Saturday, February 11, 2012

Facebookers don’t believe in no separation of church and state

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Separation of church and state

A couple days ago, I blogged about how the American Family Association was all verklempt after the U.S. Air Force decided to drop its implied endorsement of the Christian deity from their Rapid Capabilities Office logo. I also noted how I left a comment at the AFA page, a comment that was swiftly deleted. However, I’d cross-posted the comment to my Facebook page, where it’s apparently been garnering a small amount of attention (which I’ve missed until now thanks to Facebook charmingly not sending me a single email notifying me that I’ve received comments).

As predicted, though, the religionists are out in force trying to pretend the U.S. Constitution does not forbid the government from embracing Christianity and ignoring the secularists trying to set them straight, so I figured I’d blog about it. Here’s my original comment for context:

Only you people could interpret removing a sectarian deity’s name from a government institution’s logo – which should never have been there in the first place under the Establishment Clause – as trampling anyone’s religious freedom. Or are Christians really unable to believe or pray if they don’t see their government endorsing their particular religion?

And then, from the top:

John Gillum What establishment clause? The constitution only forbids a national church.

Promising starts and all that. Here’s a clue: When your attempt at a rebuttal can, itself, be successfully refuted with less than five seconds on Google, you should probably try a bit harder.

Mickey Lyon I challenge you to show me where in the United States constitution the phrase, "Separation of Church and state appears. HINT: It ain't in there! The first amendment reads: "CONGRESS shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof..." The First Amendment forbids CONGRESS and CONGRESS ONLY from establishing a national religion!! Good Grief, educate yourself Mr. Canadian!

Admittedly, I don’t have access to whatever educative material Mr. Lyon learned from (presumably a Bible and some Chick Tracts), but again, spending all of a minute or two on these newfangled Interwebz rather conclusively debunks this nonsense. Both Congress and the Supreme Court have continually upheld that the Establishment Clause applies to the Federal Government as a whole, including (since the 10th Amendment) state governments. Thomas Jefferson (you know, one of those Founding Fathers these goobers claim to idolize despite clearly knowing nothing about) used the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” as a metaphor for the Establishment Clause, and the expression has since been adopted and routinely used by the Supreme Court in its rulings on the matter.

This is all on Wikipedia in plain English, for crying out loud. There really is no excuse for not knowing it, especially if one then presumes to lecture others with their own factually-challenged twaddle.

Thankfully, we then have someone who actually does know their stuff jump in and try to educate these dolts:

Rich Compton Mickey Lyon - Mickey Lyon Sadly it is you who need an education. Your interpretation of the 1st Amendment is woefully wrong. First off, notice the wording of the Establishment Clause, it is not worded to read 'shall make no law respecting the establishment of "a" religion". Nor is it "this" or "that" religion. The prohibition is against endorsing religion in general; monotheism, polytheism, atheism or agnosticism.

As well, you might want to verse yourself on the writings of James Madison, the guy who wrote the 1st Amendment. In his "Detached Memoranda" he writes specifically of the validity of the constitutional principle of the Church/State Separation. He also states that even something as minor as declaring a national day of prayer to be unconstitutional. The same for supporting Congressional chaplains. Now, you may think your opinion carries more weight than the "Father of the Constitution" but I kind of doubt it.

You can find this document at:

You display your abject ignorance of the Establishment Clause by stating that only Congress is limited by the 1st Amendment. Your statement really did provide me a chuckle. The thing is that if you had ever taken the time to read this document that all good Talibangelicals claim to love you might have noticed something called the 14th Amendment. Perhaps you should study up on the impact of the 14th Amendment. Here is a hint, once ratified states had to operate within the restrictions of certain constitutional principles.

FInally, you toss out the quite moronic statement that if something isn't in the Constitution it doesn't exist. Presumably, you think that good Christian couples have a right to get married. Sorry, but there is no such enumerated right. As well, you probably think you have a right to vote. Sorry again, there is no such enumerated right. Geez, you are not doing very good at this Constitutional stuff. It appears in this case that a gentleman from Canada knows far more about the Constitution than you do. As an American citizen you truly fail.

But of course, a good revisionist is not expected to take such attempts at enlightenment lying down, as Lyon responds with a fresh volley of bullshit:

First, the wording of the first amendment addresses CONGRESS and congress alone. Secondly, there is no "establishment clause" or phrase "separation of church and state" anywhere in the constitution. Third, Madison did not author the First Amendment. The First Amendment was written by a preacher from the colony of Massachusetts named Fisher Ames. Ever heard of him? Probably not. He sat beside George Washington in St. Paul's Chapel at the church service following Washington's Presidential Inauguration in New York
City. He was a Congressman from Massachusetts and helped ratify the U.S Constitution. He authored the final House language of the First Amendment. Like it or not, the VAST MAJORITY of the writers of the U.S. Constitution were CHRISITIANS! Many of them were preachers, like John Witherspoon who TAUGHT James Madison when he was president of Princeton!!

Those first and second points have already been refuted, so no more beating that dead horse. And the apparently customary Christian-Rightist claim that James Madison somehow didn’t write the First Amendment (which he did) and that Congressman and staunch Calvinist and anti-secularist Fisher Ames is supposedly responsible for authoring the very Amendment he was notoriously opposed to in the first place is just laughable, and not only because this canard is apparently parroted solely around the Christian-Right blogosphere, which is never a good sign of credibility in the first place.

Lyon also posts a bunch of quotes from various Founding Fathers with vague religious overtones, which he evidently believes support his delusion of a sectarian Christian America. Of course, all he succeeds in proving is that, shockingly, people who lived in fervently religious times tended to adopt phrases and expressions that were in vogue at the time. This is absolutely meaningless; it’s as if people from the future claimed that current atheists are actually Christians because most of them still occasionally say “oh my god” and “for Christ’s sake”, or for wishing each other “Merry Christmas” and saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. Leave it to revisionists to argue that how people used to talk throughout history in any way reflects their ideological stand on various issues.

And also, that John Adams quote is a quote-mined distortion, which should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. And the berk has the nerve to acuse others of “spread[ing] revisionist tripe”. Oh, these people.

Better yet, someone finally goes country-specific ad hominem on me:

Brian Maday As a French-Canadian, it's really none of your business what America chooses to do, as our Constitution (AND OUR MONEY) ALL support our freedom to use the word GOD in many different ways. Have a nice day.

Because living in one country means forfeiting your right to ever comment on another country and the dolts who inhabit it. My, what a creative dodge. Thankfully, Rich Compton’s got my back:

The saddest thing about your comment though is your admonition to a Canadian that he may not enter into the philosophical fray. Decent people willingly accept all opinions in a quest for truth and ethics. His comments are most welcome. As a US citizen I hereby grant all Canadians the free and unfettered right to enter into philosophical debates within any reach of the internet in spite of the attempt of at least one Christian to say that truth and insight on a topic could only come from an American.

This is especially amusing to me, given that just last summer a then-friend of mine actually told me the same thing as Maday, that my being Canadian somehow meant that I didn’t have the right to criticize the U.S., which definitely left me scratching my head for a while. I wasn’t aware (and still aren’t, mind you) what my present geopolitical location has to do with my ability or right to develop and share opinions about events occurring in other geopolitical locations.

The thread has sadly since fizzled out, but it nonetheless provides ample evidence to support the continually reinforced notion that those who know the least about politics and history are always those who are the most eager to sermonize others on the subject. Little is more simultaneously sad and amusing.

Edit (03/02/12 3:05 PM ET) – Minor typo fixes.