What the Democrat Party Offers in the 2020 Election

An evidentiary analysis.

A great deal of the focus on the November 3, 2020 presidential election is on two things (1) the personalities and physical and mental capabilities of the two candidates, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden and (2) blaming or not blaming Donald Trump for the Coronavirus. (A menace whose spread is apparently no respecter of political persuasion, predictions by scientists or health experts, masking or not masking, lockdown mandates or no lockdown mandates, and hot weather or cold weather.)

But this election is not really about Donald Trump   or   Joe Biden . 

This election is really about what the consequences of implementing the policies of each party will be:  The Democrat Party is reportedly about- fundamentally transforming America!!  Couldthat really be true?  To answer that question it is necessary to look at (1) what players constitute and have a say in what will happen should the Democrat Party gain control in 2020 and (2) what the Democrat Party is saying officially (“Unity Task Forces” plan) and unofficially (television ads for Joe Biden) about what they plan to do if they gain control. (see companion post on What the Republicans Offer in the 2020 election)

Democrat Party Players – Policies, Plans, Intended Outcomes

The policies, plans and desired outcomes that would result from a victory in the 2020 election by the Democrat Party requires study to discern and specify as (1) the messaging comes from several different sources, (2) the messages of intent delivered depend on the audience, and (3) identifying who among the influencing forces and contributing entities will dictate the policies and plans.   Thus, to assess what might be the outcome of a Democratic victory requires identification of the various forces influencing / controlling the Democratic Party and then an assessment of the degree to which and how each of the forces are liable to affect the countries near and long-term future if Joe Biden is elected president and Democrats gain one or both houses of Congress.

The Democrat Party is now funded, led, supported and directed by an incongruous, alliance of powerful, disparate forces that have coalesced to take control of the Federal Government beginning in 2021. The stated plans and objectives to be implemented, if that control is achieved, and the influence of the parties working on behalf of the Democrat Party have intended effects that go well beyond this election.  The promised changes could dismantle our economy and our economic system, diminish individual freedoms and result in greater Federal Government control of our, and our children’s lives in perpetuity.  It is evident, by their words, actions, and or funding that these various entities are in league with and support/fund/protect the Democratic Party.

So, who are the players and what are the forces working in league with Democrat Party to put and keep the Democrats in power and influence America’s future.

  1. The Giant Social Media / Internet Companies —Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.  These four companies comprise 4 out of the 5 largest companies in the United States.  They are now controlling, to a large extent, what information people see and hear on social media platforms, thereby directly and subliminally influencing behaviors including how people will vote. It is well documented that these companies are subverting free speech – suppressing information and blocking commentary by conservative individuals and conservative sites that are favorable to Republicans and unfavorable to Democrats.  Most recently Facebook and Twitter taking down the news story on the New York Post’s discovery of Hunter Biden’s laptop with information connecting Joe Biden to Hunter’s Burisma and China contacts and taking down the President’s press secretary’s account for passing the information on. This action caught national attention. However, behind the scenes thousands of conservative voices and many sites relaying conservative views are being silenced on social media. 

Why all these companies support the Democrat Party is speculative but one reason may have to do with the Republican Party’s efforts/pledge to take away the special immunity granted to the Social Media Giants by Congress – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – that has resulted in censoring of conservative speech and news unfavorable to the Democrats and  allows them to censor / block what they wish without being sued.

The future outcome, if the Democratic Party wins, and these companies are not reined in from censoring and blocking communication, is that these companies will continue shutting down conservative views and thus greatly influence/control future elections (as they claimed they did in 2016) and thus keep the Democrat Party in power as they get better and bolder at it.  

2. Academia and the Teaching of American History (Primarily universities but their Anti-American and progressive reach now extends through high school, middle school, elementary school and even into kindergarten.) The Democrat Party plan for free college will result in exposing more and more young voters to the activist / progressive mentality on University Campuses. Liberal University Administrators outnumber conservative Administrators by a ratio of 12 to 1, which is twice as high an imbalance as the next most liberal profession (legal).  The list of endorsements by Academia on Wikipedia shows 127 endorsements for Biden and 0 for Trump.

3. Anarchist / revolution indoctrinated youth (mostly college age students and recent university graduates over the last 15 years or so) who have been indoctrinated in anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, socialist ideology (This age group is ripe for joining rioting and protesting, as has been seen in the summer of 2020). The influence this group of people may have on the Democrat Party in the future is unknown, but if the 2020 protests are any indication if “promised” progressive policies are not enacted this group may be a force for the Democrat Party to recon with and eventually succumb to.

4. Left Leaning Mainstream Media and Cable Networks and Newspapers -Owned, and directed by just a few media billionaires who control what news and information is disseminated from their newspapers and television outlets and how the information that is disseminated is biased/skewed to (1) promote the Democrat Party, (2) Condemn conservative thought and (3) vilify President Trump and help remove him from office. (Evidence for this approach has been fully and unapologetically on display for the last 4 years). Although “Love Trumps Hate” was a 2016 Election slogan used by Democrats, when Trump won, hate for Trump became widespread and visceral and was shamefully cultivated, and enhanced by the mainstream and cable media who have non-stop denigrated the President. “Hate Trump and all his Supporters” has been the in vogue rule of the media since 2016.

Journalistic honesty, independence, and diligence in investigation to determine the truth has clearly been absent.  Linkage in message between the Democrat Party and their sycophant media has been clearly on display.  With a large majority (70% – pew research) of listeners accepting what is presented as factual gives great power to the media / and in turn concomitant allegiance to voting for the Democratic Party is ingrained. This current lock step setup between the media and the Democrat Party promises, if the Democrat Party wins in 2020, to keep the Democrats, with control of the media, in control of the country politically for a long time to come.

5. Billionaires and Wall Street, are now major contributors to the Democrat Party and to Democrat candidates (e.g. George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Dustin Moskovitz). According to Forbes, 36 billionaires gave six-figure plus amounts to Joe Biden (1.24 million to $100,000) and, as of June 30, 109 billionaires had contributed to Joe Biden. Wall Street donations for Joe Biden outpace those to Trump by 5 to 1. The accepted “conventional wisdom” that the Republicans are for the rich and the rich are for Republicans is no longer true.  Despite Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren railing against billionaires and Wall Street, the billionaires, millionaires and Wall Street tycoons are funding the Democrats in droves and Senator Sanders doesn’t seem to object since it might put him in the driver’s seat for instituting his brand of socialism via a top spot in a Biden presidency.

6. Late night television hosts and Hollywood celebrities – In addition to the liberal news media, these celebrities flagrantly promote the Democrat Party and mock and condemn President Trump and conservatives.

7. Violent, militant Antifa, Black Lives Matter and other left-wing militant organizations. These organizations have terrorized conservative students and speakers on college campuses and have self-identified as Communist or , Marxist, Anti-American organizations bent on overthrowing America and/ or American institutions (e.g. one of Black Lives Matter core values is that they are: “committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure”. While Antifa is not specifically endorsed by the Democrat Party, neither have they been condemned by the Democrat Party for their violent attacks on conservative individuals and groups nor were they called out for their well-documented looting and rioting and attacks on police in the 2020 riots. (That is until after the DNC convention when it no longer looked politically expedient to remain mum.)  The logical, apparent influence / role of these groups if the Democrat Party gains power would be to lobby and or protest (perhaps violently) for more progressive policies. Or to unleash their bullying, protesting tactics on any resistance to such policies by conservatives or Christian based groups.  These groups are not an idle threat.

