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USA... Separation of Church & State???


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#1 Goddess

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 15:01 PM

I'd like to hear thoughts on the question of Separation between Church and State in the USA.

I understand that the first ammendment to the constitution of the USA forms such a separation, but, is it real? Does it happen?

The text of the first ammendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:

Quote

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; or the right of the people peaceably to  assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Later law suits ratified this and stated: "no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Constitutional scholars have gone back to Thomas Jefferson's original work and notes and found that he had, in fact, intended a full separation, and James Madison (who wrote the first ammendmend) said it should be a "Great Barrier".

The biggest problem is that the USA seems to be going "backwards" from the point of view of an atheist...  

The first amendment was ratified in 1789, adopted in 1791. At that time the banknotes did NOT have the "in God we trust" motto on them.


This is an older banknote, from 1935...
Posted Image


This one, however is from 2003, Clearly showing the phrase.

Posted Image

The phrase has been on US coins since 1864, and on the paper currency since 1957.

In the late 1700's there was no intention of this phrase, in fact the first ammendment (which, as you probalby know, is the underlying tenet of the US Bill of Rights (the first 10 ammendments to the constitution)). It was put on the coins some 65 years later, then onto the paper currency 150 years later.

What happened in the meantime?

What's with the big furore about whether Barack Obama is a Christian or not?  (I really don't want to discuss whether he knows which hand to put over his heart during the national anthem, or his politics, i'm talking about his religion here). People have claimed he's a Muslim (which I believe has been completely disproven), but, so what if he is?  Who cares? I mean, I'd prefer if he was an atheist, but, if he has to believe in a religion, does it matter which one?

There has been some discussion lately about ammending the US constitution AGAIN to include a national religion and repeal that section of the first ammendment. (good luck trying that one, but, it's a bit scary that it's made it onto the Aussie news...  Must be quite a push...).

Anyway, this is a very interesting thing, to me, I'm fascinated by the US constitution and it's implications, so please, tell me what you think.

L.

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#2 MikeB

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 06:41 AM

One of the things I understand about the current climate is the Supreme Court. Scalia among others, try to understand the constitution from the POV of the era in which it was written. So, he's a bit anti-atheist, simply because he claims that at the time of the formulation of the constitution, it would be unthinkable to not be some kind of xtian.

The claim of Obama being a Muslim is largely part of the whole birther rhetoric. I don't think people really believe he's a Muslim, they just want to say he's 'un-American' and that's one of the ways that lot can achieve that. I had a vicious argument online with a cluster of prickishness who kept calling him 'the Kenyan Allende'. To these people, claiming he's not christian is part and parcel of denying his claim to be American and thus President. I think the truth is clearer. They're racists, plain and simple.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (who monitor hate groups) say that right-wing and racist hate groups and militias have tripled since Obama took office. The majority of birthers are white, including their nominal figurehead Orly Taitz (or whatever the crazy bag's name is).

The last thing is the pervasive influence of the Dominion Theologists, who are truly scary. I personally would have no hesitation in labelling them as terrorists. They are a messianic, eschatological cult, who believe that they must take control of the United States to usher in God's kingdom on earth. They favour a return to strict, literal biblical law, and wish entirely to strip away the constitution, take girls out of school, etc, etc. The Taliban with a crucifix in essence. GOP runners who had/have ties to them? Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. While this lot publicly pay lip service to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, their real goal is to eradicate them completely and replace them with biblical law.

#3 Goddess

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 11:57 AM

Excellent reply Mike, thanks :)

I particularly loved this comment:

Quote

The Taliban with a crucifix in essence.
  And agree entirely (you know, 'couldn't have said it better myself').

One of the main things your post brought home to me is just how many different fronts the theists are attacking the constitution from. It really is a multi-pronged approach in the hope that one gets through and punctures the bubble of separation.

