Archive for the ‘Establishment Clause’ Category

An Ohio City Council voted to remove the image of a Catholic college from the town logo. Their logic? A citizen, who is a member of the group “Freedom From Religion Foundation” threatened to sue the City, saying the image was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

This kind of ignorance and faulty logic really bothers me, because it has become so widespread.

Here is a basic lesson in logic and consistent literary interpretation:

If you interpret the beginning clause of the First Amendment as banning religious expression – because people may listen to the expression and feel compelled to follow it – rather than simply prohitibiting a national denomination as they had in Britain and almost every European power at the time, then you have to interpret the next clauses as being banned behavior as well. The same logic must govern either the entire First Amendment or none of it. If, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, is interpreted as erecting a wall of separation prohibiting religious expression on government property, then, “[Congress shall make no law] abridging the freedom of speech” must be interpreted as meaning speech should be equally banned on government property. The same logic would have to follow for, “[Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom] of the press”; “[Congress shall make no law…abridging] the right of the people peaceably to assemble”, and “[Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people] to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” If the first clause bans religious expression, the following clauses must ban free speech, free press, peaceable assembly and the petition for redress for grievances. Either all clauses must be read with a “wall of separation” interpretation or none of them should be.

Besides, we already know that what the Framers clearly intended – to prohibit a national denomination such as the Church of England.


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