Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why the wall of separation between church and state is stupid

Separation of Church and States was incorporated into U.S. policy primarily because of religious discrimination is the 1878 Reynolds decision which incorporated the phrase, "separation of church and state" into public awareness.

Reynolds was a Mormon from Utah who had married more than one wife.  Reynolds argued that the First Amendment protections regarding religious freedom allowed him to marry more than one wife.  At the time there was a great deal of concern that, like most original States of the Union, Utah would adopt a State Sponsored Religion, Mormonism.  Massachusetts was the last of the original thirteen States to stop sponsoring a religion in 1833.  At the time of Federal Constitutional ratification most of the States had State sponsored religions.

In order to suppress the possibility of Mormonism becoming a State sponsored religion in Utah, the Justices used circular logic and poor supporting arguments in their opinion.

First, SCOTUS used a law, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" to make a law, "states can't establish a religion" that they were specifically forbidden from making.

Further, SCOTUS used writings of Thomas Jefferson, an individual who was not involved in the writing of the Federal Constitution, concerning the Virgina State Constitution and a personal opinions of Thomas Jefferson written in a personal letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

Unfortunately, this support means little to nothing for two reasons.  The first is that Jefferson was not involved in the Constitutional Debates recorded in the Federalist Papers.  The second is that the framers of the constitution wrote the First Amendment while the States they represented had State sponsored Religions and those States, Including Virginia, had State sponsored religions at the time of ratification of the Federal Constitution.  We can assume, based on the lack of immediate response by the Federal Government in forcing States to cease religious sponsorship that there was no intent to prevent States from sponsoring religions.  All of the original States did eventually write religious freedom clauses into their State Constitutions, and it is by these State constitutions that State sponsored religion is forbidden.

The Reynolds decision violates the Federal Constitution in two ways. First, it employs circular logic and poor support to subvert the intentions of the First Amendment.  Second, it takes a power specifically reserved for the individual States unto the Federal government, violating the Tenth Amendment.

This was done specifically to prevent Utah from establishing Mormonism as a State sponsored religion and as such the decision violates the intentions of the founding fathers to establish a nation of religious freedoms.

I won't address whether I think this decision is morally right or wrong.  My only point is that this is illogical, illegal and deliberately discriminatory and firmly establishes the influence religious beliefs, both discriminatory religious beliefs and favorable bias.

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