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A look at the campaign to remove religion from American society

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Theophobia

A look at the campaign to remove religion from American society

Just as the civil rights of racial and religious minorities, women, and the poor were the defining legal issues for American government in the 20th century, among the defining issues for the 21st century will be the rights of the unborn child, the rights of gun ownership, the rights of fathers — and the ability to freely express religious beliefs.

There is a continuing campaign to bowdlerize religion from American society. This is manifest most recently by attempts to remove the word God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments from being displayed at courthouses, and Christmas from the lexicon of public school holidays.

The advocates of this bowdlerization campaign display a clever sophistry. They claim that by removing religion from government they are merely being faithful to the Constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. The Theophobes routinely refer to a “wall between church and state” as if it were mentioned in the Constitution.

However, there is no such Constitutional doctrine. The phrase, “wall between church and state,” was used by Thomas Jefferson — who was not involved with writing the Constitution. Jefferson wrote this in a letter. How his personal correspondence became Constitutional law is not known. If Jefferson’s correspondence is a precept of Constitutional law then segregation should be Constitutional as well. Jefferson wrote in an 1814 letter to Edward Coles that, ” Their (blacks) amalgamation with any other color produces a degradation to which no lover of his country √?¬Ę√Ę‚??¬¨ ¬¶can innocently consent.”

The theophobic premise that Jefferson’s phrase is the same as constitutional law is a fallacy. Yet, Jefferson’s phrase was used by Justice Black in the 1947 Supreme Court case, Everson v. Board of Education. Justice Black who wrote the majority opinion said, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state.” Ironically, the majority opinion in this case stated that it was legal to use taxes to provide transportation for students of religious schools. It does the exact opposite of what the theophobes want.

What the theophobes do want is to dictate to the majority of Americans who want references to God included in the public square that they cannot do so. The fact that a majority wants this is irrelevant to them. They will produce the old canard that the majority of Americans once favored slavery. Of course, they never provide proof that this is true. They never cite a source to say that the majority of Americans once favored slavery.

The “majority of Americans once favored slavery” perfidy is used by the theophobes to prove that democracy is illegitimate. It is used by the intelligentsia to prove that — as was once stated by an ACLU attorney — certain things cannot be determined by the electorate.

While theophobes say majority opinion is not good because they claim slavery was favored by the majority, they say the Supreme Court rulings are good because they protect the rights of the minority. Since the Supreme Court says endorsement of religion is the same as establishment of religion ergo endorsement is unconstitutional. They neglect to mention that it was the Supreme Court that protected the existence of slavery.

How do the theophobes reconcile their adherence to the sagacity and infallibility of the Supreme Court while eschewing majority rule? They cannot. The fact is the theophobes are part of the liberal philosophy of vanguardism. The Leninist philosophy of the wisdom of a few elites who can tell the masses what is best for them. They would rather have a government of a few who think that they have a knowledge that is absolutely correct.

This is even more apparent in the second great fallacy of the theophobes. This specious argument states that an endorsement of religion is the same as an establishment. While the Constitution only prohibits an establishment of religion, the Supreme Court has ruled a Constitutional prohibition against the endorsement of religion.

An example of endorsing religion would be a Christmas tree in the quadrangle of the campus of a publicly funded university. The rationale for this is that the government is implicitly promoting the religion because it is a Christmas tree. Since public funds are used by the school the public is funding a religion.

This is the absurdity of the evolution of the interpretation of the First Amendment. First there is the prohibition of the federal government establishing a state religion — everyone concurs with this one. Then there is the application of this prohibition to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. Next is not only forbidding an establishment of a religion, there is the banning any reference to a religion by a display on public property.

What’s next — mentioning religion in a public building?

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Written By

Mr. Tremoglie is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Insight magazine, and Front Page magazine among others. He is the former Vice President of the Pennsylvania Association of Scholars, a member of ISI, and a member of the American Society of Criminology.

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