Freedom of Religion NOT Freedom from Religion


By —— Bio and Archives May 5, 2009

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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.” First amendment to the Constitution of the United States, December 15, 1791

When Congress ratified this amendment to the Constitution, they did so with very specific goals. In much of Europe the nation states maintained state-sanctioned religions, religions that were either compulsory for the citizenry or were at the very least strongly encouraged through financial support via taxation and other assistance from the government. Consider Spain; when Ferdinand of Castille and Isabella of Aragon united their respective kingdoms on the Iberian peninsula into the first nation state-Spain-they completed the “Reconquista”, finally driving Islam from Europe and establishing a Catholic monarchy. In order to unite the Iberian kingdoms they decreed that Catholicism would be the official religion, and thus Moslems and Jews were forced to either convert or leave.

This gave rise to Torquemada and the infamous Spanish Inquisition; a state religion required a religious police to enforce belief. This was also true in Russia, where the Prince of Muscovy forced his subjects to practice Russian Orthodoxy, which happily was under the Tsar`s thumb. The German kingdoms had their own religions and you either worshipped as your burghermeister decreed or else. Of course, in England there had been bitter religious wars between Catholic and Protestant, with the Church of England emerging as the official religion of Britannia. Many of the Colonies had been settled by dissenting British citizens seeking religious freedom-Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, Puritans in Massachusetts, etc. The newly independent “states” were intended to be just that-and not mere provinces. The question of state-sanctioned religions had to be addressed, and the solution that seemed most equable was to banish state sanctioning of any particular religion in favor of free competition and freedom of conscience.

That was never intended to banish religions, quite the contrary; it was rather to keep the power of the State away from religion so that the pious could practice freely. That is why the amendment says ” or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Thomas Jefferson, writing to the Banbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1801, described this amendment as:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

This prohibition was clearly intended to restrain governmental interference with the right of the individual to believe and worship as he sees fit. The “Wall of Separation” was put in place to secure freedom of religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Here are a few quotes from the men who created the United States:

John Adams and John Hancock:
“We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” [April 18, 1775]

John Adams:
The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity. I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
(John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress)

John Quincy Adams:
“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?” Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity”?”
(1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.)

Charles Carroll
” Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Benjamin Franklin
“God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” (Constitutional Convention of 1787)

John Jay:
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” (Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, p. 393.)

James Madison
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity-to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

This is but a minor sampling of the thoughts of the Founding Fathers on the importance of religion-particularly the Christian religion-and the welfare of our republic. Faith was to be a one-way street, with religion being the basis of the American system of governance but beyond the influence of government to control or manipulate.

But there has been an aggressive movement by Atheists and Secular Humanists to redefine terms, and what was intended as a protection of religion became a spearhead to drive religion from public life.

Yet by demanding that religion be removed from public life the government is establishing a religion. In Footnote 11 of Torcaso vs. Watson, the 1961 Supreme Court ruling:

“[Footnote 11] Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others. See Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S. App. D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127; Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 153 Cal. App. 2d 673, 315 P.2d 394; II Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 325-327; 21 id., at 797; Archer, Faiths Men Live By (2d ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138, 254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695, 712; Year Book of American Churches for 1961, at 29, 47. “

This references the 1957 Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda case in which the Fellowship sought tax exempt status in the vein of a religious organization:

“It is perfectly obvious that any type of statutory exemption that discriminates between types of religious belief—that discriminates… on the basis of the content of such belief—would offend both the federal and state constitutional provisions… Under the constitutional provision the state has no power to decide the validity of the beliefs held by the group involved… Thus the only inquiry in such a case is the objective one of whether or not the belief occupies the same place in the lives of its holders that the orthodox beliefs occupy in the lives of believing majorities, and whether a given group that claims the exemption conducts itself the way groups conceded to be religious conduct themselves. The content of the belief, under such test, is not a matter of governmental concern… Under this test the belief or nonbelief in a Supreme Being is a false factor… “religion” fills a void that exists in the lives of most men. Regardless of why a particular belief suffices, as long as it serves this purpose, it must be accorded the same status of an orthodox religious belief. “

Thus the U.S. Supreme Court has opined that Secular Humanism is in fact religion in it`s own right.

Furthermore, the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia made it clear that the Court considered Secular Humanism a religion:

“In Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495, n. 11 (1961), we did indeed refer to “SECULAR HUMANISM” as a “religio[n].”
Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) note 6”

This should be obvious, yet the forces of atheism continue to fight bitterly to maintain the “separation of Church and State” while working to undermine the functioning of that very separation in accordance with the purpose to which it serves.

For example, recently a radical atheist teaching in a public high school in Mission Viejo was ruled in violation of the First Amendment by a federal judge for launching into anti-Christian diatribes in his classroom during his lectures. Public school students are there by compulsion; it is a matter of law that they attend school. By berating students who hold religious beliefs James Corbett was, in essence, guilty of violating the student`s rights to freedom of religion.

According to a piece in the Orange County Register:

“James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, was found guilty of referring to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.

The decision is the culmination of a 16-month legal battle between Corbett and Farnan - a conflict the judge said should remind teachers of their legal “boundaries” as public school employees.

“Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense,’” U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”

In a December 2007 lawsuit, Farnan, then a sophomore, accused Corbett of repeatedly promoting hostility toward Christians in class and advocating “irreligion over religion” in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

The establishment clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” and has been interpreted by U.S. courts to also prohibit government employees from displaying religious hostility.”

This is a victory in a number of ways, but Mr. Corbett`s tirades are hardly original, and he would not have lost in court had he not been on tape.

