An Open Letter To The Supreme Court Of The United States

SupremeCourt building flag SC

Greetings, honored justices!

I wish you well; but, alas, I wish that were the only reason for my writing.

If the United States of America were ever to cease from being a nation or otherwise fundamentally change so as to be essentially a different nation, which cannot be considered a good thing, the fault would be entirely your own.

I can even tell you the single thing that would have been most responsible for this to have occurred: religion (or rather the suppression of it.)

You have insisted that our governments, and all our public entities supported with public money, cannot favor one religion over another (or even religion over non-religion.)

Honored justices, indeed, this one statement more than any other will explain the decline and fall of Western Civilization itself, if it goes that far.

The reason I am so certain of this is that religion, properly defined, has been at the source of our nation’s founding and Western Civilization.  And this is where the problem lies.

A religion is a set of beliefs about reality, a worldview.  A worldview is a description of how life works, what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what are the rules (if there are any.)   A religion is a worldview that believes that there is a God and then purports to give information about God; because if there were a god/God, this would certainly have an effect on life as it pertains to human beings.

So everybody has a worldview.  And if they believe in God, it is called a religion.

Governments and nations all have worldviews as well, a basic core or system of beliefs that guides the government’s laws and policies, a nation’s culture, a country’s identity.

To deny a nation the right to define itself with a worldview that includes God is not only wrong but destructive.

But, but, but . . . .

what about the First Amendment?

The best way to answer that question is with a question.  Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that the people who wrote and ratified the Constitution and Bill of Rights would have understood what they meant and then acted in ways consistent with their meaning, rather than promoting practices that were found to be unconstitutional by you 150 years later?

That very first Congress authorized the printing of Bibles for use in public schools.  The Congress hall itself was used as a church on Sundays for over 100 years, starting from our country’s earliest days.

Religion is not a list of personal preferences, as one’s taste in music, one’s favorite authors, one’s favorite food, or chocolate over vanilla.  It is a claim to truth.

Our nation’s Founders saw that in the Bible and Christianity.

Every nation has laws against murder, but that is very different from teaching our children that life is valuable because humans are created in the image of God.

Our nation teaches us to tolerate other people, which essentially means to ignore them.  Christianity and the Bible teach us to love other people, to actively seek their good.

In the early days of our country, people who didn’t believe in God were not even allowed to serve on juries, or in most cases even run for public office.  Or if they could, they would never have won.  Why?  Nobody trusted them.  It was the belief that God held people accountable for their actions that gave people their integrity, and those who didn’t believe in God and an afterlife were seen as more likely to act in their own self-interest.

Some people have contended that all things religious should be taught in the home.

I have to ask, what home?  We have taught our daughters as a nation that it is more important to have a career, or a job, than to have a family.  And our economic policies have made it harder for our women to stay at home, even if they wanted to.

And our men are less likely to marry and raise their children than at any time in history.

Why?

Worldview.  Marrying and raising children together is a Biblical and Christian principle.  Certainly, you don’t have to be Christian to have a wonderful family. But without Christianity, it wouldn’t be taught as ideal, but one option among many.  True, some other religions teach that as well, but only religions.

So for a government to be neutral toward religion is really saying that a nation must necessarily say and live and act and teach that for all practical purposes, there is no God.  And the biggest consequence of this is that government now assumes the role that God used to play in people’s lives.  Yes, people can still believe what they want in their hearts; but the government becomes the nation’s keeper rather than each of us his brother’s.

When our nation was founded (and you should know this), the big question about religion was whether or not churches were to be a function of the federal government, as it was in Europe.  The answer they gave was no.  That is what was meant in the First Amendment by establishing religion.

And the simplest proof of that was the very actions of that First Congress: establishing Congressional chaplains, calling for a national day of prayer, paying for missionary work among the Indians, printing Bibles for public schools, even opening every day’s business with prayer.

Christianity defined the (unwritten) rules for our nation: God, love, honor, work, responsibility, family, honesty, integrity.  Now our nation, our culture, our government tries to make new rules to define our existence: self-actualization; fairness; equality; tolerance; government as benefactor, ruler, protector.

The result is a nation without a sense of responsibility, whether for others or even for one’s self.

We embrace multiculturalism because we don’t value our own.  We no longer know what made us who we are, or why we ever were like that.

A nation has to decide what kind of nation we will be and what principles define us and guide us.  Christianity used to define us.  You decided that we could no longer do that, contrary to our entire previous history.  And what you left us is a secularism, bereft of any personal accountability, duties, obligations, or restraints, apart from that owed to our government or imposed on ourselves by ourselves.

To tell our government to be neutral towards religion is to tell us to draw without lines, to write without words, to speak without language, to build a house without walls or foundation.

I have written elsewhere about the four myths of a secular government in America.  It is available on my blog, poligion1.blogspot.com, but I will send you a copy.

