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Thursday, July 9, 2015

My take on the First Amendment and Christianity

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.

Intent. Several years ago I asked a man-in-the-know about my understanding and interpretation of the First Amendment. He couldn't answer my question, replying that one would have to know the original intent of the Founding Fathers, implying that neither he nor anyone else could be sure of the original intent. Personally, I see the original intent behind the First Amendment in the First Amendment itself. If grammar counts for anything, then the wording of this amendment reveals original intent.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" The original intent is clearly that the United States Congress cannot make any laws whatsoever that would interfere with "an establishment of religion." Religious establishments are essential for the well being of individuals, our nation and our government. That is what Jefferson guaranteed would not happen when he wrote to the Danbury Baptists who were concerned about government interference in their church life. It is in that letter and in that letter alone that one will find the phrase, "a wall of separation between church and state." This "wall" is erected for our protection and freedom, not as a tool to be used against religions.

The precise and intentional wording of the "religion clause" reveals intent. First, it is clear that the phrase "an establishment of religion" refers to religious entities. The indefinite article "an" identifies "an establishment of religion" as a religious body (establishment) such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Religions on our shores have freedom from government interference with the exception of acts by these religious bodies that endanger others and pose a "clear and present danger" to our nation. The Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to worship freely.

 "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." "Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The free exercise clause clearly refers back to an establishment of religion in the word "thereof." Religious establishments have a Constitutional right to freely exercise their religions. "The free exercise of a religious establishment."

And finally, the religious clause does not refer to a prohibition against Congress establishing a religion. The word "establishment" is a noun, not a verb. Congress cannot make laws respecting an establishment of religion. Congress cannot make laws respecting Christianity, Judaism, etc., establishments existing in our great nation. What is ironic about what our citizens who are against religion are proposing our government do is precisely what the First Amendment forbids.