Stuart Carlson for October 23, 2010


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    Don Winchester Premium Member over 9 years ago

    Ok then….state where it is. Go ahead, settle it by showing me where it’s written in the Constitution….waiting…..ah, you can’t….so you resort to namecalling when you’re proven wrong to try to change the fact that you don’t know. Typical..

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    Jason Allen  over 9 years ago

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

    Jefferson is the one calling her an idiot likely because he, a founding father, publicly supported what he referred to as a “…wall of separation between church and state…” Let’s not forget that she is a self proclaimed Constitutional scholar, but didn’t know several of the Amendments.

    While not part of the Constitution, the Treaty of Tripoli also sheds some light:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; ”

    Name calling is typical of both sides, to that one is a wash.

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    crlinder  over 9 years ago

    ^Thank you Jase99. The literalists, who either do not know the history of the phrase “separation of church and state” or are just playing semantic games, need to be called on their foolishness.

    It reminds me all too much of the semantic games the Bush administration played before the war in Iraq to make it sound like al-Queda was there in force but then to deny they’d ever said it. Same thing with WMD.

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    mrdoody  over 9 years ago

    Ah the Constitution; such a fine document to debate. I believe the Constitution is perhaps one of the most carefully worded and prepared documents of all times. It is a plan for bringing together diverse peoples under a single guiding hand. It was intended to be amended to be fresh and relevant and this we have forgotten. We fear it now as if changing it will destroy it. Certainly no such fear was present when it was new. Now we leave the changing to the SC; a body of only 9 lifetime political appointees to chart the path of an entire nation. The SC believes the Constitution to be vague and ambiguous. They believe the meaning of the words can be molded to fit their own views of the world. The SC believes that snippets and often political writings can be grounds to ignore what is written. I do not! Take the 1st Amendment as we are all aware (some only recently) the phrase separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution. We have come to accept the SC’s inclusion of Jefferson’s short response to a Baptist group’s concerns as somehow carrying the weight of an Amendment. No matter how fervently Jefferson was on the wall of separation what was written in the Constitution must surely be of greater import. To that end we have a simple phrase provided by another visitor here. There can be no doubt about the meaning of the individual words of the phrase or of the phrase in its entirety. “Congress” clearly means the federal government and “law” clearly means legislation written down and passed by houses of congress and signed by the President. Dispute this and you may as well throw out the Constitution in its entirety. What amazes me is that such a simple instruction can be overlooked. In the absence of a congressional action in the form of a law then no violation of the 1st can or does exist. The SC has ignored that and instead has relied on a campaign speech by then President Jefferson to exclude all manner of ceremony. At the same time the SC has totally ignored the second part forbidding the free expression of religion and has been responsible for creating federal laws, by decision, that do just that and are clear violations of the 1st. This path, taken to its logical conclusion and driven by groups such as the ACLU, will ban all expression of religion such as prayer, bibles, and religious jewelry from public display and confine such to home and church. If you agree with that then fine but it is not the plan laid out in the Constitution and at least you should acknowledge your hypocrisy.

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    grapfhics  over 9 years ago

    How would today’s Gen X’ers write the Constitution? “We the people of the United States …” Hey, my brains tired, anybody got an app to help write this?

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    Michael Peterson Premium Member over 9 years ago

    Today’s Gen X’ers are approaching 40 and are doing a pretty decent job. You need to go take another swig of Serutan and see if there are any Matlock reruns on.

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    cdward  over 9 years ago

    mrdood, wrote: “This path, taken to its logical conclusion and driven by groups such as the ACLU, will ban all expression of religion such as prayer, bibles, and religious jewelry from public display and confine such to home and church.”

    While you do a fine literal interpretation of the amendment and can in fact stand on that, your conclusion quoted above is faulty. The ACLU does not, for example, argue for the banishment of all expression of religion. Prayer in school has always been and is perfectly permissible. Public displays of religion - all religions - are also perfectly fine.

    There is a difference between that and establishment of religion.

    Now, you may argue that, as long as Congress does not sign an actual law, it’s okay for states to sign laws establishing religion. Is that what you’re saying? So, it would be appropriate for, say California to establish Wicca as it’s official religion? After all, it’s not Congress doing it.

    But you are right that the constitution is NOT intended to be a static document - it is not scripture, either, and if we are afraid to amend it to fit current national interests, shame on us. I, for one, wouldn’t mind an amendment to clarify the 2nd amendment (the one where we ignore the first half altogether).