As I said, I wish you well; but I strongly urge you to reconsider your church-state rulings because you have removed the rudder from the ship of state.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

Larry Craig

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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Comments

  1. Very well stated!!
    The majority of this nation's problems began when prayers were removed from schools, teachers were not allowed to discipline children, children were allowed to press charges against parents who disciplined them, people allowed to burn the American flag, etc. Parents now want to be their children's friends instead of being responsible parents who are responsible for their children's behavior. Children have enough friends; they are in desperate need of parents who will teach them correct behavior, respect, and moral values.

  2. nexgenesis says:

    Through the action or should we say the lack of action of the Supreme Court justices America once again finds itself locked in a battle to save our nation. The Supreme Court justices of all people should know that the Constitution in way sanctions Socialized medicine, and yet you have lent you prestigious name to the long list of liars who are attempts to impose socialized medicine on America, and for the obvious reason of control. You people are supposed to safeguard our nation from the very kind of actions that you end up sanctioning. I agree, you owe America an apology for not knowing what the document you have been appointed to protect even says.

  3. Angelicsweep says:

    This article nails it! I have seen the decline and what it has done to this nation. Remember when we couldn’t buy but certain things on Sunday because the was the LORD’S day? Remember when we recited the Lord’s Prayer in school? I do. For some kids this was the only taste of any kind of religious views. To ask God to guide us in not teaching religion. The founding fathers asked it before each meeting so that they may make the right choices. God guided them every day. As it should with us NOW! This removing God from schools, courtrooms/buildings shows just how far in the sewer we have fallen. It has been a gradual thing in the past, but in the past few years, the removal of God from everything has taken on a new kind of aggression. The evil that has a grip on us can only be counter by GOD! If the justices can not see this, if they can not believe in those who layed down these laws for us were reliant on GOD in every aspect of their lives and choices…there is no hope for this nation.

  4. I find it interesting that the statement of separation of "Church & State" has some how morphed into "Religion & State" The founders did not want an unelected organization influencing policy in the USA. At that time the only significant organization with enough power to hold sway over the government was…. the church. But guess what? We now have organization with as much, or more influence over our policy than the church. They are the "lobbyists". Organizations so unbelievably influential and seeming in direct control of our government. Religion on the other hand teaches us morals. Helps us define ethics. And promotes the worth of life and family. These are good things. So we have to ask. what kind of person or groups of people are against them and why.

  5. Seeks_the_truth says:

    My open letter to the Supreme Court is much more to the point: Greetings, honored justices!

    Please tell me dear sirs and madam, when was the Constitution ratified to give you absolute power to have Judicial review on the Constitutionality of laws and to be the final word on this? First and foremost, it is not a power granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. When the Supreme Court exercises Judicial Review, it is acting unconstitutionally.
    As you should know, the Constitution states clearly this power, per the tenth amendment, is "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Constitution is very clear; any power to review laws to see if they are constitutional belongs to the states and to the people. Allowing the Supreme Court to have Judicial Review is a huge conflict of interest. The Federal Government is judging the constitutionality of its own laws. It is a classic case of "the fox guarding the hen house." The Constitution's "checks and balances" were designed to prevent any one branch of government (legislative, executive or judicial) from becoming too powerful and running roughshod over the other branches. There is no such system of checks and balances to protect the states and the people when multiple branches of government, acting in concert, erode and destroy the rights and powers of the states and the people.

    Even if the Supreme Court could be counted on to keep the Executive and Legislative branches from violating the Constitution, who is watching the Supreme Court and will prevent the Judicial branch from acting unconstitutionally? Unless you believe that the Supreme Court is infallible (and, demonstrably, it is not), then allowing the Supreme Court to be the sole arbiter of Constitutionality issues is obviously flawed. Justices are appointed, not elected and may only be removed for bad behavior (which has happened in the distant past but these days, appointment to the Supreme Court is like a lifetime appointment). If the court upholds unconstitutional laws, there is no recourse available. We the People cannot simply vote them out to correct the situation. It is the Constitution, not the Supreme Court, which is the Supreme Law of the Land. Even the Supreme Court should be accountable for overstepping Constitutional limits on federal power.

    Judicial review turns the Constitution on its head. The Judiciary was created as the weakest branch, controlled by both the Legislative and Executive branches. Judicial review makes the Judiciary master of both the Legislature and Executive, telling them both what that may and may not do. There are only nine Justices and, under the current system, it takes only a simple majority ~ five votes ~ to determine a case. Given the super-majority requirement mandated by the Constitution to pass Constitutional amendments, a simple majority requirement by the Supreme Court, to uphold a suspect law, defies the spirit of the Constitution. If 44.44% of the Supreme Court justices (four of nine) think a law is not constitutional, we should err on the side of caution and declare it unconstitutional.