8. Democrat Party official, “mainstream” leadership (the DNC, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi) and Democrat Congressional Representatives. The “mainstream” Democrat Party “default platform” for the last four years was essentially “Hate Trump -Russian Collusion- Impeach Trump and Block all Republican Initiatives they reasonably could that would give Trump any credit”. That was the essence of the Democrat plan and primarily what they stood for and accomplished for the last 4 years. They have worked continuously to disrupt and delegitimize the Trump presidency. However, the Democrat Party, wisely in the months prior to the 2018 mid-term congressional elections put the “impeach trump activity” into dormancy (on hold) and a 2018 Mid-term Democrat platform emphasizing the fostering of  healthcare improvements was adopted in its stead.   This messaging to its faithful Democrat rank and file base was successful and the Democrat Party regained control of the House of Representatives and attendant committee leadership.  Under pressure from the far left “thought leaders” of the Party the “Impeach Trump” platform immediately resurfaced and the promised Healthcare Focus on which Democrat candidates were elected was not heard from again.  

Now Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his far to the left running mate Kamala Harris (ranked most liberal Senator by GovTrack) join Pelosi and Schumer as the Democrat Party official leadership and ostensibly would formulate and guide the plans, policies, and outcomes to be pursued if the Democrat Party prevails in the 2020 election.

 Although Joe Biden is being shrewdly portrayed as a moderate / non radical Presidential candidate (representative of the Democrat Party of old) in actuality the plans and polices to be pursued if Joe Biden is elected are not moderate at all.   These plans were formulated, apparently with Joe Biden’s blessing, by Bernie Sanders and the DNC into the 110 page “Unity Task Forces” Democrat Party Platform and this plan is what Joe Biden has signed onto.

Despite Biden’s claim that “I am the Democrat Party” it is readily evident that he is not. Joe Biden limped out of the first 3 Democrat Primaries with 14%, 8% and 19% of the vote, garnering him 2 distant 4th place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire and a poor second in Nevada to Bernie Sanders 40%. The DNC, Congressman James Clyburn and the Democrat Party Leadership , recognizing the countries inherent animas toward a “socialist” candidate and the difficulty such a candidate would have in defeating President Trump coalesced around the more acceptable but less dynamic and less inspiring, “converted moderate”, Joe Biden.  Biden, was then propped up for the nomination but the radical polices were maintained and in fact were ostensibly authored or greatly influenced by Bernie Sanders.

The DNC’s “gambit” on Joe Biden as the presidential nominee took place at the end of February before the Coronavirus menace began to dominate and the Democratic Party leaped on fear mongering the virus via the media and blaming President Trump for mis-handling the Coronavirus as a potential political advantage. However, the Democrat leadership at that primary time (late February) was involved with impeaching the President. Actually at the time the Coronavirus arose in the US they discounted the President’s worries/actions on Coronavirus (Speaker Pelosi was in San Francisco’s China Town encouraging patronage on Feb 24th and New York City Mayor DeBlasio was encouraging New Yorkers to “get out and live their lives” on March 2nd).  President Trump had issued the China travel ban on Jan. 31st (which Joe Biden criticized as xenophobic) and Trump initiated the “slow the spread” orders on March 16, when there were just 3,000 U.S. cases and 60 deaths. Now, despite the factual history on the US response, Joe Biden blames Trump for being too slow and causing “all 200,000 US deaths”, thereby weaponizing, with the aid of the media, the Coronavirus tragedy for political advantage. The condemnation of Trump’s handling of the intractable Coronavirus (which has baffled scientists and carried out its malevolence with impunity) is a total red herring, a ploy, unfairly, inaccurately, and shamefully thrown in by the Democrat Party to distract from their extremely progressive plans and policies dictating the country’s future.

9. The far to the left “unofficial leaders” of the Democratic Party, are much more radical and outspoken, they include: (1) the well- publicized, media promoted, avowed socialists (Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the squad), (2) most of the Democrat Presidential primary candidates, and (3) a 100 member progressive caucus in the House of Representatives (includes Bernie Sanders from the Senate).  These individuals, before, during and after the primary debates identified what are generally regarded as the true plans, policies, and outcomes being proposed by the Democrat Party, including: M

Socialized medicine/Medicare for all, elimination of fossil fuels / fracking and the end of our recently achieved energy independence, dismantling of border protections and support for sanctuary cities, elimination of charter schools, abortion up to the point of birth, free health care for illegal aliens, gun confiscation, free college tuition, defunding the police and eliminating ICE, repeal of the recent tax cuts /child credits,  and re-imposition of the regulations removed by the Trump administration, etc.  These and other progressive plans   are incorporated in the Biden -Sanders Plan – the “Unity Task Forces” document. Further, the outspoken proponents of these policies have already been announced as the leads for implementation in the Biden Cabinet – Sanders on Healthcare policy, Ocasio-Cortez – co-chair of a climate task force, Beto O’Rourke – in charge of Gun Control.

Expected Outcomes

All of the above entities are in league with the “modern” Democratic Party. They, symbolically form the Hydra, a 9-headed, prodigious, colossus, that works toward putting and keeping the Democrat Party in power.

After examination of the role and influence that each play, the expected outcomes if the Democrat Party gains control of the Presidency and both house of Congress in the near term and long term seems clear. Namely (1) adoption of the big government / socialistic plans and policies identified above under the analysis of the official and unofficial leadership of the Democrat Party which will fundamentally transform our society and (2) continued and further control/selective presentation of news and information by the media and further restriction of conservative speech on social media, college campuses and elsewhere thereby deceptively controlling the electorate and the elections.  

The ties and agreements these entities arrangements are in descript and are generally veiled, ignored, denied or rejected as Republican propaganda. The policies being promoted are, to a large degree, kept from being acknowledged/emphasized to the rank and file Democrat voter (but are well known and promoted by the progressive / left wing faction of the Democrat Party which dominated the Democrat Presidential primary voting).  

The extreme, progressive leftist platform of the Democrat Party, that was clearly evident in the Democrat Primary Debates, are not include in or focused on in the current TV ads for Joe Biden for president. Now that the primaries are over and the national election season is in full swing, not only has Joe Biden been “hidin” so has the true agenda of the Democrat Party.  Rather the messaging orchestrated by the Democratic Party and the Media to the American people shows Joe Biden as a moderate, calming force who loves America, who will not raise taxes on anyone making less than 400,000, will improve education, and improve healthcare. This non-descript, non-specific messaging being used is similar to the tactic used by the Democrat Party in the 2018 mid-terms and disguises the true agenda of Democrat party after the 2020 election to the rank and file Democrat voter.  The Joe Biden for President ads do not tout or even discuss the any of the progressive, transforming, and potentially economically devastating platform agenda items in the “Unity Task Forces” Democrat Party Platform.  Rather, Joe Biden is shown making non-descript, non-specific promises of better education, better healthcare and maintaining social security along with an anti-Trump mantra inexplicably, and illogically criticizing and blaming Trump for the Coronavirus plague.  That is what is heard by the American public. Dismantling border protections, allowing sanctuary cites, ending use of fossil fuels and fracking, defunding police, taking away private health care plans covering 180 million Americans and going to “Public Healthcare Option run by the Federal Government (socialized medicine), eliminating bail requirements for criminals, elimination of charter schools, funding of abortions, getting rid of the Trump tax cuts and increased child credits and the other progressive/radical plans promoted by the Democrat Presidential Primary Candidates and included in the Democrat Party platform are not mentioned as the Democrat Party objectives in the Joe Biden for President ads.

