Defend the religion clause of the First Amendment

  • Follow Opinion columns

The religion clause of the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment also protects freedom of speech, press, assembly and redress.

The religion clause has been interpreted over the years by scholars and the Supreme Court to mean that the state shall not interfere in the realm of religion nor shall religion interfere in governance by the state. Many scholars, including Thomas Jefferson, have called this the wall of separation between church and state.

THE CENTRAL Savannah River Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) has been formed to affirm the First Amendment. Our concerns center on public education about religious liberty, protection of religious diversity and freedom from theocratic interference in governance.

While there are some limits on the practice of religion, the freedom to practice one’s religion is one of the most fundamental rights of citizens of the United States. There are many religious communities in the CSRA: the more common Christian, both Protestants and Catholics; the less common Jewish and Muslim; but also Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Pagan, B’hai, Jain, agnostic, humanist and others.

The Constitution guarantees the individuals of all these religious affiliations, or indeed non-affiliated individuals, the right to practice religion as each sees fit within the confines of the law.

To protect religious freedom for all, education should include comparative religion so that voters understand the tenets of different belief systems, and how each belief system can be accommodated wisely within the confines of protecting individual liberty. The proposed education is not indoctrination into a specific religion, but an education about the general tenets of each religion, recognizing that within each religion there will be a number of sects that exhibit subtle differences from the common tenets.

Indeed, it is likely that individuals within those sects will exhibit subtle differences from the professed beliefs of that sect. All of these religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment as long as the practices that they promote do not interfere with the rights of others.

Over the years, there have been attempts to use government resources to promote specific religious ideas. Most recently, efforts have been directed toward the teaching of creation science and Intelligent Design in public schools. These ideas have been proposed as alternatives to teaching the process of evolution. Both ideas originated as religious tenets and were dressed as science for presentation to the public. There is no scientific evidence for either.

While we believe that anyone has the right to believe those tenets if they choose to do so, government resources should not be used to promote either creation science or Intelligent Design because both are fundamentally religious. They certainly should not supplant the teaching of evolution, since there is considerable scientific evidence supporting that process.

Nor should government funds or property be used to support the posting of the Ten Commandments, because they are fundamentally religious in nature, dealing only cryptically with governance issues (commandments six through nine).

THE RELIGIOUS clause of the First Amendment also guarantees that the dominant religion will not bully minority religions into submission. Human history is replete with examples of such bullying. It is time to recognize that individuals have a right to their own religious views, and that neither the state nor a religious corporation has a right to impose religious beliefs on any individual.

The best way to guarantee both religious freedom and the neutrality of government is to keep religion and government completely separate. It is our job as the CSRA Chapter of AU to educate the public that complete separation of church and state is desirable, beneficial, possible and, indeed, imperative.

(The writer is president of the Central Savannah River Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.)

Comments (12) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
seenitB4
97254
Points
seenitB4 05/06/12 - 05:37 am
0
0
Yea...good luck with that.

Yea...good luck with that.

jrbfromga
448
Points
jrbfromga 05/06/12 - 05:43 am
1
0
Since when are agnostic and
Unpublished

Since when are agnostic and humanistic religions? By their very nature, they are not religions. And why should education include comparative religion to educate voters. It is quite obvious that education has not done much lately to educate voters. I will close by stating that the First Amendment states that there shall be no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor the free exercise thereof. It does not state that there shall be no acknowledgement or recognition that religion exists, nor does it prohibit the open expression of religious tenets in governmental facilities provided there is no bar to any religion. There are many, like you, who believe that our government is based on a denial of any religion, not merely a non-establishment of a particular one.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 05/06/12 - 07:18 am
4
1
"nor does it prohibit the

"nor does it prohibit the open expression of religious tenets in governmental facilities provided there is no bar to any religion." Yeah, try to get some passages from the Qur'an or the Bhagavata posted in governnment buildings around here. On the other hand, you have folks screaming to post the 10 Commandments.

FriedFacts
61
Points
FriedFacts 05/06/12 - 08:15 am
0
0
I want to see a Commission
Unpublished

I want to see a Commission meeting where they pray to the Hindu Shiva god before they get started.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 05/06/12 - 08:33 am
1
1
The AU proposes their system
Unpublished

The AU proposes their system of belief as the only real and scientific system of belief and that any other system of belief is a personal choice even if they are wrong.

Evolution isn't exactly a proven science. It has many inaccuracies and errors in it but the AU wants it to be taught to our children as factual without any inaccuracies mentioned. They are against if being taught along side with Creationism and Intelligent Design allowing the student to make their own personal intelligent choice.