    The fact remains that the Supreme Court usurped the power of Judicial Review. This assumption of power took place first in 1794 when the Supreme Court declared an act of congress to be unconstitutional, but went largely unnoticed until the landmark case of Marbury v Madison in 1803. Marbury is significant less for the issue that it settled (between Marbury and Madison) than for the fact that Chief Justice John Marshall used Marbury to provide a rationale for judicial review. Since then, the idea that the Supreme Court should be the arbiter of constitutionality issues has become so ingrained that most people incorrectly believe that the Constitution granted this power to the federal judiciary.
    Article III of the Constitution provides for the establishment of a Judicial branch of the federal government and Section 2 of that article enumerates the powers of the Supreme Court. No where does it state the Supreme Court has the power of absolute Judicial Review. Feel free to examine the entire text of Article III to assure yourself that no power of Judicial Review is granted by the Constitution.

    So dear Justices, I now challenge your right to Judicial Review. As a Natural citizen of these United States of America, I demand you present evidence of your right to this power.
    I await your response.

    Respectfully,

    XXXXX XXXXXXX
    A concerned United States Citizen.

  6. MuslimLuvChrist says:

    God held people accountable for their actions that gave people their integrity, and those who didn’t believe in God and an afterlife were seen as more likely to act in their own self-interest. That explains a lot about our muslim leader. So let’s compare what our founding fathers believed compared to what our sand monkey-in-chief believes. We would compare God’s love for man and Allah’s hatred for mankind. John 4:16 tells us God loves us; Mark 12:29-30 teaches us about the love of God for man and man’s love of God. But according to Ta fseer Ibn Katheer, a Qua’ranic scholar, Allah, “…created for hell many of the jinn (devils) and the men.” Nowhere in the Hebrew or Christian Bible is there anything that says God created some men to send them to hell. What’s more, nowhere in either Bible is there anything like the treachery, deceit, murder, and imprisonment Muslims are encouraged to inflict upon those who are not Muslims, as found in the Qua’ ran’s Verses of The Sword. The behavior of today’s Muslims is no different than those who raced across the Middle East and Europe when they started their fifteen hundred-year war against Christianity. They carved a path across the known world, chopping off the heads of those who refused to convert to their awful brand of savagery. Saying that Muhammad was a “universal champion of human rights” would be laughable were it not for the ugliness of the very premise. Rampaging through nations practicing conversion by the sword is the ultimate violation of human rights. Comparing Muhammad to George Washington, Martin Luther King, or even Nelson Mandela is an outrageous cheapening of the crucial and world-changing legacies of these actual achievers. Quick quiz: name a single Muslim built-and maintained-hospital in America; name the only major group that did NOTHING (zip, zero, nada) to help those whose homes and lives were destroyed in Super Storm Sandy. TOP REASONS Muhammad IS NOT A PROPHET OF GOD AND IS MORE OF JUST AN ANIMAL!
    16) mumadman was so fearful of criticism that he would send a man at night to kill the mother of a nursing child because of the poems she had written against him (sounds like obHitler).
    13) mumadman called other men to follow him, and then watch them die one after the other in the battles he instigated to build his empire while giving them promises of the sexual Paradise that awaited them.
    12) mumadman lied to his wife to get her out of the house so that he could sleep with the slave girl he had given her as a gift.
    8) mumadman’s treatment of captives is to animalistically rape them. This is not a prophet!
    7) mumadman’s treatment of wives is to beat them into submission. This is not a prophet!
    3) mumadman at 54 had sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old child (Aisha married at 6) after her first menstruation. This is not a prophet!
    2) mumadman received a revelation from Satan that prayers to the pagan daughters of allah would be received by allah. This is not a prophet!
    1) mumadman’s teachings (Qur’an) contradict the torah and gospel (both affirmed by allah), thus mumadman affirmed revelations conflicting with islam since the Qur’an contradicts the Bible (gospel) in many ways!
    Could/would Jesus do any on these mumadman’s atrocities? NO
    Stop teaching multiculturalism! Teach english and American history instead! Get rid of islamic muslim scum, all of them! If non radical islamists don’t protest against their extremist brethren, then this proves that all islamists are nothing more than murdering animals. The faster islam is wiped off this earth, the better for all human society. THIS “RELIGION OF PEACE” IS JUST GARBAGE!!)