I understand what you're saying about Obama, I think it's partly racism from some people, but, I truly think it's a massive Republican push toward having him discredited because they don't have anyone who can beat him really. Yes, I agree it's partly racism from on high, but, I think from the proletariat in the Republican party it's just party politics.

What are your thoughts on my comments on the words 'In God we Trust' being on US currency in respect of the first amendment of the constitution of the USA?

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#4 MikeB

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:17 AM

I remember seeing a doco on Madalyn Murray O'Hair (I hope I spelled that right) which discussed 'In God we trust' on the currency and the amendment to flag pledge - one nation, to one nation under God. I think a lot of this came out of WWII patriotism, and the Red scare afterwards. I think it became a means to differentiate the US from its godless and communist enemy. But it is and always has been a violation of the constitution. No-one can force you to recite a flag pledge that contains a religious affirmation. The national currency as well shouldn't bear a religious affirmation.

On the tin-foil hat side of things, other elements on the 1$ bill have been attacked by christians for years. The 'eye in the pyramid' has long been called either the 'eye of horus' or the 'eye of satan'. Conspiracy nuts say it is the symbol of the barvarian illuminati. Illuminati nuts say that their founder Adam Weishaupt replaced George Washington. The mottos on the symbol say 'annuit coeptis' and 'novus ordo seclorum'. The latter is supposed to translate to 'new order of the ages' or 'new world order'. To the more conspiracy-minded fundie the 1$ bill has been about as heinous as the devil's toilet paper.

I refer to all the tin-foil hat stuff for one reason. Atheists call for the 'In God We Trust' to be removed because it violates the broader notions of separation of church and state, as well as the direct madates of the constitution itself. Some Christians refer to conspiracy theories, paranoia and delusion to change the currency. There's only one argument there that carries any weight.

#5 MikeB

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 06:09 AM

A couple of interesting updates I heard this morning on some people mentioned above. Orly Taitz, the birther pest, has lost her last court case trying to prove Obama's a kenyan. The Defence team didn't even bother to turn up, because there was no evidence and no legal case to answer.

Anon have hacked a neo-nazi group's website and found numerous documented meetings and communications with Ron Paul, the so-called libertarian.

#6 Goddess

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 15:31 PM

Posted Image


This is the kind of nutty stuff I'm talking about.

I absolutely agree that it's unconstitutional, but, I see a REAL Irony that the people who espouse such idiocy as the above are the SAME people who lean on the first amendment in order to ensure their "religious rights" aren't trampled, and the second amendment in order to ensure they can 'take their guns to town'.

The most frightening thing is, they truly don't see the contradiction in their logic. You can't adopt one part of a document, but totally eschew those parts of it that you don't like... You know, like with the Bible... Oh, wait... :eek:

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#7 MikeB

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:04 AM

Totally. It is a massive irony that the same 'small govt' pro-constitution people are the ones who champion an invasive, anti-constitutional 'big govt'. And yes, usually in the name of religion. Most of the GOP runners are/were like that.

#8 Neurotraveller

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 14:08 PM

All I can say is...I don't want to live in this country anymore.

We're de-evolving intellectually as a country I think.

#9 Goddess

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 15:43 PM

Never mind 'as a country'...  I'm more worried about 'as a species'...
I wonder about the whole '9-11' thing, (no, I'm not talking about the horrific thing that was the destruction of the Twin Towers) I'm talking about the swift upward turn religiousness took.

I'm absolutely positive, although I've seen no data, that the world, particularly the USA, became more religious after that.

Although I absolutely don't believe it, I have heard some conspiracy theorists say that the whole WTC thing was not really Al Quaeda, it was the US government who orchestrated it, firstly for an excuse to take on the middle east, and, secondly as a recall to religion which was lapsing.

I really couldn't imagine the government do that, because, even they aren't stupid enough to think they could get away with it long-term and imagine the backlash if they DID do something like that...  But, it's an interesting thought.  

Just how much fear-mongering DO the religious nuts do to keep people coming back for their salvation?

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#10 Neurotraveller

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:56 AM

It's amazing how people would become MORE religious after an assault that had a religious mindset.

