Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Constitution, Jefferson, the ACLU, and the Danbury Baptist Assocation

The ACLU is not a public service. They are an agenda driven private organization that does pick and choose its battles to set precedent and steer public policy.

In this recent article, you have this quote:

"Dixie County essentially thumbed its nose at the Constitution," said Glenn Katon, regional director for the ACLU's Central Florida office. "We were shaking the trees for a plaintiff."

The ACLU has a very sordid history in this country going all the way back to its founder, Roger Baldwin. Without going into a detailed account of all these things, I invite readers to perform their own research on the subject.

I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself... I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

-Roger Baldwin, Founder of the ACLU

The ACLU will use their interpretation of the First Amendment to remove Christianity from as much of the public light as they can. This despite rampant references to God and Christianity by our Founding Fathers in the creation of this nation and indeed in the very running of this nation. The Founding Fathers never said to limit Christianity in public or by public officials. The Founding Fathers did indeed engage in the very activities the ACLU denounces as unconstitutional. They merely instructed Congress not to make any laws that would prohibit the free exercise of religion.

I also suggest reading the discourse that went on between Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Association where the infamous "wall of separation between church and state" reference comes from. The Library of Congress has a great section on religion in the early days of our nation and it has Jefferson's letter amongst other things listed there. The Danbury Baptist leter is here. Jefferson's letter directly is here.

In the letter sent to Jefferson, the Danbury Baptist Association stated their position:

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty - That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals - That no man ought to suffer in name, person or effects on account of his religious opinions. That the legitimate power of civil Government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbour.

Jefferson apparently labored over his response. As is made clear by his notes on his letter to the Danbury Baptists as originally drafted.

Of note here are these comments made at the Library of Congress's website:

The draft of the letter reveals that, far from dashing it off as a "short note of courtesy," as some have called it, Jefferson labored over its composition. Jefferson consulted Postmaster General Gideon Granger of Connecticut and Attorney General Levi Lincoln of Massachusetts while drafting the letter. That Jefferson consulted two New England politicians about his messages indicated that he regarded his reply to the Danbury Baptists as a political letter, not as a dispassionate theoretical pronouncement on the relations between government and religion.

A good article explaining the politics of the day that plagued Jefferson and the reason for his labor over his response to the Danbury Baptists is explained in an article at the Library of Congress.

Despite the contemporary political tone of his letter to the Danburys, his letter - or rather, the one phrase from that letter - is used as a herald to indicate the original meaning and intent of the Founding Fathers behind the First Amendment. I would suggest that this interpretation - and indeed the use of his particular letter to such ends - not only besmirches the Individual Rights which our Constitution provides, but it also takes out of context the discourse between Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Association and it does not take into account the political atmosphere of Jefferson's Presidency and his apparent use of this letter to address some of those politics.

As noted in the book, The ACLU Vs. America: exposing the agenda to redefine moral values, Craig Osten and Alan Sears spell out some of the ACLU's actions against Christian organizations and public Christianity. You can use Google Book Search to view part of the chapter on ACLU vs. Religion here. The following are some of the highlighted cases noted in the chapter:

The ACLU fought to force Catholic Charities to provide contraception coverage to women in any group health plan offered to its employees - regardless of the Catholic position on contraception and regardless that Catholic Charities is obviously a private organization.

The ACLU backed a lawsuit filed against the Salvation Army because of its employment requirement of divulging religious affiliation and accepting its Christian mission.

The ACLU fought Yeshiva University, and conservative Jewish university, for not allowing two lesbians to live in married student housing. Again, despite the religious position of the private university.

The ACLU seems to be more interested in eroding religious liberty than preserving it. They do this by taking to task those who have certain religious beliefs and forcing them to accept secular standards. They use the powers of the state to enforce these beliefs. By doing so, they are working to provide freedom from religion - not freedom of religion. Instead, I'd argue that these are steps toward a government sanctified religion of atheism - not religious freedom.

It's important for us to understand our religious heritage. Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of a foundation of government built on the notion that human beings have certain "inalienable rights" that do not come from the ideas of man, but that are "endowed by our Creator." Since these rights come from our Creator and not the opinions of a group of men, it is not for other men to alter or take those rights away. Our nation was built upon a foundation of Christian principles. And Christianity was a significant part of our government during the times of our Founding Fathers. We should not selectively choose the parts of the founding of this country as we see fit - but view it as a whole.

I would suggest here that some of the woes that plague our society now stem from the adoption of "secular wisdom" over religious principles.

It's interesting to note that a few days after penning the letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson attended church services held in the House of Representatives.

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof - Lev. XXV, v. x. By order of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania [sic] for the State House in Philada." -Inscription on the Liberty Bell containing a quote from Leviticus 25:10

Here are some additional quotes from Jefferson as listed here.

"We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Virginia Baptists, 1808. ME 16:320

"The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." --Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1819. ME 19:416

"Among the most inestimable of our blessings, also, is that... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to John Thomas et al., 1807. ME 16:291

"In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object." --Thomas Jefferson to Baltimore Baptists, 1808. ME 16:317

"Religion, as well as reason, confirms the soundness of those principles on which our government has been founded and its rights asserted." --Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:283

"One of the amendments to the Constitution... expressly declares that '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,' thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:382

"The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and... if any act shall be... passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right." --Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. (*) ME 2:303, Papers 2:546

Note: This article was originally published on Newsvine.


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