Sunday, November 30, 2008

Harry Truman: Equality Is from God

In President Harry Truman's Inaugural Address of 1949, he said:

"We believe that all men are created equal, because they are created in the image of God."

From the book Three Secular Reasons Why America Should be Under God, by William J. Federer

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calvin Coolidge: Rights Are from God

In an address to the Holy Name Society, President Calvin Coolidge said the following about our rights and equality:

"It is declared that he is endowed with inalienable rights which no majority, however great, and no power of the Government, however broad, can ever be justified in violating. The principle of equality is recognized. It follows inevitably from belief in the brotherhood of man through the fatherhood of God."

See the whole address at A Project of the Claremont Institute.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Warren G. Harding: Rights are from God

Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States. He said this:

"Inherent rights are of God, and the tragedies of the world originate in their attempted denial."

As found in the book Three Secular Reasons Why America Should Be Under God, By William J. Federer.

See the quote on Google Books

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Historic Thanksgiving

Somehow during my growing up I came to think that we have had a national Thanksgiving holiday ever since the Pilgrims' meal in 1621, where they were joined by Indian chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset. However, that was not an official, annual event. It would be more than 200 years before such an event was established. But President Washington declared a "A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer" on Thursday, November 26, 1789. According to the decree, the day was "to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."

It was in 1863 that President Lincoln made the day an official and annual Federal Holiday. Lincoln's proclamation is below. I am thankful for many things this year, and I agree with Lincoln's thought that, "No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." And in the Bible (Ephesians 5:20), Paul instructs, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father."


"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.

"In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

"Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jefferson on the Source of Rights, Part 2

From Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia" we see some great words. The words hearken back to a bold statement in the Declaration of Independence. It is one of my favorite Jefferson quotes:

"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?"

Read more at the University of Virginia website

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jefferson on the Source of Rights

Again I am quoting Jefferson in this post. Since he is often credited with a particular quote ("separation of church and state") when arguments are given that may tend to limit religious expression, it seems fair to quote some of his thoughts about where our rights come from: God.

The following is from an 1817 letter to John Manners:

"The evidence of [the] natural right [of expatriation], like that of our right to life, liberty, the use of our faculties, the pursuit of happiness, is not left to the feeble and sophistical investigations of reason, but is impressed on the sense of every man. We do not claim these under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of Kings."

Read more at the University of Virginia website

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thomas Jefferson: the Meaning of the Bill of Rights

The University of Virginia publishes many of Thomas Jefferson's quotes. On the page linked below you see his quotes regarding the need for the Bill of Rights.

Jefferson is quoted very often today because of his metaphor "separation of church and state." This was intended as s single-purpose metaphor describing an aspect of the religion clauses of the First Amendment. However, in many of his writings where he talks more generally about the need of the Bill of Rights, he doesn't mention the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. He seems to focus on the Free Exercise instead. On the page below you will find the phrase "freedom of religion" used six times, but you will not find "separation of church and state" even once.

Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 6

How much power should the courts have in relation to the other branches of government? Recent posts here have shown various statements he has made on the topic. It may seem odd that I quote Thomas Jefferson so much, considering he was not involved in actually writing/debating/ratifying the Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, to the "man on the street" and even the courts, Jefferson's words in refernce to the First Amendment, "separation of church and state," have come to be used as an authoritative explanation of the First Amendment. (In almost all cases where that phrase is used in articles and discussions, it is not accompanied by the actual word of the First Amendment.)

So here is a quote from the University of Virginia's article on Jefferson and the Judiciary. It helps explain why he made all the quotes I have already included.

"Who should make the final decision on interpreting the Constitution? The Supreme Court in the case of Marbury v. Madison, which was decided during the first term of President Thomas Jefferson, determined that IT should make the final decision for all branches of government, and that opinion has remained in force ever since. Jefferson, however, strongly opposed Judicial Review because he thought it violated the principle of separation of powers. He proposed that each branch of government decide constitutional questions for itself, only being responsible for their decisions to the voters."

