Vine & Fig
Defined and Refuted
Back in 1892, when Separationism, Darwinism, and Secularism were starting to gain a foothold in America, the U.S. Supreme Court took some time to declare in no uncertain terms that America is a Christian Nation (Holy Trinity v. U.S.). The Court's opinion in this decision can single-handedly reverse the effects of 12 years of government schooling civics classes. It is then a comparatively easy task to expose the foolishness of "separationism."
Separation: The Original Intent
The First Amendment reads:
As we show elsewhere, this Amendment was designed to prevent the Federal Government from creating:
This description of "church-state separation" is based on:
Separation: The Secularist Myth
Orwell could not have imagined a more successful flushing of history down the "memory hole" than Secular Humanists have pulled off. Secularists have convinced most Americans that the Constitution requires America to be a secular nation, a nation whose government does not take sides between believers and unbelievers. It is certainly true that the American government must never force atheists to go to any church, much less a government-approved denomination. Presbyterians will not be taxed to support Episcopalian clergy. But the First Amendment was not intended to keep the government from acknowledging that God exists and that all men have a duty to obey Him. "Freedom of religion" was not demanded by atheists, but by those for whom the freedom to worship publicly and devoutly was a religious passion.
"Freedom from religion" was not in the mind of a single person who signed the Constitution.
|The religious character of the nation has
been overthrown—largely since 1947. In order for
Christians to go on the offensive and tear down the
"wall of separation," these are the questions that
should be asked of any "separationist" who denies
that America is a Christian nation:
Those who signed the Constitution would have said "NO!" Every single person who signed the Constitution would have laughed at such ideas. "Separationists" answer each of these questions "yes," and courts in recent years have agreed with them. Here are the most important of those cases.
Polygamists for Separation
Before looking at those separationist cases, we should review the first U.S. Supreme Court case to mention Jefferson's "wall of separation" metaphor in a substantive way.
Shortly after the "Civil War," Mormon polygamists challenged the constitutionality of statutes against polygamy.
"Separation of church and state," they said.
"Christian nation," the Court ruled.
Sounds noble, but the Court turned down the polygamists' argument, saying in effect, if you're a polygamist or a witch doctor ready to sacrifice a virgin to the sun-god, "freedom of religion" and 50¢ will get you a cup of coffee. In a Christian nation you can believe anything you want to put between your ears, but—and this is surely more significant—the punitive power of the civil magistrate will not tolerate overt acts which are contrary to Christian morality.
In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court again reviewed a challenge to Christian penal sanctions under the "wall of separation" metaphor.
To criminalize unChristian acts is no offense against "freedom of religion," the Court said, because these acts do not even rise to the level of genuine religion.
The Court in Beason repeated the analysis of the Reynolds Court twelve years earlier:
Thus for well over 100 years after Jefferson used the "wall of separation" metaphor, the "wall" protected churches from the state, but never protected a rebellious or pagan state from the obligations of Christian morality. It was a "one-way" wall.
This case is seldom mentioned in any discussion of church-state relations, but it is an important historical landmark. It symbolizes the transition from the 18th-century world of Holy Trinity to the 20th-century world of Secular Humanism and Concentration Camps. Macintosh effectively overruled the Holy Trinity case. Holy Trinity involved federal immigration authorities telling a church they could not hire a pastor from a foreign country. The Court, observing that this is "a Christian nation," declared that "no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people."
Macintosh is a truly horrifying case. Whereas in Holy Trinity the Court held that because this was a Christian nation, all laws were qualified by a higher law, and no law could be interpreted in such a way as to exclude a Christian minister from entering the United States, the Macintosh Court, fully cognizant of the rule in Holy Trinity, completely reverses the rule, refuses to place the nation "under God," and instead declares that the State-as-god is owed "unqualified allegiance." The State is made lord of the conscience. (cp. Acts 5:29)
Macintosh was a Christian from Canada who was a member of the faculty at the Yale Divinity School, who sought to become a naturalized citizen. He indicated that he would be unwilling to kill upon government orders if such orders conflicted with his religion. Many Christians today and in the past have taken a "My country right or wrong" approach. Thankfully, that kind of patriotic naïveté is dying out. Growing numbers of Christians, if ordered by Janet Reno to burn a hundred Fundamentalist men, women, and children and their house-church to the ground, would flatly refuse. Legally speaking, they are in the same treasonous category as Macintosh was in this case. Their loyalty is to a Foreign Sovereign (Philippians 3:20). Read more here. The Macintosh Court arrogantly claimed that such heavenly allegiance must be subordinated to the welfare-warfare State.
