Civil Discourse Now

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Mr. Santorum: There is an "establishmnt clause" in the First Amendment and it is not an emetic.

When Europeans first came to the shores of this continent, Europe was in turmoil over religion. Between Luther’s 95 Theses to the Treaty of Westphalia over one hundred years of bloodshed passed. Some who came to the North American shores sought refuge from religious persecution. Others came for economic reasons. Some came through no choice—chained and sold, once they arrived here, as chattel. They were slaves.

   Rick Santorum is an odd person to advocate rejection of the separation of church and state, as he did this past weekend. Apparently he rejects the opinion of his pope (Santorum is Catholic), Benedict XVI, who in June, 2010, made quite clear his position that he favors the separation of the church and state. He also rejects the positions taken by various of the Framers of the Constitution.

   Let us consider the Framers of our Constitution. They all were white males. Most were considered wealthy for their time. As rare as college graduates were in the colonies in that era, the men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 were quite well-educated. One even was a college president. Alexander Hamilton had come to the United States from the Virgin Islands to study at King’s College (later Columbia University). Benjamin Franklin did not have much formal education, but was considered one of the brilliant men of his day. These men were probably what Santorum would consider "snobs." Half of the population could not vote because of gender. Women would not be able to vote for another 120 years or so. Slaves could not vote or enjoy the inalienable rights that, apparently, were alienable when applied to their status. Even white males could not vote and therefore provide input through state ratification conventions of the Constitution if they did not own land. 

   The Constitution is a "living" document, written by men who knew the country would change, but not the magnitude of that change. Hamilton, Washington, Madison, and others wanted to create a government capable of regulating and protecting the commerce of a vast land that spread to the west. Adaptation to change was important. As our society changed, so did the Constitution—both through amendments and through judicial interpretation of its provisions.

   Our society today is quite different from that in 1787. Muslims were called Mohamedims. The notion that a Jew could, one day, hold public office would have been met with scorn. Southern plantation owners feared what were called slave rebellions but were, in fact, individuals seeking the freedom to which the Declaration of Independence says they were entitled simply by birth.

   There is a separation of church and state envisioned in the Constitution. Some today seek to breach the wall it erected. The First Amendment’s two clauses related to religion are the free exercise clause and the establishment clause. The establishment clause comes first: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Rick Santorum, implicitly a "snob" by his own standards, since he went to college (Penn State), law school (Penn State), and obtained an MBA (Pitt), should want to "puke" (his term this past weekend) over the issue of separation of church and state. He would turn back a clock and advance religious interests with State funds. He would make contraceptives illegal.

   We complain today about the state of our educational system and how poorly it compares to the educational systems of other countries. The countries that beat us, consistently, do not have compulsory religious components to their educational systems. They do not even have mandatory group prayer. The Europeans learned the lessons of history and allocated religion to one’s personal space. An "emetic" induces vomiting. Mr. Santorum should go back to his law school text books and check out cases regarding the establishment clause and reconsider whether its effects are, or even could be, emetic.

Views: 156

Tags: amendment, civil, clause, discourse, emetic, establishment, first, freedom, now, of, More…religion, santorum

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Comment by Mark Small on March 1, 2012 at 7:40am

Nic,

I don't drink coffee, and so have none available in the house.

Comment by Mark Small on February 29, 2012 at 8:16pm

Mr. Wheeler,

First, I meant no disrespect to you by addressing you by your nom de plume. I did so in the context of this particular medium and to distinguish you from Mr. Ogden.

As for the Declaration of Independence, it most certainly is among our most important national documents, and one early political leaders sought to avoid. During the 1850 or 1851 Indiana constitutional convention, strident debate centered on whether to include language from that document to the effect that "all men are created equal." There was fear that the wording would be a signal for those held in involuntary servitude and sold as chattel in the South would seek refuge here. Thomas Jefferson is credited with authorship of the Declaration of Independence, and ordered it engraved on his tomebstone as one of his three great achievements. (The other two being the creation of the University of Virginia and ... and ... was it the Department of Commerce?) The "creator" was viewed, at the time and by many, as a naturalistic entity. A significant number of the Framers were deists. So yes---I would say that is a generic concept.

Nic,

The State (I would use upper-case in this context) is not at the center of my religion. I have no religion. I am a fan of baseball. Unfortunately, my favorite team is the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club. If one were to look at the center of my cosmological universe, it would be at the northeast corner of Clark and Addison in Chicago, Illinois. Ritualistic libations would consist of Old Style beer. Transubstantiation would occur in the form of a David Berg hot dog, with a slight bit of celery salt. Unfortunately, the dynamic of the belief would be futility--at least since 1908. And I do not hold out hope for this year being "next" year. But nice quote from Mencken.

Now, what do you say about coming onto The Show, Mr. Wheeler? The invitation is sincere.  

Comment by paul wheeler on February 29, 2012 at 9:01am

Mr. Martin,

Your comment about Mr. Small's 'religion' is noteworthy.

Mr. Small,

I include the Dec. of Independence among our important documents.  I suspect you don't care for 'endowed by our Creator' unless you interpret that as a generic concept. 

