While our nation battles over how to handle people that illegally cross our borders, why do you think they would risk their lives to come to the United States?
It’s easy to forget, sometimes, why movements are started but let’s consider how and why this country began, and why it is still a place people run to for refuge.
The first of the Ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution goes like this.
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.
Our English language has substantially changed since the Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. Possibly because of this, there have been many debates about what the Amendment actually means, and more specifically what separation of church and state really is.
There are a lot of good videos on You Tube that explain this debate. I found an interesting one from Dr. Dave Miller. Watch here.
Now, you might say, whoa, wait a second, I don’t believe in the Bible and you’re referencing a video with someone who is arguing from a Biblical viewpoint. Well, you have a right to not believe in the Bible-that is what is so great about our country. We have freedom to believe what we want to believe. But, you also have to understand that the people who fled from oppressive governments to establish this country did have a belief in the God of the Bible and that’s where their perspective was coming from. The founders of this country viewed Christianity as the “essence of life, and the foundation for the freedom we have.”
Many people today still believe the reason our country is so desirable to people being oppressed from rigid governments is that we have a Christian foundation but we’re not forcing that on people who live in the country. So, the people living here have FREEDOM to express their beliefs.
I will attempt to paraphrase a lot of the comments the referenced video states.
First, as many other videos reference, the phrase “separation of church and state” is not actually in the First Amendment. The phrase comes out of a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote when he was corresponding with a Baptist congregation. The Baptists were concerned that the Federal Government might interfere with their Christian practices. They didn’t want them to interfere with their “inalienable rights.”
When the First Amendment was written, they didn’t want one Protestant denomination to become a state religion, or for the Federal Government to interfere with the “free and public practice of their religion.”
One commenter regarding this issue was George Mason. He was very concerned about how to word the Amendment so that future courts and judges would not change their ideas.
He suggested “all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”
The people involved in determining the First Amendment were concerned that one form of Christian group might gain control of government over the other. They didn’t want any one group putting down another one. They also didn’t want Congress establishing any particular church.
According to the video, at the start of our country, church services were held in government buildings. It states that John Quincy Adams used the Treasury building for church.
The video suggests that the whole foundation of the Amendment was to keep the Federal Government from interfering in religious practices. The First Amendment was meant to prohibit establishing a state church, and making people go to it. It was formed to keep the government from declaring one religion by law.
The speaker states that other religions are tolerated in this country but freedom of religion wasn’t meant to allow other religions to take hold of the country. This statement is what inspired the title of this article since there is some interest in groups making the U.S. a Socialist government.
The author of the video suggests looking at countries opposed to Christianity to see what our country would turn into if the U.S. allowed all the other religions to have equal influence and subdued Christianity. It would become like other countries that force their socialist systems on their people. For instance Laos’ primary religion is (Theravada Buddhism). [Note, an internet search found that they have an article in their Constitution that their “citizens have a right to believe or not believe in religions,” but you might look into how Socialist Governments work to determine if the people feel they have this right].
So back in 1789, there were debates with 90 founding fathers who came up with the wording of the First Amendment. None of them mentioned separation of church and state.
If you think some of these ideas seem antiquated or non-progressive, consider the resume of James Madison, the author of the Amendment.
James Madison graduated from Princeton University. He was a signer of the U.S. Constitution, a framer of the Bill of Rights and a U.S. President for two terms, and more. The house went into a committee meeting to discuss the Amendment. They were talking about whether to add “no religion shall be established by law nor shall equal rights be infringed.” Madison was worried the words might be twisted to mean to get rid of religion all together.
Madison said, “Congress should not establish religion or force it by law,” and he wanted to prevent an establishment of a national religion. Madison’s purpose was to stop the Federal Government from making a national religion. He thought some of the wording might hurt religion and that it might be misunderstood to mean to keep religion out of government. They didn’t want a religion established by law. They meant to “secure the rights of conscience and a free exercise of religion.”
They wanted to make sure Congress would not touch religion or infringe on religious practices. So, that day’s debate was not about “religion vs. irreligion, nor Christians vs. Buddhists.” They weren’t thinking about other religious beliefs, but were primarily concerned that the Federal Government would not interfere.
The speaker in the video mentions that those concerns are now happening. Religious symbols are being taken out, and attacks are made under the justification of separation of church and state.
The speaker goes on to mention more prominent people with good pedigrees who had an influence at the time. There were Harvard graduates and John Quincy Adams, who had lots of credentials. He was in the Massachusetts Senate, and the U.S. Senate, became the 6th president, went back to the House of Representatives after his presidency and made a speech to make sure people not practicing religion would not be persecuted, “forbidding persecution of fellow man.” He stated that “God created humans to possess free will, so there is no coercion.”
Finally the video speaker says that Government should allow all people to pursue what they want without government intrusion and to think about countries who force their religions on people. Most likely the force is why they fled to the U.S.
So, the speaker asks, is there any other country on earth, not Christian, that is like free America? He doesn’t believe so and thinks the founders would be horrified and angry at how Christianity is being taken out in America. He believes we’ve fallen from the original platform on how this nation was built.
What do you think? Since this is a free country, we are able to express our views openly. Hopefully, you aren’t concerned about stating what you think. If you are, you have to ask yourself, did we skew too far from how this country started?