  7. WELL SAID

  8. dougindeap says:

    1. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the first place, the Supreme Court has thoughtfully, authoritatively, and repeatedly decided as much; it is long since established law. In the second place, the Court is right. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of "We the people" (not a deity), (2) according that government limited, enumerated powers, (3) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (4) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (5), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day (by which governments generally were grounded in some appeal to god(s)), the founders' avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which affirmatively constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

    That the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, to some who mistakenly supposed they were there and, upon learning of their error, fancy they’ve solved a Constitutional mystery. To those familiar with the Constitution, the absence of the metaphorical phrase commonly used to name one of its principles is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., Bill of Rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

    To the extent that some nonetheless would like confirmation–in those very words–of the founders' intent to separate government and religion, Madison and Jefferson supplied it. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). Indeed, he understood the original Constitution–without the First Amendment–to separate religion and government. He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    • Seeks_the_truth says:

      My only question is: When was the Supreme Court, and by whom, given the power of Judicial Review? This right is reserved to the states per the Tenth Amendment.

      • dougindeap says:

        Because the Constitution does not specify what the judicial powers encompass that question needed to be resolved. Early in our nation's history, it was–in Marbury v. Madison. In that case, the Supreme Court decided that it was the legislature's role to make the laws and the court's role to decide and declare what the law is in actual cases. The Court further held that in deciding what the law is with respect to the Constitution, the Court necessarily must decide whether a particular statute enacted by Congress conforms to the Constitution. I suppose the Congress or the President, co-equal branches of the government (comprised largely of founders at the time), or the People could have challenged the Court's power to decide that it had the power it said it had, but they did not and instead accepted and ratified the Court's decision. And now their collective decision is part of the bedrock of our Constitutional law and history. You, I gather, don't like that aspect of our nation and would like to turn back the clock and argue for a different approach (exactly what isn't clear since our nation has never known any other approach).

        • Seeks_the_truth says:

          Just because a ruling goes uncontested for a length of time, it does not automatically amend the Constitution. 'It's always been done that way' is no excuse for the failure to follow the laws written in the Constitution. By your argument, as we see today, the Executive branch should now have the power to make or change laws at will, skirting the Legislative Branch.

          The Constitution clearly gives the power of Judicial Review to the States in the 10th Amendment. I know of no Amendment before or after Marbury, which was what provided Chief Justice Marshall rational in 1803, that gives this unchecked power to the Supreme Court.
          Would you mind pointing it out? The Founding Fathers were clear that Amendments are the only way to change the Constitution.

          We are to have equal branches of the government. By the Supreme Court usurping the right to Judicial Review, the Judicial branch then overshadows the Executive and the Legislative. This act ties the hands of the Legislative Branch from carrying out their duties. We see evidence of this by the unchecked lawlessness of the Executive branch today.
          Even the Supreme Court themselves do not acknowledge this right.
          Without an Amendment, no matter how long they make such rulings, the Supreme Court does not have the right to Judicial Review. Instead of arguing over their interpretation of Separation of Church and State, why is the Supreme Court not finally challenged on the right to make such rulings?

          This has nothing to do with 'turning back the clock'. This is about returning our country to the Constitutional Republic we are. To give the power back to the states, and the people, where it belongs as laid out in the Constitution instead of in the hands of 9 unelected, unaccountable individuals.
          You may wish to quibble over the crumbs they drop, I demand to know by what right they believe they have to drop them.
          In case some have forgotten, the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land.

          • Your characterizations of what I said miss the point. I said nothing of “automatically amend[ing] the Constitution.” Nor did I suggest doing so “[j]ust because a ruling goes uncontested for a length of time.” Nor did I rest my explanation on the simple notion that “it’s always been done that way.”

            While the passage of time alone is not necessarily sufficient to settle law to the point that it is regarded by all as “established,” it is not irrelevant either. It bears noting in that regard that the “length of time” this particular law has been settled is over two centuries—indeed 211 of our nation’s 227-year history.

            It is important too that the law in question concerns not some isolated, peripheral matter, but rather the central workings of our constitutional government, the powers and roles of the three branches of government, and the determination of what is the law of the land. Hardly a small thing. And not the sort of thing that, once determined and then implemented for over two centuries, can simply be undone with a shrug and “oops!”

            Perhaps most central to the explanation why judicial review is the settled law of the land is a concept akin to acceptance and ratification. When the Court decided Marbury v. Madison (and perhaps even for a time thereafter), the other co-equal branches of government and, indeed, the People and the states could have objected and refused to accept the Court’s decision. They did not. Instead, they ratified the Court’s decision not by merely not contesting it, but rather by affirmatively accepting it, conforming their actions to it, and incorporating it into the very fabric of the law and the operation of our federal and state governments—for 211 years.

            That law is about as established as any law can be. The upshot is that it IS the law of the land, and anyone wanting to change it should propose amending the Constitution to do so.

          • Seeks_the_truth says:

            While I never suggested that this usurpation of law could be 'simply undone with a shrug and an oops', you most certainly did state that since law was improperly ruled quite some time ago without contest, that it somehow changes the letter of the Constitution.