 

Comment by Mark Small on February 29, 2012 at 7:29am

paul wheeler,

My example of Islam is valid. There is freedom of religion under the free exercise clause. If an influx of people through immigration or conversion of the masses to that religion delivers a larger percentage of Muslims than members of any other faith, those persons would have the same position as Christians have today to advance their moral views. Only if one rejects the notion of free exercise can one reject this possibility, remote as it may seem.

I disagree with you that the moral foundation of this country is self-evident, given the foudning documents, What documents? The Constitution makes no mention of a Christian god, and I, and many others, would argue the Constitution trumps other documents when one construes rights. Furthermore, many of the Framers of the Constitution were deists---in its various manifestations far more similar to agnostocosm than to Christianity.

As your declining the invitation I extended to be on The Show, please reconsider. After all, we literally are on the same electronic page. Also, to engage others with widely different views in discussion that is rational is the goal of The Show.  I think a problem with the political discussions today is that people will not agree to engage on this same page, or speak honestly on the same stage or in the same forum. A discussion of the bases of morality in the body politic---and I sense Paul Ogden itching to jump on that allegory---is something sorely missing on the talk shows and various blogs I have seen. We can discuss how to frame the issue in order that we can discuss the topic in the most efficacious manner.

As to Paul's comments about Senator Goldwater, I am surprised. Goldwater is higher in the pantheon of saints of modern conservatism than Ronald Reagan. His attitude about Vietnam was interesting: If we sent our tropps there to win, we sent too few; if we sent them there to lose, we sent  too many. Also, it should be noted, that Alice Cooper was his neighbor and tey played golf together.  

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on February 29, 2012 at 1:46am

Nic, you really think Republicans should take poltical advice from Barry Goldwater, who was defeated in one of the worst landslides in history?  Goldwater mocked social conservatives, but they're what puts Republicans into the winning column.  Without social conservatives, Republican presidential candidates would get crushed like Goldwater did.

Comment by paul wheeler on February 28, 2012 at 11:20pm

Your arguments are misguided because the hypothetical Islam argument has little foundation in our founding documents, so I don't buy your proposition.  Further, the source of moral authority in America is historically self evident by looking at our founders' writings referencing Biblical scriptures and embedded in our tradition, however fleeting; not the Koran. Secondly, I don't regard moral authority as an 'imposition', but an underlying source that's foundational, since otherwise all man's decisions and posturings become  relative and rely on no source other than the imaginings of fallable man.  I've met many atheists, debated them, and all resist absolutes and reveal their intellectually dishonesty because ultimately they can't deal with God as the Absolute, and eventually rely on whatever worldview suits their personal needs. I've also noticed numerous arguments for argument sake, distractions, and sidebars too many to mention. 

Finally, we are not 'controlled' by the views of 200 yrs.ago, but by the infallible Source of those views.  I don't agree 1oo% with all the Jeffersonian or other Founders' views, but we can always go back to examine the Source they relied on.  Ideologically, I would be totally opposite many of your positions, and I'm intolerant of your lack of one.  I'm afraid your gracious invitation for the show would be wasted on me, because we have no common page to understand each other. 

Comment by Mark Small on February 28, 2012 at 9:24pm

Nic, Well said.

paul wheler,

Let me clarify--I am an atheist. No "moral authority can be imposed upon this country by any religious body. If our population became comprised of believers of Islam---and I have as much regard as Ihave for any other, which is to say little---the same people advancing the fundamentalist Christian model would be the first to rely upon the Establishment clause to reject over reaching of Free Exercise. I invite you to be a guest on The Show. We xan exchange our views in civil fashion. You may advnce the argument that whatever we guess th views of people 200 years ago can control our views, after all those amendment, today. I presume you have watched The Show. We will give fair hearing to your views---and equal tine. As long as Paul doesn't interrupt.

 

Comment by paul wheeler on February 28, 2012 at 2:10pm

Well said, Mr. Ogden.  Most of us are acquainted with the 'living' document misnomer, yet some still stand by it because it allows them to falsely make their own straw man such as the case Mr. Small tries to outline.  The separation only had to do with prohibiting an endorsement of a national religion for the nation.  Otherwise our short history as a nation is littered with references to the Scripture, God, etc.   It may suit Mark, with his professed athiest/agnostic worldview, to divorce himself from this reality of the Biblical God being profusely relied upon in the affairs of State and for providing the ultimate moral authority upon which our documents rest. Most every President has given reverend lip service to these same Christian beliefs, and acknowledged his faith enters into his decision making for guidance in the affairs of State.  Santorum virtually wears it on his sleave instead of a mere casual mention.  Considering the increasing secular attacks on religion, let him make the case, stand by it, and let the people decide for themselves whether they desire these strengths in their President.

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on February 28, 2012 at 10:03am

Kurt, well we can thank God Mark is not a candidate for President. Whoops.  Did I cross over the wall?

Comment by Kurt Lorey on February 28, 2012 at 9:07am

While not addressing the merits (or lack thereof) of your point, you missed a most important distinction. Mark NOT running for President of the USA, Rick IS.

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