So, back to the original question – Can and will the Democrat Party do as they claim and fundamentally transform America if they gain control in 2020? Looks as if the answer is yes.

Thanks for reading.

What the Republicans Offer in the 2020 Election

A great deal of the focus on the November 3, 2020 presidential election is on two things (1) the personalities and physical and mental capabilities of the two candidates, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden and (2) blaming or not blaming Donald Trump for the Coronavirus. (A menace whose spread is apparently no respecter of political persuasion, predictions by scientists or health experts, masking or not masking, lockdown mandates or no lockdown mandates, and hot weather or cold weather.)

But this election is not really about Donald Trump   or   Joe Biden . 

This election is really about what the consequences of  implementing the policies of each party will be: 

The Republican Party plans and policies are about: preserving America!!

The Democrat Party and their media / big tech / radical left-wing allies are about: fundamentally transforming America!!  (See the Biden/Sanders “Unity Task Forces” plan ) 

The Republican Policies, Plans, Intended Outcomes

The policies, plans and desired outcomes that are expected to be associated with a victory in the 2020 election by the Republican Party (as asserted by the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, and as understood by the Republican rank and file voters), are primarily about:

  1. Preserving America, our Country, as we know it and have known it for almost 250 years.  Protecting our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court and our System of Checks and Balances, our Democratic Institutions, and the Electoral System.
  • Eradicating the Covid19 scourge through development of effective therapeutics and an effective vaccine while rebuilding the economy and reestablishing record setting employment and wage growth for all Americans, bringing back jobs to America and ensuring critical health and safety goods are produced in America, keeping taxes low, maintaining common sense regulations and establishing trade agreements favorable to the United States. Working for school choice and unbiased teaching of our American History in the schools.
  • Ensuring nomination of Constitutional Judges to the Supreme Court, and actively defending freedom of religion, protecting the unborn and defending the 2nd amendment. If the Affordable Care Act is deemed unconstitutional, getting a better healthcare plan passed, including protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Maintaining a strong military (peace through strength), securing our borders against drugs, human trafficking and illegal immigration and supporting our first responders (health and safety) and the police and also ensuring meaningful police reform (this was attempted following George Floyd’s killing via the “Justice Act” introduced by Senator Tim Scott but kept from advancing (60 vote requirement) for consideration by Democrat Senators).
  • Supporting Israel, while fostering Peace in the middle East and around the world and keeping the United States out of Foreign conflicts.

The above items are not just rhetoric or artificial, good sounding Republican “talking points”. They are specifics, able to be readily discerned and listed based on (1) the fully transparent statements of intent by Republican leadership, by the President and by the presenters at the Republican National Convention and (2) by observation of the actual record of efforts, actions and accomplishments toward these outcomes which have been on-going for the last 4 years and have been promised to be pursued/continued in the next term).  

Rank and file Republicans / Conservatives / and attentive Independents appear to be fully aware of and in complete accord with these off stated, clearly transparent plans, policies and intended outcomes. As far as can be discerned there are no Republican Party hidden agendas being kept from the Republican base of support or from the American people. 

A vote for Donald Trump and Republican Congressmen and Senators is basically a vote for:  Preserving America!!  

(see the companion post) – What Democrats offer in the 2020 election.

The 2020 Presidential Election – America’s Future Is On the Ballot

Evidentiary Analysis of the Projected Consequences Depending on Which Party Wins the Presidency and the Congress

A great deal of the focus on the November 3, 2020 presidential election is on two things (1) the depiction of the character, demeanor, and physical and mental capability of the two candidates, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden and (2) blame for the Coronavirus, a menace which whose spread is apparently no respecter of political persuasion, predictions by scientists or health experts, masking or not masking, lockdown mandates or no lockdown mandates, and hot weather or cold weather. Only one thing seems very clear, the threat to the elderly, especially those with underlying comorbidities (e.g. hypertension, asthma, type 2-diabetes, obesity) is much greater and thus the elderly need to be protected from exposure until a vaccine is produced.

But these two issues, as relevant, emotional and attention capturing as they are, THEY ARE NOT what this election is really about and what the consequences of it will be.

What the election is really about is preserving or ostensibly fundamentally transforming America!!

See the Biden / Sanders “Unity Task Forces” document.  What our votes are really about is what are the policies, plans and intended outcomes to be implemented or carried forward depending on which Party prevails.

Republican Policies, Plans, Intended Outcomes

The policies, plans and desired outcomes that are expected to be associated with a victory in the 2020 election by the Republican Party (as asserted by the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, and as understood by the Republican rank and file voters), are primarily about:

  1. Preserving America, our Country, as we know it and have known it for almost 250 years.  Protecting our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court and our System of Checks and Balances, our Democratic Institutions, and the Electoral System.
  2. Eradicating the Covid19 scourge through development of effective therapeutics and an effective vaccine while rebuilding the economy and reestablishing record setting employment and wage growth for all Americans, bringing back jobs to America and ensuring critical health and safety goods are produced in America, keeping taxes low, maintaining common sense regulations and establishing trade agreements favorable to the United States. Working for school choice and unbiased teaching of our American History in the schools.
  3. Ensuring nomination of Constitutional Judges to the Supreme Court, and actively defending freedom of religion, protecting the unborn and defending the 2nd amendment. If the Affordable Care Act is deemed unconstitutional, getting a better healthcare plan passed, including protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
  4. Maintaining a strong military (peace through strength), securing our borders against drugs, human trafficking and illegal immigration and supporting our first responders (health and safety) and the police and also ensuring meaningful police reform (this was attempted following George Floyd’s killing via the “Justice Act” introduced by Senator Tim Scott but kept from advancing (60 vote requirement) for consideration by Democrat Senators).
  5. Supporting Israel, while fostering Peace in the middle East and around the world and keeping the United States out of Foreign conflicts.

The above items are not just rhetoric or artificial, good sounding Republican “talking points”. They are specifics, able to be readily discerned and listed based on (1) the fully transparent statements of intent by Republican leadership, by the President and by the presenters at the Republican National Convention and (2) by observation of the actual record of efforts, actions and accomplishments toward these outcomes which have been on-going for the last 4 years and have been promised to be pursued/continued in the next term).  

Rank and file Republicans appear to be fully aware of and in complete accord with these off stated, clearly transparent plans, policies and intended outcomes. As far as can be discerned there are no Republican Party hidden agendas being  kept from the Republican base of support or from the American people.

