method of indoctrination. It isn’t an imposition of faith. It isn’t cultivation. It’s not propaganda. It isn’t the duplicitous and subversive establishment of a theocracy. And as long as I am not told I have to practice a specific religion by the state – which is precisely what the First Amendment protects me from – there is nothing to bust a blood vessel about.

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8 Responses to “NO “HOLIDAY” GIFTS ALLOWED AT THE HOLIDAY STORE”

  1. Firstly, thank you for this wonderful article, I have quite a bit to say about this.

    To the people that want to kill Santa:

    “If we allow Santa, what do we say if a child brings in a swastika?”

    You know what.. before I EVEN get into what is wrong with the whole theory of taking Santa out of school, let me tell you what you do if a kid brings in a swastika, ready? Absolutely-nothing. That kid is being brought up by some srsly screwed up people and unless you intend to get child services involved just stay out of it because by the time that kid is at an age where it is too late and they are too brain washed to come back from it, they will find out on their own what happens to kids that bring swastikas to school. This will take place outside of school and if you can’t imagine whats going to happen to them you aren’t very astute.

    Yea… Santa is totally evil, NOT. Man, things have changed so much from when I was a kid. All holidays were welcome in my school, my Jewish friends brought in dreidels and taught us the game… There were 2 African girls in my class that shared stories about Kwanzaa, there was Christmas presents and secret Santa and gift shops where kids could buy several different kinds of presents for family and crafts to make presents..

    You know what gets in the way of religious freedom? It isn’t the children I’ll tell you that. It is the adults, the parents spreading HATE and prejudice.

    I am srsly irritated that kids are not allowed to say the pledge of allegiance in school anymore either, or pray, if praying before a test helps a person get their head straight then WHY deny them that!!

    Before you start calling me some up-tight Christian who is clearly pissed that kids can’t SAY “Santa or Christmas” in the ear shot of the teacher without getting in major trouble let me just stop you there. I am an atheist. I don’t believe for a moment that there is a god or that Jesus died for my sins or any of that other crud. What I DO believe is the RIGHT yes the RIGHT, last time I checked THIS WAS AMERICA where people have the RIGHT to religious freedom and when you start by telling CHILDREN that religious freedom is wrong WTF DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN AS THEY AGE?!?! Good going people. Lets raise another prejudice generation, just what we flipping need. HELLO PEOPLE WE WERE ACTUALLY GETTING SOME WHERE HERE. Lets not back track now, please.

    “In God we trust” is on our money and I find that mildly irritating but it doesn’t stop me from spending the stuff. You don’t just decide that because some people don’t like something that NO ONE gets to do it.

    I think telling someone who believes in God that they CANNOT pray is AS offensive as telling someone who doesn’t believe in god that they MUST pray. I believe in the right to choose.

    • Andrew Roman said

      Thank you so very much for your thoughtful response. I sincerely appreciate your perspective, your courtesy, and your reasoned reply. I like your thinking – and I didn’t think you were uptight at all!

      This was the money line:

      “You don’t just decide that because some people don’t like something that NO ONE gets to do it.”

      I invite you to respond more often, regardless of your positions. Thanks a million!

      Andrew Roman

      • Sir Sdrian said

        Hello Andrew!
        Adrian here. Just found your site and I am extremely interested in this particular topic.
        For starters, Santa is in no way a religious icon. He is a marketing tool used to take attention away from the original point of Christmas and make money. Not bad as far as marketing goes, possibly the second greatest cash grab scheme since the Bible. Is it really so bad to promote Christmas as being a loving family time covered in presents and good cheer instead of being Christ’s birthday? No matter how strongly I believe in Jesus, I can’t for the life of me find the hurt in turning one religious holiday into something that spans religions. I personally celebrate Christmas with my Jewish wife and her family.
        Recognizing only one religion in any publicly funded institution is directly flying in the face of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. If you want the right to belief, you need to allow others the same.
        By having Santa in your school (or anywhere else for that matter) is a slap in the face to most fundamentalists. To them I say turn the other cheek because, fact of the matter is, if we openly recognize one religion in our public school systems, we have to recognize all of them and I think if you put Santa and Allah next to each other, the fundamentalists will surely go for the well recognized wizened looking old man with the great white beard. Tee hee.
        Let us all celebrate doing something nice for other people in a non-religious, all inclusive manner.

