House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a Roman Catholic, refused to say whether she supported her church’s teaching that contraception is immoral.
“I do my religion on Sundays, in church, and I try to go other days of the week; I don’t do it at this press conference,” Pelosi said curtly as a reporter asked about her view of the church position on contraception.
Pelosi brushed off the organizations and church dioceses that filed suing the Obama administration over the contraception mandate. “I don’t think that’s the entire Catholic Church,” she said. “Those people have a right to sue, but I dont think they’re speaking ex cathedra for the Catholic Church.”
In February, Pelosi accused the bishops of falsely using religious liberty arguments to impose their ideology on the country. “It wasn’t about church and state, it was about an ideological point of view that flies in the face, again, of the respect that we need to have to have for women, the God-given free will that we have to have responsibility for the role that women’s health plays in the lives of their families and in our country, and the strength of women,” she said.
separation of church and state
It’s entirely possible that there’s no bone of contention between many conservatives and most libertarians as the idea of separation of church and state. Libertarians argue that the First Amendment prevents any display of religious preference, while conservatives argue that the phrase “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution.
In truth, they’re both right.
The conservative argument, that separation of church and state as a phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution is dead right. However, the meaning of that is overstated. You see, there are a lot of things that are part of American life that aren’t in the Constitution. According to the text itself, there is no reasonable right to privacy, or a lot of other thing. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist though.
Many opponents of “separation of church and state” point out that the phrase itself comes not from the Constitution but from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote. The text:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
It’s pretty clear that in using that famous phrase, Jefferson is talking about the effect of the First Amendment. Where things get dicey is in the application of that Amendment. However, Jefferson was right to express it as such, since the effect he described is dead on.
My fellow UL contributor Louis DeBroux makes an argument about the separation of church and state that is fairly common on the right, but it’s one that constitutes both a misstatement of history and a misunderstanding of what religious liberty is all about.
First, on the historical side, Louis makes this contention:
A study of American history shows that the Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by religion. Jefferson, often accused of being an agnostic or atheist, was likely a Deist; but regardless, he was a believer in God and in Jesus Christ. After all, this is the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, who so eloquently opined the concept that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. If that were too ambiguous, Jefferson also wrote “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Jefferson understood that our liberties come from God, and that if they do not come from God then they are granted by government, and can be taken by government at their pleasure. That philosophy then usurps man of his unalienable rights, and government then grants rights at the whim of the majority, which is nothing more than mob rule.
Our second president, John Adams, rightly noted that “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Responding to a question about her Catholic faith during a press conference yesterday, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) weighed in on her church’s lawsuit against the ObamaCare’s contraception mandate (emphasis mine):
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” ~ The Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI, Clause 3
It is unequivocal fact that the Founding Fathers of our nation were deeply religious men. So important was religion in their view that the protection thereof was codified in the first line of the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, even before freedom of speech and of the press. From Washington to Adams to Madison and on, Christianity and the Judeo-Christian belief system was at the heart of the government which they formed. Even Jefferson, known as a Deist who shunned the organized religions of his day, wrote in an April 1803 letter to Benjamin Rush, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.”
Strange indeed then that modern liberals live in abject terror of the possibility that any religious influence might accidentally (or more likely, through the nefarious workings of those dreaded, meddling Christians) seep into the philosophy or policies of our secular government.
Herman Cain doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of the First Amendment. While I recognize that not everyone shares my expansive view of what freedom of religion entails, I tend to believe we all generally accept a few things as fact. One is that banning religion and religious centers is wrong, even if we disagree with everything that religion teachers. Presidential Candidate Herman Cain? Not so much.
After once saying that he disagreed with the opening of a mosque in Tennessee, describing it as “It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” he now says that communities should be able to ban mosques.
In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.
“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” he said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace if any community could ban a mosque if it wanted to, Cain said: “They have a right to do that.”
First, the existence of Islam in this nation doesn’t violate the separation of church and state. Sharia law, if enforced by the courts, would but that’s not happening. Instead, a group of people in Tennessee (and of course Herman Cain) are using the force of the state to ban a religion. That is a violation of the separation of church and state.
Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.
Like nails on a chalkboard, there are certain phrases that make my skin crawl and get my ire up. One of those is “our American democracy” (which we most assuredly are not). Another is when people claim that any acknowledgment of religion by government is banned because of the “separation of church and state”. This may just be the most misunderstood and misconstrued phrase in American polity. That phrase has been used as a bludgeon to rid politics of all vestiges of religion in general, but Christianity in particular.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states in part “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” That would seem to be clear and unambiguous language protecting religious freedom in every facet of life. It doesn’t say “…unless you are an elected official, or at a football game at a public school, etc.”
Yet in the name of “separation of church and state”, prayers at high school football games have been banned. Displays of the Ten Commandments on public property have been banned. Catholic Adoption Services in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. were forced to shut their doors because they refused to violate their religious beliefs by placing children in homes of homosexual couples. The city of San Diego was sued in order to remove a small cross from the city’s official seal.
A federal court recently ruled that the federally recognized National Day of Prayer violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and thus unconstitutional.
On this, Bob Barr writes:
Not surprisingly, the religion separatists were able to find a federal judge – this one in Madison, Wisconsin – to agree with their myopic view of the First Amendment. Judge Barbara Crabb did just that in a ruling earlier this month. Graciously, the judge permitted this year’s National Prayer Breakfast in the nation’s capital (and ironically in the shadow of the National Cathedral) to go on as scheduled.
Reflecting the multi-front nature of the assault on prayer practiced by various First Amendment fanatics, another self-styled “watchdog” group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, campaigned successfully to have the Pentagon disinvite Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, to lead a military day of prayer May 6th. The entire prayer observance was then cancelled.
LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP) – Sarah Palin spoke to a crowd of about 16,000 attending an evangelical Christian women’s conference in Louisville Friday night.
The Courier-Journal reports the 2008 Republican candidate for vice president mixed stories of personal struggles and calls for women to be good mothers and good citizens with criticism of President Barack Obama – although she did not mention him by name.
Palin asked the women to provide a “prayer shield” to strengthen her against what she said was “deception” in the media.
She asserted that America needs to get back to its Christian roots and rejected any notion that “God should be separated from the state.”
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
By President John Adams, no less.