 Democrat Policies, Plans, Intended Outcomes

The policies, plans and desired outcomes that would result from a victory in the 2020 election by the Democrat Party are more difficult to discern and specify as (1) the messaging comes from several different sources, (2) the messages of intent delivered depend on the audience, and (3) identifying who among the influencing forces and contributing entities will dictate the policies and plans.   Thus, to assess what might be the outcome of a Democratic victory requires identification of the various forces influencing / controlling the Democratic Party and then an assessment of the degree to which and how each of the forces are liable to affect the countries near and long-term future if Joe Biden is elected president and Democrats gain one or both houses of Congress.

The Democrat Party is now funded, led, supported and directed by an incongruous, alliance of powerful, disparate forces that have coalesced to take control of the Federal Government beginning in 2021. The stated plans and objectives to be implemented, if that control is achieved, could dismantle our economy and our economic system, diminish our individual freedoms and result in much greater Federal Government control of our lives, and our children’s lives in perpetuity.  It is evident, by their words, actions, and or funding that these various entities are in league with and support/fund/protect the Democratic Party.

 It is fairly evident that the current Democratic Party leadership’s is in alliance with various entities (e.g. media, big tech, billionaire donors), and that they are working on behalf of Democrat Party to gain and keep control of the Federal Government. These in descript arrangements are generally veiled, ignored, denied or rejected as Republican propaganda and are, to a large degree, kept from being emphasized to the rank and file Democrat voter (but are well known and promoted by the progressive / left wing faction of the Democrat Party which dominated the Democrat Presidential primary voting).  

The disparate forces, each for their own reasons, that are now and have been working to put the Democrat Party into power (i.e. gain control of Congress and the Presidency) are enumerated below along with what their impact might be on the future of America.

  1. The Giant Social Media / Internet Companies —Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.  These four companies comprise 4 out of the 5 largest companies in the United States.  They are now controlling, to a large extent, what information people see and hear on social media platforms, thereby directly and subliminally influencing behaviors including how people will vote. It is well documented that these companies are subverting free speech – suppressing information and blocking commentary by conservative individuals and conservative sites that are favorable to Republicans and unfavorable to Democrats.  (Most recently Facebook and Twitter taking down the news story on the New York Post’s discovery of Hunter Biden’s laptop with information connecting Joe Biden to Hunter’s Burisma contacts and the President’s press secretary’s account for passing it on. This action caught national attention. However, behind the scenes thousands of conservative voices and many sites on the internet are being silenced.) 

Why all these companies support the Democrat Party is speculative but one reason may have to do with the Republican Party’s efforts/pledge to take away the special immunity granted to the Social Media Giants by Congress – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – that has resulted in / allows them to censor / block what they wish without being sued.

The future outcome, if the Democratic Party wins, and these companies are not reined in from censoring and blocking, is that these companies will continue shutting down conservative views and thus greatly influence/control future elections (as was documented that they did in 2016) and thus keep the Democrat Party in power in the future as they get better and better at it.  

  • Academia and the Teaching of American History (Primarily universities but their Anti-American and progressive reach now extends through high school, middle school, elementary school and even into kindergarten.) The Democrat Party plan for free college will result in exposing more and more young voters to the activist / progressive mentality on University Campuses. Liberal University Administrators outnumber conservative Administrators by a ratio of 12 to 1, which is twice as high an imbalance as the next most liberal profession (legal).  The list of endorsements by Academia on Wikipedia shows 127 endorsements for Biden and 0 for Trump.
  • Anarchist / revolution indoctrinated youth (mostlycollege age students and recent university graduates over the last 15 years or so) who have been indoctrinated in anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, socialist ideology (and ripe for joining rioting and protesting, as has been seen in the summer of 2020). The influence this group of people may have on the Democrat Party in the future is unknown, but if the 2020 protests are any indication if “promised” progressive policies are not enacted this group may be a force for the Democrat Party to recon with and eventually succumb to.
  • Left Leaning Mainstream Media and Cable Networks and Newspapers -Owned, and directed by just a few media billionaires who control what news and information is disseminated from their newspapers and television outlets and how the information that is disseminated is biased/skewed to (1) promote the Democrat Party, (2) Condemn conservative thought and (3) vilify President Trump and help remove him from office. (Evidence for this approach has been fully and unapologetically on display for the last 4 years). Although “Love Trumps Hate” was a 2016 Election slogan used by Democrats, when Trump won hate for Trump became widespread and visceral and was shamefully cultivated, and enhanced by the media who have non-stop denigrated the President.

Journalistic honesty, independence, and diligence in investigation to determine the truth has been clearly absent.  Linkage in message between the Democrat Party and their sycophant media has been clearly on display.  With a large majority (70% – pew research) of listeners accepting what is presented as factual gives great power to the media / and in turn concomitant allegiance to voting for the Democratic Party is ingrained. This current lock step setup between the media and the Democrat Party promises, if the Democrat Party wins in 2020, to keep the Democrats, with control of the media, in control of the country politically for a long time to come.

  • Billionaires and Wall Street, are now major contributors to the Democrat Party and to Democrat candidates (e.g. George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Dustin Moskovitz). According to Forbes, 36 billionaires gave six-figure plus amounts to Joe Biden (1.24 million to $100,000) and, as of June 30, 109 billionaires had contributed to Joe Biden. Wall Street donations for Joe Biden outpace those to Trump by 5 to 1. The accepted “conventional wisdom” that the Republicans are for the rich and the rich are for Republicans is no longer true.  Despite Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren railing against billionaires and Wall Street, the billionaires, millionaires and Wall Street tycoons are funding the Democrats in droves and Senator Sanders doesn’t seem to object since it might put him in the driver’s seat for instituting his brand of socialism via a top spot in a Biden presidency. 
  • Late night television hosts and Hollywood celebrities – In addition to the liberal news media, these celebrities flagrantly promote the Democrat Party and mock and condemn President Trump and conservatives.
  • Violent, militant Antifa, Black Lives Matter and other left-wing militant organizations. These organizations have terrorized conservative students and speakers on college campuses and have self-identified as Communist, Marxist, Anti-American organizations bent on overthrowing America and/ or American institutions (e.g. one of Black Lives Matter core values is that they are: “committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure”. While Antifa is not specifically endorsed by the Democrat Party, neither have they been condemned by the Party for their violent attacks on conservative individuals and groups nor were they called -out for their well-documented looting, and rioting and attacks on police in the 2020 riots. (Until after the DNC convention when it no longer looked politically expedient to remain mum.)  The logical, apparent influence / role of these groups if the Democrat Party gains power would be to lobby and or protest (perhaps violently) for more progressive policies. Or to unleash their bullying, protesting tactics on any resistance to such policies by conservatives or Christian based groups.  These groups are not an idle threat.
  • Democrat Party official, “mainstream” leadership (the DNC, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi) and Democrat Congressional representatives. The “mainstream” Democrat Party “default platform” for the last four years was essentially “Hate Trump -Russian Collusion- Impeach Trump and Block all Republican Initiatives they reasonably could that would give Trump any credit”. That was the essence of the Democrat plan and primarily what they stood for. They have worked continuously to disrupt and delegitimize the Trump presidency. However, the Democrat Party, wisely in the months prior to the 2018 mid-term congressional elections put the “impeach trump activity” into dormancy (on hold) and a Democrat platform emphasizing fostering healthcare improvements was adopted in its stead.   This messaging to its faithful Democrat rank and file base was successful and the Democrat Party regained control of the House of Representatives and attendant committee leadership.  Under pressure from the far left “thought leaders” of the Party the “Impeach Trump” platform immediately resurfaced and the promised Healthcare Focus on which Democrat candidates were elected was not heard from again.  