In 1946, Macintosh was overruled in Girouard v. U.S., 328 U.S. 61. Congress passed a law which said that people who refused to take up arms for the New World Order could still become American citizens if they would work for the government (but they wouldn't have to kill anyone directly). Thus, Naturalization of Brakel, 524 F.Supp. 300 (N.D. Ill. 1979) noted that Macintosh was "overruled (on strictly statutory grounds) in Girouard. . ." (at 301, emphasis added). Girouard did not bring back Holy Trinity. Congress can reinstate the law in Macintosh any time it wants. That the State is no longer "under God" has never been denied. That the Holy Trinity case is dead meat is widely recognized.
Historically, then, in 1946 we are at a place where the Humanist-infected Court believes that God is dead, and is looking for a paradigm or metaphor that can be used to purge this dead religion from American life and institutions. Just as Darwin provided a metaphor for a new religion, so the Everson Court would find this metaphor in Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists.
This is perhaps the most important church-state case in this century; only the Lemon case may have been cited more frequently. The Court actually upheld expenditures which benefited Christians, but "dicta" in the opinion has had a tremendous influence. Here are the words most frequently quoted:
Everson at 15-16 While there is some truth here, the language in this important paragraph is ambiguous, and its ambiguity has been exploited by Justices with a secularist axe to grind.
• "Religious Activities" — "No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities," the Court says. Really? James 1:27 says the essence of true religion is taking care of widows and orphans. Religious organizations have been carrying out this religious activity for centuries. To say "no tax" can be levied to support the care of widows is to declare the entire Social Security system "unconstitutional." (Perhaps rightly so.)
• Religion and State — Jefferson spoke of a "wall of separation between church and state," but the Court here repeatedly speaks of a separation between "religion" and state, as though the State cannot distinguish between religion and non-religion, between a Christian parent and a pagan who sacrifices his virgin daughter to the sun-god. Subsequent courts have used this language to separate the State from God and from that obedience to God which we call "religion." Not a single person who signed the Constitution had this in mind.
Note the citation of Reynolds by the Everson Court.. This is laughable, enough to embarrass a second-year con-law student. Justice Rehnquist exposed the Everson theory:
But the inaptly-applied metaphor has stayed with us. In particular, the dissenters in Everson have been cited frequently; in Abington at 374 U.S. 203, 217, McGowan in note 18, and by J, Blackmun, with whom J. Stevens and J. O'Connor join, concurring in Lee v. Weisman:
Not a single member of the "Religious Right" believes that the Federal Government should levy taxes to "support" any churches. But in ways so numerous it would be difficult to count them, the men who signed the Constitution believed the government was ethically obligated to obey the will of God, and to endorse belief in God and obedience to His Commandments. See some of those ways here.
The dissenters in Everson believed that the "wall" metaphor should have been more strictly adhered to. Their views would come to prevail. Everson would unleash a communist-style pogrom against religious beliefs in the public square.
Are voluntary religious activities unconstitutional? Yes, according to separationists, because such activities remind atheists that there is a God, even if atheists are not a part of these activities. The Champaign [County, Ill.] Board of Education permitted
The Court held that permitting students to attend voluntarily religious classes at no expense to the taxpayer, was an "establishment of religion." The Everson case had been decided the previous year, and the Court in McCollum built on that foundation, holding that permitting voluntary religious activities
Justice Reed, in dissent, raised some important points, which are found here. Justice Felix Frankfurter, concurring, delivered the following opinion, in which the Everson dissenters joined:
Does the U.S. Constitution say anything at all about public schools and "sectarian education?" Does the Constitution give the federal judiciary the power to dictate which classes will be held in Champaign County Illinois? Separationists say "yes." Frankfurter continued:
All nine of us.
The Court's language is revealing — and critical. The Court says the First Amendment now forbids much more than the wildest fears of Church of England vestrymen. It now forbids permitting students voluntarily to attend classes which teach religion, even if these classes are paid for by the various churches.
There is a hostility toward religion in this opinion, and its authors were laying the foundation to remove prayer and Bible reading from schools, as the Court would do in the early 1960's. The Founding Fathers, on the other hand, believed that one of the most important purposes of public education was to teach religion and morality. Read their statements here.
