I was a bit astonished when I read The Augusta Chronicle’s May 5 guest column “Defend the religion clause of the First Amendment,” written by Frank Carl, president of the CSRA’s chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Mr. Carl’s column begins with a faulty premise: that the Supreme Court and our Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, intended to prevent “religion (from interfering) in governance by the state.”
The Supreme Court has called ours a Christian nation. In the 1892 case of Holy Trinity v. U.S., the Court highlighted a multitude of public displays of Christian faith and concluded unequivocally:
“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.”
Moreover, reading Mr. Carl’s piece, you would have no idea that in 1777, Thomas Jefferson drafted and proposed bills to the Virginia legislature that would annul marriages prohibited by Levitical law; punish disturbers of worship; and appoint days of public fasting and Thanksgiving.
Jefferson was instrumental in establishing church services at the U.S. Capitol, and was a faithful attendee at those services, stating: “No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”
MR. CARL DISINGENUOUSLY claims that AU’s “concerns center on public education about religious liberty, protection of religious diversity and freedom from theocratic interference in governance.” In reality, the separatists are not concerned about preserving religious liberty, but are rather dedicated to stifling it.
While Mr. Carl decries “religious bullying,” he fails to mention that AU sends hundreds of unsolicited letters to churches such as my home church – Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez – threatening to tattle to the IRS if they engage in political speech. Does this sound like respect for the free exercise of religion, or the very bullying that Mr. Carl finds offensive?
Mind you, no church in the history of America has ever lost its tax-exempt status for political speech. However, many churches have been bullied into submission to the demands of AU, or have had the burden of reporting to the IRS during intrusive, but ultimately fruitless, investigations occasioned by AU.
Mr. Carl seems to think there is a conspiracy to use government resources to indoctrinate your children with Christian ideas, specifically condemning the teaching of creation science as unscientific. I, as a product of Mary Boothe’s biology class at Greenbrier High School, circa 1999-2000, can confirm that government does indoctrinate children with certain religious viewpoints.
As Mr. Carl correctly concedes, humanism and agnosticism – and I would add atheism – are religious viewpoints, and high schools in the CSRA are teaching the evolutionary process – the main tenet of those religions.
MR. CARL IS upset that Intelligent Design might be taught in public schools. I’m upset that humanist evolution is being taught in public schools, without any mention of alternatives to evolutionary theory, which inquisitive minds might consider and evaluate in a marketplace of ideas.
This injustice was partly responsible for my decision to attend law school, and later to join Liberty Counsel, where I now defend religious liberty in the public square.
With a new chapter of Americans United in your back yard, beware and be educated, dear Americans. AU will threaten your children when they want to have Y Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Good News Clubs on public-school campuses. Don’t relent; the Supreme Court has unequivocally found these clubs perfectly constitutional.
AU will threaten your churches when they discuss cultural and political issues through a biblical lens during the election season. Don’t relent; no church to date has lost its tax-exempt status for engaging in political speech.
AU WILL DO everything in its power to end legitimate public acknowledgments of our faith and heritage, from legislative prayer at public meetings, to voluntary prayer at school football games. Don’t relent; the Supreme Court and the Constitution are on your side.
Stand strong. CSRA! AU may have just barged into town, but Liberty Counsel is a national organization with decades of experience in successfully defending your religious freedom. When the AU drops its sheep’s clothing to reveal its true identity of a ravenous wolf bent on devouring your freedom, Liberty Counsel is always ready to defend you, always at no cost.
(The writer is an attorney concentrating on constitutional law with Liberty Counsel, and is the director of Public Policy with Liberty Counsel Action. To contact Liberty Counsel, call (800) 671-1776, or visit www.lc.org.)