Tuesday, October 21, 2008



The Bill of Rights is made up of the first ten amendments to The Constitution of the United States of America.

Here is the first amendment:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notice, first of all, that it is all one sentence.

Every sentence must express a complete thought and must have a subject and a verb (predicate or predicate phrase).

The subject is "Congress."

Right from the get-go we are told about whom we are writing.

We are writing about Congress, the federal law making branch of our government, referred to as the legislative branch.

This does not reference store managers, high school principals, county commissioners, or the like. It references Congress.

So, what about Congress?

Congress "...shall make no law."

It does not say, "Congress shall not make too many laws," or "Congress can only make laws that it deems beneficial to the people."

It very clearly says what its writers intended to say, "Congress shall make NO law...".

Then it tell us what kinds of laws Congress cannot make.

Now there could be some question about the first law Congress cannot make:

It can not make a law that establishes a religion or a law affecting an establishment of religion.

Establishing a religion would mean forming one.

An establishment of religion is a place where religion is practiced, (much as a business establishment is a place where business is performed) or a religion that has been established.

That's an important distinction.

The Supreme Court (the Judicial Branch of our government) has ruled differently at different times in our history.

Today, this imaginary separation of church and state seems to be all the rage.

Only there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution.

We are only told that Congress can't make a law about it.

Nor can Congress prohibit the free exercise of religion.

It can't tell you what to believe, how to practice your belief or whether to practice your belief.

This business of prayer in "public" school, for instance, is a major league red herring.

Constitutionally, Congress has no right to rule on such an issue.

Schools, you see, are supposed to be owned and operated by the public, traditionally by the public local to the school in question, not by the federal government.

But, like the frog in cold water over the stove's burner, we have let them become government schools. That happened when we started taking federal dollars to help run them

As Barack Obama has said, "If the government puts money into something, the government is going to have a say in how it is run."

In the same sentence we are told that Congress cannot make a law that abridges freedom of speech or the press.

That is not license to say what you want, when you want, where you want, for whatever reason you want, that is saying that the federal government cannot make a law about it.

My boss can make a rule about what I say at the office.

There are certain things I had better NOT say, or he would fire me...and he is not prohibited by the Constitution from doing so.

Congress is the only one mentioned in the Constitution that cannot make a law preventing you from saying or publishing what you want.

The single sentence First Amendment also says that Congress cannot abridge the right of people to assemble peacefully.

You can gather together any where you want to (except on private property from which you have been asked to leave, which is covered in another part of the Constitution), without interference from the federal government.

Local governments are not prohibited from policing your assembly or of disbursing it, if they see fit, but the feds must keep hands off, unless the assembly threatens the security of the nation, also covered in another part of the Constitution.

Your right to redress your grievances (tell the feds how you feel about something) is the last part of that sentence.

If you have half a brain, you can understand why it is that the federal government is prohibited from making laws about these things while local authorities are not.

Only, inch by publicly allowed inch, the federal government has usurped each of these right, until it is not hard to see their dissolution in the near future.

Barack Obama has already addressed how certain of these rights must be set aside or at least moved over a little, for the good (of course) of the citizens.

Do you really want this guy to be your leader?



Anonymous said...

[Only, inch by publicly allowed inch, the federal government has usurped each of these right, until it is not hard to see their dissolution in the near future.]

Joe...that is exactly how it is done. If someone tried to take away the right to worship where you wanted, their would be public outrage and the government would never hear the end of it. So they do it little by little, case by case, until someone realizes what they are doing and finally takes a stand.

"Do you really want this guy to be your leader?"

Absolutely, postively NOT!

Satyavati devi dasi said...

If you allow prayer in school, you must allow Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish, Baha'i, Taoist, Shintoist, Buddhist, Seventh Day Adventist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Christian Scientists, Messianic Jews, Rosicrucians and those I have not already covered elsewhere to pray.

You must also allow me to sit and chant, and sing my Nrsimhadeva prayers.

You must also allow your atheists the right not to pray, and your agnostics the right to not feel one way or the other about it.

