Monday, March 31, 2014

The Humanist: "George Washington Never Wrote That Jesus Prayer"

Here. A taste:
But even if the prayer delivered by Commissioner Frazier had been genuine, perhaps thereby having some patriotic or historical significance, it wouldn’t have changed the legal picture. A continuous habit of delivering specifically Christian prayers at government meetings creates a hostile environment for non-Christian citizens, be they believers in other religions or nonbelievers.

32 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, please. These "humanist" jerks and their lawsuits are just as bad. The hell with all of 'em.

The issue will be settled soon by SCOTUS anyway.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/04/supreme-court-prayer-greece-new-york/3323905/

jimmiraybob said...

Tom, why do you hate those who advocate for religious freedom?

Tom Van Dyke said...

That makes a mockery of what religious freedom really is. The American way is pluralism, not fake "neutrality."

jimmiraybob said...

From the release:

"Judge William D. Quarels, Jr. of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued the preliminary injunction yesterday to stop sectarian prayers held before meetings of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. Quarels ruled that Carroll County officials are prohibited “from invoking the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief in prayers given at [Board] meetings” for the duration of the lawsuit. The Board may continue to give non-sectarian invocations at the beginning of meetings."

So Tom, what is your definition of pluralism? Especially in a government setting that should be open to and representative of all citizens - even those of minority faiths or no religious faith.

The ruling may not be neutral but it is fair based on citizenship and not religious privilege.

The ills of sectarian religious zealotry mixing with government was one of Chief Justice Joseph Story's main concerns (c. early 19th century).



Tom Van Dyke said...

You apparently don't understand "sectarianism" as Joseph Story used it, which was re denominational factionalism.

So Tom, what is your definition of pluralism? Especially in a government setting that should be open to and representative of all citizens - even those of minority faiths or no religious faith.

Actually, I previously wrote something like that, that I consider it bad manners to do the "Jesus Christ" thing with those who don't accept him there.

But I also wrote that pluralism includes Jesus Christ, as long as Allah and Vishnu and whatnot aren't banned.

Now put it back in your pants.

jimmiraybob said...

Actually, what Story was writing against was the poisonous enthusiasm of religious zealotry and bigotry and its deleterious effects on government.

jimmiraybob said...

From Joseph Story's commentaries(1):

§ 1841. The remaining part of the clause(1) declares, that "no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust, under the United States." This clause is not introduced merely for the purpose of satisfying the scruples of many respectable persons, who feel an invincible repugnance to any religious test, or affirmation. It had a higher object; to cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government(2). The framers of the constitution were fully sensible of the dangers from this source, marked out in the history of other ages and countries; and not wholly unknown to our own. They knew, that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of the civil power to exterminate those, who doubted its dogmas, or resisted its infallibility.

To clarify a bit:

It had a higher object; to cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government.

And why would that be?

They knew, that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of the civil power to exterminate those, who doubted its dogmas, or resisted its infallibility.

1) http://www.constitution.org/js/js_000.htm

RE: § 1837. The next clause is, "The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the-several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the constitution.1 But no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

2) Some, such as myself, might read this as a principle of complete separation between government and religious zealotry, somewhat akin to building an impermeable wall with no one-way doors.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Go google some more. You still don't get it.

jimmiraybob said...

I Google to provide a source for the primary document - the holy grail, so to speak. People are then free to examine the source.

As if you are averse to relying of Google.

TVD - "You still don't get it."

I accept your surrender.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You really need to develop an interest in the WHOLE truth, not just the first fragment on Google that satisfies your agenda.


§441 "We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence that the framers of the Constitution)

....

Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."


For about the 5th time on this blog, which is why you've become such a chore. You don't get it.

jimmiraybob said...

So, apparently it's also a chore to share your sources?

jimmiraybob said...

Yes, let's look at the whole thing. THe ellipsis below is the snippet that you used.

From: A Familiar Exposition of The Constitution Of The United States by Joseph Story LL.D. (1840)(1).

§441. The same policy, which introduced into the Constitution the prohibition of any religious test [jrb – Article VI], led to this more extended prohibition of the interference of Congress in religious concerns [jrb – 1st amendment].

