The Establishment Clause Jefferson Vs The Religious — страница 4

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particularly among those for whom religion is the key component of life, can easily translate into very narrow, even harmful, constitutional positions and demands, in essence, constitutional constructionism sufficient to strangle liberty. The Puritans, among others, provide an excellent domestic example of Fundamentalist intolerance through their denial of participation in local government to any that refused to adopt their religious beliefs. Granted, the Constitution was yet to be born, but the natural law principles on which it would rest were evident. Nevertheless, it was very difficult for any to disabuse their error. Incredibly, they endorsed, even codified the very behavior for which they fled the Continent — hypocrisy assuredly is blinding while bigotry can be rampant

among those who profess tolerance. Were they interested in genuine religious freedom, or merely their interpretation of religious freedom? A relevant question then and now. Israel, Iran, India, Pakistan, The Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, Algeria, are only a few of the countries that continue to ingest the brackish social water and attendant political instability and conflict resulting from inadequate separation of religion and state. These powerful, current, real world examples, apparently overlooked or ignored by the Religious Right, should provide more than adequate testimony of the problems and dangers of mixing civil and ecclesiastical powers. Granted there are many other destabilizing issues with which these countries grapple, but those problems do not diminish the importance of

the issue at hand. Indeed, there is strong correlation between those difficulties and religious doctrines and authorities in matters of state. As an aside, Israel, if properly scutinized, arguably resembles a police state more than a democracy, but that is a lengthy subject for another time. Some may argue that I am anti-Christian. I am certainly no more antagonistic than Jefferson and my research show him not at all, but rather its supporter. He believed that in its essence, when properly positioned and understood in a society, Christianity was most beneficial; but he would not endure its strong-arming the Constitution or even other religious doctrines. Christians unjustifiably complain that they are singled out unfairly when this issue is addressed, but fail to consider that

historically they are the most vocal and demanding group, in effect representing the clear and present danger. My experience in and with Christianity, along with the historical record on this subject, compels me to conclude that Christians, in their traditionally arrogant way, would ignore or belittle most everything that has been stated, unabashedly continuing their attempts to establish their religious ideology as the dominant social and political force in America, while actually sowing the seeds of its destruction. Do not be deceived, the leadership of this movement is as lustful of power as any other group of political movers and shakers one could name, but their hubris dissolves any consciousness they should have of this fact. Claiming Christ convicts rather than exonerates

them. Zealotry and religious government have bathed the world in misery and blood enough for eternity, proving separation of church and state an indispensable guardian of liberty for all, whether one is religious or an atheist. Though religion and churches indisputably have a legitimately important role to play in our society, they do not reserve the right to usurp political power to fulfill that role or accomplish their goals, particularly when they fail in their proper mission, as arguably they have. Such behavior, unchecked, traditionally begins with overreaching or overbearing aspirations, manifests as illegitimate, improperly placed efforts to strengthen weakness (theirs), and invariably ends with tyranny. Is not Fundamentalism’s cramped, frequently undemocratic, sometimes

bloody history too conspicuous to ignore? Alarmist we need not be, but always vigilant, always defenders of the liberty we enjoy. The following quotations illustrate Jefferson’s earnest consideration of this issue. Some are slightly off topic but provide a fuller, richer picture of his view. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” * to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813. ME 14:21 “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.” * to Horatio G.