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 5

There are many examples in other posts where a court has overturned the other two branches of government. We have seen laws passed by a large majority, supported by both Senate and House, and approved by the President of Governor, only to be overturned by either a state supreme court of the Supreme Court of the United States. Jefferson wrote extensively about this. Below is one more of his opinions, this one from correspondence from Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon in 1821.

"[How] to check these unconstitutional invasions of... rights by the Federal judiciary? Not by impeachment in the first instance, but by a strong protestation of both houses of Congress that such and such doctrines advanced by the Supreme Court are contrary to the Constitution; and if afterwards they relapse into the same heresies, impeach and set the whole adrift. For what was the government divided into three branches, but that each should watch over the others and oppose their usurpations?"

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Colorado State Day of Prayer - No, NO!

The state of Colorado had a day of prayer in May, and they are being sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The FFRF says that such a day violates the principle of "separation of church and state."

How ironic. As you may know, the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in our Constitution. It was used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter, but has more recently been used by some courts to justify decisions that limit religious expression, and has also become a well-used phrase in public discourse. As President, Jefferson would not declare a National Day of Prayer, even though Washington had done so. The reason was that Jefferson thought such a declaration should not be done by the Federal Government. However, as Virginia's governor, Jefferson DID declare a state day of fasting and prayer.

So we have taken a phrase that had been used by Jefferson to try to prohibit a practice that Jefferson obviously approved of.

All 50 states have declared a day of prayer in 2008.

Read the article here:

Centennial State sued for 'Day of Prayer'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 4

In 1819 Thomas Jefferson wrote to Spencer Roane. He once again expressed a rather strong opinion about the need to limit the judiciary from becoming the last word on every issue:

"In denying the right [the Supreme Court usurps] of exclusively explaining the Constitution, I go further than [others] do, if I understand rightly [this] quotation from the Federalist of an opinion that 'the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, but not in relation to the rights of the parties to the compact under which the judiciary is derived.' If this opinion be sound, then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de se [act of suicide]. For intending to establish three departments, coordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this opinion, to one of them alone the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one, too, which is unelected by and independent of the nation. For experience has already shown that the impeachment it has provided is not even a scare-crow... The Constitution on this hypothesis is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 3

I remember learning in school that the three branches of our Federal Government are "co-equal" - they balance and limit each other. The Founders did not want any one of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches to win a power struggle. Thomas Jefferson was concerned of the courts assuming the power of last judgment over all issues. Here is another of his quotes:

"To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves."

This is from a letter to William C. Jarvis in 1820. The two previous quotes just mentioned on this site were from 1804 and 1825, so one can see that this was an ongoing concern for Jefferson.

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 2

In a letter to Abigail Adams in 1804, Thomas Jefferson wrote of his concern that the courts could potentially take away too much power from the other two branches of government. Remember that our three branches of government were supposed to be equal and serve as checks/balances on each other. Jefferson feared the courts were in a position to have the last word on issues. He said:

"The Constitution... meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch."

The Constitution does provide a fuse for this. Congress can specify areas where the court does not have jurisdiction. Certainly there is potential for abuse here, too, but I am not aware of Congress having used that power very often.

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jazz and the Supreme Court

I'm sure most readers are familiar with the Latin term ad libitum. It means "at liberty" and indicates a free choice. In a jazz performance it means that the performer is playing phrases that are not written out, but are rather a creation of the moment based on the artist's tastes and preferences. In classical music it is used to indicate that a passage or part may be left out, or it may mean a passage may be repeated as many times as needed. The term is used in non-musical contexts as well, but generally means some kind of free choice.

In an 1825 letter to Edward Livingston, Thomas Jefferson used the same expression:

"This member of the Government [the court system] was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs. But it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is, ad libitum, by sapping and mining slyly and without alarm the foundations of the Constitution, can do what open force would not dare to attempt."

This quote, and others on this site, show that Jefferson was very wary of the power that the courts might take upon themselves, over and above that which the Founders intended when they drafted the Constitution. How ironic then that the Supreme Court "gave new meaning" to the First Amendment (in the words of the American Civil Liberties Union) as they based several decisions on a metaphor Jefferson used in another letter: "separation of church and state." Giving new meaning to the First Amendment is not a role Jefferson envisioned for the courts.

