Please notice, friends, that he does not say “in your own homes,” but “publicly!” Like, maybe at a graduation? or a ball game? or a “prayer Breakfast.” I know this is a real sticking point for those among us who call themselves Atheists – believing in no God. I have no problem allowing any who choose Atheism to worship in public, as Mr Adams says, as long as I, too, may pray, or recognize my God as I see fit in the public sector!
To deny the worship of Christ at Christmas, for example, is ludicrous since He is the reason for the season in America. I enjoy also the lighting of a Menorah in memory of the miracle of the Oil. These are, for many of us, historical events, part of our heritage not to be denied to our children and grandchildren.
“It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons,
to worship the SUPREME BEING,
the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.
And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person,
liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable
to the dictates of his own conscience;
or for his religious profession or sentiments;
provided he doth not disturb the public peace,
or obstruct others in their religious worship.”
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
Neither should our children be restrained from sharing traditional greetings to their friends and classmates by the exchange of cards, participation in pageants, the singing of traditional and meaningful carols and spiritual songs. These are, in fact, part of our worship and not constrained to be enjoyed behind closed doors. No one forces a shopper to stop and listen when a choir sings in the local mall. No one requires participation in school pageants or choral programs. No one mandates a valedictorian to preface his statements with a prayer, yet in many case, these “religious practices” have been halted … for fear of offending someone. Really? The only “religious” practice I find offensive is Jihad!
So … worship as you wish, my friends and patriots. Whether traditional or not, whether Solstice, Chanakkah, or Christmas. (Sorry … Kwanza hasn’t been around long enough for me to observe as a historical event, but if it’s YOUR thing … ENJOY IT!) John Adams says it’s cool with him!
You are entirely right that you, as an individual, have the right to freely exercise your religion publicly as well as privately. Moreover, private businesses are free to choose whether and how to greet shoppers and decorate their premises and the like. That is not in doubt. The courts agree with you in that regard.
It is only government that is constrained by the Constitution not to promote (or oppose) religion. As the government can only act by those comprising its ranks, the real and sometimes difficult question is to determine whether in particular circumstances someone is speaking as an individual or speaking on behalf of government.
Wake Forest University recently published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state that explains how the courts grapple with these issues. I commend it to you. http://tiny.cc/6nnnx
As I’m sure you’re aware, the disparity evidences itself in other “non-religious” matters that in my eyes, and many who agree with me, flies in the face of this argument. For example, abortion! It’s NOT OK for the gov’t to pay for the lights on a Cresch outside the Courthouse, but it IS ok for public funds to pay for abortions that contradict my personal “religious” beliefs. So here’s the rub! In most cases, it is better to “err” on the side of non-complicity, but in this case, not only is abortion a breach of MY religious rights, but it is also a move against the Right to Life, also guaranteed by the First Amendment – which obviously the Court sees differently. If one understands that true religion, whether Christianity, Judaism, or even Wiccan is not something that is turned off and on whether we’re inside or outside of a place of worship, either federal funds ought not to be permitted to fund the millions of abortions that are performs annually in the USA OR, those of us with religious tendencies ought to be “pardoned” from paying for them with our taxes. Just sayin … the system is out of whack! 🙂
Well, that’s a different subject. The issue of whether the government can do things that offend the religious beliefs of individuals is hardly unique to you or Christians–or any one group. Indeed, I suspect that most adults, if asked, would tell you that the government does one or more things–“with our taxes” as you put it–that contradict their personal religious beliefs. While I’ve not researched whether there is any law on this point, it is plain that the government could hardly operate if each citizen could dictate how “his” or “her” taxes were spent.
Your idea leads to an interesting thought, though. Since about as many taxpayers favor federal support for abortion services as oppose such support and the cost of such services is a tiny sliver of all federal spending, why would you suppose that it is “your” taxes that pay for the support or, further, why would you suppose that it is your religious tendencies that ought to govern how the taxes of “everyone” are spent?
It isn’t MY religious beliefs. It is a constitutional issue since all humans are guaranteed “by our Creator” certain unalienable rights incl LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This, in my understanding, ought to legally apply to unborn children. If the murder or a pregnant woman = 2 counts of murder, logically, that establishes the viability of an unborn child. Seems pretty clear cut.
Well, that is yet another subject. You started the discussion with separation of church and state, then skipped past my response on that to discuss government actions and expenditures contrary to individual citizens’ religious beliefs, and now skip past my response on that to discuss whether the unborn have constitutional rights that in effect preclude abortion.
Without proposing to delve into an extended discussion of that, I’ll just note that the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee that certain rights of “any person” shall not be infringed by states protects the rights of those who have been born because that was the universal understanding of the term “person” when the Constitution and, later, the 14th Amendment were adopted. Not even the dissenters asserted that the law regards a fetus as a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution. As you elsewhere advocate adherence to the original intent of the Constitution, you may thus appreciate how this conclusion seems pretty clear cut.
I didn’t skip anything! I’m just enjoying our conversation, so I took it farther! 🙂 Since I have no legal training, my mind doesn’t recognize “chapter and verse” designations – not meant as a slam. It all runs together to me. Yes, I do support agreement with the Constitution, and I see the understanding tied to the 14th amendment. I had not heard that argument. I will give it some thought.
I honestly do appreciate your legal knowledge. My mother always thought that might be a good option for me, but I chose teaching instead.
Thank you for your continued patience with me as I question current interpretations of the Law!