Monday, December 31, 2007

Vermont Constitution (1786)

It's an election year and the Vermont primary is coming up very soon. I wonder how many Vermont voters ever think about their original consitution.

Constitution, Frame of Government, Section 9: "And each member [of the Legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: 'I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor or the universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the [Christian] religion. And no further or other religious test shall ever, hereafter, be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.'"


Cidman said...

So, this means that Jews and other non-christians shouldn't be allowed to sit in the Vermont legislature? This is more a testament to the school of thinking that some of this crap is old and needs to be changed. Just as the founding fathers could have never imagined an automatic weapon being used to gun down kids on a playground. It's high time to update our constitution to reflect the times we live in.
The Vermont I live in and love is far more tolerant of others than this nonsense would lead one to believe. Those who profess these outdated documents as the gospel need to realize that change is good when not just for the sake of change.....

History Matters said...

That's a very good point, and I should make my reason for posting these things more clear. More and more the Federal Government is taking power in areas our Constitution does not allow. Much of this is being done via court decisions, which tend to preempt actions by lawmakers, thus re-balancing our "three co-equal" branches theory. (This is something Jefferson was wary of.)

These historic documents are interesting in that they show:

1) Our various states at the time of the Constitution had established policies that clearly the First Amendment was meant to protect.

2) There was not much fear of certain kinds of religious "entanglements" then.

In this particular case (and in several others) the drafters thought it appropriate that representatives be Christian, based on the theory that Christian principles were universally considered essential to our country's survival.

Besides, it makes for great discussion material when you want to liven things up!

By the way, our Constitution and those of the states allow for an orderly process of change, and many have been changed in many ways as of today. That's how change should happen - not via courts that take things away from the other branches.

adude said...

So change it. Change the Constitution of Vermont through its specified process.

However, we have a lot of rules on the books that just aren't followed anymore. But, regardless is a range between who must be a confessed Christian and you can't pray silently in schools is substantial. If you are happy to have the judiciary decide exactly where to place the acceptable definition, then we basically have no Constitutions. It's pretty empty to want your role in government to be a cheerleader when the tide of judicial decisions goes your way. "That's old stuff. Dead people believed that."

Liberals are always adding that the Cons. should not just ape the popular viewpoint. ("Hitler was popularly elected", they point out.) So they would be afraid if the Cons. were to represent whatever the consensus in Vermont might be. So it's not just like having the Cons. represent what "living people believe" no they must be elite living people. The problem is that with this strategy of government, the judiciary was never meant to govern. But that's just what dead people thought and ratified, we're so much more modern and hip and vapid today.