            This particular law was settled when the Tenth Amendment was written. The central working of our Constitutional government was decided then. It was formally usurped in 1803. It does not matter if the improper ruling was yesterday or one hundred years ago, Judicial Review is awarded the States by the Tenth Amendment with no Amendment to change this.

            Let's use your argument with that of Separation of Church and State. It is settled law that the Church is the bedrock on which our country was founded on. Our founding documents make it clear the Founding Fathers believed our rights came from a deity, God specifically. The Constitution is written as a limiting factor of government not man. The title 'God' is not specifically stated in the Constitution since it's not trying to negate God given rights of individuals but merely setting forth the parameters of how the government will work. The first eight amendments were intended by their Framers and Adopters merely to express a few of the already-existing, implied prohibitions against the Federal government. Hamilton in The Federalist, number 84, called them the Bill of Prohibition. It is in the Declaration of Independence where we see the idea that our government is founded on the belief in God and where our rights come from. This is how we know that, as written, the Separation between Church and State was to protect the Church from undue governmental influence and not the other.

            As stated in the Declaration of Independence: that Men, created of God, in turn create their governments and grant to them only "just" (limited) powers–primarily to make and keep secure their God-given, unalienable rights including, in part, the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As Hamilton stated, under the American philosophy and system of constitutionally limited government, "the people surrender nothing;" instead, they merely delegate to government–to public servants as public trustees–limited powers and therefore, he added, "they have no need of particular reservations". The concept of Man's rights being unalienable is based solely upon the belief in their Divine origin. Lacking this belief, there is no moral basis for any claim that they are unalienable or for any claim to the great benefits flowing from this concept.

            The belief that religion is inseparable from our government is supported by Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Courts conclusion in 1940 stated that the Free Exercise Clause is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Incorporation of the Establishment Clause in 1947 was to prevent Congress from interfering with state establishments of religion that existed at the time of the founding. At least six states had established religions at that time. This fact was conceded by even those members of the Court who believed the Establishment Clause was made applicable to the states through incorporation. States supplying financial assistance to religious organizations solidified religion as an intricate part of the government. The Supreme Court first considered the question of financial assistance to religious organizations in Bradfield v. Roberts (1899). The federal government had funded a hospital operated by a Roman Catholic institution. In that case, the Court ruled that the funding was to a secular organization and was therefore permissible. However, in the twentieth century, the Supreme Court more closely scrutinized government activity involving religious institutions. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court upheld a New Jersey statute funding student transportation to schools, whether parochial or not.

            It is therefore, settled law that religion is the bedrock principle of our government. God and religion was the basis our founding documents were written on. Religious artifacts adorn our Federal Buildings. Chaplains are employed by our government. Prayer said before each meeting. It is written in our states constitutions. God is also in our motto: In God We Trust. God and his word are our laws and history. Why attempt to turn back the clock now and argue against settled law?

            Whereas religion and God is settled law, Judicial Review is not. The Tenth Amendment clearly bequeaths this power to the states. Article III Section 2 clearly outlines the limitations of the Supreme Court. Judicial Review not being one of their duties. But for the opinion of one Justice, the power of Judicial review has been usurped and unchallenged. This does not make it law.

          • dougindeap says:

            In purporting to tell me what I “most certainly” said, you go further astray. If you reread my comment, you will find that I said that because the Constitution does not specify what the judicial power encompasses, that question needed to be resolved, and the Court did so in Marbury v. Madison. I never stated that the Court “improperly ruled” on judicial review, nor did I state that its ruling “changes” the letter of the Constitution.

            The Constitution vests “[t]he judicial power” in the Supreme Court and says that it “extend[s] to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution . . . .” Does this “judicial power” include cases to determine whether various actions, including those of Congress and the President, comply with the Constitution? You, it seems, would answer that question in the negative. Why is not apparent. You seem simply to presume as much. In any event, the Court answered the question otherwise. In doing so, it did not “change” or “amend” the Constitution; rather it interpreted the Constitution (just as you did by presuming to answer the question otherwise).

            With respect to separation of church and state, you go from astray to fanciful. While some, including you apparently, draw meaning from the variously phrased references to god(s) in the Declaration of Independence (references that could mean any number of things, some at odds with the Christian idea of God) and try to connect that meaning to the Constitution, the effort is largely baseless. Important as the Declaration is in our history, it did not operate to bring about independence (that required winning a war), nor did it found a government, nor did it even create any law, and it certainly did not say or do anything that somehow dictated the meaning of a Constitution adopted twelve years later. The colonists issued the Declaration not to do any of that, but rather to politically explain and justify the move to independence that was already well underway. Nothing in the Constitution depends on anything said in the Declaration. Nor does anything said in the Declaration purport to limit or define the government later formed by the free people of the former colonies. Nor could it even if it purported to do so. Once independent, the people of the former colonies were free to choose whether to form a collective government at all and, if so, whatever form of government they deemed appropriate. They were not somehow limited by anything said in the Declaration. Sure, they could take its words as inspiration and guidance if, and to the extent, they chose–or they could not. They could have formed a theocracy if they wished–or, as they ultimately chose, a government founded on the power of the people (not a deity) and separated from religion.