...

but to a dread by the people of the influence of ecclesiastical power in matters of government; a dread, which their ancestors brought with them from the parent country, and which, unhappily for human infirmity, their own conduct, after their emigration, had not, in any just degree, tended to diminish. It was also obvious, from the numerous and powerful sects existing in the United States, that there would be perpetual temptations to struggles for ascendency in the National councils, if any one might thereby hope to found a permanent national establishment of its own; and religious persecutions might thus be introduced, to an extent utterly subversive of the true interests and good order of the Republic. The most effective mode of suppressing evil, in the view of the people, was, to strike down the temptations of its introduction.


So, in Story's view, the people - a religious and dominantly Christian people - dreaded the imposition of ecclesiastical authority and the US Constitution dealt with it.

While prohibiting or cut[ing] off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government (in Story's words), the right of the people to revere their religion of choice was preserved.

1) @

https://archive.org/stream/afamiliarexposi02storgoog#page/n149/mode/2up

Tom Van Dyke said...

You're still not using "sectarian" correctly. It refers to denominational factionalism, just as I said.


§ 1871. The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.


I'm not saying, and nobody is saying, that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly ban the establishment of a national church [although official churches in the states are not banned by it.]

So stop quibbling about minor usages, especially when you're wrong.

jimmiraybob said...

You seem to have a hard time with the idea of underlying principles. The reason for the prohibition was due to the bigotry and intolerance always exhibited by the religiously zealous.

RE: Sects(1)

- from the Commentaries(2)

§ 1868. … Let it be remembered, that at the very moment, when the learned commentator [jrb - Blackstone, who he’d previously referenced] was penning these cold remarks, the laws of England merely tolerated protestant dissenters in their public worship upon certain conditions, at once irritating and degrading; that the test and corporation acts excluded them from public and corporate offices, both of trust and profit; that the learned commentator avows, that the object of the test and corporation acts was to exclude them from office, in common with Turks, Jews, heretics, papists, and other sectaries

Story was aware of intra-Christian sectarian bigotry and abuses, historical and in his times, as well as sectarian bigotry and abuses between different religions.

As I’ve said before, during and soon after the founding, the primary conflict was generally intra-Christian – that was the demographic exigency that they faced.

In today’s America, the potential for religious bigotry and intolerance is between different religions as well as intra-Christian rivalry (as well as between the religious and the non-religious).

The principle that Story is expounding is the removal from government – the National councils of his time, the state and national councils of our times - of these extraneous sources of passionate and zealous interests resulting in intolerance, ”vindictive jealousies”(2), and attempts to secure “exclusive ascendancy over the human mind”(2) by any given ecclesiastical affiliation.

1) From Webster’s 1826 Dictionary – Sect: A body or number of persons united in tenets, chiefly in philosophy or religion, but constituting a distinct party by holding sentiments different from those of other men. Most sects have originated in a particular person, who taught and propagated some peculiar notions in philosophy or religion, and who is considered to have been its founder.

2)
http://www.constitution.org/js/js_000.htm

Tom Van Dyke said...

Story is plainly referring to interdenominational Christian strife.

jimmiraybob said...

As I said, you have a hard time discerning principles.

I have a hard time thinking that he would give his blessings to Christian zeal creating a preferential and destabilizing dominance in government at the expense of "Turks, Jews, heretics, papists, and other sectaries…", & etc.

Tom Van Dyke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Van Dyke said...

That's an intelligent point, but only if you ignore most everything I posted from Story, which you have.


§441

....

Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

§ 1871. The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.

I trust our readers can read plain English. Story clearly gives a government preference to Christianity over all other religions.

jimmiraybob said...

Just to take a moment to go back to my original point:

"Actually, what Story was writing against was the poisonous enthusiasm of religious zealotry and bigotry and its deleterious effects on government. "

Now then.

"Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was,..."

Probably, the near universal sentiments in America at the time of the founding did not countenance a lot of things, one of which was dirty papists having a say, and that was the problem. The constitution and amendments weren't written to establish the majority bigoted sentiments of the day.

I agree that the 1st amendment wasn't written to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity. But it also does not say anything about prostrating Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity. Instead, it was written to prohibit congress from making law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

This, of course, has nothing to do with my quoted statement above or the principle of keeping religious zealotry and bigotry and persecution – of all stripes – out of the governing councils.