      • Sir Sdrian said

        Just wanted to clarify a point from my previous rant and add that I am obviously a Canuck and am not fully acquainted with the American Constitution but the arguments about the separation of church and state are, in fact, irrelevant. This is about common sense and true equality. No matter how the holiest of holy American documents were worded, I repeat, if you want religious freedom, you must also grant it. Any government official representing the government must uphold the freedom of religion granted by NOT thanking God or Christ or whomever he/she reveres at functions which he/she is appearing as a political figure. Religion is a personal choice and is for church, meeting halls, synagogues, temples, and your own home. By taking a position of office in which you are to represent the views of a wide variety of people, showing solidarity with one segment of the people suggests a deaf ear will be turned toward those who do not believe the same. If any government openly endorses one religion, it alienates another. Would you follow a leader who openly praised Allah or any other non-christian deity? It may not be intentional and it may not personally offend you but the underlying point of every organized religion is to point out how right their believers are and how wrong those non-believers are. Thus, politicians and politics in general should not contain religion openly even though the views of those politicians may have been formed, in part, by religious doctrine.
        As much as morality should be a prerequisite for holding an official government position, religion hasn’t seemed to instill this. All North American politicians need to profess to be religious in a Christian nature yet not a day goes by without one of them getting caught with their pants down or their hands in some cookie jar. Religion is not the road to morality; intelligence, rational thought, and true love for all life is.

  2. Ann said

    People do have a right to choose. However sir, this whole situation has been blown out of proportion. I grew up in the town that is talked about quite harshly in your article. Yet, as you insinuate, I never turned away from my religion; I am an extremely devout Catholic. Nor in school were we disallowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance; we continued that practice through our high school years, nor would a student be reprimanded if they chose to pray while in school. I only graduated from that town in 2008, and the school system has not changed that dramatically in one and one half years.

    You ask if anyone has heard of the Bill of Rights, and yet you find it acceptable to insinuate that the ideal of separation of church and state as nonsense and drivel. This idea was one of the founding principles of our country; if you do not appreciate it, no one stopping you from moving another country in which you can celebrate Christmas anyway you want. However you might want to watch your tongue, in other countries it is common practice to stone someone to death for committing adultery, I wonder what they would do to someone speaking out against the government as you seem to have an affinity to do?

    Just as a parting fyi… before Hitler and the Nazi Party used the swastika as their symbol, the swastika had been around for thousands of years prior, and had been considered a sign of sun, power, strength, and good luck.

    • Andrew Roman said

      Ann,

      Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your comments.

      Regarding the First Amendment, the “ideal” of separating church and state, as you put it, exists nowhere in the Constitution. There is no such passage, and it is not a “founding principle.” Indeed, the federal government was set up to run as a secular one, as opposed to a theocracy, but there is simply no basis whatsoever in any doctrine, any edict, any action or any explaination put forth by any of the Framers that religion was to have no place in public life – including government. The Amendment, as crafted by the Framers, simply meant that no official national religion would be established. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact, at the time of the Bill of Rights’ adoption, there were actually states with official religions. This, quite literally, blows a hole in your perception that a “separation of church and state” is a Founding Principle. The restriction on Congress on establishing a religion was put in place to limit the influence of the federal government in these matters. In fact those very words – separation of church and state – weren’t even composed until the 19th Century. The Bill of Rights was adopted in the 18th Century.

      From my article, First Amendment Musings. Please read carefully:

      James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” said that the first amendment was worded as it was because “the people feared one sect might obtain a preeminence, or two combine together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform.”

      Note the word “sect.” It helps to illustrate a dirty little secret that may come as a surprise to the enlightened. The vast majority of the American population at the time of the founding was not only religious but also Christian. (There, I said it!) And comprising that overwhelming majority were many different Christian denominations – or “sects.” Thus, as Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, one of the founders of Harvard Law School and considered “the foremost of American legal writers,” wrote:

      “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.”

      The Founders, in writing the establishment clause, were actually prohibiting the exclusivity of one Christian sect from becoming the national sect – not keeping religion altogether out of the public square. Read the words of North Carolina Governor Johnston during his state’s convention to discuss ratification of the Constitution. It lends wonderful insight into the national mindset regarding the ratification debate. He said:

      “The people of Massachusetts and Connecticut are mostly Presbyterians. In every other state, the people are divided into a great number of sects. In Rhode Island, the tenets of the Baptists, I believe, prevail. In New York, they are divided very much: the most numerous are the Episcopalians and the Baptists. In New Jersey, they are as much divided as we are. In Pennsylvania, if any sect prevails more than others, it is that of the Quakers. In Maryland, the Episcopalians are most numerous, though there are other sects. In Virginia, there are many sects; you all know what their religious sentiments are. So in all the Southern States they differ; as also in New Hampshire. I hope, therefore, that gentlemen will see there is no cause of fear that any one religion shall be exclusively established.”