The issue here is that you cannot favour one religion over and to the exclusion of another. To publicly promote one religion, ie to have over the loudspeaker Christian prayer, is tantamount to denying other people the right to pray as they wish. Why would the Christian prayer be over a loudspeaker, and not my Nrsimhadeva prayers, or a Buddhist chant, or Muslim prayers?

That's the point. If public funds support these schools, then the school has to address the fact that not all students attending these schools are necessarily of the same faith. Religious education, therefore, cannot happen in a public school. For example, my faith teaches me that it is wrong to eat animals. I would strongly protest any religious education that taught otherwise to my children.

That's the problem with religious education in public schools.

That's why there are private religious schools. If you would like your child to be brought up with a religious education, either give them that education through your home or religious community or put them in a private school of your choice.

I went through eleven years of Catholic schools. If I were to have children they would attend gurukula. Thus I would be assured that their education would not be teaching them that eating meat is OK or that reincarnation is some kind of teaching of Satan.

That's the issue. It becomes more acute when public funding becomes involved. Then you're asking me to support teaching your religion.

And that's where we draw the line.

I wouldn't ask that the Nrsimhadeva prayers be sung or even taught to your kids. I'm not offended that they aren't broadcast in public schools. This is my religion and my choice, not yours. If you choose, I'll be happy to teach them to you, but I'm not going to force you to sit through them daily. Can you imagine the backlash if it were announced that henceforth, on a daily basis, everyone will chant Hare Krishna for three minutes at the beginning of the school day?

It's not even a case of 'Christians are a majority and that makes it OK'. First of all, before any argument, it doesn't make it okay. Second, Christians amongst themselves are so divided on doctrines that it would be difficult to please all the different denominations and groups that call themselves Christians.

It's the idea that one religion is being promoted over others.

And that impinges on the 'free exercise of religion'.

And you can't do that.

Joe said...

Satyavati devi dasi: Far as I can tell, no problem with that.

In my high school home room, the teacher led a prayer before each class, but invited those of different faiths (we had Jews and Muslims in our class one year)to voice theirs as well.

We also said the Lord's Prayer, but it was understood that this was for those who believed, and those who believed differently were not disallowed from doing their own thing.

Then, we said the Pledge of Alegience to the flag and sang The Star Spangled Banner!

I could see where a lot of homeroom time could be taken up with various religious practices, but we never did anything scholastically significant in home room anyway, so why not?

Oh, and if you had an atheist in the room, which we did one year, he could just sit there snickering, if he was brought up to make fun of others.

Joe said...

BTW "And that impinges on the 'free exercise of religion'" is just plain false. Only in the PC (Politically Correct, not Personal Computer) age would this be a problem.

Never was in mine.

Joe said...

"The issue here is that you cannot favour one religion over and to the exclusion of another."

Sure you can.

Nothing in the Constitution prohibits that.

But I never had a single teacher who wanted to do that.

No married ones, either.

Joe said...

Oh, and if I had had a teacher of another faith (or no faith at all) I would have expected to learn about that faith in home room.

Why, I might even learned something from you, if you had been there...but I think you're a little young for that, unless you have been reincarnated from the 50s.

Joe said...

uh...that's the 19 fifties, BTW.

shoprat said...

You're right but the DemonicRats don't care what the Constitution says.

Anonymous said...

Satyavati devi dasi.....just curious....would you have a problem with a minute of silence to do with as you please?

Christians can pray, Atheists can twiddle their fingers, you can chant, etc.......

Joe said...

shoprat: You're right, they don't. Neither do some Supreme Court justices, some Congressmen, Some Senators and, yes, even some regular citizens. (Never mind that many of them have never even heard of, let alone read, The Constitution).

Though its language is a bit archic, it is a phenominal document!

jennifer: A moment of silence would suit me, even if it would not suit Satyavati, but I would prefer that whoever is leading that day lead us in their thing.

My faith is strong enough to have withstood some pretty way out practices.

Personally, I'll take Jesus every day of the week and twice on Sundays. (Come to think of it, I DO take Him every day of the week and twice on Sundays...imagine that!)

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I think a moment of silence is completely and wholly appropriate.

Putting one religion's prayers on a loudspeaker to the exclusion of others is not.

That's all I'm saying.

The only other compromise I can come up with would be to designate a different religion's prayers for each day and put those over the loudspeaker. This is so unwieldy as to be ridiculous.