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    Simon_Jester  over 9 years ago

    You realize, don’t you, that if Jefferson himself had been a strict constitutiionalist, the United States of America would stop at the Mississippi river.

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    Laynebrain  over 9 years ago

    As one of my colleagues said, she’s really quite aggressive in her ignorance…which is part of what made her popular in the first place. We are living in an era where “average” Americans (whatever that actually means) seem to want “someone like” them running things, rather than “elitist, educated egg-heads who are out of touch” with “real” America. And that’s precisely the problem. I don’t want someone like me running things–I want someone smarter than I am running things. And since I’m not exactly a dummy, I guess that means that I’m voting for the smart ones. Which in my state means I’m voting for Russ Feingold.

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    SpicyNacho Premium Member over 9 years ago

    Alayne, The “smart” ones as you say are always the ones that figure out a way to game the system for their own interest. It is time to clean house and get rid of all the so called “smart” politicians who only want the power and money, and have driven this country to the brink of disaster. There should be no “lifetime” politicians.

    Pols on both sides of the aisle are guilty.

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    Simon_Jester  over 9 years ago

    The conservatives say they want regular people running our government, but they don’t, not really….it’s just yet another one of their self delusions.

    Consider the 2004 and 2008 elections.

    In 2004, the conservatives never stopped bashing Kerry for having, ‘married his money’…citing it as proof-positive that he was part of the Washington elite, a guy with no common touch.

    Meanwhile, the Republican candidate, George W. Bush acquired his money by being born…but he WASN’T considered a member of the elite by conservatives, because he walked and talked like a Texas Good-ol’-Boy, complete with ranch. ( which he didn’t purchase until AFTER he decided to make that presidential run – and then sold as soon as his term was up. )

    Sooo, along comes 2008…and who do the Repubs nominate? John McCain, who just like Kerry, married into his fortune….whereas the Dem candidate was a guy from a relatively poor background, who worked himself up from practically nothing.

    And who was the, ‘elitist’ and who was the, ‘regular guy’ for the righties this time? I think we all know the answer to that question.

    Robin Williams’ first comedy album was entitled, “Reality, What a Concept.”

    The conservatives might want to consider adopting that that as their slogan.

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    Don Winchester Premium Member over 9 years ago

    I don’t care about semantics. I don’t care about other treaties and what they say. I don’t care about what was “intended”. I don’t care about what should or should have been. I care about is it THERE or NOT! And sorry, but Separation of Church and State is NOT in there. Otherwise the consitution doesn’t matter because we can start making laws from the point of intentions or should or should not have beens.

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    keechum  over 9 years ago

    Seperation, I’m sure, was not ment to limit influence, but to deny domination. Like, Christian talk in public schools should be OK as long as it does not intimidate or influence grades.

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    Simon_Jester  over 9 years ago

    jmattadams knows that coz he talks to Jefferson every night.

    Somebody should point this out though, and it might as well be me. Thomas Jeffeson actually missed the Constitutional Convention, he was Minister to France at the time.

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    tcolkett  over 9 years ago

    Spicy: Have you seen “Idiocracy”? Your proposed path has a tendency to lead us in that direction. It’s our job to weed our corruption in government, but electing dumb people is not the answer.

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    CorosiveFrog Premium Member over 9 years ago

    And even if separation of church and state wasn’t in the constitution, up here , “we drive on the right” isn’t in the constitution either, that’s just the way we have done things since we started driving cars in Canada.

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    Motivemagus  over 9 years ago

    Guys, you’re fighting the wrong battle. There is clearly a line in the Bill of Rights that says, and I quote, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is known as the Establishment Clause. Based on the writings of many of the Founders and the rather large collection of precedents, it is considered the source of the separation of Church and State, whether or not those exact words are used. The clause makes it clear that the State is separated from religion of ANY kind. It is not, as recent writers have claimed, about establishing a single religion, because the wording is quite clear on this: “establishment OF religion.” Of any kind. There are a number of conservatives who have explicitly called for Christian values to be made present in our government. This is 100% at odds with the intent of the writers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that is what we mean by the separation of Church and State. The exemption of churches from paying taxes is a very conservative reading of this clause, in that the government shouldn’t even touch religious institutions, but another interpretation – arguably more conservative – is to treat them like any other institution rather than giving them special status. Consider well what you REALLY want…

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    noblepa  over 9 years ago

    In addition to the first amendment, Article 6 includes the line: “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    The words, “murder”, “rape” and “theft” are also nowhere to be found in the Constitution, yet I doubt that there are any here who would seriously argue that laws prohibiting those acts are, therefore, unconstitutional.

