Church and State

I've been working on this for a bit, decided to post it once I read Right Wing Nut Jobs Unite-Do the Ten Commandments have a place in the Courts of America? this morning. --------- Now, I'm just a simple girl who grew up in the Ozarks', I'm not world traveled or schooled in the versus of educated essay writing so bear with me while I plunder through this. People neglect to recall or rather decide not to recall that this country was founded by deeply religious people. It was founded BECAUSE of religion. They did not want to be punished because their religion of choice was not what their country(ies) wanted them to believe. The foundation of our government is religious freedom. NOT freedom FROM religion but religious freedom- being free to follow the religion of your choice without fear of persecution by the government. This is the well-touted oft misused First Amendment of the constitution:
Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. 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.
And a footnote of the definition of redress since it is not a well-used word this day and age: Redress redress v. 1. To set right, remedy or rectify. 2. To make amends for. n. 1. Satisfaction for wrong done; reparation. 2. Correction OK Let's dissect... First: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," What does that mean? Looks to me like it means Congress (our government) can't pass a law that says this one religion is better than the other. Let's continue: "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" OK What's that one mean? Looks like it means they(government) cannot stop someone from freely practicing religion. I won't touch on the rest of the amendment since I am only talking religion right now. Let's review- Congress, meaning our Government, cannot make a law saying they prefer a certain religion. Nor can our government stop us from practicing a certain religion. Now, in October 1961 the Supreme Court of the United States removed prayer from New York schools in a case called Engel v. Vitale. This case said basically that because the U.S. Constitution prohibits any law respecting an establishment of religion, officials of public schools may not compose a public prayer even if the prayer is denominationally neutral, and that pupils may choose to remain silent or be excused while the prayer is being recited. In plain English, the supreme court said this school could not have a school prayer, it was unconstitutional. Thus, the invention of "separation of Church and State" which is yelled form the highest hilltops in any corner of the country where someone is not happy with a statue, word, prayer, book, etc... Now it gets fuzzy here because in banning school prayer they are prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Right? That's my interpretation of it. A couple more definitions: semantic SYLLABICATION: se·man·tic VARIANT FORMS: also se·man·ti·cal (-t-kl) ADJECTIVE: 1. Of or relating to meaning, especially meaning in language. 2. Of, relating to, or according to the science of semantics. semantics SYLLABICATION: se·man·tics NOUN: (used with a sing. or pl. verb) 1. Linguistics The study or science of meaning in language. 2. Linguistics The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent. 3. The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form: i.e. "We're basically agreed; let's not quibble over semantics." Why did I put those there? Because semantics is where it all falls. Because the First Amendment is worded the way it is, it can be interpreted a couple ways. I was not there when this wonderful country was founded (No, honestly although I feel that old sometimes I am really not). I cannot say that they intended their words to be interpret the way they have been. But I have a pretty good hunch that if they knew their wording would keep kids from being able to pray in school or the ten commandments from being displayed in a government building they would have used different words. In my genealogy research I have done a lot of studying on the beginning of this country. I can confidently say that I believe their intention was to allow for the freedom to practice religion without fear of persecution and nothing to do with keeping it out of schools or state funded buildings/events etc... They just didn't want the government to tell us we HAD to believe this one religion or face persecution. Keep in mind Christianity is not just one religion but a generalized term for religions that believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God. My basic and bottomline point is I do not believe they had total "separation of church and state" in mind when they penned the constitution and amendments.

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