Wait until you see why this Atheist group is suing Congress


Atheists cry they want “separation of church and state.”

But what they really want is to force their idea of secularism on everyone.

And one atheist group is now suing Congress for the most ridiculous reason.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is at it again.

This time FFRF is suing Congress because they want atheists to open Congress with an invocation instead of a prayer by an ordained Chaplain or minister.

Christian Headlines reports:

A federal court heard an appeal Thursday in a case involving an atheist group that wants congressional invocations opened up to those who don’t believe in God.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, was invited in 2015 by his representative, Democrat Mark Pocan, to deliver an invocation but was prevented from doing so by House Chaplain Patrick Conroy. Conroy’s office said all guest chaplains must be ordained by a “recognized body in the faith in which he/she practices” and must have an ordination certificate.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued, arguing that congressional policy violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. After FFRF lost last year, it appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The tradition of federal legislative prayer dates all the way back to the First Continental Congress in 1774.

In fact, House rules require Congress to be opened each legislative day with a prayer.

In the first ruling, the federal court ruled that Congress has the right to invite whomever they please, regardless of religious background.

Lately FFRF has been particularly aggressive in trying to impose their secularism on society.

As we’ve reported, FFRF attacked a high-school for praying for a sick girl before a football game.

On top of that, they also threatened lawsuits against a school that had a prayer before their graduation ceremony.

So this is nothing new for FFRF and their band of radical atheists.

They’re out to eliminate any public display of Christianity.

Do you think Congress should invite atheists to “pray” before in lieu of ordained Chaplains or ministers?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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  2. Stop catering to these idiotic groups. They just want to change Smerica to suit themselves. If they don’t like the USA just tell them to leave. We don’t want them.

  3. Once again, we’re hearing from the few telling the majority how to believe and how to live our lives. Tell them all to go take a flying leap off of a high mountain……..

  4. Atheists are in satan’s army. Nothing they do or say is going to matter in the end. They will get what they want and be separated from God for eternity.

  5. More pandering to the evil that walks among us. If only our leaders, judges, Congress, etc. had a spine and told these people where to go and how to get there. They won’t because we are now on at least the second if not the third generation who has been raised on tolerance and diversity. Both of which was designed to ruin America and all other Western countries.

  6. There is nothing wrong with this request, there are many “religions” practiced in the US. Not one religion should be favored over the other. Christianity and all organized religion is a farce, proven time and time again by the fake christians, BabyT , in the US to the taliban. Organized religion has caused nothing but destruction and death wherever it exists. It is time to wake up and stop giving these charlatans all your money, and then we will see just how “religious” they are.

  7. This country is making a tremendous amount of mistakes. Forgetting our Lord and Savior is the largest. I can not believe that a school is not able to pray. I can not believe that the overwhelming majority caves in to just about every oddball group that comes along. I do not hold any discontent toward gays. Two were at both of my daughters weddings and have gone to dinner with our family on multiple occasions. But, their rights end when they infringe on mine. I worked thirty years for a state department of health. For fifteen of those years, I wrote grants. For the blacks to say that they do not receive HUGE benefits from the tax payers in this country, white, black, brown, is a mistake and very untrue. There are a few blacks that keep this going. THEY are the racist. This country has just over thirteen percent blacks. Of that thirteen percent, three percent commit FIFTY percent of the murder, rape and other violent crime. Department of Justice stats. Why does the media not report on black on black crime? Why does the media not report on black on white crime with the same vigor they report on white on black or police brutality. One of the videos the media showed at least twenty times, showed a white police officer telling a black man to stop and get on the ground. The guy kept walking and got to his van and reached in and was pulling something out. The police officer shot and killed the man. The officer had no idea if he was pulling out a gun or what. Should the officer stand there and see if the man was going shoot her?? The media and many blacks portrayed this as racist police brutality. I think not. We continually give in or throw money or give up our rights for these groups. If we want to keep our country, we better wise up. You know what , NORMAL whites, blacks and brown have rights. We need to stop giving in to every group that comes along. We need to demand accurate unbiased media coverage. We need to be outraged by things like the people that were in business for years baking wedding cakes that were taken to court because they refused to bake a cake for a same sex wedding. It is their business, they invested their money and hard work to build it. They should be able to bake cakes for who ever they want. If some one wants to pray, they have religious freedom. They should be able to pray or refer to God any time and anywhere they want to. These these groups should not be able to take our values and rights away from us. Why do we let them??? Again, I and millions of other Americans have just as much right as any and all of these other groups. Why do we let them force us to believe their way. Why do we let them take away our beliefs?? Why can we not pray when and where we want to? Why do we celebrate millionaire football players who do not stand up for our National Anthem, Flag and Veterans? They say it is because they are not treated right by police. I already addressed that. I can tell you blacks receive taxpayer money for programs like health, housing, education, EEO, Entitlements and the list goes on and on. Are we going to do the same for gays, atheists and every other group that comes along??

