Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
The First Amendment to our Constitution forbids Congress to establish a religion. This needs clarification if only to safeguard the other provision in the First Amendment that guarantees the free exercise there of faith. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have used the courts to limit this last guarantee by the citation of the prohibition a religion establishment. Too often activist Judges like to extract a principle and violate the specific provision of the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits Congress to establish a religion, but says nothing against a State doing so. Several of the Colonies did establish a specific organized Church as that of that Colony.
The announced purpose of the Humanist Manifestos of 1933 and 1973 was to eradicate all acknowledgment of “theism” from public life. This purpose seems to be this of groups like the ACLU. This contradicts the very basis of our Country’s existence.
The Declaration of Independence recognizes the Creator as the Giver of the“inalienable rights” that separation was made to defend. Our national culture has from the beginning acknowledged the Christian God. In the Constitutional Congress, the delegates were at an impasse and near giving up when Benjamin Franklin exhorted them to pray. Then, differences were overcome and the writing of Constitution finished. As far as I know no session of Congress is begun without prayer.
Further, Thomas Jefferson required the teaching of the Bible in the DC schools even though he authored the worn out phrase “a wall of separation between Church and State!”
When I served in the Army at our barracks at the old Dachau prison camp in West Germany, a notable warning was emblazoned in the camp. It said: “If we forget history, we are bound to repeat it!”
To honestly interpret anything, we must look into the history of its origin. Our founding fathers knew what they meant by the terms they used. They knew that the establishment of a religion meant the adoption of a specific Church as the required organization for their citizens. This European custom was what their forefathers came to this Land to avoid. From history and present practice let us review the elements of the establishment of a State Church (religion):
1. A specific religious organization is cited as the religion of that country. That is, the Church of
England, Evangalish (German Lutheran), The Roman Catholic Church, etc.
2. The State cites appoint a hierarchical structure of church officers and clergy. This was especially the case of the independent German states and Switzerland.
3. Specified doctrines that define church orthodoxy.
4. Ecclesiastical courts established for enforcement of religious regulations and orthodoxy.
5. Church tax levied for its support.
6. Required religious instruction in public and private schools.
7. Orthodox and liturgical acceptable standing for government office.
Because of political correctness, the strictness of these standards are not as rigid, except in a number of Muslim countries. The acknowledgment of the Judeo-Christian God in America fails all of these standards for being a State Church, i.e., established religion. Congress needs to define what an “establishment of religion” is and is not. The seven cited historical standards of what has constituted a State or “established religion” is. And make it clear that recognition of historical American culture of acknowledging the Judeo-Christian God is not an establishment of religion.