    The Constitution is so short that we MUST base real-world conclusions on the underlying concepts in the document, and not rely completely on the literal text. I will grant that it is possible to stretch the interpretation too far.

    However, to allow any religion to integrate itself into the laws and government would form a de facto “Established religion”, and that IS specifically prohibited by the First Amendment. It doesn’t matter whether Congress passes a bill called “The Establishment of the Official Religion of the United States”, or not. It is the effect that is prohibited. The only way to maintain the result that is required by the Constitution is to keep the two seperate.

    I’m not a terribly religious person, but I seem to remember that Jesus himself said something about rendering “unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s and render unto God, that which is God’s”. That sounds suspiciously like a call for seperation, to me. I use this example because it is the Christians, not the Jews, Muslims or Bhuddists who are complaining.

    This is not to argue that people of faith may not serve in the government. Many, many such people have and will continue to serve, but they must realize that their role as government servant may put them in conflict with their own religious faith, in that the Constitution calls on them to defend the religious freedom of all, even those with whom they vehemently disagree in matters of faith.

    As for the ACLU, the conservatives give them a bad rap. There is no law or court ruling anywhere, any time, in the United States that has prohibited prayer in school. It is only SCHOOL-SPONSORED prayer or religious activities that are prohibited. As the old joke goes, as long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in school. Courts have specifically ruled that a school may not be overzealous in stamping out school prayer by individuals, and, if someone wants to bow their head and say a short prayer under their breath before a test or before lunch, the school may not prohibit it, as long as it is not disruptive.

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    JadedBarbie Premium Member over 9 years ago

    Thank you, noblepa, I was just about to post the same thing:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

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    Dtroutma Premium Member over 9 years ago

    Noblepa says what I’ve noted repeatedly- it isn’t just the “Bill of Rights”- they spelled it out in Article VI in quite clear language, which applies to ALL elements of government “under the United States”. States that joined the Union, like Pennsylvania and Utah with strong “religious affiliation” set those aside to join the union. (Despite the fact that sects occur in a number of states in their own “little worlds”.)

    The First Amendment prohibits ANY “state religion”, yet assures the right to worship as one sees fit. And THAT is what drives so many evangelicals and other sects into fits. The “STATE” in the United States is secular, period.

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    Karl Hiller Premium Member over 9 years ago

    You know what else is not in the Constitution in a literal sense? “Gun rights”.

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    Jason Allen  over 9 years ago

    “2) What the enemies of religion distort the Establishment Clause to mean - protecting the people from the practice of religion in general.”

    You mean the people’s right NOT to practice. You can practice any religion you see fit as long as it’s not disruptive to others. NO ONE is trying to take away your right to your religious beliefs. However there are many in the “Christian” community who would force their beliefs and practices on others. THAT is what we are trying to fight against.

    As I previously posted, Congress officially established in the Treaty of Tripoli that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

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    JadedBarbie Premium Member over 9 years ago

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms (which include guns) shall not be infringed”

    You forgot the “Well Regulated Militia” part.

    The first Amendment’s Separation of Church and State is supposed to keep us from turning into Iran. But I guess that’d be a Conservative utopia.

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    dsscheibe  over 9 years ago

    It would appear Mr Carlson is an idiot.

    “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; or abridging the freedom of speech, of of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    No where in the constitution or bill of rights does the phrase “separation of church and state appear.

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    mrdoody  over 9 years ago

    Cdward, First as to my conclusion, it is conjecture and it can only be wrong if can be shown to be flawed, impractical, or impossible. You did not address why but merely claimed it to be flawed. I won’t debate what policy is now as it is irrelevant; the conclusion is in the future not the present. There is no practical difference between a school, a courthouse, or a public transit bus. They are all federally funded to some extent and are regulated by the government and could be the subject of bans far beyond what we have now. Once the fidelity of the Constitutional words is abandoned in favor of an interpretation, then that interpretation is constantly subject to new scrutiny. Despite any assurances you might offer about the ACLU or others you cannot rule out some future lawsuit and a willing court. Perhaps we should focus on the 1st before brining up the 10th or the 2nd but to address your concerns on the 2nd the founding fathers made a statement of fact followed by a comma and then an enumeration of a right. The terms militia, arms and regulation all become issues of interpretation just as the term “establishment” is a point of interpretation within the First. What did they mean? Most of our confusion comes from interpretation and that is a slippery slope. Once we start we can mold the words to suit our desires. The two amendments do not equate. In the First, a specific power of the central government is banned while in the Second a specific right of the people is guaranteed.