  8. Manny”sMom…Our founding fathers were Christians and they gave you your freedom. You can deny God, but that in no way changes the fact that He is there. Christians follow Jesus, who teaches us love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, and helping others. None of that causes destruction and death. Just the opposite. Jesus gives us love, peace, and eternal life with Him.

  9. Teressa…YES, we can, just by doing nothing about it. Either we just sit back and let this country be destroyed, or we get going and save what our founding fathers gave us.

  10. Good comments even Manny’s mom who showed the true nature of a leftist leaning progressive (Democrat). She exposed the very idea that all of us who believe in our country, our constitution, our founding fathers, values, our belief in GOD should stand up against. GOD has sent many warnings to us and it is time to repent, change our ways and listen. Stand!

  11. I always find it interesting how adamant these atheists are about MY beliefs. I choose to waste MY time going to church on Sunday. It is MY time, no infringement on them. Same goes for daily prayers. I choose to waste money by donating it to religious groups. It is MY money. Most organized religions do a lot of good with those donations, Samaritan’s Purse, Catholic Charities, Jewish National Fund, etc.

    FFRF is like any other organization who wants to break down any of the beliefs this nation was founded on.

    By the way, the Constitution declares “Freedom OF Religion”, not freedom FROM it.

  12. They want to get rich, just like those families that sue when their gun toting child gets killed…….Stating that their son was a good person, that is why he just robbed a 7/11 store, or tried to kill someone…….Too many corrupt & evil judges that have a tendency to give it to those $$$$ seekers……

  13. ‪Prosecute to the fullest extent of the law these treasonous NAZI Commie Demoncrat liberals! It’s about time they’re are held accountable! Vote GOP in Nov!

  14. No, they have no respect for God or his word, this country was built on God’s words if u do’nt believe in God u have a problem U!

  15. The not believing in God got 100% worse when the Muslim, Obama, was in office and it is still rolling along. It needs to be shut down, just like kneeling at a sports event when the National Anthem is played. The first amendment has been taken too far.
    This JUNK has gone too far, if the they don’t like it they can leave. John Wayne said”life is hard but it is a lots harder if you are Stupid”. God made this World and Us.
    Believe it the Bible said so.

  16. The only these Atheists should do is to #1 Go to school. #2 Go to church. #3 Go to Confession to try to not go to Hell after thy all DIE! Because that is right where their sols are going.

  17. If they want an invocation, they’ll have to admit they’re pushing the religion of humanism and then abide by their own anti-religion rules. They can’t have it both ways. Fact is humans are “HARDWIRED” to worship something or someone; be that God, self, power, wealth, science, or whatever; you can’t be an human being and escape that fact: it’s built into your DNA and there’s no eliminating it. The only question is what it is that each does worship! Mikey and friends are worshiping the power they garner from controlling the behaviors of others; it needs to stop, permanently! In so doing, they’re violating the Constitutional rights of others, which there is NO “right” for them to do! They’re free to not participate; I don’t know of anyone suggesting they must; but they are not free to block others in public or private from doing so openly! That’s what the 1st A says!