Learn more from the University of Virginia site

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Free Speech on Door Handles

Here is a summary of a recent case of discrimination against Christian free speech. In this instance the case was settled in favor of free speech and against an unconstitutional enforcement by the village of Kewaskum, Wisconsin (a town of about 4,000 residents).

Michael Foht was passing out Christian fliers by placing them in door handles of houses. A resident complained to the police, who them informed Mr. Foht that he had to stop or by subject to a fine of $172 for each flier and possible arrest, based on a village ordinance.

The Alliance Defense Fund represented Mr. Foht in court, who won in court. The decision caused the village to repeal the ordinance, and the village paid Mr. Foht's court costs of about $11,000. The court said the "municipal code of the Village of Kewaskum was facially unconstitutional pursuant to Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit precedent."

The settlement is available here:


Read more about the case here:

ADF Website

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clarence E. Manion on Activist Courts

Clarence E. Manion was a Professor of Constitutional Law and Dean of the Notre Dame College of Law. In Verne Paul Kaub's book, "Collectivism Challenges Christianity," (1946) he is quoted as saying:

"Look closely at these self-evident truths, these imperishable articles of American Faith upon which all our government is firmly based. First and foremost is the existence of God. Next comes the truth that all men are equal in the sight of God. Third is the fact of God's great gift of unalienable rights to every person on earth. Then follows the true and single purpose of all American Government, namely, to preserve and protect these God-made rights of God-made man."

See Page 17 of this Findlaw Case

He also said of activist courts:

"These unfortunate Court ventures into policymaking and legislation in disregard for what the State justices called proper judicial restraint cannot be corrected by the slow process of constitutional amendment... In the national interest, therefore, Congress should now exercise the authority given to it under article 3 of the Constitution and strip the Supreme Court of its appellate jurisdiction which it now exercises so prodigally to reverse the sound judgments of all the inferior courts in the country--State and Federal."

See Google Book excerpt for The Court Vs. Congress By Edward Keynes, Randall K. Miller

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Has Happened to Our Culture? Chris Matthews et al

During a recent segment on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews commented on an interview of Sarah Palin, done by Gretta Van Susteren of Fox News. In the interview Palin was asked about her political plans in the future. She said she was looking for guidance from God about running for national office again. Chris seemed quite offended by this. He said, "...I mean God is telling her to run? And she's saying it openly on a secular television show? This isn't the religious hour....Talking about God, in a political setting is troubling to a lot of people. If you're talking about a big tent, this looks more like the church tent, not the big tent."

Because Chris is not alone is his feelings about this type of expression, I don't want to pick on him exclusively. But since this is a timely story I will use it as an example.

Has he not read the history of this country? I suppose it could seem kind of "quaint" and old-fashioned to look at the very religious expressions of our Founding Fathers. Perhaps he doesn't want to consider that our country really got rolling with the Declaration of Independence, which stated that our rights are not given to us by government, but rather are bestowed on us by our creator. The same document said:

"...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions..."

"...And for the support of this declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Moving to more recent times, how about FDR's words in his national broadcast for our D-Day operations. Was he afraid to speak of God in public?

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings.

Or President Carter has often been quoted as saying, "There's no doubt that during my time as president I prayed more intensely and more fervently for God's guidance than at any other time in my life..."

Peppered throughout our history are examples of very well-known figures in our government using their faith to help them make decisions and (horrors!!!) speaking of it in public. In earlier days this was not considered unusual or newsworthy beyond the topic of the prayer. But years and years of hearing that "separation of church and state" means your religious thoughts should be kept to yourself (or only expressed in your house of worship or home) have brought some to be offended when a public figure "admits" they are seeking guidance from God. This attitude is more obvious within the "mainstream media" than almost anywhere else. And since that same media controls much of what we hear on the nightly news or see in the headlines of our local newspaper, it becomes "the truth."

