Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The constitutionality of prayer by David Barton

These practices prove, at best, that the Framers simply did not share a common understanding of the Establishment Clause, and, at worst, that they, like other politicians, could raise constitutional ideals one day and turn their backs on them the next. Amazingly, Justice Souter asserts that his understanding of the constitutionality of prayer is more accurate than that of those who created the document! The dissent, however, quickly attacked Souter’s implication that history contained confused precedents on this issue. Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking for Justices William Rehnquist, Byron White, and Clarence

Thomas, explained:

From our Nation’s origin, prayer has been a prominent part of governmental ceremonies and proclamations. The Declaration of Independence, the document marking our birth as a separate people, “appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” and avowed “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In his first inaugural address, after swearing his oath of office on a Bible, George Washington deliberately made a prayer a part of his first official act as President. Such supplications have been a characteristic feature of inaugural addresses ever since.

Thomas Jefferson, for example, prayed in his first inaugural address. In his second inaugural address, Jefferson acknowledged his need for divine guidance and invited his audience to join his prayer. Similarly, James Madison, in his first inaugural address, placed his confidence “in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being with fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.” The other two branches of the Federal Government also have a long-established practice of prayer at public events.

There is simply no support for the proposition that the officially sponsored nondenominational invocation and benediction read by Rabbi Gutterman with no one legally coerced to recite them violated the Constitution of the United States. To the contrary, they are so characteristically American they could have come from the pen of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln himself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Western Civilization by David Barton

The issue in this case was the passive use of a portion of the Bible: specifically, the display of the Ten Commandments on the walls of schools in Kentucky. The posters of the Commandments were like the other numerous pictures and posters which adorned the school walls: they were passive displays. Students would look at them only if they wanted to and read them only if they were individually willing to take the time. The Ten Commandments had been posted in the schools because the Kentucky legislature believed it beneficial to expose students to the historical code which had formed the basis of civil laws in the western world for over two thousand years. Reflective of this, at the bottom of each poster was printed: “The secular application of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen in its adoption as the fundamental legal code of Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States.”

Despite both the passive and non-coercive nature of the poster, a legal challenge was lodged. When the Supreme Court heard the Kentucky legislature’s assertion that the Ten Commandments had secular importance, the Court erupted in a surprising outburst of religious prejudice:

The preeminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. When considering the Court’s claim that the purpose for posting the Ten Commandments was “plainly religious in nature,” one wonders if the Court had forgotten that depictions of the Ten Commandments appear in two different locations within the Supreme Court. As Chief Justice Warren Burger noted in Lynch v. Donnelly:

The very chamber in which oral arguments on this case were heard is decorated with a notable and permanent not seasonal symbol of religion: Moses with the Ten Commandments. Perhaps the Court had also forgotten that it is often easier to find the Ten Commandments displayed in government rather than in religious structures, and that our civil prohibitions against theft, murder, perjury, etc. are drawn from the Ten Commandments. There was much evidence and much professional opinion which disputed the Court’s assertion that the display of the Commandments was “plainly religious in nature.” In fact, Justices Marshall, Brennan, and Stevens three liberal Justices noted in Allegheny v. ACLU:

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Holy Writ and The Word of God by David Barton

Just these few examples illustrate that our Founders intended to “commingle sectarian and secular instruction in the public schools.” When the Court struck down the elective classes and ruled in favor of Mrs. Vashti McCollum who had initiated action against the classes, Justice Jackson argued in his concurring opinion that the Court had awarded her too much and gone too far. He explained:

The plaintiff, as she has every right to be, is an avowed atheist. What she has asked of the courts is that they not only end the “released time” plan but also ban every form of teaching which suggests or recognizes that there is a God. She would ban all teaching of the Scriptures. She especially mentions as an example of invasion of her rights “having pupils in the voluntarily attended, elective classes learn and recite such statements as, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’ ”And she objects to teaching that the King James Version of the Bible “is called the Christian’s Guide Book, the Holy Writ and the Word of God,” and many other similar matters. This Court is directing the Illinois courts generally to sustain plaintiff’s complaint without exception of any of these grounds of complaint.

Despite the fact that students attended the elective classes only with signed parental permission and that the instructors were non-school personnel paid through private funds, the Court ruled in favor of a single atheist not involved in the classes but who was personally offended by religion and therefore did not want any students taught religious principles. This decision foreshadowed what was soon to become routine: a single individual, unable to advance his or her goals through legitimate political and legislative means, convincing a willing Court to violate the rights of the overwhelming majority of its citizens in order to accommodate the wishes of that individual.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Religion of Christ by David Barton

Thanks be given unto Almighty God therefore, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die and after that the judgment HEBREWS 9:27 principally, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body to the earth to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner to receive the same again at the general resurrection by the mighty power of God. John Hart, Signer of the Declaration

This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed. Patrick Henry

Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son. Blessed be His holy name. John jay, Original Chief Justice U. S. Supreme Court

My soul I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator, whose tender mercies are all over His works, who hateth nothing that He hath made, and to the justice and wisdom of whose dispensations I willingly and cheerfully submit, humbly hoping from His unbounded mercy and benevolence, through the merits of my blessed Savior, a remission of my sins. George Mason, Father of Bill of Rights

With an awful reverence to the Great Almighty God, Creator of all mankind, being sick and weak in body but of sound mind and memory, thanks be given to Almighty God for the same. John Morton, Signer of the Declaration

I am constrained to express my adoration of the Supreme Being, the Author of my existence, in full belief of His Providential goodness and His forgiving mercy revealed to the world through Jesus Christ, through whom I hope for never ending happiness in a future state. Robert Treat Paine, Signer of the Declaration

To the eternal and only true God be all honor and glory now and forever. Amen! Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Signer of the Constitution

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christian Nation by David Barton

There is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United States; to the eyes of a foreigner they even appear to be too much so. The great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly surprising: there are some of them for everything; for instance, societies to distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to convert, civilize, educate the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans; to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent drunkenness, &c. Despite his dislike for religion, Murat nonetheless concluded that:

While a death-struggle is waging in Europe it is curious to observe the tranquility which prevails in the United States. Harriet Martineau of England traversed America from 1834 to 1836 before publishing her findings in 1837 in Society in America. Like Murat, she, too, was extremely harsh in her views toward Christianity, declaring: There is no evading the conviction that it Christianity is to a vast extent a monstrous superstition that is thus embraced by the tyrant, the profligate immoral, the weakling, the bigot obstinate, unreasonable, the coward, and the slave. Yet despite her own personal hostility toward Christianity, she concluded: The institutions of America are, as I have said, planted down deep into Christianity.

Its spirit must make an effectual pilgrimage through a society of which it may be called a native; and no mistrust of its influences can forever intercept that spirit in its mission of denouncing anomalies, exposing hypocrisy, rebuking faithlessness, raising and communing with the outcast, and driving out sordidness vileness from the circuit of this, the most glorious temple of society that has ever yet been reared.

The selections in this chapter, taken from both government documents and private writings, from both proponents and opponents of Christianity, all proclaim the same truth. Despite the immense quantity of citations presented here, they still represent only a minuscule portion of that which could be invoked. It was due to the massive amount of available documentation that the 1892 Supreme Court did not hesitate to declare: This is a religious people.

This is historically true. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. No other conclusion is possible after an honest examination of America’s history. Nonetheless, revisionist historians and many contemporary courts have been effective in portraying a different view of American history. They overtly claim that both our heritage and the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers mandate a religion-free public arena; that claim is clearly refuted by the facts.