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6.28.2005    |    "clear wall of separation"
According to the New York Times, yesterday's split (and hair-splitting) decisions demonstrated the virtue of the founders, who, according to the Gray Lady,
came up with the idea of a clear wall of separationbetween church and state, [and] had it right.
This would likely come as a shock to the actual founders, as opposed to the liberal elite's 21st century mescaline-fueled dream of what it should have been. The founders, almost to a man, were men of rock-ribbed Christian faith who knew the King James Bible backwards and forwards. Even that most famous of exceptions, Thomas Jefferson, alleged to have been a deist, usually attended Christian services and showed the Scriptures enough respect to try to rewrite them.

Whatever TJ may have believed in his heart of hearts, he clearly had no problem with acknowledging that the nascent United States was a Christian nation, with religious tolerance for all at the Federal level (more on this below), and, accordingly, with no particular sect receiving favor, official sanction, or official funding. This is the essence of the religion component of First Amendment, which, in its glorious simplicity is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
The simple object by those who wrote those words was not to prohibit displays of the King James version of the Ten Commandments; it was to prevent those pesky Anglicans (or Congregationalists or Baptists or...fill in any denomination you care to name) from doing what the Mother Church in England had done -- make itself an integral part of the government as the established, official church. And, in turn, be supported by the taxes levied on all.

Then there is the Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Which should give us pause if we consider that the founders, most certainly did not have the view that one size fits all as regards the alleged "clear wall of separation." In different words, those of us who still believe in a vestige of state's rights know that at the time the First Amendment was enacted, it was applied strictly as written: "Congress shall make no law..." As in the Federal Congress. States were left to do as their legislatures saw fit, and some states at the time came close to having established religions. More importantly, some states also at the time banned members of certain faiths, such as Roman Catholicism, from holding state office.

It seems there is only one Justice who still shares this vision, at least partly, and that is Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas has all the right enemies, as the Washington Post's editorial states that his suggestion that the First Amendment's establishment clause does not apply to state governments is "radical."

What is actually radical in the year of our Lord 2005 (hope the ACLU doesn't sue me for that) is the notion that the founders were somehow against the idea of religion as an integral part of the national life. In private, all choices in the matter of faith (assuming those choices didn't include sedition or murder and mayhem...oh, those would be some of our dear Islamic brethren, wouldn't it...how very politically incorrect, John Luke) to be accepted. In public, all displays of religious content to be at the discretion of each jurisdiction.

Do Muslims or Hindus or atheists object the Ten Commandments? Too bad. Welcome to America. If you like it here, first understand who we are, and you are welcome to join us once you accept this...or leave. We are a Judeo-Christian nation, and such displays are merely part of how we were founded as a nation. King James Version if possible; others are acceptable. We've no established church here in America.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.