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Church And State


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I found a thread on RonPaulForums.com started by an atheist discussing the separation of church and state.


Since I've been following Dr. Paul's candidacy, I've changed my views on some issues. My reply on the thread was:


I think Dr. Paul, like most of us in the US, is simply a victim of indoctrination from childhood that "god" means the christian god, and may be unaware that terms like "nature's god" and "creator" refer to the Deist's view of god.


For example, why should an organization like the Boy Scouts (which as far as I'm aware is private and doesn't receive federal funds) be forced to remove their god from their program?

Also, I think he would be constitutionally correct to allow individual states to proclaim their belief or nonbelief in a god or gods. Damn, I'd hate to have to move to another state, but I guess that's what I'd do!


Link to the thread HERE.


Just wondering what your opinions are.



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How would it be Constitutional to allow states to proclaim their belief in a deity? Government shouldn't involve itself in mythology at all. County of Allegheny v. ACLU made this very clear.

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The BSA do recieve public funds, they also participate in a large gathering of military representatives each year (like a military fair) and use the government land for free. (http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/shb/downey_15_3.htm)


I was heavily involved in BSA for years. They do receive public funds and do use public land. I'm not sure about the jamboree but when/if we used public property such as shelters/schools we did have to pay a fee just like everyone else.


I felt then just as I do now that the BSA should not receive public funds due to their stance of excluding others. In the pack I was involved with I made sure we down played that aspect, our un-official policy was don't ask, don't tell and open to all. When you run the pack (Cubmaster, Asst. Cubmaster, Den Leader, Leader Trainer, etc.) and your church sponsor doesn't get involved in the day to day operations, you can do that. We were a fairly large pack, averaged 80 kids and I never heard a complaint that we weren't playing up the God part of it; however, had the BSA officials known, I'm not sure they would have been too happy, at least that is my perception based upon the training materials they use along with comments made at the monthly roundtables.


It burns me that churches get special tax considerations along with special treatment under IRS for their pension funds. If the private sector doesn't why should they be any different?

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The Bill of Rights protects us from states deciding to proclaim a god. The federal government should not be involved in lots of things at the state level that it is, but making sure religion stays in the hands of the private sector only is one of its mandated jobs.


Though I find the stance of the Boy Scouts reprehesible, they are a private organization. (Getting government handouts is a different can of worms that annoys me and my Libertarian sensibilities). I dislike the attacks on private institutions by government to make them more open and inclusive. If private citizens want to protest the bad policies of private clubs is one things, but to have any government interference is wrong...other than to keep the peace.

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...I dislike the attacks on private institutions by government to make them more open and inclusive....


This is what I've (recently) come to agreement with. Since my re-reading of the Constitution, I think the states have the right to decide what's done within them, without interference from the Federal government....


Vigile, while I agree in principle, the Constitution clearly says:


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"


I don't like it, but it seems that prohibiting individual states from pronouncing their religious preference is not allowed by the Constitution.


If private citizens want to protest the bad policies of private clubs is one things, but to have any government interference is wrong...other than to keep the peace.


This is what I've learned is the correct role of the Federal Government. Like it or not, it's our law.





Thanks everyone for your input. It is my goal to become better informed.

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Dan, States may not exercize religion at all. States are not individuals.


Here it is right here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Establishment...First_Amendment


(note that Black's opinion has never been overturned, and as such represents current Constitutional law. Whether or not you agree with his interpretation of the Establishment clause, it is this interpretation that establishes precident for future cases and is as binding as any statute)


In the twentieth century, however, the Supreme Court more closely scrutinized government activity involving religious institutions. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court recognized the validity of a New Jersey statute funding student transportation to schools, whether parochial or not. Justice Hugo Black held,


The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."


As for the Boy Scouts issue, the government has a right to regulate discriminatory policy in a private organization that receives Federal funding. If the org doesn't want the government butting in, it is their right to refuse the funds. Tax payers should not, however, be forced to support discriminatory organizations; appaulingly, the court did an about face on this recently as they let Bush have his way with the faith-based orgs. The court is wrong on their recent decision, but that never stopped a Bush lackey.

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There was a documentary on this the other night, can't remember what channel and unfortunately I couldn't watch it all but it was saying essentially what you have said, states do not have the right under the 1st amendment to create a statewide religion nor do they have the right to force religion on anyone. It was interesting to note that originally it was to be far more sweeping then what it ended up. It was changed some from what Jefferson originally intended.


Thomas Jefferson also wrote the Virginia Statute for religious freedom in 1786. In fact there have only been two changes to it since then, one in 1919 and one in 1985. Miminimal changes really just clarifications since the original language is still in the Code. Of course since then there have been other sections added but they mainly go into saying what penalities can be accessed to government entities of Virginia when they go against the intents and purposes of the Virginia Statute for religious freedom along with declaring January 16 religious freedom day in VA.


However and here is where I have a problem. The Virginia Code Section dealing with Oath and Affirmations states that when giving an oath of office the person taking the oath cannot be forced to kiss the Bible or any book or books. It does say the person may be required to place their hand on the bible when taking the oath. But it does not stipulate what book, if any, can be used instead of the Bible nor does it say that a person who does not want to use the bible doesn't have too. It leaves it open. If I want to take an oath of office, I could be well be forced to use the Bible, it's up to whomever is administering the oath.


You can't force someone to follow a particular religion in one section of the Virginia Code but you can force someone to swear on a Bible in order to take an oath. Seems to be a conflict and not exactly separation of church and state in my opinion.

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