Now Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his far to the left running mate Kamala Harris (ranked most liberal Senator by GovTrack) join Pelosi and Schumer as the Democrat Party official leadership and ostensibly would formulate and guide the plans, policies, and outcomes to be pursued if the Democrat Party prevails in the 2020 election. Although Joe Biden is being shrewdly portrayed as a moderate / non radical Presidential candidate (representative of the Democrat Party of old) in actuality the plans and polices to be pursued if Joe Biden is elected are not moderate at all.   These plans were formulated, apparently with Joe Biden’s blessing, by Bernie Sanders and the DNC into the 110 page “Unity Task Forces” Democrat Platform and this plan is what Joe Biden has signed onto.

Despite Biden’s claim that “I am the Democrat Party” it is readily evident that he is not. Joe Biden limped out of the first 3 Democrat Primaries with 14%, 8% and 19% of the vote, garnering him 2 distant 4th place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire and a poor second in Nevada to Bernie Sanders 40%. The DNC, Congressman James Clyburn and the Democrat Party Leadership , recognizing the countries inherent animas toward a “socialist” candidate and the difficulty such a candidate would have in defeating President Trump coalesced around the more acceptable but less dynamic and less inspiring, “converted moderate”, Joe Biden.  Biden, was then propped up for the nomination but the radical polices were maintained and in fact were ostensibly authored or greatly influenced by Bernie Sanders. The DNC’s “gambit” on Joe Biden as the presidential nominee took place at the end of February before the Coronavirus menace began to dominate and the Democratic Party leaped on it as a potential political advantage. The Democrat leadership at the time was involved with impeaching the President at the time the Coronavirus arose and they discounted the President’s worries/actions on Coronavirus (Speaker Pelosi was in San Francisco’s China Town encouraging patronage on Feb 24th and New York City Mayor DeBlasio was encouraging New Yorkers to “get out and live their lives” on March 2nd).  President Trump issued the China travel ban on Jan. 31st (which Joe Biden criticized as xenophobic) and Trump initiated the “slow the spread” orders on March 16, when there were just 3,000 U.S. cases and 60 deaths. Now, despite the factual history Joe Biden blames Trump for being too slow and causing “all 200,000 US deaths”, thereby weaponizing, with the aid of the media, the Coronavirus tragedy for political advantage. The condemnation of Trump’s handling of the intractable Coronavirus (which has baffled scientists and carried out its malevolence with impunity) is a total red herring, a ploy, unfairly, inaccurately, and shamefully thrown in by the Democrat Party to distract from their extremely progressive plans and policies dictating the country’s future.  

None of the extreme, progressive leftist platform items seem to be covered or focused on or emphasized in the current TV ads for Joe Biden for president. Now that the primaries are over and the national election season is in full swing, not only has Joe Biden been “hidin” so has the true agenda of the Democrat Party, that was clearly evident in the Democrat Primary Debates. ‘Rather the messaging orchestrated by the Democratic Party and the Media to the American people, veils the extreme progressive plans for the country. This messaging tactic is similar to the tactic used by the Democrat Party in the 2018 mid-terms and is being used to disguise the true agenda of Democrat party after the 2020 election.  The Joe Biden for President ads do not tout or even discuss the any of the progressive, transforming, and potentially economically devastating platform agenda items in the “Unity Task Forces” Democrat Party Platform.  Rather, Joe Biden is shown making non-descript, non-specific promises of better education, better healthcare and maintaining social security along with an anti-Trump mantra inexplicably, and illogically criticizing and blaming Trump for the Coronavirus plague.  That is what is heard by the American public. Dismantling border protections, allowing sanctuary cites, ending use of fossil fuels and fracking, defunding police, taking away private health care plans covering 180 million Americans and going to “Public Healthcare Option run by the Federal Government (socialized medicine), eliminating bail requirements for criminals, elimination of charter schools, funding of abortions, getting rid of the Trump tax cuts and increased child credits and the other progressive/radical plans promoted by the Democrat Presidential Primary Candidates and included in the Democrat Party platform are not mentioned as the Democrat Party objectives in the Joe Biden for President ads.   

  • The far to the left “unofficial leaders” of the Democratic Party, are much more radical and outspoken, they include (1) the well- publicized, media promoted, avowed socialists (Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the squad), (2) most of the Democrat Presidential primary candidates, and a 100 member progressive caucus in the House of Representatives (includes Bernie Sanders from the Senate).  These individuals, before, during and after the primary debates identified what are generally regarded as the true plans, policies, and outcomes being proposed by the Democrat Party, including – Medicare for all, elimination of fossil fuels / fracking and the end of our recently achieved energy independence, dismantling of border protections and support for sanctuary cities, abortion up to the point of birth, free health care for illegal aliens, gun confiscation, free college tuition, repeal of tax cuts and re-imposition of the regulations removed by the Trump administration, etc. Most of these and other progressive plans are incorporated in the Biden Plan / “Unity Task Forces” and the outspoken proponents of these policies have already been announced as the leads for implementation in the Biden Cabinet – Sanders on Healthcare policy, Ocasio-Cortez – chair of a climate task force, Beto O’Rourke – in charge of Gun Control.

All of these organizations and entities are supporting the Democratic Party, forming a Hydra, a 9-headed, prodigious, colossus, that has worked toward putting and keeping the Democrat Party in power. After examination of the role and influence that each plays, the expected outcomes if the Democrat Party gains control of the Presidency and both house of Congress in the near term and long term seems clear.

Namely (1) adoption of the big government / socialistic plans and policies identified above under the analysis of the official and unofficial leadership of the Democrat Party which will fundamentally transform our society and (2) continued and further control/selective presentation of news and information by the media and further restriction of conservative speech on social media, college campuses and elsewhere thereby deceptively controlling the electorate and the elections.  

So now it is up to the Voters – Democrats – Republicans – Independents

It seems like in recent years the candidates for President and the Congressional Offices always claim that the current election is the most important election that our country has ever had. Well, this one really is, and if President Trump wins so will the next one be and the one after that, etc.  Why is that?

  • Well first it is so that: “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  (Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg address

Could our nation effectively “perish from the earth” if the Democrats gain, the Presidency, the Senate and keep the House of Representatives in the 2020 election?  The evidence that that may be the case is quite compelling, because:

  • The changing demographics in our country, the stranglehold on communication / messaging by Big Media and the censoring / speech control by Big Tech, the anti-American ideology that has been and is now being taught by Academia to our younger generation, the potential of universal amnesty and citizenship to millions of illegal aliens and the threatened change in makeup of the House and Senate (adding two more states that vote with the Democrats) and packing the Supreme Court with liberals could keep the “progressive Democrat Party regime” in control of the country for the foreseeable future.   

