Secular Humanism: America’s Establishment of Religion Part One: What is an Establishment of Religion?

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A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. Proverbs 18:2 NASB

When I discuss this topic on Facebook with secularists, it is almost impossible to get them to actually read what I post. They rapid-fire back a response based on the first few lines. Not only is their comment usually factually inaccurate, they are so far off-topic that a reasoned response is impossible.

I published a detailed, documented definition several years back, but it is impossible to get them to read it. Comments they have posted include, “It’s too long,” “It’s too detailed,” “It’s just a cut-and-paste article. What do you believe?” (Ignoring the fact that I am the author.) And I thought this one was the best: “You’re plagiarizing someone else’s work.”

I understand that the documentation in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism makes it lengthy and difficult to read. But I will link to just one readable, though long, chapter.

For the purposes of this blog, I am breaking the topic “America’s Establishment of Religion” down into smaller segments, each part dealing with only one issue. This first segment, “What Is an Establishment of Religion?” is the entire first section, consisting of five chapters, of our book. This blog post is just a brief, undocumented overview.

The term, Establishment of Religion, comes from the first Amendment to the Constitution.

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.

 This comes from a long history of tradition in England and Europe, especially Germany. It is based on the Magna Carta, the treaties of Augsburg and Westphalia. An establishment of religion according to the 1st amendment is the federal government passing laws and collecting taxes for welfare and education, and to a lesser extent for public worship. At the time the US constitution was written, the Church of England not only controlled Oxford and Cambridge, but local parish, schools, and orphanages. The Church of England ran the poorhouses and buried paupers. Though wealthier Englishmen could buy alternate education, the poorest were born into orphanages, fed, clothed, educated and eventually buried by the Church of England. This was forbidden by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

All aspects of education are inherently religious and there is no separation of church and state possible. There is no “Separation principle” in the constitution. The intent was that government would not influence religion, but religion would influence government. The attempt to separate church and state makes secularism in some form the state religion.

The preamble to the constitution makes the federal government responsible for promoting public welfare, not providing public welfare.

Public worship was a part of the Continental Congress, Congress for the first hundred years, part of the public activities of each president, and that of the Supreme Court. A National Cathedral was built with public funds.

7 thoughts on “Secular Humanism: America’s Establishment of Religion Part One: What is an Establishment of Religion?

  1. On the question of religious displays, the First Amendment has two broad answers depending on the sponsor. Any private citizen can put up a nativity scene on private property at Christmas time: citizens and churches commonly exercise their First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech to do so. But when a government sets up a similar display on public property, a different aspect of the amendment comes into play. Governments do not enjoy freedom of speech, but, instead, are controlled by the second half of the First Amendment—the Establishment Clause, which forbids any official establishment of religion. All lawsuits demanding that a crèche, cross, menorah, or other religious symbol be removed from public property allege that the government that put it there has violated the Establishment Clause.

  2. People are so ADD today–me included! We have to get our thoughts across in short sound bites. Keep trying!

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