The part where I mention the ‘Four Words Everyone Seems to Forget’ is a little farther down. I wanted to lay some ground work before mentioning my main point. If you want to jump to the main point it is under the heading ‘Main Point’ below.
Oh America, how far we have fallen! I have written on this topic before (Freedom & Freedom: Part 2 Freedom of Speech), and I will continue writing on this topic because it is an important one.
I just stumbled across another news article where an Anti-Religion organization was using the so-called ‘Establishment Clause‘ of the U.S. Constitution to limit a persons ability to practice their religion. I say ‘So-called’ not because I think it’s not there, because it is, I say ‘So-called’ because there are no headings on the constitution that say ‘Establishment Clause’. That is a pseudo name for a piece of an amendment, its not even the whole amendment! The Establishment Clause is this:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
That seems pretty straight forward. Congress, meaning the U.S. Congress on a federal level, can not make any laws respecting an establishment of religion. The problem starts when people use the ‘Establishment Clause’ because that is only half of the statement, in fact that is only one fourth of the amendment! Right after that you read: “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” that adds even more meaning to this Amendment, that is frequently left out by the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation. The rest of the amendment reads: “…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.” One has to wonder why did they include freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the same amendment? Perhaps because they wanted the two to go together? In other words you have the freedom of religion and the right to talk about it!
So what are the ‘Four Words Everyone Seems to Forget’? I will use a recent news article to make my point. The first sentence in the article reads:
A Washington-based humanist group has petitioned the federal court to find county commissioners in Maryland in contempt and fine them $10,000 per prayer for continuing to allow prayers in Jesus’ name despite a court order.
This has come about because Caroll County Washington Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said that the court order is ”an infringement on [her] First Amendment rights of free speech and religion,” and refused to stop using the name of Jesus even if it means being placed behind bars. [article] So the ‘Washington-based humanist group’ is petitioning because Frazier prayed in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what the groups argument is according to the article:
The group had asserted that the Christian invocations violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
The ‘Christian invocations’ violate the ‘Establishment Clause’? How!? What about “… shall make no law…” do those words just get thrown out? Since when did prayer become the same as making a law? Am I missing something here? They are acting as if those four words don’t exhist and the amendment reads: “Congress shall not respect an establishment of religion.” However, that is not what it reads! Praying is not the same as making a law therefore Praying in the name of Jesus whether in a government building or in a church does not vilate the ‘Establishment Clause.”
Here is the Ironic part, if you take the whole amendment, in it’s entirety and apply it to this you get a completely different outcome:
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.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” so here we have that they can not make a law respecting a religion. “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” they also cannot make a law prohibiting the free exercise of a religion.
So what actually breaks the 1st amendment, praying in the name of Jesus? Nope, praying is not the same as making a law. How about making a ‘Court Order’ to prohibit them from praying? Wait… isn’t that… a law? Isn’t that law ‘prohibiting the free exercise…’ of a religious activity? Then wouldn’t the court order prohibiting prayer in Jesus name be breaking the amendment? Oh, the Irony! Its not the act of praying that is illegal here, it is the act of telling them they can’t pray.
“… shall make no law…” those four little words that everyone seems to forget. If you take those words seriously then you find that, in most cases, the prosecuting party is actually the one at fault.