The day after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, every state in the union believed that an oath was an appeal to God. Since atheists did not believe in God, they could not take an oath, and so atheists were not permitted to hold public office or testify in courts. The First Amendment was designed to keep the federal government from interfering in the way states understood their duties to God. "Congress shall make no law . . . ."
All of that changed in 1961 when the Supreme Court determined that they had the power to amend a state constitution where that constitution dealt with religion. One of the requirements of public office holders was a belief in God. The Court in Torcaso ruled that requirement in the Maryland Constitution "unconstitutional." Apparently it took 170 years before anyone realized that such provisions in state constitutions were "unconstitutional," even though most state constitutions were written by the same men who wrote the federal constitution.
That well-worn paragraph from Everson was again quoted. The "wall of separation" between churches and the state was further deconstructed into a wall of separation between God and State.
Footnote 11 is famous for declaring that "Secular Humanism" is one of "those religions" which is not founded on a belief in God. Thus, in deference to the religion of atheism, oaths must be secular, and cannot be religious, that is, Christian. This footnote has proven to be a great embarrassment to Secular Humanists. Find out why.
There can be no doubt that those who demanded a Bill of Rights before they would ratify the Constitution were not demanding that the federal judiciary be given the power to tell the states what religious view of oaths they should have. When they spoke of an "establishment of religion," they were speaking of the establishment of a particular denomination of Christianity, such as the Church of England, or the Methodist Church. Read their statements here.
Every session of Congress begins with prayer. Do Christians in schools have the same rights? Because of this case, No; they're not even allowed to read the prayers from Capitol Hill (State Brd. of Educ v. Netcong, 262 A.2d 21 (1970).
The Annals of Congress for Sept 25, 1789 record these discussions by the same Congress which approved the wording of the First Amendment, concerning the proclamation of a national day of Thanksgiving:
Does this sound like a group of statesmen who would object to the New York education authorities authorizing a moment for students to say the following prayer:
— especially if atheists were allowed to excuse their children from saying this prayer? Such was the conclusion of the separationist Court in Engel v. Vitale, which ruled such an opportunity for voluntary prayer an "unconstitutional" establishment of religion.
The Court admitted that " . . . the schools did not compel any pupil to join in the prayer over his or her parents' objection. (Engel at 423).
Nevertheless, the Court overruled the clear intent of the Congress which approved the wording of the First Amendment:
The Latin phrase "ipse dixit" is useful in these contexts.
It is true that when an ecclesiastical denomination must resort to government coercion to compel citizens to attend its services, that denomination has been degraded. But nobody in this case was coerced. No denomination was favored over any other denomination, any more than Washington's proclamation of a day of prayer was an establishment of a state church. The Court hates religion. There's no getting around this fact. The Court asserted, "[A] union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion." George Washington spoke for the Founding Fathers when he declared, "[T]rue religion affords to government its surest support." Read their declarations here.
When Roger Sherman quoted the Bible in urging the first Congress to approve a National Day of Prayer, he selected the passages and read from any version he chose. Pennsylvania schools passed a policy which gave students the same freedom:
The Supreme Court finds such freedom to offend the Constitution. Never mind that
This case concerned tax-exemption for churches, and as is often the case, even when the Supreme Court seems to rule in favor of religion, they have succeeded in digging its grave a little deeper. Justice Brennan, concurring, declared:
In other words, the State no longer grants tax-free status to churches because we render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and the things that are God's to God, nor because the State is "under God" and churches are a holy sanctuary which even the greatest emperors would not breach, but because the Humanistic Supreme Court magnanimously views churches as having a tolerable role to play in the creation of their new "pluralistic" secular society.
Justice Douglas would throw out the exemptions entirely, but would agree with Justice Brennan on the mandate for "pluralism":
It is true that the Founding Fathers were not hostile toward non-Christian religions. See their comments here. And of course, the Founders believed in denominational pluralism, in which each Christian denomination is on an equal legal footing. But the Framers did not espouse pure pluralism. Non-Christian religions could exist only insofar as they stayed within Christian boundaries — no sacrificing virgins, no polygamy, no pagan perversions. See the evidence here. We were one nation "under God" — a particular God, with particular moral standards. Pluralism is a myth. It is political polytheism. America was a distinctly Christian nation. Read the Founders' views here.