I have heard many people say that a moment of silence is the 'leftist agenda to undermine Christianity in our country.'

No. That's also ridiculous. It's a recognition that our country is made up of a multitude, all of which practice a variety of faiths not necessarily Christian, and all deserve equal respect and rights.

Therefore, a moment of silence is the most appropriate way to deal with this issue.

mainstreamavi aki bukaky said...

It is my firm belief that Christians can pray anytime they want.

Don't you think a minute of silence is just being a little too show-off-ey?? (as if to say "look at me, I'm praying!!!")

What ever happended to the humility that Christ taught?

Joe said...

mainstreamavi aki bukaky: Y'oughta do a word study of the Biblical meaning of humility. You'd be very surprised. (I think)

Jesus was humble and lowly of heart, but he called the pseudo-religious leaders of that day "snakes in the grass," and he overthrew the tables of the theives selling overpriced "offerings" on the temple porch.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

My faith is strong enough to have withstood some pretty way out practices.

It probably wasn't when you were in grade school, though, and parents of all faiths are not comfortable with religious teachings that contradict, nullify or outright demonize their own.

I wouldn't want my child coming home from school crying because they were told they were going to hell for not believing in Jesus, or walking in my front door eating a burger.

Children are not adults. They're impressionable. We want to bring them up correctly, which for me would not include teaching them it was OK to eat dead animals or that they would go to hell for believing the same things I taught them at home.

And it has always been my impression that 'establishment of religion' refers to establishing a state (ie, national) religion that would be the norm and the expectation of the citizens.

According to dictionary.com:

1. the act or an instance of establishing.
2. the state or fact of being established.
3. something established; a constituted order or system.
4. (often initial capital letter) the existing power structure in society; the dominant groups in society and their customs or institutions; institutional authority (usually prec. by the): The Establishment believes exploring outer space is worth any tax money spent.
5. (often initial capital letter) the dominant group in a field of endeavor, organization, etc. (usually prec. by the): the literary Establishment.
6. a household; place of residence including its furnishings, grounds, etc.
7. a place of business together with its employees, merchandise, equipment, etc.
8. a permanent civil, military, or other force or organization.
9. an institution, as a school, hospital, etc.
10. the recognition by a state of a church as the state church.
11. the church so recognized, esp. the Church of England.

12. Archaic. a fixed or settled income.

Joe said...

Satyavati devi dasi: Congratulations! I now know more about "establishment" than I ever wondered!

Look. I understand your concern. But surely a woman as bright as you can understand that we have ALL become just a little too uptight about other people's religions and beliefs.

My father was in the Air Force, and I have been educated all over the world: Florida; Brazil; Puerto Rico; Texas; Oklahoma; Washington State; France; Georgia Massachusetts and Florida (again).

I am 66 years old, with university degrees in psychology and sociology (B.S. degrees, which I think is an appropriate nomenclature for them), as well as seminary training from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I have several phDs from the School of Hard Knocks to top it all off.

I've had friends who were Roman Catholic, Muslim (hope Homeland Security doesn't find out about that one...don't tell anybody), Mormon, Hare Krishna (did I spell that right?), and many other persuasions.

None of them has hurt me one bit. Not even a little bit.

Unless, of course, my becoming a radical right-wing politico is the result of those experiences.

I believe with all my being that in this country we should be honoring and celebrating our various faiths, even in public.

Otherwise, one might think you didn't believe what you say you believe...or are ashamed of it.

If that were the case, why would one hold to that belief?

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is to me the power of salvation.

I read that somewhere.

Joe said...

Oh. And in spite of the fact that I had many Christian teachers in kindergarten, grade school, high school and college, they were not all Christians.

Not once did my parents (unpracticing Christians at the time) evidence any concern, but celebrated all I was learning.

I liked that.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Then I have to congratulate you on having an extraordinarily farsighted and unusual family.

There have been huge protests on college classes over classes taught on the Koran. This happened right down the road from me. People were freaking.

Two years ago people were screaming to boycott Walmart on the grounds that the cashiers said 'Happy Holidays' versus 'Merry Christmas'. This was touted as 'eroding Christianity'. Never mind that the Jews, Muslims, pagans, and others celebrate holidays at this time.