  18. My initial, sinful nature wanted to reply, “screw you”. The thing is, they’re already screwed by virtue of their beliefs. While we all will someday stand before Christ & account for our sins, I would love to watch the faces of those who deny God & do everything possible to try & force the rest of us to do the same.
    I suppose I need to pray for them as God instructs us to pray for the lost.
    Their desire to pull this latest stunt is just another one of their hateful acts. No matter how far they may get with their demands, they will never convince Christians to follow their wicked ways & they certainly will never win the final battle. I suppose I should pity them. If they continue down this path, their eternity will make for a rude & painful awakening – at that point, it’s too late.

  19. What do you expect when you’re arguing with people who think they’re the greatest beings in the universe?

  20. Get out and vote for the GOP in Nov. to save the country from NAZI Commie Demoncrat liberal mobs!They want to make America into another Venezuela!Obama almost got us there! Now that America is great again because of Pres.Trump let’s keep it that way!

  21. Congress is opened by a person hoping for a successful session resulting is laws to ensure a strong, equal, peaceful United States. What kind of an opening starts with throwing out all we believe (each in our own way)?

  22. Christians in this country need to wake up and do some protesting as well as vote conservative! Athiests are try ing to take over our great country!!

  23. Their not trying to take over, their doing it, Yes we must Act Now. Those who can set this up and get it working, need to get organized others, show your support, that’s how their working it !

  24. If you don’t like it don’t listen! If you are a elected official stay out side until it’s over or don’t run for office. You aren’t supposed to run for office just to change the law for your own licking. You pulled the wool over the voters eyes ! In other words you are a fake !!!!

  25. Notice that they want Freedom from Religion,but apparently it is just Christianity. Waiting on the billboards that denounce Islam among other religions. Obviously that will not occur as doing so would be a death warrant. Being an atheist in an Islamic country is also a no-no.

  26. All atheists go away.. most of us are Christians and believe in Jesus Christ. Atheists have NO RIGHTS to tell us what to believe. If you dont like it, get the hell out of America.. Athiests have no rights to tell us to take prayers out of schools. Atheists go away .. We don’t want you here

  27. What is amusing even Satan knows there is a God in Heaven. Atheists are no more than Satanic emesarries – one day all will face Christ and be judged- hell is real and they will enjoy living with their leader. As will all who have gone against laws put down in God’s Word. Transgenders,same sex marriage, pedifiles especially for the ones that are suppose to teach our children the truth and don’t. Your days are numbered and my only wish is repent while you can – I’m sure you all believe Sodom and Gamorah is a fairy tale – I truly feel sorry for each of you .

  28. The “FFRF” is basically a religion when one looks at what they promote. But like most “Progressives”, or those on the “Left”, they have no knowledge of real history or the what Amendment 1 actually states. This country is rooted in Christianity but the Founders did not make us a theocracy.

  29. I know. They are some of the most intolerant people around. But that is the nature of ideologues. They do not like being exposed to anything that challenges their ideology.

  30. The unbeliever has the right to not believe but they don’t have the right to infringe upon the belief of others.
    This is where all of this “tolerance” propaganda has taken our freedom! These same people who scream foul at every turn are only finding a convenient way of killing liberty and Christianity.

  31. ‘Robert’: EXCELLENT POST!! Well said, Robert….my heart and soul is hungry for SOUND WISDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MORAL INTEGRITY AND INVITING GOD BACK INTO OUR ONCE GREAT NATION WHICH HE BLESSED…but with ALL the continuous evils and arrogant disdain of Holy Almighty GOD, ‘our’ nation’s days are numbered and the Righteous Right Arm of GOD WILL COME IN FULL WRATH UPON THIS UNGODLY NATION!!

  32. Thomas Jefferson was laissez-faire (“hands-off!”) towards all belief and disbelief, not caring whether his neighbor believes in twenty gods or no god. Religious leaders warned that if Jefferson were elected, Bibles would be confiscated, churches would be closed down, etc. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Secularists are NOT atheists.

