"Freedom of Conscience" meant Christianity

Subject: Re: It is in the Constitution [541]
From: kevin4vft@aol.com (KEVIN4VFT)
Date: 08 Jun 2000 13:09:54 EDT

In message-id: <20000608122100.28979.00000368@ng-fg1.aol.com>, Ghstwrtrfx2 writes:

>If all the Framers wanted to do was ban a national church, they had plenty of
>opportunities to state exactly that in the First Amendment. In fact, an early
>draft of the First Amendment read in part:
>"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief,
>nor shall any national religion be established...."
>This draft was rejected. Following extensive debate, the language found in
>the First Amendment today was settled on.

This is way too simplistic.
This "national religion" language was Madison's own proposal and there are no clear reasons given why it was rejected.

>The historical record indicates that the framers wanted the First Amendment
>to ban not only establishment of a single church but also "multiple
>establishments," that is, a system by which the government funds many
>religions on an equal basis.

Again, simplistic and misleading.
There is not a single person alive today who believes that the government should levy taxes in support of any or all religious denominations. Jerry Falwell rejects this; Pat Robertson rejects this.
"Taxes for churches" is not the issue.

>During the House of Representatives' debate on the language of the religion
>clauses, members specifically rejected a version reading:
>"Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination in
>preference to another...."

Simplistic and misleading.
Note the ellipses. That means something was left out.
I think the omission was deliberate and misleading.
Here is the entire proposal:

On motion to amend the third article, to read thus: 'Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed:"

Immediately before this, the following wording was also rejected:

On motion to adopt the following, in lieu of the third article: 'Congress shall not make any law infringing the rights of conscience, or establishing any religious sect or society:'

Finally, immediately after the "particular denomination" language was rejected, this vote is recorded:

On motion to adopt the third article proposed in the resolve of the House of Representatives, amended by striking out these words, 'nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed:'

It passed in the affirmative.

In other words, the common phrase rejected in all three of these consecutive legislative acts concerns "rights of conscience."
An argument can easily be made that the object of Congress' legislative scalpel was the "rights of conscience."
This was also part of Madison's original language, and it is not a part of the First Amendment.

Of course, the idea that Congress opposed protecting "rights of conscience," (as that phrase is understood in a Christian context) is as ridiculous as the idea that the Congress opposed America being a Christian nation.

>The founders wanted to bar all religious establishments; they left no room
>for "non-preferentialism," the view touted by today's accommodationists that
>government can aid religion as long as it assists all religions equally.

I am against all government aid ($$$) to religion. But history shows that all Presidents, including Jefferson and Madison, approved aid ($$$) to religion. See some examples here:


Government aid ($$$) to religion is not the issue. The issue is government submission to the Higher Law of God.

>The Senate likewise rejected three versions of the First Amendment that would
>have permitted non-preferential support for religion. It is therefore a
>recorded historical fact that the so-called "one-way" concept was considered
>and flatly rejected. This therefore makes anyone still holding to that view
>highly misguided and just plain wrong.

Whoever wrote these words for the "Secular Humanist Anti-Christian Debater's Handbook" is the one who is misleading. It is only the sloppiest of scholarship that would argue that the modern "separationist" concept was approved by Congress. One could just as sloppily argue that Congress was against protecting "rights of conscience."

Kevin C.

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and sit under their Vine & Fig Tree.
Micah 4:1-7