Welcome to the Secular Nation blog hosed by the Jefferson Madison Center for Religious Liberty and yours truly.
The purpose of this blog is to discuss current legal events from a constitutional perspective — specifically from the perspective that our Founding Fathers established a Secular Nation. This “understanding” of the Constitution is based on:
- The Preamble of the Constitution — “We the People … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
- Article 6 of the Constitution — “no religious Test shall ever be requiredâ€ for public office.
- The religion clauses of the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
- The Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment — “No State … shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
To the extent that bias may creep into my blogs, I take from the American Revolution that individual liberty is to be preferred over governmental control absent a compelling interest for major intrusions upon fundamental rights and a rational basis for neutral laws of general applicability.
In addition, after much study of James Madison’s June 8, 1789 proposals for a Bill of Rights, their consideration by House, Senate and joint committees and the American experience (including Virginia’s adoption in 1786 of a statute for religious freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson), I have come to the conclusion that the Constitution mandates separation of church and state. Thus, not surprisingly, it is my opinion notwithstanding two Supreme Court decision to the contrary (Van Orden v. Perry (2005) and Salazar v. Buono (2010)), that “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “In God We Trust” as the U.S. motto, “So help me God” appended by the oath administrator to the presidential oath, courts beginning sessions with “God save this honorable Court,” legislative prayer, military bands playing “God Bless America,” religious symbols on public property (e.g., Sunrise Rock Christian cross in the Mojave National Preserve and Eagles-donated Ten Commandments monuments in Austin, TX and Pleasant Grove City, UT), teacher led prayer or bible readings in public schools and the parsonage allowance (I.R.C. Sec. 107) all violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as endorsements of religion.
Like the Supreme Court said in McCreary County, Ky. v. ACLU of Ky., 545 U.S. 844 (2005): “The touchstone for [my] analysis is the principle that the ‘First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.’” At 860. Thirty five other majority opinions of the Supreme Court also demonstrate a mandate for religious neutrality. Simply put, religion has no unique or special role to play in our constitutional scheme.
I hope that you will enjoy my rantings and I look forward to reading your responsive comments.
Founder & President, JM Center