            Lest there be any doubt on this score, note that shortly after the founding, President John Adams (a founder) signed, with the unanimous consent of the Senate (comprised in large measure of founders), the Treaty of Tripoli declaring, in pertinent part, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” No need to resort to reading tea leaves to understand that. This is not an informal comment by an individual founder, but rather an official declaration of the most solemn sort by the United States government itself.

          • Seeks_the_truth says:

            It's your opinion the Constitution did not specify what the judicial powers encompassed. Many Constitutional scholars would argue this point with you. The Constitution itself states otherwise. We see the duties of the Supreme Court in Article III Section 2 laid out clearly. "The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;–between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
            In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."
            No where is the Supreme Court given Judicial Review.

            We then read in the 10th 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."
            Your argument doesn't stand unless you ignore the Tenth Amendment.

            So now you go from asking that your opinion be accepted as fact to demanding. How quaint.
            The Founding Fathers created a government built upon the belief in God. With this belief, they protected religion from undue influence from the government they had built. The fact that states had established religions alone support this. Our government was founded for the people, by the people, with their inalienable rights obtained from God.
            This in itself is self explanatory. To argue against the facts is to retry settled law.

            Let's take a look at the often misquoted 'Treaty of Tripoli'. To fully understand, we must look at the surrounding events that created it. This treaty, one of several with Tripoli, was negotiated during the "Barbary Powers Conflict," which began shortly after the Revolutionary War and continued through the Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The Muslim Barbary Powers (Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli) were warring against what they claimed to be the "Christian" nations (England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States). In 1801, Tripoli even declared war against the United States, thus constituting America's first official war as an established independent nation. Throughout this long conflict, the four Barbary Powers regularly attacked undefended American merchant ships. Not only were their cargoes easy prey but the Barbary Powers were also capturing and enslaving "Christian" seamen in retaliation for what had been done to them by the "Christians" of previous centuries (e.g., the Crusades and Ferdinand and Isabella's expulsion of Muslims from Granada). In an attempt to secure a release of captured seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched envoys to negotiate treaties with the Barbary nations.

            The American envoys negotiated numerous treaties of "Peace and Amity" with the Muslim Barbary nations to ensure "protection" of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean. However, the terms of the treaty frequently were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of "tribute" (i.e., official extortion) to each country to receive a "guarantee" of safety or to offer other "considerations" (e.g., providing a warship as a "gift" to Tripoli, a "gift" frigate to Algiers, paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers, etc.). The 1797 treaty with Tripoli was one of the many treaties in which each country officially recognized the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a "Holy War" between Christians and Muslims.
            ~Continued~

          • Seeks_the_truth says:

            ~Continued~
            Consequently, Article XI of that treaty stated:

            "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

            This article may be read in two manners. It may, as you apparently do, be concluded after the clause "Christian religion"; or it may be read in its entirety and concluded when the punctuation so indicates. As a self described Attorney, I'm sure you're aware of the importance of reading an article in it's entirety. But even if shortened and cut abruptly ("the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion"), this is not an untrue statement since it is referring to the federal government. Recall that while the Founders themselves openly described America as a Christian nation, they did include a constitutional prohibition against a federal establishment; religion was a matter left solely to the individual States. Therefore, if the article is read as a declaration that the federal government of the United States was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion, such a statement is not a repudiation of the fact that America was considered a Christian nation.

            Article XI simply distinguished America from those historical strains of European Christianity which held an inherent hatred of Muslims; it simply assured the Muslims that the United States was not a Christian nation like those of previous centuries (with whose practices the Muslims were very familiar) and thus would not undertake a religious holy war against them. This latter reading is, in fact, supported by the attitude prevalent among numerous American leaders. The Christianity practiced in America was described by John Jay as "wise and virtuous," by John Quincy Adams as "civilized," and by John Adams as "rational."

            If we look at the complete article quoted in the Treaty of Tripoli, it is clear America was founded on Christian beliefs. The Treaty was to distinguish between the European Christianity the Muslims were fighting and American Christianity. You are right. No need for 'tea leaf readings' but there is a need to read the article in it's entirety. Although not an attorney, even I see the importance of this and the difference it makes.

          • As you note (as did I earlier), the Constitution vests “[t]he judicial power” in the Supreme Court and says that it “extend[s] to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution . . . .” After quoting this provision, you assert, without explanation, that “[n]o where is the Supreme Court given Judicial Review.” Reread the provision. Are those words susceptible of being understood to include cases to determine whether various actions, including those of Congress and the President, comply with the Constitution? Does not a case about whether an action complies with the Constitution “aris[e] under the Constitution”? That strikes me as a fairly straightforward reading. The Court read it that way—211 years ago, and that is the way the nation has functioned ever since.

