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Commentary & Opinion

Paul Elisha: Of Church And State

I’ve visited this issue earlier; even quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s warning, that “…the one absolute certainty of bringing this nation to ruin, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.”  I might have left the matter there, if the “This is a Christian nation!...” claque hadn’t decided to intensify their contention several decibels louder than before.  What seems to have gotten them steamed up now,  is a complaint from a Jewish person and an Atheist, both of whom took issue over having to sit through public prayer sessions before their Town Council’s meetings (the council being an all-Christian one) and pushed their complaint all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Court, citing other instances of pre-meeting prayer by higher government units, allowed as how something similar, at the local level, wouldn’t be that bad to sit through and said so in writing, which emboldened the ‘pro-Christian-Nation choir’ to add heft to their chant.

Of course, it should be noted that in the case of the U.S. Congress, it’s ecumenically varied, by inviting religious leaders of other-than-Christian-denominations to lead members in prayer, while the city council in question has an all-Christian membership.  Which was what brought things to the High Court’s attention, in the first place.

There’s another point to be made here.  Nowhere, in any existing set of ‘rules and regs’ has anyone noted a mention of any kind, stipulating that meetings were to be preceded by prayer.  Obviously, no one felt the need to share the fact with anyone else.  Most had overwhelming evidence of the endless pain and suffering created by the bedeviling duet of Church-State stricture that enslaved most of Europe and much of the Middle-East and parts of Asia, for several prior centuries.  Thomas Jefferson saw fit to settle this question before his home state became one, stipulating it should and would make no difference that one was a believer or not and that’s how it was written.  Finally, the framers of the U.S. Constitution stipulated the right of people to believe or not but that the government should make no law establishing a State-sanctioned religion or giving certain believers special rights over others.  Those who would demand this, would be providing proof – pro-forma – of their religion’s inability to exist, without the aid of government.

Before delivering his vote in the case of ‘Everson –vs- Board of Education’ in 1947, Justice Hugo Black said: “It’s my belief there are absolutes in our Bill of Rights…put there on purpose…to be absolute. …..The First Amendment erected a wall between Church and State… that must be kept high and impregnable.”

Regarding one’s religious belief, this commentator has always felt his was known but to himself and The Eternal One …only.  You ask – ‘Why?’ My answer: Those seeking the reinforcement of numbers must need them to disprove, that they lack the courage of their convictions. It’s obvious, they rely on the power of numbers to certify what their persuasiveness or predominance have been unable either to command or demand.

As a young Frenchman noted early in our history: “America, where Bibles and guns are equals.”  Two hundred years later, they still are. 

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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