      Quite obviously, there was never an intention to remove God from public view – only the desire to keep God in plain view without having to fear any sort of reprisal from the government.

      Justice Joseph Story also wrote:

      “We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution).”

      Despite this, in 1947’s landmark case Everson v. Board of Education, the First Amendment was treated to a new, restrictive interpretation, reviving and subjecting the “separation of church and state” syntax to a twentieth century makeover. Thanks to Justice Hugo Black, the following words essentially paved the way for all subsequent restrictions placed on public religiosity.

      Wrote Black:

      “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

      I don’t even own a black robe, and I am saying categorically that he could not have been more wrong.

      The First Amendment “erects” nothing. Rather, it limits what Congress can do – namely, prohibiting the establishment of a state religion. It also prohibits Congress from restricting the free exercising of one’s religion, whatever it may be.

      It’s certainly true that neither Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists or the writings of Joseph Story constitute law. Nor do the elucidations of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers. The Constitution itself – in its succinct brilliance – is indeed the law of the land, and anything else is ultimately fodder for think tanks, opinion columns and debating societies. But to whom else should we turn to help explicate the meaning of the Constitution? To whom should the judiciary turn to in helping to determine the Constitutionality of disputes? Isn’t it invaluable to understand exactly what the founders intended when they composed the Constitution as well as the interpretations of their contemporaries? Aren’t their expositions and thoughts regarding the very document they created (of which there is an enormous wealth available) absolutely crucial to any interpretation of the Constitution? Isn’t it essential to put it all in proper context?

      And isn’t it clear that the creators of the Constitution did not ever mean to vanquish religion from public life?

      Thank you, Ann.

      • Ann said

        I do realize that the phrase “separation of church and state” was coined by Thomas Jefferson in January 1802, when he wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists in order to assuage their fears of a national religion. The framers feared a state denominational church based upon European history. The constitutional restrictions were targeted at our government to prevent it from making a denominational religion the state church. The Supreme Court first holds in Reynolds v. U.S. (1878) that the wall of separation phrase “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [first] amendment.” In 1948, McCollum v. Board of Education continued and their holding forbids religious teachings in public schools. I highly doubt that you have as high an education and have spent years reviewing and interpreting the Constitution as justices on the Supreme Court, so maybe you should not be so quick to judge and dismiss Supreme Court rulings.

      • Andrew Roman said

        Ann,

        I appreciate your reply once again.

        Your elitism is showing. The level of one’s education is not any sort of crtierion for whether or not a ruling is sound or Constitutional. Indeed, in all walks of life, some of the most learned people in history have made terrible decisions, and likewise, those without any degrees have made incredibly sound ones. Wisdom is not gained from a textbook – and given the choice between a person with a handful of degrees, and someone with good values and common sense, I will always choose the latter. Knowledge is no substitute for doing what’s right. It’s interesting how you are ready to dismiss the men who actually wrote the Constitution, those who actually debated its merits, those who were around at the time of its adoption in favor of those who lived a century or more later. I would think that, definitionally, the Framers of the Constitution would have a better idea of what they meant by their own words.

        For instance, the people who served on the Supreme Court when Roe vs Wade made abortion legal across the country were learned indviduals with a plethora of degrees and legal knowledge.

        So what?

        Does that mean it was automatically good law? From where did these “learned” people derive the notion that a right to privacy exists in the Constitution? Or that within the Constitution there existed eminations and penumbras where unwritten rules were hidden? Or that the federal government should even involve itself in such an issue?

        Education, thank God, means nothing in terms of good values and judgement.

        In today’s era of ever-expanding federal government – and the slow correlative corrosion of personal liberties – the “separation of church and state” debate isn’t simply a matter of making a definitional distinction between that which is considered the “public square” and that which falls under the awning of “government.”

        For one, government has become more and more intrusive in the lives of Americans over the course of time. Thus, those elements that have historically been outside the realm of government control have shifted – and continue to shift – into their ever-annexing clutches (health care, the automobile industry, the banking industry). The idea that religion – specifically the free exercise thereof – is somehow immune from the metastasizing influence of the federal government is naive. The Supreme Court already has twisted the Establishment Clause far from the Framers’ intent – from validating the so-called erection of the Jeffersonian wall separating government and religion, to the removal of prayer in public schools, to the ongoing battles to make the Pledge of Allegiance (with its reference to God) unconstitutional.