As to ” …a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation”, the purpose of keeping religion out of the governing councils [Article VI] was to prevent the very real dangers of using the powers of government to secure exclusive ascendancy of one sect over the other and thus ascendancy over the human mind. And also too, I reiterate that the principle accommodates the changing demographics with the expansion of the nation and over time. We are now much more religiously diverse – more Christian sects and more other sects.

By doing so, the government isn’t holding all in indifference but creating a space for all to come together on issues affecting the commonwealth regardless of individual religious preference.

To reiterate Story - ”They knew, that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of the civil power to exterminate those, who doubted its dogmas, or resisted its infallibility.”

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, that's the danger of one sect [esp the Presbyterians] taking over politically. Otherwise, in Story's view, government should encourage and support Christianity as a whole.

Or at least that's what he explicitly said.

"to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government."

jimmiraybob said...


In your last quote Story is referring ti the 1st Amendment and the very next sentence is:

It thus cut off the means of religious persecution, (the vice and pest of former ages,) and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age.

The snippet that you provided doesn't support the contention that Story's view was that "government should encourage and support Christianity as a whole." Add to that the purpose that he expounds in the second sentence that I provided, cutting off the means of religious persecution," makes it clear that his concern was religious persecution and the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion.

Take that principle and fast forward to today when we have a far larger nation comprised of citizens of many different faith traditions (aside from Christianity) and no religious faith tradition. It's hard to see that Story would have advocated for a government that would foster one religion, Christianity, at the expense of all other religions and beliefs.

However, the accounts that I've read indicate that Story was a devout Christian so I guess I wouldn't be too surprised if he harbored such a personal belief. But, personal beliefs are just that and are not entailed in the Constitution - that also prohibits religious tests (Article VI).

And, even if he did believe that government should "encourage and support Christianity as a whole" 1) it is non-binding as law, and 2) that was then and this is now - given the changed demographics of the nation he might well have written more explicitly today of a more expansive sectarian danger.

TVD - "Yes, that's the danger of one sect [esp the Presbyterians] taking over politically."

If you were an American Muslim, Orthodox Jew or non-theist you might substitute Christian for Presbyterian. May as well add in Mormon too, since so many Christians don't believe that it is a Christian religion.....or, that it is even a religion.



Tom Van Dyke said...

I didn't say we should privilege Christianity in the 21st century. This is a discussion of history, not contemporary policy.

Although the First Amendment still permitted the individual states to have official [needless to say Christian] churches--for example Congregationalism in Massachusetts as late as 1833--under the 14th Amendment, the courts say that's denies equal protection to members not of that sect.

Story wrote that "Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

That's the historical discussion. All you need to do is look at how Thomas Paine was treated after he published "Age of Reason" to know that's true.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes, when Story spoke, the individual states could privilege "Christianity" or whatever religion they wanted to. If that's the context of Story's observation, perhaps he had a point.

However, if he's referring to national establishment policy, aka, what the Establishment Clause meant, then I defer to Dr. Philip Munoz's analysis that Story's comments do not reflect the original meaning of the Establishment Clause, but rather are biased towards the Massachusetts view.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Establishing "Christianity" was patently impossible, since the various sects do not agree what Christianity even is.

The ban on establishment necessarily must refer to the various sects and denominations, for any practical purpose.

And for the record, since Story wasn't there, all his writings on the Constitution must be taken as opinion, not um, gospel truth. Still, there were no battles in America--or in the old country except between the Christian sects.

“…the Presbyterian Church was ambitious and aimed at an Establishment of a National Church. I was represented as a Presbyterian and at the head of this political and ecclesiastical Project. The secret whisper ran through them ‘Let us have Jefferson, Madison, Burr, any body, whether they be Philosophers, Deists, or even Atheists, rather than a Presbyterian President.’” (John Adams to Dr. Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812)

jimmiraybob said...

TVD - " This is a discussion of history, not contemporary policy."

You might take a look at the original post.

Tom Van Dyke said...

This is a history blog.

The First Amendment permitted sectarian hegemony in the states--which is to say it didn't reverse what was already a fact on the ground. It banned it on the national level, in no small part because it could not be achieved without fracturing the Union.

21st century secularists have trouble appreciating the times--the question of "church and state" has mutated into a question of "religion and politics," but Joseph Story shows that's not how it was.

§ 1867. Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth.

In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, with the exception of Rhode Island, (if, indeed, that state be an exception,) did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty. Indeed, in a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great basis, on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty.

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