The AU would also have you believe that Creationism and Intellectual Design are without scientific evidence. It just isn't true. There is also historical evidence to support these beliefs.

carcraft
28446
Points
carcraft 05/06/12 - 10:36 am
2
1
I love the revisionist

I love the revisionist history that goes on. The "progressives" take one part of a letter by Jefferson and make it a constitutional mandate! One of George Washington's first acts as commander of the Continental Army was to order a day of fasting and prayer! George Washington established a Chaplains Corp to provide moral guidance to soldiers. You can bet the Chaplains weren’t Muslim or Hindu! The congress created an office for a Chaplain of the House and Senate to beseech God each day for His mercy and guidance. I doubt there was a Shinto or Buddhist in the offing during the early period of the Republic. The Supreme Court has the Ten Commandments etched on the walls of the building where it is decided that local court houses can’t be so adorned! Oh well these folks are so wise I must bow to their superior intellect and insight, after all these folks from the separation of church and state beat the strongest country on the face of the earth, founded one of the most prosperous nations ever conceived, and established a system of government that has proven exceptionally successful, what did Madison,? Washington, Jefferson and Franklin really know! They were cretins that lived over two hundred years ago. If only John Adams admonition that “we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” He goes on to say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Maybe if we were to elevate Adam’s letter to the same level as Jefferson’s letter things might be a little different!

Fundamental_Arminian
1871
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 05/06/12 - 01:26 pm
2
1
To protect religious freedom

    To protect religious freedom for all, education should include comparative religion so that voters understand the tenets of different belief systems, and how each belief system can be accommodated wisely within the confines of protecting individual liberty. The proposed education is not indoctrination into a specific religion, but an education about the general tenets of each religion, recognizing that within each religion there will be a number of sects that exhibit subtle differences from the common tenets (Frank Carl).

It's totally unnecessary to teach comparative religion in government schools. Students need merely to be taught what the First Amendment says about religious freedom and how the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits religious discrimination along with other kinds of discrimination (e.g., discrimination based on race, sex, and national origin).

If taught, the government's version of comparative religion would probably promote religious liberalism (the belief that one religion is as good as another). Religious liberalism leads to apathy about religion and thus keeps religion from being an obstacle to an intrusive Marxist government. A Marxist government doesn't want religions standing in the way of its goals, as can happen when practitioners of certain religions want to keep separate or want to resist having government-mandated health insurance with abortion coverage.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 05/06/12 - 01:30 pm
2
1
Mr. Carl wrote:

Mr. Carl wrote: "...government resources should not be used to promote either creation science or Intelligent Design because both are fundamentally religious. They certainly should not supplant the teaching of evolution, since there is considerable scientific evidence supporting that process..."

There is ample scientific evidence for the teaching of creationism/intelligent-design as well. Evolution is still an unproven theory, one that I consider to be rather ridiculous. But if folks want to believe that they "evolved" from apes (which are still in existence), then go right ahead.

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 05/06/12 - 03:31 pm
1
2
But if folks want to believe

But if folks want to believe that they "evolved" from apes (which are still in existence), then go right ahead.
---------
Specsta, that's what separates evolutionary theory from I.D.

It's not "believed" that humans are members, with gorillas and chimpanzees, of the Family Hominidae. That grouping is the product of overwhelming scientific evidence.

Rather, I.D. represents a belief. Nothing wrong with holding a belief, as long as you are aware that human evolutionary theory is based on a massive body of scientific evidence, while I. D. is based on zero ... I repeat, for clarity, ZERO ... scientific evidence.

Liberty wins
158
Points
Liberty wins 05/06/12 - 06:51 pm
3
1
Mr Frank Carl's article

Mr Frank Carl's article contained some facts but here is what was omitted:

The Liberty Bell which was rang just after our new independence as a nation in 1776 has a single religious scripture: Leviticus 25:10 "Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all inhabitants thereof.'

Virtually every one of the 55 framers of our Constitution were members of Christian Churches. Many were also ministers and evangelist.

25 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had degrees from schools which today would have been from religious universities.

The primary educational book used in American schools from 1690 to 1930 was "The New England Primer". This document had Christian Biblical scripture teachings throughout.

FC- "…government resources should not be used to promote either creation science or Intelligent Design because both are fundamentally religious." In the Declaration of Independence the 2nd paragraph states "…endowed by their Creator…". I don't believe the Government is "promoting" but rather educating.

The framers of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence understood our Holy Bible. They understood that Jesus would be responsible for the atrocities of one murderer and the sins of infinite others; He was beaten with a whip while his Mother watched; had to carry his cross up a hill through ridicule and scorn; was given vinegar when He asked for water; had a crown of thorns plunged upon His head; and was nailed to that cross to die…The founders knew our salvation was not given by any government or man, but only upon request from our creator. A Christian nation provides the liberty to believe anything you want…but "Don't tread on me".

http://www.wallbuilders.com/

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 05/06/12 - 07:05 pm
3
2
There is no scientific

There is no scientific evidence, it's still just a theory.