    The Bible is not the law of the land and neither is Sharia Law. The fact that American liberals refer to the Christian right in this country as “the American Taliban” indicates disdain for the Islamic Taliban. Similarly, you’d think conservative Christians, worried about Sharia Law being imposed on them, and claiming to “cover” or “do unto others…” would immediately understand non-Christian minorities not wanting the Bible to be the law of the land, either.

    It was reported in the Indo-American press in either the ’90s or 2000s that a coalition of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains were going to court to demand a completely religion-neutral society, which does not favor one religion over another, nor one set of beliefs or disbeliefs over another.

    Arizona state Rep. Juan Mendez, a Democrat, said he wasn’t allowed to lead an invocation in the state legislature because he’s an atheist and wouldn’t mention a higher power.

    As per Greece v. Galloway, government bodies that open with invocations may be required to allow representatives from all faiths and none deliver the messages.

    It’s the conservative Christians that don’t understand the principles of American government. The Lincoln County Commission in North Carolina wanted to ban non-Christian prayers from government meetings :

    “I don’t need no Arab or Muslim or whoever telling me what to do or us here in the county what to do about praying,” Carroll Mitchem said. “If they don’t like it, stay the hell away.”

    The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (meaning the government can’t favor one religion over another) nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof (people are free to believe or disbelieve in whatever they want, the government is laissez-faire on all belief and disbelief).”

    I told pro-life Christian friends, Jim and Liza Frey, that Nativity scenes are fine on private property, but on public property, it sends the wrong message to religious minorities (including atheists and agnostics). It tells them the government is favoring one set of beliefs over another. It tells them they are not welcome here and that their faith isn’t as important as the majority faith.

    It’s coercion when it forces the government to recognize an establishment of religion. There’s a difference between Christians holding a rally in Balboa Park, San Diego proclaiming “In God we trust” versus placing it as a state-sponsored slogan on coins and currency.

    Yes, Americans are free to believe or disbelieve in whatever they want! They’re free to religiously express themselves any way they want, too! They just can’t use the *government* to accomplish it — it can’t be state-sponsored.

    In Lee v. Weisman (1992), the Supreme Court ruled that prayers at public school graduation ceremonies are an establishment of religion.

    Again: conservative Christians are confusing the mere *absence* of religion in an area where it doesn’t belong or merely it isn’t state-sponsored with censorship! They claim the absence of religion indicates pressure from atheists. Why doesn’t the presence of religion indicate persons imposing their religion on others?!

    Again, there is no “anti-religious left-ism.” Thomas Jefferson was laissez-faire towards all belief and disbelief, not caring whether his neighbor believed in twenty gods or no god. Religious leaders warned that if Jefferson were elected president, Bibles would be confiscated, churches would be closed down, etc. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Secularists are not atheists. The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof. So theists are free to express themselves, as are atheists: it just can’t be state-sponsored.

    Conservative Christians argue it’s wrong “to deny religious expression from people of faith…” I agree with them. Yes, theists have the right to express themselves, as do atheists, it just can’t be state-sponsored. When theistic slogans like “in God We Trust” are placed on coins and currency, then it’s state-sponsored and violates the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Christians can hold a rally in Balboa Park in San Diego proclaiming, “In God We Trust” …but when it’s subsidized by the government, then it’s state-sponsored, and it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the government recognizing an establishment of religion, or, more broadly, favoring one set of beliefs or disbeliefs over another.

    I’ve asked conservative Christians before, as a thought experiment, since Christians claim to “cover” or “do unto others…”:

    If you were living in a country where over ninety percent of the county were atheist, would opposing atheistic slogans on coins and currency be “denying anti-religious expression from people opposed to faith…” ? Would you want atheistic slogans representing the majority disbelief on coins and currency, or would you prefer the government remain religion-neutral towards all belief and disbelief, laissez-faire or “hands-off” and not take sides on whether there are twenty gods or no god, etc… ?

    Again, it was reported in the Indo-American press in either the ’90s or 2000s that a coalition of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains were going to court to demand a completely religion-neutral society, which does not favor one religion over another, nor one set of beliefs or disbeliefs over another.