        Second, the concept of separating “church and state” – a phrase I find particularly obnoxious – has evolved disjointedly into an unfounded belief that the banishing of all things religious from public settings, such as city parks, town squares, government buildings and city streets is (or can be found to be) constitutionally sound.

        “Separationists” and sympathetic organizations (such as the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation) allege that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is being violated when, for instance, a nativity scene is put up on the grounds of a city hall; or when students participate in Easter plays at school; or when the tablets displaying the Ten Commandments are visible at a county court house; or when public prayers are conducted at high school football games. Indeed, each year, stories from across the country tell of “offended” people who demand that Christmas lights be taken down from the neighborhood playground, or that decorations along streets be removed because of some phantom violation of the Establishment Clause.

        These are things that are happening regularly in this country – and they are entirely inconsistent with the Founders’ understanding of religion, its role in society, and their vision of keeping the federal government from meddling with religious liberties.

        It isn’t clear exactly how such aforementioned activities translate into a Congressional establishment of religion or an infringement of the free exercise thereof, but clearly, a century and a half of pre-Hugo Black originalist interpretations of the First Amendment didn’t prevent ardent “separationists” from pursuing their “separation of church and state” agendas, did it?

        And that is really what sits at the heart of this entire discussion – the fallacious “separation of church and state” arguments, all based on one misinterpreted private letter written by one man who wasn’t even in the country when the content of the First Amendment was originally debated and created.

        The idea of such a thing – a constitutionally judicious argument for the “separation of church and state” based on a phrase pilfered from a Thomas Jefferson letter – is a concocted notion that has been nurtured and normalized thanks in part to the Supreme Court’s “incorporation” of the Establishment Clause in the 1947 Everson vs Board of Education case – that is, the Supreme Court’s application of the Establishment Clause directly to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As originally intended and applied by those who wrote the First Amendment, the modern view of the Establishment Clause – born with that case – is almost unrecognizable.

        Whereas the Establishment Clause was originally designed to protect the states, Everson vs Board of Education effectively took power away from the sovereign states – and thus delivered a blow to federalism itself. In other words, all federal “church and state” cases were to be exercised against state laws.

        Justice Hugo Black, writing for a 5-4 majority, adopted the position that government shall not be touched by or tainted by religion in any way, nor will the business of government be conducted under its influence. In using the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause to apply the Establishment Clause to the states, the Founders’ original intent was forever altered.

        Black wrote:


        “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

        Even if one subscribes to the idea of the First Amendment erecting a wall between church and state, the notion that the wall is to be “impregnable” is spun from whole cloth, without an iota of corroborating history or tradition.

        The Framers wanted to make certain that the new federal government did not infringe on the growing religious freedom and tolerance taking root across much of the young nation. Despite popular modern day rhetoric to the contrary, they did not wish to ensure that religion was without influence on government at all costs. In truth, there is much from the era of the founding that indicates that the vast majority of Framers supported religion because it helped to foster a more virtuous population, something that was deemed crucial for a free society to function successfully.

        Take, for instance, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, reenacted by the First Congress:


        Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.

        Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in the 1985 case Wallace v Jaffree, argued:


        The Establishment Clause did not require government neutrality between religion and irreleigion, nor did it prohibit the Federal Government from providing nondiscriminitory aid to religion. There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build a “wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson.

        Indeed, the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, proclaimed that there existed one law for all men, the Law of our Creator – the Natural Law on which the Founders built this nation. As talk show host and constitutional attorney Mark Levin writes in his book Liberty and Tyranny:


        In 1776, when representatives of the colonies signed the Declaration, they did so for the first time as representatives of states and as part of a loose confederation. The designation of the colonies as states did not erase the long histories and traditions of the former colonies. Many continued to promote religion with taxes and land grants. Some states required officials to affirm their allegiance to a particular religion or religious sect by way of an oath, although this practice was dropped a few decades after the founding. And some states continued to discriminate against certain religions. But when they bound themselves to the Declaration’s principles, they bound themselves to, among other things, religious liberty. It is little understood that the Declaration was a declaration of political and religious liberty.

        The Declaration’s most famous passage reads:


        We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

        While the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land, it is quintessential in understanding and establishing the foundation of principles on which the United States of America was constructed. And because any and all discussions of the Constitution (adopted eleven years after the Declaration), and the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights (added four years after that), can only be properly scrutinized if the intent of the Founders is taken into consideration, the Declaration of Independence, with its “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” is critical to that task.