Walz held that tax exemptions had a long history and were therefore constitutional. Justice Douglas challenged the Court by noting that school prayer had an equally long history, but that did not stop the Court from throwing prayer out of schools. Despite its apparently favorable ruling, Walz is a dangerous case. And Lemon v. Kurtzman proves it.
This is certainly convenient for Secular Humanists. Every legislation must have for its purpose a goal which is acceptable to Humanists, its primary effect must not be to advance the interests of those who oppose Humanism, and it must not bring the government "under God" in an "excessive" way. Is there any wonder that Secularism has advanced so?
How does this "secular purpose/secular effect" test conform to the principles and practice of the Founding Fathers? Here is how James Madison argued against a very important piece of legislation. He opposed it
Madison felt no compulsion to muster up a "secular purpose." He said the bill should be defeated precisely because it did not advance "the light of Christianity." Today, however, legislation will be struck down by the Court if one of those who sponsored the bill hoped it might benefit Christianity in some in indirect way. (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985; Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987)
The "secular purpose" and "secular effect" prongs of the "Lemon test" are corollaries of the view that society should be secular and religion kept out of the public square. As Justice Brennan would write in Marsh v. Chambers (1983), the "Lemon test"
It is true that the Framers gave no power to the new government to tell churches which scent of incense they must use. Many other questions of "worship" or belief are rightly considered "private" questions. But the Founders also agreed with Ben Franklin, who knew quite well the value of Christianity to society, and who, in the context of teaching history to the youth of Philadelphia, said:
The Founders believed in public religion. Official proclamations of national days of prayer and public appeals to the God of the Bible in the Addresses and Orders of every single Congress and President this nation has had since its inception in 1776 (and before) show that no one intended the Constitution to exile Christianity to the world of the "noumenal" and require every law to pass in review before the religion of Secular Humanism.
You might think that you have passed "the Lemon Test" if your legislation explicitly states your secular purpose. But think again. Kentucky decided her schools should teach good citizenship by teaching the Ten Commandments. A copy of the Ten Commandments, paid for by private funds, was to be hung in each classroom. That's all. Just hanging on the wall in case some student might want to learn them. A plaque under each poster read,
Can any student claim to know much about Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States without having some familiarity with the Ten Commandments. It is not possible. Nevertheless, the Court prohibited Kentucky from hanging the posters of the Ten Commandments.
Of course it was! What's wrong with that? This is a Christian nation, after all. As Chief Justice Burger noted in Lynch v. Donnelly (the Nativity Scene case),
But times have changed:
This decision is more than ridiculous; it is evil. Not a single person who signed the Constitution would agree with the idea that the Federal Government has the power to order municipal schools to remove copies of the Ten Commandments from classroom walls. Read what the Founders said.
There are apparently some limits to how blatantly a-historical the Court will get. This case may illustrate that limit. At first glance, this case appears to break from the anti-Christian tack the Court has been following. It concerned a challenge to the practice of the Nebraska Legislature of beginning each session in prayer. The Continental Congress, the very Congress that approved the First Amendment, and virtually every state in the Union, approved legislative prayer. It existed before the Constitution was written, and for 200 years since. Much as they may have wanted to, how could the Court have called it "unconstitutional?" Justice Brennan, dissenting, astutely noted, "If the Court had struck down legislative prayer today, it would likely have stimulated a furious reaction." (103 S.Ct. 3330 at 3351) Could the Court have braved such outcry? Had there been any real prayer going on in the Nebraska Legislature, the Court might have found a way.
Luckily for the Court, complaints had been lodged years earlier that the prayers were "too explicitly Christian" (id. at 3339n.8), and so the Chaplain "removed all references to Christ" and replaced them with "elements of the American civil religion." (opinion of the Court, at 3336n.14) The prayers thus had a secular purpose and a secular effect. Had these prayers been explicitly Christian they would have been banned. (Compare Allegheny v. ACLU, below, in which the Christian Nativity Scene was banned, but the Menorah was allowed to stand.)
The dissent astutely recognized that had the "Lemon Test" been applied, the uninterrupted 200-year tradition of legislative prayer would have had to come to an end. But tradition overruled Lemon in this unique case. As the Court would say in Edwards v. Aguillard,
(And the fact that the prayers had already been watered down into "American civil religion.")