  33. Something people forget is that the original thirteen States which compromised the US at the time for the most part had formal State supported religions which were Christian denominations. And most of them still do. The Federal Government can not create a “Church of England”. People need to learn the real history. This country is based upon Christianity but does not force people to be Christian. Even most of the native American in New England had become Christian. Christianity has been and is being attacked because it is the foundation of freedom and promotes responsibility and morals.

  34. A secular society is a religion-neutral society. It means the government does not favor one religion or set of beliefs over another. It is laissez-faire towards all religious belief AND disbelief.

    Journalist Rob Boston writes in his 2003 book, Why The Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State:

    “Some of the religious leaders of the colonial period, such as Roger Williams, favored religious freedom.

    “Williams was an unusual character for his times,” writes Boston. “A devout Christian, he was absolutely convinced that his views on religion were correct and that any rational being would in time come around and agree with him once the facts were laid bare. But Williams insisted with equal force that the state should have no business in enforcing orthodoxy. A person’s understanding of religion and truth, Williams insisted, must come from within. He argued for complete freedom of conscience, a concept he called ‘soul liberty.’”

    In 1635, Williams and his followers were expelled from Massachusetts. They fled south to what is today Rhode Island, where he founded the city of Providence. According to Boston, Williams, “announced that all who chose to live there would enjoy full religious and political freedom. Williams’ proclamation proved the sincerity of his beliefs, as he soon had to suffer many religious views he personally found distasteful. For example, Williams detested Quakers and often blasted them in his writings. Yet in Rhode Island, Quakers worshipped unmolested, at least during the years of Williams’ oversight.

    “It was Williams who coined the phrase that may have been the grandfather to Thomas Jefferson’s famous ‘wall of separation’ between church and state metaphor. In his 1644 treatise, ‘The Bloody Tenet of Persecution, for cause of Conscience,’ Williams warned against opening ‘a gap in the hedge, or wall of separation, between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.’ A decent distance between church and state, he maintained, would keep the purity of the church intact and safe from the corrupting influence of government.”

    Similarly, Pastor John Leland “was dismayed to see dissenting preachers in jail for their religious views. Leland’s writings echo some of the comments made by Jefferson. Leland, defending freedom of conscience, wrote, ‘Government should protect every man in thinking, and speaking freely, and that one does not abuse another…all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, pagans and Christians.’

    “On another occasion, Leland wrote in opposition to the idea that holders of public office should have to believe certain things about religion before they could even run. Such ‘religious tests’ were common in many colonies. Wrote Leland, ‘If a man merits the confidence of his neighbors…let him worship one God, twenty gods, or no god—be he Jew, Turk, Pagan, or Infidel, he is eligible to any office in the state.

    “Unlike Jefferson, who was a rationalist and something of a religious skeptic,” continues Boston, “Leland’s support for church-state separation was anchored in his theological views. In 1790 he wrote, ‘The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…If all the souls in a government were saints of God, should they be formed into a society by law, that society could not be a Gospel Church, but a creature of the state.’

    “Clergy in other states also played a pivotal role in the struggle to establish the separation of church and state in America. In Massachusetts, Pastor Isaac Backus, a Baptist minister, went so far as to refuse to pay a church tax and was arrested. In 1774 he wrote a document blasting the tax, which asserted in part, ‘Religion is a concern between God and the soul with which no human authority can intermeddle.’”

    The United States is a secular society. In 1787 when the framers excluded all mention of God from the Constitution, they were widely denounced as immoral and the document was denounced as godless, which is precisely what it is. Opponents of the Constitution challenged ratifying conventions in nearly every state, calling attention to Article VI, Section 3:

    “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    An anti-federalist in North Carolina wrote: “The exclusion of religious tests is by many thought dangerous and impolitic. Pagans, Deists and Mohammedans might obtain office among us.”

    Amos Singletary of Massachussetts, one of the most outspoken critics of the Constitution, said that he “hoped to see Christians (in power), yet by the Constitution, a papist or an infidel was as eligible as they.”