            You, it seems, are inclined to read it otherwise. Why, you have yet to explain.

            You have also invoked the 10th Amendment. As you seem to recognize, though, in order to determine whether the 10th Amendment has any bearing on a particular case, one must first determine whether any particular power is delegated to the United States by the Constitution. That, indeed, is just what we’re discussing with respect to the judicial power. Only if it is determined that a power is not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution does the 10th Amendment have effect. If on the other hand, as the Supreme Court has decided, the Constitution vests the Court with the judicial power to decide cases about whether an action complies with the Constitution, then naturally the 10th Amendment is satisfied and it presents no further constraint in that regard.

            With respect to the Treaty of Tripoli, I am well aware of its historical context and the full text of Article XI. As you note, they provide a justification and an explanation of the motives of the United States in declaring that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” They do not, in the least, alter or diminish the declaration.

            You are quite right to observe that the treaty speaks of “the government of the United States.” That, of course, also is the subject of the Constitution and my earlier comments.

            Neither the Constitution, nor the treaty, nor I have addressed the more general question whether “America was considered a Christian nation.” To the extent one cares to pursue that question, it would be important and useful to define terms and, in particular, to distinguish between “society” and “government.” To the extent one equates “nation” with “society,” whether it is legitimate and appropriate to label our nation “Christian” may be debated on various grounds, e.g., the demographic makeup of the population. To the extent one equates “nation” with “government,” it is an entirely different matter that calls for analyzing the legal nature of our government (as we have done in our comments above). I am more interested in the latter and less so in the former, which is an informal concept of vague and various meaning used in social conversation and culture war debates and which typically generates more heat than light.

            The concept appears to hold some meaning for you though, since you return to it with respect to the Treaty of Tripoli—and in a curious fashion. How you conclude that “[i]f we look at the complete [Article XI], it is clear America was founded on Christian beliefs,” I cannot imagine. Nothing in the article states or even hints of anything of that sort.

          • Seeks_the_truth says:

            Yet again you have chosen to ignore complete articles and punctuation. If we read Article III Section 2 in it's entirety, as one should do, we find "In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

            Your argument only stands if you ignore the 10th Amendment. The Constitution was created by the states and any question as to the meaning of the Constitution is rightly settled by the states. When you make rules for your children, do you permit your children to interpret your rules in any manner they like? Of course not. Yet, the states are permitting the federal government (the "child" of the states) to do exactly that. Since the power of Judicial Review is not expressly granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution, this power, per the Tenth Amendment, is "reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
            Thomas Jefferson spoke against the usurpation of power by the Supreme Court.
            "The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."
            In 1823 he wrote:
            "At the establishment of our constitution, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account."
            The Judiciary was created as the weakest branch, controlled by both the Legislative and Executive branches. Judicial review makes the Judiciary master of both the Legislature and Executive, telling them both what they may and may not do.

            It was the people and the states which established the Constitution. The Constitution is a set of rules made by the states as to how the government should act. The Constitution states it is the States that is to settle issues of constitutionality. Article V explains how the Constitution may be amended.
            Back to my original statement. No where does it state that the opinion of one Justice can amend the Constitution.

            The Treaty of Tripoli proves the position that America is a Christian nation with her laws derived from religious beliefs. This treaty made it very clear the distinction that while America IS a Christian nation, with her government built on Christian beliefs, they are not the same beliefs of the European Christians. A person can't divorce a single clause of the treaty from the remainder which provides its context. The Barbary Powers conflict could be pointed to as the defining moment when it was openly acknowledged that the new nation called America is a Christian Nation. You earlier stated that President Adams agreed we are not a Christian Nation. It is absurd to suggest that President Adams (under whom the treaty was ratified in 1797) would have endorsed or assented to any provision which repudiated Christianity. In fact, while discussing the Barbary conflict with Jefferson, Adams declared:

            "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature."
            These documents completely disprove the notion that America is not a Christian nation or people.

            You seem to be under the misunderstanding that the Federal government is the ruling power. It is not. Our government was built with most power going to the states (the people) with the Federal extension just a joining of all states when issues effect all equally. With many states having an official religion at that time, the original Founders did not want one religion being forced on all others.

            To now come full circle, only through ignorance, and ignoring, the laws can power be taken from the states that they are clearly bequeathed in the Constitution. Only through ignorance, or ignoring, historical facts and documentation can one claim that America is not a Christian Nation.