I have myself been the target of religiously motivated discrimination.

There is a huge problem, especially in a post-9/11 United States, with religious (and other) discrimination. I commend you on your openmindedness, but realize that you are the exception, not the norm, and to give any leeway in this area would invite more problems.

Yes, people are too uptight. But that's part of the reason that we have to be so careful. Until we can educate the public (and a great deal of them don't want to be educated, I assure you) we aren't going to get past this. And so until then, we have to ensure that people are protected equally.

Tapline said...

Joe, Great lesson. I am over70 years young and still marvel at this document. I do not marvel at the living document, as some of the black robed ones think while interpreting this great document,our Supreme Legal minds that have no master, even though his name is embedded throughout their halls and entrances...They have seen fit to remove him from every public place. I wonder how history will view this period???i ramble.....Great post.....stay well

Frasypoo said...

If the writers of the constituition could see into 2008,they would have amended a few freedoms!We have come a long,long way from their vision...a vision of a pure,clean country.
I went to a private Christian school in India and there was only one Muslim girl who protested devotions in the morning.

Joe said...

tapline: Thanks for the visit. Come back often. I wonder if the irony of the egravings that surrounds them ever hits those black robed fellers and gals.

Joe said...

Frasypoo: WOW! A private Christian School in India! That's terriffic!

Joe said...

satyavati: There are some things I am closed minded about. I don't want to be struck by lightning, and I live in the lightning capital of the world. Even so, it is one of those things I just refuse to want to try, just because I've never done it before.

I am closed minded about what our country should be.

The people who formed it, and wrote its rule book, knew what they had in mind, and it was good.

IMHBCO (In My Humble But Correct Opinion), we need to return to the PRINCIPLES they laid out.

I am closed minded about Jesus. I believe that if you want to live a really fulfilled life and have a secure eternity you must confess Him as Lord, believe God raised Him from the dead and place your faith in, and only in, His finished work on the cross of Calvary.

Now, I do not require you to believe that. You can believe whatever you want and I'll not try to talk you out of it.

But never, never ask me about Jesus, unless you really want to know, 'cause I'll give you the whole nine yards!

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I'm actually quite likely to ask you at some future moment.

One of the things I believe in is when I'm doing research on religious topics is to go directly to members of different faiths. Too many people depend on third-party information, which is inevitably biased.

So I believe if you want to know what the Mormons believe, read the book of Mormon and talk to them when they show up at your door. Same for the Witnesses. And any other religious group you can think of.

So sure, at some future moment I'll probably ask you for a whole exposition.

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

Thank you for this. It makes me crazy how so many people misinterpret this simple little amendment. Not complicated enough for them, I guess. Imagine if it had to be written today. It would be the size of the phone book.

mainstreamavi aki bukaky said...

I'm glad you're working your way towards a secure eternity, Joe. I'm trying to do the same thing, and it resembles a man trying to take his pants off over his head.

I do recognize, through all of the noise, that the founding fathers did not want to establish a Christian state. As far as that goes, the evidence is clear.

mccainpalin said...

The left has to marginalize religion in society, so they can shove there agenda down our throats. The left wing agenda can’t survive in the presence of God and they Know it.

mainstreanavi aki bukaky said...

It's by the presence of God that we all exist.

And we are all (American, Iranian, Iraqi, Cuban) subject to the judgment of the same God.

Ever think about the fact that God may not be on your side?

Joe said...

mainstreamavi aki bukaky: I'm not working my way toward a secure eternity. The work has already been done for me.

I never have been concerned with whether God is on my side. My concern is that I stay on His side.

You are 100% correct that we are all subject to the judgement of the same God.

Joe said...

pcc: I doubt that a phone book could contain it...maybe the New York phone book.

mccainpalin: You got that right.

Mark said...

"Constitutionally, Congress has no right to rule on such an issue."

Perhaps that's why the Supreme Court feels a right to rule.

Joe said...

mark: Technically, if one takes the Constitution literally, the Supreme Court's job is to determine whether a law passed by congress or a ruling by a lower court are place a restriction not allowed or covered by the Constitution.

We have allowed them to expand their powers, sadly.