Traditionally Democrat Voters

However, before the plans and goals of the Democrat Party can be put into place in the country, the most important participants of the 2020 election– the voters – must put them into power.  Despite the radical shift that the Democrat party has undergone, the Democrat Party still want and need the votes of their long time, party faithful. People who have voted for Democrat candidates for years may or not be aware of the real plans, policies and intend outcomes of the Democrat Party should they gain control.   The rank and file Democrat voters, the party faithful, may not realize that (1) there have been major role reversals in the two major political parties, and (2) they may have been kept unaware of any positive accomplishments of the Trump Administration (energy independence, low unemployment, ISIS Caliphate removal, border control, higher wages and lowest unemployment for all demographics pre-Covid, mid -East peace agreements, etc. ). Further the non-stop “hate Trump” and “Trump condemnation” messaging of the last 4 years may have been sufficient to keep Democrat voters in the fold without the Democrat Party ever broadcasting the major progressive platform agenda items that could transform their America.

Republican Voters – Fiscal Conservatives – Evangelicals – Blue collar workers

The situation with voter projection for the traditional, conservative Republican voters including the vast majority of Christian Evangelicals is relatively straight forward.  In 2016 the raucous, politically inexperienced, neophyte Donald Trump was an unknown quantity to conservatives and only a “promise maker” to evangelicals on such things as Supreme Court nominations, pro-life actions, and religious freedom defense and likewise to workers on bringing back American factories and jobs. Four years later, with most promises diligently worked on and kept, the unknown quantity, Trump, is now a known quantity and those voters are aware of what has been done and are enthusiastically on board for re-election. Few if any of those offended by his character in the “never Trump” camp and those threatened individuals who still reside in the Deep State will be voting for Trump. The degree to which the facts of what was done by the Trump Administration pre-Covid for all demographics (especially Opportunity Zones, reduced unemployment, Historical Black Colleges) belie the constant racism charges but whether it will override the emotion and messaging associated with the rioting and increase minority vote for Trump is unknown. Likewise, the traditional Jewish votes for the Democrats may be swayed by his efforts on Israel. Certainly, the attendance and enthusiasm at the Trump rallies would indicate incredible grass root / common people support for Trump.  However, the visceral hate / bullying / violence against Trump supporters continues such that people are afraid (in my neighborhood) to even put up a yard sign for Trump. One 95-year old ladies yard sign was taken away twice and when her son requested a reprieve on Nextdoor – he was answered by a slew of hate Trump vitriol. “Love trumps Hate” was turned into “Lets Hate Trump” when he won the election.

Independents

      As has been the case for many elections those who vote as Independents will determine the outcome of the election.  Hopefully, the Independents have been diligent in sorting through the messaging and rhetoric and are able to discern the real issue what the true projected outcome for the United States of America will be depending on whether the Republican Party or the Democrat Party is put into power.  

May God Bless and Protect America’s Future in this election.

Thanks for reading – Larry Von Thun

The Party Has Been Crashed

America’s Democratic Party of the past supported America, the working class and the poor. That Party has been crashed.  The 1996 Democratic Platform stated:

 In 1996, America will choose the President who will lead us from the millennium which saw the birth of our nation, and into a future that has all the potential to be even greater than our magnificent past. Today’s Democratic Party is ready for that future….We want an America that gives all Americans the chance to live out their dreams and achieve their God-given potential. We want an America that is still the world’s strongest force for peace and freedom …Today’s (1996) Democratic Party is determined to renew America’s most basic bargain: Opportunity to every American, and responsibility from every American.”

These words typify what the loving, caring, and patriotic Democrats that I know, work with, go to church with and may still believe people will be ushering in to our country if they vote the Democratic ticket in 2020. 

But now, the Democratic Party strikes out “magnificent past”, freedom “to live out their dreams”, and “God” from their platform. .  

News Flash! …..One that will not be on the nightly news – the Democratic Party has been crashed and taken over by Socialist Ideologs (Sanders, Talib, AOC, Ilan Omar), Hedge Fund and Media Billionaires (Bloomberg, Steyer, Soros, Simons, Sussman and 127 more billionaires), and Tech Giant censors (Google, Twitter, Facebook). Further, while not strictly part of the Democratic party, Antifa, the militant anti-America, fascist group is commonly known and recognized as the “militant arm” of the Democratic Party.    Antifa members have violently attacked Conservative students and student groups like Turning Point USA and have attacked, protested and had canceled speakers, like Conservative Ben Shapiro, who have come to the colleges to provide a pro- America message on college campuses. Now this opportunistic hate America group, who stand for the violent overthrow of America, has participated in the looting, rioting and burning our major cities.  Antifa is not being called out or condemned by our current Democratic Party. 

Do not be fooled by the DNC rescuing and the propping up of the once moderate Joe Biden as the party standard bearer – their platform was written incorporating the radical concepts being promoted by the far left.  Joe Biden has accepted that platform and claimed that his will be the most “progressive administration” in the history of the country.   Joe Biden will be putty in the hands of the radicals who have fundamentally transformed the Democratic Party and who want to fundamentally transform America into a strong centralized state where the government controls all and our individual freedoms are curtailed.

Mainstream Media, MSNBC and CNN only present the “news” they want you to hear.  Branch out!!.  As John Stuart Mill said “He who only knows one side of a story knows little of that.”   Become aware and be aware, Democrats, Independents and those Republicans who do not like Trumps personality or tweets — the Democratic Party of old has been crashed.

Media Divide

If we all, in the United States of America, got the same information, and that information was presented fully, factually and fairly, our country would be much more united. However, that is not what we get.  A recent Gallup poll showed that 84% of Americans blame the media for how divided the country is. 

 A plurality of people (Group 1) who get their news and information from television (about 22 million nightly ), watch the once common, reliable and accepted way to get the news, from television channels ABC, NBC, and CBS.  Those outlets are now left leaning (Pew Research, allsides.com, media bias chart) and those watching, unsuspectingly, get a restricted version of news and information from these main stream outlets.  Along with the news comes a thinly veiled, subtly biased, commentary on that information from anchors and guests designed to promulgate a narrative that demeans President Trump and is meant to undermine the Trump Administration. The echo chamber parody of headline assertions among the newscasts that time and time again occurs, shows that there is a match between those network headline words assertions and the talking points of the Democratic Party leadership in contemporaneous interviews. This message commonality, which I have seen portrayed many times over the last 4 years, reveals an apparently well-coordinated effort among these networks and between them and the democratic party. The apparent ultimate aim of these skewed news presentations is: (1) to harm the Trump Presidency and (2) to help the Democrats politically. That has been the pattern for the last 4 years. The news and information presented is stripped and honed to foster anti-President Trump narrative.  Not only is about 90% of the political / national / international news and information that is presented related to the present administration relayed with a negative connotation, typically and most importantly, news, information and events that would or could give a favorable view of this President is not presented. The lack of presentation of favorable news, of what has been accomplished, is the most distressing and most impactful aspect of the news bias. Listeners who only hear troubling news and blame for it put on President Trump will certainly be disposed to think poorly of the job the president is doing.