        The Founders’ believed that rights could not be bestowed by men upon other men – and thus they could not be taken away by other men; these rights, they affirmed, can only come from God.

        Thus, in crafting the Constitution, the Framers were very specific in the words they chose.

        It is in their meaning of the words that the interpretation of the Constitution is best rooted.

        James Madison said:


        I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers.

        If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shapes and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject.

        What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founders, will I believe appear to all unbiased Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.

        Indeed, the majority of the Framers were opposed to the establishment a national church for fear that it would threaten the free exercise of religion and take away powers rightfully assigned to the sovereign states.

        That is the key – and it is most relevant.

        Interestingly enough, the Establishment Clause actually served to protect established state churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

        Antithetical to today’s conventional wisdom, the men of that generation thought it perfectly acceptable for religion to play an influential role on how government conducted itself.

        As Michael Medved writes in his book The 10 Big Lies About America:


        In his first inaugural address George Washington declared his ‘first official act” his “fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe” that He might bless the new government.

        In his farewell address, President Washington said, “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

        Former Attorney General Edwin Meese writes, “There is nothing in the drafting history of the First Amendment that contradicts Washington’s understanding of the appropriate relationship between government and religion.”

        In his book The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, Meese details the evolution of the Establishment Clause:


        In the First Congress, the committee proposal in the House read, “no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.” But some evinced concern that the phrase might put in doubt the legitimacy of some of the states’ own religious establishments.

        James Madison believed modifying the phrasing to prohibit a “national religion” would be sufficient to allay that concern and would make clear that the new government was not to impinge on the rights of conscience by establishing a governmental connection to a church.

        Representative Samuel Livermore of New Hampshire suggested that “Congress shall make no laws touching religion or the rights of conscience.”

        The House finally settled on this language: “Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of Conscience be infringed.”

        The Senate preferred the formula “Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion,” which likely would have permitted direct financial support to a sect.

        In the end, the conference between the House and the Senate agreed on the current version: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

        The addition of the word “respecting” is significant.

        It prohibits Congress from legislating either to establish a national religion or to disestablish a state religion.

        Meese goes on to quote Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard – considered one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the country – who wrote, “A growing body of evidence suggests that the Framers principally intended the Establishment of Religion Clause to perform two functions: to protect state religious establishments from national displacement, and to prevent the national government from aiding some, but not all, religions.”

        The unrelenting separationists of today, with the help of mass media, the entertainment industry, and the post-Hugo Black thinkocracy, have harvested such influence and power in the culture – beyond the basic intention of keeping government religion-free – that religion is increasingly perceived as best removed altogether from public influence. Such thinking would have been implausible to the founding generation – even Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The idea that Christian services actually took place in the Capitol Building at one time – and attended regularly by such “deists” as Thomas Jefferson – would probably surprise a great deal of people. That many of the men who participated in drafting the First Amendment also attended these religious services in the federal Capitol Building is, too, deliciously ironic.

        Michael Medved writes:


        In Ten Tortured Words, an invaluable book on the Establishment Clause, Stephen Mansfield writes: “For all of that generation, the understanding was certain that the states were permitted to establish religion or support religion as aggressively as the people allowed.” President Jefferson explicitly shared that viewpoint, expressed in a public address of March 1805: “In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.”

        Sadly, it has become increasingly acceptable over the course of the last half-century to view religion as a largely private matter meant to yield minimal impact on the culture at large. For many, that’s what the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment has come to mean. Even the City of Los Angeles, under pressure from fervent separationists, acquiesced to their demands and removed a cross from its city seal, despite the fact that religion played a major role in the city’s founding. (“City of Angels”).

        If, for instance, public schools allot a minute each morning for students to pray if they so choose, how exactly is that inconsistent with the First Amendment? Has the federal government mandated that the student is required to believe in God? Has a theocracy been established? Has the student been required to change his religious affiliation (if he has any), or even pray at all?

        Of course not.

        The fact that such actions offend some or make others feel unsettled may be unfortunate, but it is irrelevant to the constitutionality of those actions in regard to the Establishment Clause. If being offended was a sound criterion for prohibiting an action, the entire constitution could be found unconstitutional. The fact is, people are offended all the time by government actions. That does not make the action unconstitutional.

        The Framers made sure that the Constitution created a secular federal government with limited powers and very specific restrictions – including prohibiting the creation of a national religion. Time has seen the Framers’ intent turned into what is now a seemingly natural and obvious antagonism between religion and government.

        It is a sad reality with no historical basis.

        Andrew Roman

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