And the conspiracy theory is just that. It's garbage. In order for it to work, it becomes so large it collapses in on itself, as most conspiracy theories do. I wouldn't pay much attention to those nutjobs.

#11 RGD51

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 08:02 AM

Suffice to say that regardless of where you live in the world, some of the worst kinds of nuts to deal with are religious ones....its proven everyday throughout history.....countless lives lost to religious extremism.

To me, one of the most compelling reasons to be an atheist.

Robert

#12 zomberina

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 02:40 AM

Goddess said:

I'd like to hear thoughts on the question of Separation between Church and State in the USA.

I understand that the first ammendment to the constitution of the USA forms such a separation, but, is it real? Does it happen?

The text of the first ammendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:
Later law suits ratified this and stated: "no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Constitutional scholars have gone back to Thomas Jefferson's original work and notes and found that he had, in fact, intended a full separation, and James Madison (who wrote the first ammendmend) said it should be a "Great Barrier".

The biggest problem is that the USA seems to be going "backwards" from the point of view of an atheist...  

The first amendment was ratified in 1789, adopted in 1791. At that time the banknotes did NOT have the "in God we trust" motto on them.


This is an older banknote, from 1935...
Posted Image


This one, however is from 2003, Clearly showing the phrase.

Posted Image

The phrase has been on US coins since 1864, and on the paper currency since 1957.

In the late 1700's there was no intention of this phrase, in fact the first ammendment (which, as you probalby know, is the underlying tenet of the US Bill of Rights (the first 10 ammendments to the constitution)). It was put on the coins some 65 years later, then onto the paper currency 150 years later.

What happened in the meantime?

What's with the big furore about whether Barack Obama is a Christian or not?  (I really don't want to discuss whether he knows which hand to put over his heart during the national anthem, or his politics, i'm talking about his religion here). People have claimed he's a Muslim (which I believe has been completely disproven), but, so what if he is?  Who cares? I mean, I'd prefer if he was an atheist, but, if he has to believe in a religion, does it matter which one?

There has been some discussion lately about ammending the US constitution AGAIN to include a national religion and repeal that section of the first ammendment. (good luck trying that one, but, it's a bit scary that it's made it onto the Aussie news...  Must be quite a push...).

Anyway, this is a very interesting thing, to me, I'm fascinated by the US constitution and it's implications, so please, tell me what you think.

L.

Since the Red Scare era, lines between church and state have not been very clear. I think it is generational. We have boomers retiring, and they make up a ridiculous amount of governmental and societal influence. My younger generation is literally a victim of the Cold War propaganda brainwashing the boomers grew up in. We are seeing religious influened propaganda and agendas at their peak, but they will fade back to the more secular way of life before too many more generations past. I can't wait to see what the history books have to say.... Oh wait! I won't know! I'll be long dead by then probably.

I have my vid opinion about it all here===>

In regards to your asking about the "birther" issue that the Right keeps bringing up, there is something I learned in American History class in 8th grade that I never forgot. Qualifications for presidency are as follows: WASP. White, Ango-Saxon, Protestant. Now, granted, this isn't in the law books ANYWHERE, it's just a given. In fact, you will find this attitude across ALL governmental positions. Granted, I think the Protestant part should be made to just Christian, and that is namely due to Kennedy. He took the oogie-boogie out of being a Catholic, much like Romney is doing about Mormonism.

In fact, while our Constitution guarantees that none should be put to religious test for ANY office, there are laws on the books in states like Tennessee and I believe Alabama that say you can't hold office if you're an atheist. SERIOUSLY!

And again, I think a lot of this falls back to the Red Scare of the 50's. You weren't a good American if you weren't a Christian. If you weren't Christian, you were a godless Soviet Communist. That was the attitude, and the boomers who were born, raised and educated during those times had this literally programmed in to their minds. They in turn continued the same programming. Now they are using the Muslims instead of the Soviets. But over generations, things get watered down.