But that is not the truth. It is certainly not historic. Read the rest of the posts you find here - feel free to ignore my opinions and just read the actual quotes of the Founders and other public figures.

Read more here:
Newsbusters Blog

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Calvin Coolidge: Religion's Importance to Our Government

In his remarks for the unveiling of the Equestrian Statue of Bishop Francis Asbury, (Washington, D.C., October 15, 1924) President Calvin Coolidge stated:

"Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive
our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government."

See: Google Books excerpt from Calvin Coolidge by David Greenberg

Monday, November 10, 2008

Calvin Coolidge: Reverence for God is Patriotic?

There are many quotes on this blog of historic people talking about faith issues. This in itself would not be especially important to the main focus of the blog, but for the most part I have used quotes that focus on the relationship between government and the faith of the citizens, or perhaps between government's origins and religious principles. Such quotes speak to my point that today's understanding of the First Amendment, especially where it tends to shy from any religious concepts, is not based on requirements of the Constitution or on the Founders' intents. Most of the quotes are taken from those who were around during the origins of the United States of America, especially those who were directly involved. But I also try to show more modern figures' thoughts, such as the statement below.

On September 21, 1924, President Coolidge spoke before the Holy Name Society. He said:

It seems to me perfectly plain that the authority of law, the right to equality, liberty and property, under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God. If we could imagine that to be swept away, these institutions of our American government could not long survive. But that reverence will not fail. It will abide. Unnumbered organizations of which your own is one exist for its promotion. In the inevitable longing of the human soul to do right is the secure guarantee of our American institutions. By maintaining a society to promote reverence for the Holy Name you are performing both a pious and a patriotic service.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gouverneur Morris on Religion, Morality and Education

Gouverneur Morris, according to Wikipedia, was, "an American statesman who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and was an author of large sections of the Constitution of the United States. He is widely credited as the author of the document's Preamble."

Morris addressed the Constitutional Convention 173 times, more than any other delegate. He said:

"Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man toward God."*

Does it strike anyone that his statement is not consistent with the way we look at religion and education today?

* Jared Sparks ed. The Life of Gouverneur Morris, with selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers 3 Vol. (Boston: Gray and Bowen) 1832, Vol. III 483

See also: Religion, Politics, and the Constitution

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can We Be Comfortable Knowing Our President's Faith?

I remember the worry (or even weeping and knashing of teeth) when President George W. Bush took office. He made no secret of his faith, and soon it became known that there were Bible studies and prayer sessions in the White House - oh, my!

For some reason the public seems to be less and less comfortable with hearing that a leader prays and actually means it; with knowing that a leader reads the Bible daily; with thinking about that leader sharing in faith activities with members of his staff. But discussions of one's faith were quite common in earlier days, whether you were a "common" citizen or a powerful leader.

Here is another example of a President expressing a faith-based idea (there are many other such on this blog):

The 26th President of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt. In June of 1906 he said:

After a week on perplexing problems and in heated contests it does so rest my soul to come into the house of the Lord and to sing and mean it, "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty," and to know that He is my Father... [my] great joy that, in occupying an exhalted position in the nation, I am enabled, to preach the practical moralities of the Bible to my fellow-countrymen and to hold up Christ as the hope and Savior of the world.

See: Grant, George, The Third Time Around (Brentwood, TN:, Wolgemuth & Hyatt Inc.) 1991, p.118

Or refer to Google Books entries for:

Theodore Roosevelt by Ferdinand Cowle Iglehart

America's God and Country by William Joseph Federer

Thursday, November 6, 2008

de Tocqueville on the Reason for America's Goodness

Alexis de Tocqueville was a noted French political thinker and historian in the 1800's.

"I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors...; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

"Not until I went into the Churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

See: Flood, Robert, The Rebirth of America (St Davids, PA: The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation 1986) p. 39

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

George Washington Carver, Credit to God

It is often said that faith in God has not played much part in our country's history. Yet there are countless quotes from official figures that say otherwise. And there are probably even more quotes from other well-known figures who were not necessarily part of government but still played a role in shaping our history and/or culture.