    Luther Martin, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 wrote that “there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief in the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country, it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.”

    Martin’s report shows that a “Christian nation” faction had its say during the convention, and that its views were consciously rejected.

    The United States Constitution is a completely secular political document. It begins “We the people,” and contains no mention of “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christianity.” Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the “no religious test” clause (Article VI), and “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” (First Amendment)

    The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase “so help me God” or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1).

    The words “under God” did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them.

    Similarly, “In God we Trust” was absent from paper currency before 1956, though it did appear on some coins beginning in 1864.

    The original U.S. motto, written by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is “E Pluribus Unum” (“Of Many, One”) celebrating plurality and diversity.

    In 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington’s presidency and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

    We are not governed by the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to “dissolve the political bonds,” not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based upon the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority.

    The Declaration deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, etc., and doesn’t discuss religion at all. The references to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence” in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Its author, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist, opposed to Christianity and the supernatural.

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. However, Jefferson admitted, “In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man and that other parts are the fabric of very inferior minds…”

    It was Thomas Jefferson who established the separation of church and state. Jefferson was deeply suspicious of religion and of clergy wielding political power.

    Jefferson helped create the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, incurring the wrath of Christians by his fervent defense of toleration of atheists:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    Jefferson advocated a “wall of separation” between church and state not to protect the church from government intrusion, but to preserve the freedom of the people:

    “I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest morality that has ever been taught;” he observed, “but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invested by priestcraft and established by kingcraft, constituting a conspiracy of church and state against the civil and religious liberties of mankind.”

    Jefferson and the founding fathers were products of the Age of Enlightenment. Their world view was based upon Deism, secularism, and rationalism.

    “The priests of the different religious sects dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight,” wrote Jefferson. “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter… we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this…”

    As late as 1820, Jefferson was convinced everyone in the United States would die a Unitarian. Jefferson, Madison and Paine’s writings indicate that America was never intended to be a Christian theocracy. “I have sworn upon the altar of God,” wrote Jefferson, “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

    In his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jefferson wrote:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of 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 & State.”

    As president, Jefferson put his “wall of separation” theory into practice. He refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting, insisting that they violate the First Amendment. As early as 1779, Jefferson proposed a bill before the Virginia legislature that would have established a series of elementary schools to teach the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic.

    Jefferson even suggested that “no religious reading, instruction, or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced, inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.” Jefferson did not regard public schools as the proper agent to form children’s religious views.

    As president, James Madison also put his separationist philosophy into action. He vetoed two bills he believed would violate church-state separation. The first was an act incorporating the Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia that gave the church the authority to care for the poor. The second was a proposed land grant to a Baptist church in Mississippi.

    Had Madison, the father of the Constitution, believed that all the First Amendment was intended to do was bar setting up a state church, he would have approved these bills. Instead, he vetoed both, and in his veto messages to Congress explicitly stated that he was rejecting the bills because they violated the First Amendment.

    Later in his life, James Madison came out against state-paid chaplains, writing, “The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles.” He also concluded that his calling for days of prayer and fasting during his presidency had been unconstitutional.

    In an 1819 letter to Robert Walsh, Madison wrote, “the number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.” In an undated essay called the “Detached Memoranda,” written in the early 1800s, Madison wrote, “Strongly guarded… is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States.”

    In 1833 Madison responded to a letter sent to him by Jasper Adams. Adams had written a pamphlet titled “ The Relations of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States,” which tried to prove that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Madison wrote back: “In the papal system, government and religion are in a manner consolidated, and that is found to be the worst of government.”

    Madison, like Jefferson, was confident that separation of church and state would protect both the institutions of government and religion. Late in his life, Madison wrote to a Lutheran minister about this, declaring, “A due distinction… between what is due to Caesar and what is due to God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations… A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.”

