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Old 10-20-2006, 07:41 AM   #163
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Originally posted by Steve-o on 10-19-2006 at 08:37 PM
OK, you mean like the way Jefferson proposed this for the Virginia constitution?

"All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution": freedom for religion, but also freedom from religion."
In other words........

1. Everybody has the right to their opinions on religion.

2. Nobody can be forced to go to church

The mistake you're making, is that you're confusing the Federal govt for the states.

The fact that Jefferson ALSO wanted religious freedom, and no established Church in VA, is IRRELEVANT to the point.

In fact, your quote simply proves my point.

The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits the CONGRESS.

The 10th Amendment reserves all powers not granted to the Federal govt to the States, so long as the Constitution does not prohibit it to the States. And religion falls into that category.

Now, proposing the STATE constitution, Jefferson also prefers a similar prohibition upon the VA govt.

The premise holds.....this was a matter for each STATE to decide in the minds of the Founders.

MR. MADISON: Conceived this to be the most valuable amendment on the whole list; if there was any reason to restrain the government of the United States from infringing upon these essential rights, it was equally necessary that they should be secured against the state governments; he thought that if they provided against the one, it was an necessary to provide against the other, and was satisfied that it would be equally grateful to the people (from Alley, James Madison on Religious Liberty, pp. 75-76).
I would first suggest that you not rely on a separationist website to prove your point.

Secondly, and related to the above, I would suggest that you read the ACTUAL document from which that was taken before putting it forth in your argument.

Now, on to that excerpt......

Madison was NOT talking about the 1st Amendment, or ANYTHING relating to the so-called "separation of church/state."

The excerpt you posted was about a debate over a proposed amendment, which stated:

Article 1, section 10, between the first and second paragraph, insert "no State shall infringe the equal rights of conscience, nor the freedom of speech or of the press, nor of the right of trial by jury in criminal cases.

But, what'd the father of the Constitution think?
Yes, what did Mr. Madison think?

Just 2 days before the debate that your excerpt came from, the committee DID debate the proposed amendment that ultimately became the 1st Amendment. And they DID discuss the religious aspect.

Before we begin, here was the original proposed amendment:

Article I. Section 9. Between paragraphs two and three insert "no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed."

Now, the highlights........

Mr. Sylvester had some doubts of the propriety of the mode of expression used in this paragraph. He apprehended that it was liable to a construction different from what had been made by the committee. He feared it might be thought to have a tendency to abolish religion altogether.

Mr. Gerry said it would read better if it was, that no religious doctrine shall be established by law.

Mr. Sherman thought the amendment altogether unnecessary, inasmuch as Congress had no authority whatever delegated to them by the constitution to make religious establishments; he would, therefore, move to have it struck out.

Sometimes the Founders WERE a tad naive. Madison himself was guilty of this in his defense of the "general welfare" clause in the Federalist Papers.

Anyhoo, Madison now makes his opinion known:

Mr. Madison said, he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience. Whether the words are necessary or not, he did not mean to say, but they had been required by some of the State Conventions, who seemed to entertain an opinion that under the clause of the constitution, which gave power to Congress to make all laws necessary and proper to carry into execution the constitution, and the laws made under it, enabled them to make laws of such a nature as might infringe the rights of conscience, and might establish a national religion; to prevent these effects he presumed the amendment was intended, and he thought it as well expressed as the nature of the language would admit.

Mr. Madison quite clearly believes the purpose of the amendment was to prevent the establishment of a national religion.

The amendment was proposed because many felt that the "necessary and proper" clause could allow Congress to make such a law. The amendment was intended to prevent that.

Mr. Huntington said that he feared, with the gentleman first up on this subject, that the words might be taken in such latitude as to be extremely harmful to the cause of religion. He understood the amendment to mean what had been expressed by the gentleman from Virginia; but others might find it convenient to put another construction upon it. The ministers of their congregations to the Eastward were maintained by the contributions of those who belonged to their society; the expense of building meeting- houses was contributed in the same manner. These things were regulated by by-laws. If an action was brought before a Federal Court on any of these cases, the person who had neglected to perform his engagements could not be compelled to do it; for a support of ministers, or building places of worship might be construed into a religious establishment.

He agrees with the "gentleman from Virginia" Madison.

He goes on to state that the proposed wording might be misinterpreted, so much so that even supporting ministers or helping to build meeting houses could be determined to be an establishment of religion.

Sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?

Mr. Huntington's thoughts go on:

By the charter of Rhode Island, no religion could be established by law; he could give a history of the effects of such a regulation; indeed the people were now enjoying the blessed fruits of it. He hoped, therefore, the amendment would be made in such a way as to secure the rights of conscience, and a free exercise of the rights of religion, but not to patronize those who professed no religion at all.

And the Father speaks again:

Mr. Madison thought, if the word national was inserted before religion, it would satisfy the minds of honorable gentlemen. He believed that the people feared one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combine together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform. He thought if the word national was introduced, it would point the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent.

So why wasn't "national religion" used?

Mr. Gerry did not like the term national, proposed by the gentleman from Virginia, and hoped it would not be adopted by the House. It brought to his mind some observations that had taken place in the convention at the time they were considering the present convention. It had been insisted upon by those who were called antifederalists, that this form of Government consolidated the Union; the honorable gentleman's motion shows that he considered it in the same light. Those who were called antifederalists at that time complained that they had injustice dome them by title, because they were in favor of a Federal Government, and the others were in favor of the national one; the federalists were for ratifying the constitution as it stood, and the others not until amendments were made. Their names then ought not to have been distinguished by federalists and antifederalists, but rats and antirats.

The problem was that one might construe "national religion" to mean that the govt was also "national." The whole point was that it was supposed to be a "Federal" govt, with the States retaining a good amount of powers.

Mr. Madison withdrew his motion, but observed that the words "no national religion shall be established by law," did not imply that the Government was a national one; the question was then taken on Mr. Livermore's motion, and passed in the affirmative, thirty-one for, and twenty against it.

So what DID Madison think?

Last edited by freak; 10-20-2006 at 07:49 AM..
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