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Forum LockedThe First Amendment in Regards to Religion

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    Posted: 22-Apr-2009 at 21:05
Created this so we don't hijack the other thread. Lets continue the discussion here.
 
 

Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

Respecting and supporting chaplains is not the same as establishing a religion. You are also misreading the word "respecting" here, in this case the word is a preposition that Merriam-Webster defines as 1. in view of: considering and 2. with respect to: concerning. If you read this amendment again replacing "respecting" with either considering or concerning you will see that having a state subsidized chaplain is not a violation of this amendment. The amendment would read as follows "The Congress shall make no law concerning/considering an establishment of religion..." Under this reading you can see that the office of military chaplain is not a violation since it does neither establish a religion nor does it prohibit anybody from practicing their religion. If neither of these clauses are violated there is no violation of the 1st amendment.

The part that I boldened is consistent with what I'm saying. If you interpret "establishment of religion" as a religious establishment (an institution) then the first amendment states that government cannot make any laws (or policies) concerning religion. Having a policy of paying chaplains out of the state budget clearly runs counter to this principle.

 

Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

It should also be noted that the government isn't paying religious institutions to provide services, they are paying individuals to administer services to those who want them.

Those who want these services should pay for them out of their own pockets. I want lots of things, but I don't expect the government to subsidize them for me. Government doesn't even subsidize healthcare, and we're going to subsidize people's superstitions? This is ludicrous.

Plus, I highly doubt the state would subsidize a druid to come and perform ceremonies if someone in the army was a neo-pagan. Or that they would pay a priest of scientology, or a rastafarian to come and smoke weed with the soldiers. Prohibiting this is a good thing, but we should apply this to all religions.

 

Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

If you really want to talk about violations of the 1st Amendment by the Government why not look at the Chaplains of the Senate and House of Reps. I cede the point that the Government has violated the 1st Amendment with the Chaplains of the Senate and House of Representatives.

I don't know why I specifically said army chaplains... I meant chaplains in general. So yes, I agree that there shouldn't be chaplains involved in any government institution UNLESS the chaplains are coming for free, or those participating pay for the services out of their own pockets. But to take state money (the money of the people) and use it for a religious service, is unreasonable and it should be outlawed.

 

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

On the establishment point, the founders obviously had the establishment of the Church of England in mind.

I would argue they had organized religion as a whole in mind. Its consistent with many of their personal attitudes towards religion. Look at the Jeffersonian Bible for example, the man was clearly a deist (as opposed to a theist) and clearly had ideas contrary to any religious institution. The constitution itself is a slap in the face of religion--- There was no freedom of speech, freedom to pursue one's own happiness or freedom of the press when religious institutions were in control of societies.

 

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

What is quite clear is that it only refers to Congress. I am sure that the founders intended that states and/or smaller localities had the right to establish a local church in their community.

Thats an interesting interpretation, and you might be right. The way I see it though, is that the state only has rights insofar as they do not run counter to the constitution. If the constitution says congress cannot make laws or policies concerning religion, then this rule would have to apply to state governments as well. The tenth amendment, which gives states their rights, says "The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." But the powers delegated to the United States clearly prohibit the creation of a law regarding religion. If the powers delegated to the United States did not mention religion, then the states would have rights to establish a religion. But this is not the case.

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