    In the early part of the 19th century, a general understanding existed that the government should not promote religion, or favor one religion over another. In 1829, Senator Richard Johnson of Kentucky wrote:

    “It is not the legitimate province of the Legislature to determine what religion is true, or what is false. Our Government is a civil and not a religious institution. Our Constitution recognizes in every person the right to choose his own religion, and to enjoy it freely, without molestation. Whatever may be the religious sentiments of citizens, and however variant, they are alike entitled to protection from the Government, so long as they do not invade the rights of others…

    “Among all the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered but for violation of what Government denominated the law of God. To prevent a similar train of evils in this country, the Constitution has wisely withheld from our Government the power of defining the divine law.”

    Journalist Rob Boston writes in his 2003 book, Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State:

    “The omission of God in the Constitution was not intended as a slight. Although the action angered some religious leaders, Madison insisted that the move was for the best.

    “He worried about what such references to a deity could lead to, insisting that the Constitution hadn’t created even ‘a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion.’

    “Incidentally, the omission of God in the Constitution has served to vex today’s Religious Right activists, who insist that the United States was founded as a ‘Christian nation.’

    “Since Madison’s statement and the omission serve as an embarrassment to them, some have taken to asserting that the document recognizes Jesus Christ at the end where the date contains the pro forma phrase ‘in the year of our Lord’!”

    If the Constitution is a “Christian” document, why are there no direct references to “God,” “Jesus,” or “Chrisitianity” ? And why were so many of America’s founding fathers Deists rather than Christians?

    Again, journalist Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State writes:

    “The omission of God in the Constitution was not intended as a slight. Although the action angered some religious leaders, Madison insisted the move was for the best…

    “…the omission of God in the Constitution has served to vex today’s Religious Right activists, who insist that the United States was founded as a ‘Christian nation.’

    “Since Madison’s statement and the omission serve as a great embarrassment to them, some have taken to asserting that the document recognizes Jesus Christ at the end, where the date contains the pro forma phrase ‘in the year of our Lord’!.

    Towards the end of his book, Rob Boston concludes:

    “…Widespread ignorance about the Bill of Rights helps the Religious Right… Religious Right groups point to documents like the Northwest Ordinance or obscure proclamations that contain religious references . ‘See!’ they say. ‘This proves America was meant to be Christian.’

    “What the Religious Right doesn’t tell people, and what, tragically, many Americans don’t know is that when it comes to determining what the laws of the United States mean, the only document that matters is the Constitution.

    “The Constitution, a completely secular document, contains no references to God, Jesus, or Christianity. It says absolutely nothing about the United States being officially Christian.

    “The Religious Right’s constant appeals to documents like the Declaration of Independence which contains a Deistic reference to ‘the Creator,’ cloud the issue and make some people believe their rights spring fro these other documents. They don’t.

    “As important as those other documents are to history, the rights of all Americans are ultimately traced to the Constitution and its amendments, specifically the Bill of Rights.

    “When we talk about separation of church and state and religious freedom, therefore, only one document matters — the Constitution.”

    “The Religious Right has never represented the majority of Americans. The only reason antiseparationists have gotten as far as they have is because of apathy. The views held by the Religious Right are minority views.

    “The movement has power only because the Religious Right has successfully filled a vacuum left open by other Americans who have forfeited their voice in public discourse.

    “If enough Americans get back into the game, the tide can easily turn.”

  35. The First Amendment states Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (not favoring one religion over another, or, more broadly, not favoring one set of beliefs over another, as Thomas Jefferson indicated it makes no difference whether his neighbor believes in twenty gods or no god), nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    That, in a nutshell, IS separation of church and state!

    Liberals argue that separation of church and state prevents religious tyranny and theocracy. (e.g., government intervening in the bedroom, federal agents bursting into a couple’s bedroom on a Sunday morning, demanding to know why they aren’t in church, etc.)

    Conservatives argue (the other side of the coin!) separation of church and state also means the government (and I would add nonparishioners in general) cannot interfere in ecclesiastical affairs (like dictating whether or not a religious denomination can establish a formal laity, which religious designation the laity should adopt, the standards a lay community or congregation are expected to follow, etc.).

    In one of his broadcasts from 2004, for example, Sean Hannity warned his conservative audience of a future in which churches which refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lose their tax-exempt status.


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