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    meetinthemiddle  over 9 years ago

    People come to office bringing their own value systems, whether derived from their religious convictions, intellectual exercise, or wherever. As long as we elect people you can’t separate them from their values.

    In that sense, laws passed in this country will be colored by the law makers perceptions of the world.

    No one can change or stop that.

    What is stopped by the constitution is law makers passing laws expressly elevating one religion over another or saying that a given law should follow a specific religious code. And I think that’s the way it should be.

    I think the Separation people go too far in saying bible study groups can’t use empty rooms after classes (as long as Koran study groups have the same access). I don’t personally get offended by opening some public school function with christian prayer, but I can see why some people wouldn’t want that.

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  27. John adams1
    Motivemagus  over 9 years ago

    For those of you who are fantasizing that Jefferson was a Christian who didn’t believe in the separation of Church and State, try this on for size. The last sentence of it is quoted by the pro-religious, incorrectly believing that Jefferson was pro-religion where in fact he was utterly against organized religion ( I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro’ the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

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    Dtroutma Premium Member over 9 years ago

    A “STOP” sign doesn’t mandate you have brakes on your car, but it has no effect if you don’t. Likewise: “no religious test SHALL EVER be required” is a pretty strong hint about their intent.

    Theocracies, given the populations of their day, including present day, have proven to be by far the most lethal, abusive, and dangerous to freedom of all forms of government. “Socialism” and even “Marxism” under Stalin and Ho Chi Minh, or China- can’t touch them for suppression. Galileo had a little problem, “witches” were merely folks who ticked off the “establishment”, and Saudi Arabia is a pillar of freedom (especially for women) and in Iran, it is indeed the takeover of the “church” that took away freedoms, not the civil government.

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    oneoldhat  over 9 years ago

    jefferson required students at state univ attend chapel — for years after states paid clergy out of tax $ – the same people who think seperation is in consitution are same who think God helps those who help themselves is in the bible

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    rockngolfer  over 9 years ago

    I voted in the primary election in a church, and will vote Nov 2, in the same church. The church gets some money, and I don’t have to stand in line 2 hours like I did in 2000 when I voted at a public building meant mostly to house soda machines for a park.

    Teachers can use the Bible as literature. Kids can silently pray. You just can’t MAKE kids pray.

    Thought I should clear those ideas up.

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  31. Bluejay
    Bluejayz  over 9 years ago

    wbr said - Jefferson required students at state univ attend chapel “’ TJ also funded a brothel a few blocks from The University ‘to further provide for the well-rounded education and worldly experience’ of the ‘gentlemen’ attending classes. But nowhere does the Constitution mention prostitution.

    Nor does it mention abortion, pornography, homosexuals in the military, Christianity, Judeism, telecommunications, the internet, healthcare or a very extensive list of current issues. O’donnell and pianoguy and all the advocates of a ‘Sacred Contitution’ must read and understand the entire body of case-law to find any of these issues.

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    mrdoody  over 9 years ago

    Some of you need to broaden your reading beyond the “talking points” that have been fed to you. I find the whole Constitutional debate to be the most stimulating of all debates and one we need to have more often. We started off with a plan in 1785 that brought together 13 diverse and sovereign colonies. We abandoned that plan and for all the hoopla we put into elections and houses, balance of power and Presidents we are now ruled by an all powerful body of 9 political appointees called the Supreme Court. It is an incorrect name as it should now be called the Supreme Rulers. We are no longer a nation of the people, by the people and for the people but instead a nation ruled by the decisions and interpretations of the SC.

    The power to determine “what is the law” and if some action or law violates the Constitution was granted to the SC by the SC themselves in 1803 or some 13 years after the Constitution was ratified. The whole case of Marbury vs. Madison may have been a setup with no other purpose than to generate this ruling. There is no such language included in the Constitution and one has to wonder if the Constitution would have ever been ratified if the colonist had known that the Court would “steal” this considerable power. We have to remember that the Constitution was plainly written in language and terms well understood at the time. There would have been little support for some need to analyze the words and commas, let alone documents of both foreign and domestic origin that were not part of the “contract” as it was written and presented to the colonist. The whole purpose of the SC was to examine laws passed by Congress in light of the well understood Constitution.