The theory concerning the evolution of man is under increased scrutiny due to the persistence of gaps in the fossil record, the inability to demonstrate "life-or-death" determining advantageous genetic mutations, and the lack of experiments or observations to truly confirm the evidence for speciation. Overall, the evolution of man pervades as the accepted paradigm on the origin of man within the scientific community. This is not because it has been proven scientifically, but because alternative viewpoints bring with them metaphysical implications which go against the modern naturalistic paradigm. Nevertheless, a closer examination of the evidence reveals evolution to be increasingly less scientific and more reliant upon beliefs, not proof.

http://www.allaboutscience.org/evolution-of-man.htm

If you wish to believe that you descended from an ape that's your choice but I choose to believe that I was created by Almighty God. At this point I can not prove to you that God created the universe and made man in His own image (not an ape) anymore than you can prove that we all evolved from an ape like specie. Please do not state it as fact or lie that the scientific evidence is overwhelming when in fact it has many flaws within the theory.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 05/06/12 - 07:28 pm
1
1
Then burniater if what you
Unpublished

Then burniater if what you say is true enlighten with the truth. Show us some of the evidence.

I have a question. If man evolved from an ape then what else evolved from an ape. If we are in the process of evolution then isn't it a little limiting for only one life form to evolve into?

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 05/06/12 - 08:47 pm
1
1
If we are in the process of

If we are in the process of evolution then isn't it a little limiting for only one life form to evolve into?
--------
This simply isn't the case. Every modern genus has multiple precursor species in the fossil record. And as far as apes go, modern humans AREN'T the only human-like species in the fossil record. There are over a dozen just in the genus Homo.

And ICL, this is just one more thing we will have to disagree on. I'll repeat: it is a FACT that there is a MASSIVE body of scientific evidence supporting evolution, and that I.D. has not one single piece off evidence supporting it. I read your link, and it neither disproves a single piece of scientific evidence, nor provides a single piece of evidence for I.D.

I encourage you to audit a physical anthropology class at Augusta State. I am sure your mind is already made up on this topic, but you would at least have the relevant evidence presented to you by a professional. Unfortunately, I have yet to find an I.D. website that competently addresses the issues.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 05/06/12 - 08:56 pm
1
1
burn is correct. Such
Unpublished

burn is correct. Such serious lack of education. To the extent of confusing or merging science/empiricism with belief/cognition.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 05/06/12 - 10:12 pm
3
1
burninator, you can repeat it

burninator, you can repeat it till the cows come home but still doesn't make your statement true. It has been reported and varified that in an attempt to further further careers and justify the claim that evolution is a legitmate theory, many scientists have fraudulently deceived the world by planting or reconstructing fossils which they would claim to be authentic finds.

The fossil found in England in 1912, false. A tooth found in Nebraska in 1922, false. It was found to be identical to another tooth from from the jawbone of a wild pig. Java man, no proof that the skullcap and the leg bone belong to the same specimen. The skullcap could belong to an extinct ape and the leg bone, that of a human. Orce man, 1983, discovered the skull fragment belonged to a donkey.

So please explain the MASSIVE scientific evidence that proves man came from apes. The truth is that no species has ever been observed changing into another one. Neither are there any transitional fossils which show one species "evolving" into another species. Rather, what we see in the fossil record is the very sudden appearance of fully-formed complex life.

If the theory of evolution was true, we should have discovered millions upon millions of transitional fossils by now. The truth is that species just don't change. Dogs are always going to be dogs, cats are always going to be cats, and Humans will always be Humans.

Yeah, we'll have to agree to disagree, but stating false "evidence" is still false evidence. It will never evolve into truth.

Little Lamb
48966
Points
Little Lamb 05/07/12 - 06:36 am
2
1
I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that Dr. Carl encourages the teaching of comparative religion in schools, but he rails against teaching comparative science (i.e., differing notions to explain the biology around us). I would think that biology classes should explain the differing theories and their pros and cons; strengths and weaknesses.

For example, many of Darwin's postulates have now been discredited by a consensus of scientists.

Similarly, there should be teaching on the differing theories regarding carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Learning different ideas helps students learn how to think. Being taught only one theory is little more than indoctrination.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 05/07/12 - 06:43 pm
1
0
I find it interesting that I
Unpublished

I find it interesting that I ask burniater a simple question and he doesn't really answer it. I think his response was take a class. You've assumed that I haven't taken one or several. Bottom line you want to say, and love saying, "FACT" and "MASSIVE" but won't produce or direct to one shred of evidence. Yet I've seen other direct you to information and you just discount it and false without proving it is false. That is scientific or I should say modern science. Create your own science to fit your dogma is what you are doing. It is the same BS from the scientific community that I have seen for years.

Little Lamb
48966
Points
Little Lamb 05/10/12 - 07:13 am
0
0
Dead

Boy, this thread died out quickly, kind of like the dodo bird.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Students train to be first-responders

It might seem very intense for a training scenario, but the instructors of A.R. Johnson's Teen Community Emergency Response Class believe stress and realism are the best teachers.
Search Augusta jobs