The instances that positive information concerning what has been accomplished under the Trump Administration has not been relayed to the listener over the last 4 years are numerous. Most recently the President was nominated for a Noble Peace Prize for the work he and his administration did in getting the Middle East accord between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. And a few days later he received a second Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the economic normalization agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia. Neither of these nominations were even mentioned on the nightly news on ABC, NBC, and CBS.  Another example was that Donald Trump’s Patriotic 2020 Independence Day speech, on the eve of July 4th at Mt. Rushmore, was not carried by any of the major TV networks. But the next day the network anchors and the anti-Trump newspapers ubiquitously called this fundamentally patriotic speech, which showed respect for America, recognized a diverse array of America’s legends and honored each of the Presidents on Mt. Rushmore, as “divisive”. So, the vast majority of the US population did not get to hear the speech and only heard the headline “Trump makes divisive speech at Mt. Rushmore” which was not in the least the case, unless you consider celebrating your country and a very broad, diverse cross section of its outstanding citizens on July 4 as divisive.  Of course, what was truly divisive and intentionally so was that following day’s mainstream media news coverage.

The persistent negative portrayal of President Trump by ABC, CBS and NBC and the lack of or minimal presentation of the numerous positive results that his administration has achieved for the country economically and in foreign relations (or the false characterization of them) stands in stark contrast to the nature of coverage received by President Obama on these networks. For 8 years, the fawning, flattering, reverential coverage given to all that President Obama said and did, closely resembled the concept we have of “State Run News”. The contrast could not have been more distinct nor the evidence of motive and bias more evident.

The other participants in the “Group 1” United States television news audience are those who watch CNN and MSNBC (a combined total of about 2.5 million people nightly).  These blatantly hate-trump, left, and far left outlets respectively feature anchors who continually, viciously demean, ridicule, mock and deride the President. They cast any news related to President Trump in the most unfavorable light possible, routinely present anti-Trump conjectures from unverified sources as truth and do not present favorable information or any good news that might give some credit to the President.  Their vitriol, rudeness and disrespect toward this president is disgraceful in the extreme. Total rejecting the 2016 Democrat campaign slogans of “Love Trumps Hate” and “When They Go Low We Go High” these two cable news networks have non-stop slandered the President and fed and fostered hate of President Trump. Like some in the democratic party leadership in Congress, (e.g. Adam Schiff) these outlets ascribe to the current “say anything” , the “make any outlandish claim you wish”, and the “any means to the desired end” philosophy of journalism regardless of the truth and do not apologize or correct their claims when evidence to the contrary is exposed. That way they keep people believing the deception that they previously conveyed. A couple of good examples of this perpetuation of a manufactured claim are (1) the mischaracterization of 16 year old Nick Sandman’s benign, passive response to March disruptors at the March for Life and (2) the mischaracterization of Donald Trumps “very fine people” statement at Charlottesville (described subsequently).

By contrast, a second smaller, “Group 2” of television news viewers (about 3 million) get another, completely different version and perspective on the news and information from the conservative leaning outlet, Fox news. Fox’s evening news programs (Special Report with Brett Baier and The Story with Martha MacCallum) do an excellent job of bringing on and interviewing representatives from both parties and experts on either side of the issues.  I find that Fox actually is indeed “fair and balanced” and Fox covers all the relevant news on an issue including that which the news the other media apparently does not want us to hear or see. Like, for example the Middle East accord presentations and signings that were brokered by Jared Kushner and the Trump administration, Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nominations, the massive crowds at Trump’s rallies and his speeches. 

Both Group1 and Group 2 listeners generally accept what is presented as the truth. ********* No wonder the country is divided.   ********* People in our country hear, believe and defend two different realities. Group 1 can’t see how Group 2 (Trump following deplorables) can possibly think the way they do. Group 2 people see Group 1 people as being manipulated and kept uninformed to help Democrats, to stoke hate and to generate chaos and keep anti-Trump fervor going. The polls show that 70 % of Fox news watchers believe Trump has done an excellent job for our country with respect to the Corona virus. While overall only 23% of Americans considered he did an excellent job. (Of course the other TV outlets convey that Trump has done a terrible job with managing the Corona virus.

News and information transmission is not just obtained from a single television outlet. Some people hear both versions of the news, some get neither, some only hear or see the “negative headlines” and many get their information from social media or word of mouth. Buta good share of these other various news dispersal pipelines likely have television news as their original source.  

Once one has listened to, watched and gained a fuller understanding of all the information concerning any issue or situation and knows the actual facts, it is easy to see the duplicity and intentional bias in the presentation of the scripted / selective news by “mainstream and cable news” outlet anchors. One recent example is the persistent claim/presentation by the mainstream media over the recent weeks / months of rioting, arson, looting, wanton destruction of businesses and injury to hundreds of police officers in several major US cites.  For months the ongoing violence and destruction was labeled and presented as “mostly peaceful protests” by the news media and the democratic leadership. The Republican Party leaders and Fox news were derided and accused of presenting a false narrative. The real facts of the situation were kept from the public.  Then just after the democratic convention, during which the riots and disruption was not mentioned at all, the news media acknowledged the rioting and blamed it on the Trump administration. However, what is most disconcerting and reprehensible is that, unlike most or many of their listeners, the anchors and the “journalists” feeding them information, certainly know all the news and background information and what the truth really is (like for example they knew that there was no Russia collusion by Trump’s team) but they become actors each day, continuing to convey known false narratives and keeping the full truth that they know from their viewers. These anchors are actors, especially those on CNN and MSNBC. They are daily putting on a show of outrage, and condemnation of the President or the Republicans or Fox news, all the while knowing the full story but only presenting a portion of the news and putting forward false narratives that they are instructed to convey each day.

This deception and manipulation of the people of our country in news and information presentation has gone on for almost four years in an effort to damage Donald Trump and the Trump presidency. One of the most damaging, most persistent and most egregious deceptions (because the truth was known right away and Trump’s actual words were recorded), was the deceptions that President Trump called “the white supremacists/Neo-Nazis’ marching at Charlottesville “very fine people” and the companion claim that “Trump has never condemned the white supremacists who support him”. The “very fine people on both sides” was actually a reference to those debating the retention of a Robert E. Lee statue and the condemnation of the white supremacists came in his remarks shortly after.  These incorrect characterizations of what he said have been used to condemn and accuse Trump hundreds of times by celebrities, by the Democratic Congressional leadership and Democratic presidential candidates, and by media anchors. And they knew it all to be false!!  Inexplicably host Chris Wallace, who should of know better, brought up the accusation in the September 29th debate and Joe Biden in a remarkable bit of theatre and drama had Trump saying it as well. (and he was not challenged)  The article by Steven Cortes on March 21, 2019 in the centrist outlet Real Clear Politics, copied below (Trumps words from the transcript in bold) provides a record of what was actually said:

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Trump Didn’t Call Neo-Nazis ‘Fine People.’ Here’s Proof.

COMMENTARY     By Steve Cortes      March 21, 2019

News anchors and pundits have repeated lies about Donald Trump and race so often that some of these narratives seem true, even to Americans who embrace the fruits of the president’s policies.  The most pernicious and pervasive of these lies is the “Charlottesville Hoax,” the fake-news fabrication that he described the neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 as “fine people.”  Just last week I exposed this falsehood, yet again, when CNN contributor Keith Boykin falsely stated, “When violent people were marching with tiki torches in Charlottesville, the president said they were ‘very fine people.’” When I objected and detailed that Trump’s “fine people on both sides” observation clearly related to those on both sides of the Confederate monument debate, and specifically excluded the violent supremacists, anchor Erin Burnett interjected, “He [Trump] didn’t say it was on the monument debate at all.  No, they didn’t even try to use that defense. It’s a good one, but no one’s even tried to use it, so you just used it now.” 