The Court got back on track with this case. An Alabama law authorized a one-minute period of silence for students. In striking down the law, the appeals court and the Supreme Court agreed: "It is not the activity itself that concerns us; it is the purpose of the activity that we shall scrutinize." [472 U.S. 38, 47n.30]
The "purpose" was found in the statements of one of the sponsors of the bill who hoped the students would use the one minute of silence to pray. That was all the Court needed to hear. Chief Justice Burger, dissenting, was alarmed that the vote of the entire Alabama Legislature could be overturned because of this one legislator's Christian hopes.
They are only relevant if they are Christian, it would appear. Had the law been passed because its sponsors believed it conformed to the Secular ideals of the religion of Secular Humanism, there would have been no problem.
The Founding Fathers did not believe it inappropriate for legislators to harbor hopes that students would pray. In fact, the Framers believed that government had a duty to encourage and promote piety and true religion. Read their hopes here.
This is another case in which Big Brother looks into the heart and overrules entire Legislatures if it finds Christianity in one legislator's heart. But the real dynamic in this case is the Court's belief that presenting scientific evidence against Darwinism—scientific facts which would tend to support the historical record in Scripture—constitutes an "establishment of religion." After all, "we all know" who wants these ideas taught in schools.
This is simply a war on the beliefs of Fundamentalist Christians, by a Court that does not believe them. Can you imagine the court attacking any other religion in this manner? Suppose the Court had said
Besides, was it the case that the entire Louisiana Legislature was acting only to advance the tenets of fundamentalists? That they knew this legislation was unconstitutional and nevertheless violated their oaths of office and lied about it? The only evidence to support this claim rested in the fact that the bill's sponsor hoped he could draft legislation with a secular purpose and a secular effect (Lemon) which would also conform to his religious motivations. The evidence in fact indicates he had a tough time convincing his colleagues to grant "equal time" to scientific evidence against Darwinism.
The opinion of the Court begins with Everson, and concludes that the County acted unconstitutionally by permitting a private religious group to place a nativity scene on public property. Such a display could give the impression that the government "endorsed" Christianity.
This is an accurate and helpful understanding of the Court's "endorsement" test. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with an accurate or useful understanding of the Original Intent of the Framers of the Constitution.
Read what the Supreme Court said about "infidels" in 1844. "But today," whenever the Court discusses what the Founding Fathers believed about Christianity, it immediately follows with "but today . . . ."
Every single person who signed the Constitution believed that it was appropriate for the State to "endorse" and "promote" "true religion. The Court simply does not bind itself by the Original Intent of the Authors of the Constitution.
Every single person who signed the Constitution believed that government was an ordinance of God, with an explicitly religious foundation. Gain understanding of the Founders here. Since America was a nation "under God," no one believed that the government must remain secular, that is, indifferent to its relationship to God. Unbelievers have always been at a legal disadvantage in America because a Christian nation like America is predicated on belief in God.
This case struck down the last outpost of prayer in public schools: The Graduation Ceremony. If the Founders believed the government should not compel religious observances, and if the Court in Allegheny believed that the government could not even give an appearance of "endorsing" religious observances, the Court in Weisman concluded that the government could not permit religious observances in public because an atheist might witness it and be plunged into the torturous depths of psychological vexation. The "psychological coercion test" gives a lone atheist the right to nullify the free exercise of an entire community of theists.
These non-sectarian prayers were tame compared to the explicitly Christian prayers routinely offered by the men who drafted the Constitution and served in the highest offices in the land. Read some of them here. Justice Souter, in his concurring opinion, acknowledged that the Founders allowed, encouraged, and participated in such prayers, but accused the Framers of not understanding the meaning of the Constitution they themselves had authored:
The Secular Court contends that their understanding of the constitutionality of prayer is more accurate than that of those who created the document.
The Weisman Court went beyond the Lemon Test, and beyond the "endorsement" test (Allegheny), and announced the "psychological coercion test." Under this test, if one person finds himself uncomfortable in the presence of an acknowledgement of God, then that activity is unconstitutional. One 14-year old objected to remaining respectfully silent during a theistic prayer, and her phobia eliminated the opportunity for the rest of the community to put into action their agreement with George Washington:
The illogic and departure from historic precedent by the Court is ably spelled out in the dissent of Justice Scalia, in which Justices Rehnquist, White, and Thomas joined. Read it here.
Observing the evolution of the Court's many "tests" and the increasing hostility toward Christianity, one is reminded of Thomas Jefferson's warning:
The "separation of church and state" as promulgated by the Supreme Court, is a myth.
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