In testimony before the Ways & Means Committee of the United States Senate in 1921, George Washington Carver told us of his faith and how it is part of his life. A senator asked:

"Dr. Carver, how did you learn all of these things?"

Carver answered, "From an old book."

"What book?", asked the senator

Carver replied, "The Bible."

"Does the Bible tell about peanuts?"

Carver answered, "No sir, but it tells about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did."

Jones, Charles E., The Books Your Read, (Harrisburg, PA, Executive Books), 1985, p. 132

See also:
Google Books entry for America's God and Country by William Joseph Federer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President William McKinley on Christianity

William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States. He said:

"The Christian religion is no longer the badge of weaklings and enthusiasts, but of distinction, enforcing respect."

See Northrop, Stephen Abbott, A Cloud of Witnesses, (Portland, OR, American Heritage Ministries), 1987, Introduction

Monday, November 3, 2008

President Franklin Pierce - Dependence on God

The 14th President of the U.S., Franklin Pierce, said this is his inaugural address on March 4, 1853:

"It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation's humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence."

See the address at

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When Does a Sermon Cross the Line? And Who Decides?

"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 peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Above is the entire First Amendment. The underlined portion contains the two religion clauses: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Notice the first and fifth words: "Congress" and "law." Congress makes a lot of laws. That's their job. But the First Amendment spells out a couple areas where Congress may not make laws. Given that, how do we explain the 1954 law wherein the IRS prohibits churches from speaking out about politics? If that's not covered by the Establishment or Free Exercise prohibitions, wouldn't it be covered later by the "freedom of speech" clause?

But again we have a stories in the news about pastors who express opinions about candidates:

The article discusses opinions on both sides, where some religious leaders think that political opinions should not come from the pulpit. I happen to agree with the opinion, but not because it is in any way unconstitutional to speak about politics from the pulpit.

One huge problem with a law such as Congress passed for the IRS is that someone then has to judge what is political speech. Suppose a priest simply says abortion is wrong? Is that endorsing a candidate? Or because freedom of abortion is usually associated with Democrats, does that automatically make it an endorsement?

Or what if your minister speaks about the importance of being faithful to your spouse? If a candidate in the news has had an extra-marital affair, would that fact make the speech political? If no election were coming up soon, would the opinion then not be political just for that reason? One could argue on either side, I suppose, but do we really want the Federal Government deciding this?

Let's carry it one step further. Suppose the upcoming Congress re-enacts the Fairness Doctrine or something similar? Some might hope that the doctrine would help drive some talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh off the air. Limbaugh certainly makes no excuses for being a conservative. But facing the Fairness Doctrine, what if he ajusted his talk? Could it go something like this?

"I support the Democrats in this new bill they are proposing. After all, the Constitution was written a long time ago, and no one really takes the __ Amendment seriously in today's society anyway. Support your Democrat representative. Tell him or her to ignore complaints about the record amounts of lobbying money they have accepted from groups that would benefit from this bill. Tell them that you trust them to manage your rights. And encourage to get away from the old-fashioned and biased statement that our rights come from our creator; we all know that it is the government that gives us our rights."

I assume my sarcasm was clear enough. But would the IRS then have to rule on intent rather than literal words? Could they be trusted to determine more subtle slams from a more clever talk show host? That's only one of the reasons the First Amendment exists, but it is an important one, nevertheless. My fundamental problem with such a law is that it would seem to violate the religion clauses AND the free speech clause simultaneously.

Our Founders wanted to keep the government from controlling too much of our lives. I think this 1954 law would have given them pause.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Charter of Carolina, 1663

One purpose of this blog is to help remind us of our Christian background. Often in discussions we see in the news, it is argued that we were not founded with any strong Christian roots.

In the Charter of Carolina, King Charles II outlined the main reason for Sir William Berkeley's establishment of a colony in the Americas:

"Being excited with a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith...[they] have humbly besought leave of us ... to transport and make an ample colony ... unto a certain country... in the parts of America not yet cultivated or planted, and inhabited by some ...people, who have no knowledge of Almighty God."

See the Avalon Project's website for the complete text.