            Your entire argument relies on opinion. What I don't understand is why you attempt to use a select quote, out of a select document, then display antagonistic and acrimonious behavior when the complete context is shown contradicting your argument. We are a nation of law. It's quite unsettling to know they can be changed at whim by an opinion. We are a nation with historical documentation stating we were founded on the Christian religion. Again, it's quite unsettling to know this can be changed at whim by opinion.

          • dougindeap says:

            “Yet again you have chosen to ignore . . .” False. You quote a portion of Article III, section 2, apparently believing it has some pertinence, which you fail to explain, to the subject at hand. That provision merely distinguishes the Supreme Court’s original from its appellate jurisdiction and provides that Congress may enact regulations regarding the latter.

            “Your argument only stands if you ignore the 10th Amendment.” False. I did not ignore the 10th Amendment, and rather explained how it applies only if one first determines whether the Constitution provides a particular power, which is the very question to be determined with respect to whether the judicial power encompasses review of the constitutionality of various actions. I understand that you see it just the opposite, and believe it has some application because you also interpret the judicial power no to encompass judicial review. I’m picturing a dog chasing its tail.

            I am aware of Jefferson’s expressed views on the judiciary. As I said earlier, as President he could have opposed the Court’s exercise of judicial review, but he chose instead to accept and ratify the Court’s decision. Note that in the quotation you offer, he recognized—albeit grudgingly—what the judiciary had “become.”

            You suggest that the Constitution is a set of rules “made by the states.” Actually, it was made by “We the people,” which was a subject of some controversy at the time.

            You say that “[t]he Constitution states it is the States that is [sic, are] to settle issues of constitutionality,” yet offer no citation or explanation of where the Constitution states anything of the sort. It, of course, does not state any such thing. You note that Article V explains how the Constitution may be amended, but fail to explain the pertinence of that observation. Interpreting the Constitution and amending it are hardly one and the same.

            The lessons you draw from the Treaty of Tripoli are simply baffling. Nothing whatever in that treaty or its historical context remotely suggests that America is a Christian nation. If you want to make that claim, go ahead. But don’t look to the Treaty of Tripoli for any support in that regard. It offers you nothing.

            “You earlier stated that President Adams agreed we are not a Christian Nation.” False. Read what I said more carefully. Both you and I have recognized and acknowledged that the treaty speaks of the U.S. government. Both you and I have recognized and acknowledged that the treaty is correct in saying that that government is not founded on the Christian religion. President Adams signed the treaty, thus signifying his agreement with that statement. Indeed, the treaty was published in the newspapers of the time, along with a statement by Adams that, with the advice and consent of the Senate, he had considered and ratified the treaty and "every clause and article thereof."

            I also carefully distinguished the legal point that the U.S. government is not founded on Christianity from the general and rather vague claim that America is a Christian nation—and made plain that I had little interest in the latter. I certainly did not bother to assert or speculate what Adams might think of the notion.

            Finally, dismissing my “entire argument [as] rel[ying] on opinion,” you proclaim, without explanation, that “[w]e are a nation with historical documentation stating we were founded on the Christian religion” and add that “it’s quite unsettling” to know this can be changed “at whim by opinion.” The breadth and depth of your misunderstanding and the easy conviction with which you proclaim it are something to behold. It is you who, at the whim of your own opinion fueled by the arrogance of ignorance, would overturn not one but two fundamental constitutional principles—separation of church and state and judicial review—that have served our nation well throughout its history and propel us to embark on some unknown and untested alternative experiment in government.

  9. dougindeap says:

    2. Contrary to what is sometimes heard in the blogosphere, Congress did not authorize the printing of any Bibles for use in public schools or any other reason. At a time when local printers could hardly compete with British printers because of a reputation for poor quality, one such printer, Aitken, petitioned Congress in 1782, asking that his Bible "be published under the Authority of Congress," that he "be commissioned or otherwise appointed & Authorized to print and vend" editions of the Bible, and that Congress purchase some of his Bibles and distribute them to the states. Congress did not grant any of these requests and instead helped him only by passing a resolution recommending his edition based on its chaplain's report of the satisfactory "care and accuracy" of his work and authorizing him to publish that recommendation. Congress did not "print the Bible" as is often claimed. Chris Rodda does a good job setting these and other common misconceptions straight in Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History (2006) (available free on line at http://www.liarsforjesus.com/).

    Finally, it should not be supposed that the government, by remaining separate from and neutral toward religion in keeping with the Constitution, somehow thereby favors atheism over theism. There is a difference between the government (1) remaining neutral in matters of religion and leaving individuals free to choose, exercise, and express their religious views without government intrusion and (2) taking sides in matters of religion and promoting one view (whether theism [in one, any, or all its various forms], atheism, or whatever) to the detriment of others. It is one thing for the government to endorse the idea that god(s) exist or, alternatively, endorse the idea that god(s) do not exist; it is quite another for the government to take no position on the matter and respect the right of each individual to freely decide for himself.

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