As far as what will be done about the problem with the states denying abortion priveleges, gay marriage (whole nother article I have on that one), and arguing that it isn't fair that Creationism isn't taught along Evolutionary Theory?  I think it will take time and patience. Our country is young and a bit behind on how the world works. 236 years isn't very long to have a system figured out.

As far as making a national religion? Won't ever happen. They will try and fail over and over. Honestly, 50 years ago, they might have pulled it off, but not now. You hear all this garbage about how America was founded on Christianity. Last I checked, it was founded by MEN. Some were religious. Some were not. But, they all agreed that our nation should be secular. They would NOT like how things are run today. I know they most certainly wouldn't agree on the abortion debate at all. It wasn't horrible to get an abortion in those days. Fact in matter, it was necessary at times.

Still, yes, it is indeed a sad state of affairs over here.

#13 Pastafaris

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 11:22 AM

Woo-hoo!  As a American I get to answer a question as a supposed expert witness!  Where to start?  Well, as Zomberina said, the thing with the paper money was in reaction to the "Red Scare" of the 1950's whe everyone was afraid that the Russkies were going to conquer the world and impose their godless communism on all of us, so we (not me) decided to put that horrible oath on our money to prove our xtian heritage.  I've read a lot about our "Founding Fathers" and contrary to popular belief, they were neither atheists, deists, or xtians.  They were all of the above, but they did all agree to keep religion out of the constitution.  As for the "there shall be not test..." that's hogwash.  So far we've only got one open Congressman (Pete Stark of California)  We've got one openly gay Congressman (Barney Frank, Massachusetts) who is retiring, though there have been a few holier than thou Republicans who condemned homosexuality while engaging in those horridly beastly acts.  What hypocrites!  Like Rush Limbaugh criticizing drug users (sorry, that may be an American thing.)  I'm no Constitutional scholar, but like my atheist beliefs based on reading the bible, I've read it, and many of the major decisions of the Supreme Court.  Which brings us to another problem.  A succession of right-wing Presidents have paid for the support they got from religious groups by appointing many right wing Justices both in the SC and in the Appeals Courts.  That's why I think the most important reason for Obama to get re-elected is to ensure that he can nominate if not liberal justices, at least folks who understand the Contstitution and will genuinely strive to support it.  As for an amendment like

As for Obama and Romney, I couldn't care if they were Hindu, Scientologists (well, maybe), or Pastafarians.  As long as they keep their religion out of the execution of their Presidential duties.  I recall when I was a lot younger when John F. Kennedy was running for Prez.  My mom was convinced that he'd have a pipeline for holy water built from the vatican to the white house.  Turns out JFK stuck to the Constitution.  Romney's Mormonism may be a problem for him getting elected as a lot of good, virtuous xtians think that he belongs to a cult.  As for the bashing of Obama, it's simple racism; to many devout xtians convinced that a black man has no business ruling over good, god-fearing xtians.  The "birther" movement is nothing but racism in disguise.

Finally, Goddess brought up a big issue, the 9-11 thing.  As she said, it wasn't the bombing of some buildings in NYC or DC, it's the concept that the fundamentalists in this country want to turn the Middle East into a nuclear nightmare so they can bring Armageddon and the return of Christ.  That truly scares me.  I don't know where Romney stands on this, though he seems to lean towards wanting more wars over there.  I'd hate to think that the future of humanity could turn on a handful of nutjobs in crucial positions could bring everything down.  As RGD51 says, one heck of a good reason to be an atheist!
Humanity without religion is like a serial killer without a chainsaw.

#14 Himinow

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 13:27 PM

I find it rather humourous that they added that motto in reference the communist threat when previously they had stated in the Treaty of Tripoli "...the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..." in order to show Muslims that they were not against their religion. It makes me wonder how many recent tragedies could have been avoided if they still took this stance.