Consider P.Z. Myers; he is a professor of biology at the state run University of Minnesota Morris who runs the notoriously Christian-hating website Pharyngula. Myers recently infuriated Christians of every stripe, and even some sensible atheists by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic church and desecrating it on Youtube. Myers updates his blog regularly during school hours from his office computer, thus waging his war against religion in clear violation of the First Amendment.

Consider atheist gadfly Michael Newdow, who brought suit to stop Barack Obama from saying “so help me God” when he took the oath of office.

Consider the many lawsuits by the ACLU to stop ecumenical Christmas displays, or to expunge the mere mention of God from the public discourse.

This is the tip of the iceberg; radical atheism has wormed it`s way into the fabric of modern American society, using the Establishment Clause as the warhead to destroy religious faith.

Radical Atheists hate it when their belief system is categorized as religious, but it is. What is religion after all? It is a system of beliefs about the nature of the Universe, of Man, and of the Hereafter. It generally has a moral code. It has a creation story, and often a prophecy of the end of the world. Atheism has all of these things.

Atheism is triune in nature in many ways; we have Universe the Father (Let there be light, and there was the Big Bang), Earth the Son (all life evolved from the mechanistic determinism of the Blind Watchmaker), and the Holy Spirit of Human intellect. As a result, atheism incorporates several beliefs into one system.

Atheism worships (they hate that word) the Cosmos, Evolution, and Reason. The Big Bang and Darwinian Evolution are the creation myths, and the Big Crunch the prophecied cataclysm. Oh, I know; these are scientific concepts and not simply faith-based stories. Still, the atheist has decided that he will not believe in anything that cannot be given in evidence by the senses. Of course, this means that the ultimate questions of where this random, mechanistic universe came from cannot be answered. God is as good of an answer as any, but most atheists simply insist there can be none and believe in a mechanical universe that generated spontaneously with physical laws balanced just right for the evolution of life and human consciousness.

And they have their end-time prophecy as well; Global Warming.

This religion of nothing, this worship of the ultimate triumph of chaos and neurobiological determinism in which free will is but an illusion, has been absorbing our culture and poisoning the minds of our young. Yet we continue to stand silent while the aggressive atheists such as Richard Dawkins attack the core principles which have made us what we are and which have given us the blessings of Western Civilization.

And, like a cubic zirconium wedding ring, this religion seeks to usurp the position held by Christianity and Judaism in our society.

The German philosopher Friederich Nietzsche, he of “God is Dead” and the Superman, had this to say about Western Civilization`s fall from spiritual grace in what he termed the “murder of God” by modernism:

”’[If] … the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal-doctrines which I consider true but deadly-are thrust upon the people for another generation … no one should be surprised if the people perishes of petty egoism, ossification and greed, falls apart and ceases to be a people; in its place systems of individualist egoism, brotherhoods for rapacious exploitation of non-brothers … may perhaps appear in the arena of the future’.”

Nietzsche, despite his own dance with Nihilism, understood that the efforts being made by arrogant 19th century scientists and philosophers would require that a terrible price be paid, and our rushing headlong into the jaws of the void is producing a generation of Americans who strongly resemble Nietzche`s portrait. Yet the missionaries of radical Atheism continue to stampede our nation and our civilization toward the precipice, determined in their hatred of our Judeo-Christian heritage to thrust us into the gaping maw. Such determination in itself is illustrative of a religious belief rather than a philosophical position, yet we are to believe that Atheism is somehow about “rationalism” and “truth”.

What happens when Faith is stolen? What is Man if he does not believe he is more than flesh and blood? Darwinism, that theory that says man is no more than an animal, a “naked ape” as Desmond Morris once called him, severs the higher attributes from man, thus making obedience to the lusts of the flesh primary. Man as pure animal is a terrible thing, for he has no hope, is enslaved by destructive and selfish tendencies, and has the mental acuity to perform astounding acts of evil in service to his own physical wants. No animal has ever possessed the power that the human intellect endows, yet if the choice of what that intellect will serve-and why-is critical. Modern atheism, along with it`s fellows of Scientism, post-Modernism, Environmentalism, etc. encourages a terrible nihilism, and Man without spirit is a hideous brute. Of course, Atheism itself acts as a substitute for faith, but how can one ultimately find hope in a belief in nothing?

That is why our society is sliding down the long, greasy pole; too many believe in nothing. This is evident in every facet of our lives. All of society`s problems can ultimately be traced back to the severing of human reason from human passion, and that is the fruit of Western Civilization`s arrogant belief in himself, the material world, and his disbelief in the Divine. The looming triumph of Atheism is bringing forth the demons of the human abyss, as surely as did Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or the other Atheists who ruled over their kingdoms for one hour. The bell is now tolling for we.

It`s time we took a cue from Chad Farnan; he didn`t take it lying down, but fought back when his rabid Atheist teacher insulted his beliefs. For too long, we have remained silent, ashamed at our own beliefs while mad dogs have bitten chunk after chunk from our hides. It`s time we fought back.

We should be the ones bringing the lawsuits. We should be the ones staging the protests. We should fight them with philosophy, with science, with history. These things are ultimately on our side, but too few Americans know the facts. The truth shall set you free! The darkness and chains imposed by the spiritually hateful and morally blind are little more than parlor tricks, and they can be exposed if we refuse to cower before the bullies of the void.

The Founding Fathers understood this simple truth. It`s time Americans remember.



Timothy Birdnow -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Timothy Birdnow is a conservative writer and blogger and lives in St. Louis Missouri. His work has appeared in many popular conservative publications including but not limited to The American Thinker, Pajamas Media, Intellectual Conservative and Orthodoxy Today. Tim is a featured contributor to American Daily Review and has appeared as a Guest Host on the Heading Right Radio Network. Tim’s website is tbirdnow.mee.nu Timothy can be reached at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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