    The decision by the SC that the SC had the power not only to interpret laws passed by congress but the meaning of the Constitution itself may have been unimportant to the states in 1803; after all the Constitution and its Bill of Rights only applied to the central government and not the states. Yes, states could and did have official religions. States were governed by their own constitutions and the “Constitution” governed the federal government. Had the colonist envisioned the 14th Amendment and a slew of subsequent SC decisions, the United States of America might still be a confederation.

    The next major power grab by the SC and indeed by Congress would come to be known as the “necessary and proper” clause and would come in 1819. In its briefest form included in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, the clause grants to Congress the power to pass any law necessary and proper to support the powers already granted under the Constitution. Arguably the clause might have had no authority for any future powers granted by amendment but that did not happen. The clause was contentious at its original inclusion. It was argued at the time that the clause would grant the central government unlimited power. The supporters argued that the power would be limited. Thanks to the SC it turns out that the clause did in fact grant unlimited power and is likely to play a role in the healthcare debates.

    The 11th and 12th Amendments quickly followed the original Bill of Rights and the 11th was actually a response to a SC decision. The 12th was contemporaneous with the Marbury v. Madison decision in 1803. The next major change in the union would wait over 60 years until 1868 when the 14th Amendment came into being. It was highly contentious and part of the reconstruction. Some argue that it was never ratified but in any case it has become the law of the land. It dramatically altered the relationship between the central government and the states. It didn’t happen all at once but it began in 1868 and the 14th was subsequently used by the SC to sit aside state laws and constitutions. The collective judgments would become to be known as the incorporation doctrine. The process has rendered state constitutions moot wherever it has suited the Supreme Rulers. There has been no challenge or correction to the Supreme Rulers in over 200 years.

    You are little more than cattle if you don’t at least recognize what has happened to you. It does not matter if you agree or disagree with any particular decision; the fact that you accept SC decisions without recourse is willingly accepting the SC as the Supreme Rulers.

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    pirate227  over 9 years ago

    She’s so far behind in the polls there’s no way she can get into the Senate to further embarrass this country.

    She’ll have to do that on her own dime, er I mean her donors dime.

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  34. Cat7
    rockngolfer  over 9 years ago

    Late night jokes, there are a dozen but here are two.

    “According to news reports, Christine O’Donnell’s father used to play Bozo the Clown. It must be weird when your father is a grown man dressing up like a clown, and you’re the embarrassment in the family.” –Jimmy Fallon

    “Delaware Republican senate candidate Christine O’Donnell blamed her campaign’s recent troubles on unfair coverage in the “liberal media.” Yup, the liberal media used two of its favorite tricks on her: ‘Record’ and ‘Play.’” –Seth Meyers

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    Limey1776  over 9 years ago

    Hi all,

    I think you can guess what side of the ‘Pond’ I’m on. The date is deliberate as there was considerable support for the Declaration of Independence as it was felt the ‘state’. i.e. the Crown (not the King himself) - the Crown and monarchy are somewhat different institutions here and nebulous - was exercising too much control over peoples’ lives. When it comes to the notion of a separate ‘state’ that is secular, I understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights to mean that there is to be no ‘establihed’ state religion as there still is in England - The Church of England. The extent to which the church is established here is witnessed in the remaining and slightly embarrassing fact that 24 bishops of the church (Lords Spiritual) sit in the House of Lords and can comment on, suggest amendments to, and even actively vote down proposed legislation. It was the prevention of any such system or influence upon the determining of good governance by and for the people that Jefferson et al sought to ‘separate church and state’, although without necessarily in so few words. Everyone at the time would have been in no doubt of the aims of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in the same manner that everyone is clear what the aims of the 2nd Amendment seek (even if we argue over the practical implications). I also find it interesting that the interpretation of the Constitution does now largely reside with the SC and not both Houses of Congress. This is the route England took after Magna Carter, when precedent and interpretation came to represent the ‘unwritten’ constitution here. We are still discussing nearly a 1000 years later whether we should have a single framing constiutional document. Many of us also want the Church of England disestablished (why should the PM appoint bishops using the Royal Perogative?). There is, arguably, a place for religion in society, but not in the exercise of government.

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