#15 Vetr

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 20:01 PM

Goddess said:

“There has been some discussion lately about ammending the US constitution AGAIN to include a national religion and repeal that section of the first ammendment. (good luck trying that one, but, it's a bit scary that it's made it onto the Aussie news... Must be quite a push...).”

It doesn’t seem to have made it to the UK news. I can find an article in ‘Crisis Magazine’ (http://www.crisismag...first-amendment) from February declaring that Obama has repealed the First Amendment -- but on reading the article it’s basically a Catholic author writing a hysterically biased article about employers being “(required) to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization”.

I can’t see anything (though I admit I’ve only made a cursory search) that seems to be suggesting that a repeal is on the cards or even being seriously discussed.

Quote

“I'm absolutely positive, although I've seen no data, that the world, particularly the USA, became more religious after that.”

But you’ve seen no data. Isn’t it possible that it was your perception of the world’s state of religiousness that changed? That you associated 9/11 with Islam -- as the perpetrators intended you should do -- and that this increased your sense that religion is a threat (especially if, for whatever reason, you already held that generalised view)? And that this in turn led you to be even more conscious of that threat and therefore more aware of the extent of religious belief?

When I’m driving, I have this thing about BMWs and Audis. They seem to be exclusively driven by arrogant, aggressive bullies with no concern for anyone but themselves. Every time I get cut up, tailgated, or otherwise hassled on the roads, it’s a BMW or an Audi. Of course it’s not every time: it’s just that whenever I see one of these makes of car being driven like this, it reinforces the existing prejudice. If it’s another make of car I probably just don’t really notice. I have no actual data to say that BMW and Audi drivers are statistically more aggressive than the norm. It’s very easy to fall into this kind of thinking, and it takes conscious reasoning to pull yourself out of it.

Quote

Although I absolutely don't believe it, I have heard some conspiracy theorists say that the whole WTC thing was not really Al Quaeda, it was the US government who orchestrated it, firstly for an excuse to take on the middle east, and, secondly as a recall to religion which was lapsing.

The ‘9/11 as an inside job’ conspiracy theory is still very popular with people of, shall we say, a 'certain mindset'. I’ve heard it explained as a false-flag operation executed by the government to justify military action in the Middle East; I've never heard anyone say it was to revive a failing religion, though. The ‘inside job’ theories are all utter bunk, and none of the evidence presented for them stands up even to casual examination.

Neurotraveller said:

It's amazing how people would become MORE religious after an assault that had a religious mindset.

It’s still arguable whether it did, in fact, have a religious mindset, or whether -- as is generally the case in conflict and atrocity -- it was an act of power-mongering political violence rationalised by reference to religion. We all take it as read that Al Qa’eda are ‘Islamic extremists’ -- but I’m sure they wouldn’t be too unhappy, if the world suddenly decided to bow down to them, to have the world bowing down to them. Such people can talk about trying to turn the world to the 'true faith', or whatever -- but it always seems quite clear they imagine themselves in charge.  You could argue (and I’ve known many atheists that have) that that’s what religious people do: but if you truly believe that you’re the humble creation of an omniscient, omnipotent God -- in other words, if you’re a genuinely religious monotheistic believer -- would it really be a consistent thing to do?

Pastafaris said:

the concept that the fundamentalists in this country want to turn the Middle East into a nuclear nightmare so they can bring Armageddon and the return of Christ. That truly scares me.

It would probably scare me too, if I thought it was a real issue.  But I’ve seen nothing that would convince me that 9/11 was planned, or even deliberately allowed, by the US Government. There may well be elements within the US administration that welcome conflict in the Middle East, but I’d be far more concerned about the influence of those who want to profit from weapons sales and lucrative rebuilding contracts than I would be about those seeking to bring about some nebulous prophecy about Armageddon.

Quote

As RGD51 says, one heck of a good reason to be an atheist!

Perhaps. Or perhaps it would be sufficient not to be a violent, xenophobic fundamentalist or an exploitative, amoral profiteer.
I know.  I talk too much.




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