My colleagues seem prepared to dispute our own network’s correct contemporaneous reporting and the very clear transcripts of the now-infamous Trump Tower presser on the tragic events of Charlottesville.  Here are the unambiguous actual words of President Trump:   “Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group.  But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.  You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same pictures you did.  You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”                                                  After another question at that press conference, Trump became even more explicit: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”          As a man charged with publicly explaining Donald Trump’s often meandering and colloquial vernacular in highly adversarial TV settings, I appreciate more than most the sometimes-murky nature of his off-script commentaries.  But these Charlottesville statements leave little room for interpretation.  For any honest person, therefore, to conclude that the president somehow praised the very people he actually derided, reveals a blatant and blinding level of bias.  Nonetheless, countless so-called journalists have furthered this damnable lie.  For example, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace responded that Trump had “given safe harbor to Nazis, to white supremacists.”  Her NBC colleague Chuck Todd claimed Trump “gave me the wrong kind of chills. Honestly, I’m a bit shaken from what I just heard.” Not to be outdone, print also got in on the act, with the New York Times spewing the blatantly propagandist headline: “Trump Gives White Supremacists Unequivocal Boost.” How could the Times possibly reconcile that Trump, who admonished that the supremacists should be “condemned totally” somehow also delivered an “unequivocal boost” to those very same miscreants? But like many fake news narratives, repetition has helped cement this one into a reasonably plausible storyline for all but the most skeptical consumers of news.  In fact, over the weekend, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on why Trump has not given a speech “condemning … white supremacist bigotry.”  Well, Chris, he has, and more than once.  The most powerful version was from the White House following Charlottesville and the heartbreaking death of Heather Heyer.  President Trump’s succinct and direct words: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

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In summary, a snapshot estimate of primetime TV news listeners provides a glimpse on the size of the two groups receiving alternative versions of the news. About 22 million people watch liberal leaning ABC, CBS, and NBC and 2.5 million follow the blatantly hate filled rhetoric against our country’s President from CNN and MSNBC.  About 3 million people get news and opinion from the much-maligned conservative leaning Fox. A 24.5 million to 3 million advantage. Despite that advantage the more complete picture of reality as presented on Fox must help truth and good news get out. Trump’s crowds and the nearly even split in polling in the battle ground states show that to be the case.

For many years, being busy with work and family and only catching a bit of the headline news on TV and in the Denver Post I now realize I was minimally informed, (I primarily looked at the sports pages).  My awakening came when I heard President Obama’s comment, in March of 2012, on the challenge being made to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act , as reported on mainstream TV channels.  His comment which the anchor slavishly touted was: “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  Claiming, in effect, that the Supreme Court had never overturned any laws passed by Congress, which was clearly wrong.  I knew that statement not to be true, (the first instance was as early as 1803 in Marbury vs Madison), so I went to the Denver Post the next day to see what had been said about this Obama misstatement. Nothing!  Not a word, (even though by then his error had been exposed).  What was in the Denver Post editorial page, was an extensive article that excoriated Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan’s proposed budget to cut Federal spending – accusing him of wanting to “throw granny under the bus”.    

I realized then, and have been observing it ever since, that the left leaning outlets only give you the news that they want you to hear. That is why we are divided, more than half the people watching Television newscasts (and subsequently relay to their friends and family) only part of the news and only part of the stories they do get to here. Further the part they get is skewed to enhance one political party, the Democrats.   

So, it became clear to me after watching Fox news and comparing their coverage to what was being broadcast on mainstream TV and especially on CNN and MSNBC , that if anyone wants to find out what and how much they have been missing they need to watch Fox news. As their slogan says: We Report You Decide. I am quite sure if our country’s citizens all had the benefit of fair, honest, unbiased and complete reporting of the facts of what is going on with respect to every domestic and international issue they would become more knowledgeable and informed about the issues of the day, they would know the truth and the truth would unite the country. 

The Electoral System, Important in 1787 and Still Essential

Part I – The Electoral System provided for in the United States Constitution

In 1787, when US Constitution was written there were just 13 states. State’s Rights versus a Strong Central Government was one of the major issues that had to be accounted for in all the deliberations related to balance of power between those competing concepts. In the formation of our government, states with smaller populations did not want to be “run over” or inordinately controlled by states with larger populations. Conversely, states with large populations representing greater numbers of people considered that they should have more say on governance and in the election process. From the standpoint of legislation (passing laws, authorizing spending, etc.), the allocation of influence in accordance with larger and smaller populations among the states was solved by the Framers of our Constitution via establishing a bicameral legislature, i.e. two houses comprising the Congress.  The House of Representatives, in which the number of representatives for a state was based on population and the Senate in which each state had an equal number of representatives (2). That arrangement was agreed-upon and has worked out very well. It avoided the potential, at that time, of two or three of the most populous states (with larger number of representatives) getting together and controlling the outcome on an issue for the entire country.

With respect to the election of the President of the United States, the Framers likewise devised a unique way, the Electoral System, to help ensure that the will of the entire country and not just a highly populated state or region would control the outcome of the National Election for the President. The Framers could have used a “One State – One Vote” option or they could have opted for a total popular vote option “One Person-One Vote”. The first option would have respected the distinctiveness and importance of each state but would have not accounted for states with much larger populations.  The second option would have provided the more populous states with the potential to unduly control the outcome of the Presidential election and essentially neglect the input from smaller states.  The Framers solution was a third option, the Electoral System.  Under the Electoral System, States were allotted “electors” to vote for their choice of President in accordance with their population. More populous states were given more electoral votes to cast for President than were the less populated states. Each state received the same number of electors as the number of Congressional Representatives they had. One for each member they had in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Thereby the Framers ensured that the number of votes each State had in the Presidential election was in proportion to the State’s population*.   The use of an Electoral System allows the greater population of the larger states to be fairly and appropriately accounted for in the election.  The “saving grace” for the smaller populous states under the electoral system was that a huge “margin of victory” in the popular vote in a given state or states (specifically the very large populous states), for what ever reason, did not cancel out the vote from smaller populous states and thus dictate the overall outcome.  Here are two examples that show how the Electoral System  fairly accounts  for the larger population states but protects the input from the states with smaller populations through exclusion of the “margin of victory” in the popular vote in a state. 

Example 1 – Looking at the state populations in 1790 and the associated electoral votes assigned and applied in the 1792 election, it can be seen that the population of Massachusetts (1790 census) was 378,000, with 16 electoral votes which was comparable to the total 16 electoral votes from the combined populations of Vermont- 85,000,  New Hampshire -142,000, Delaware 59,000 and Rhode Island 69,000.  If, for example, the popular vote for a particular candidate that year was overwhelming in Massachusetts (say 90% for one Candidate), but was just over 50% in the other 4 states cited for the same candidate. That Candidate would receive 16 electoral votes from Massachusetts and 16 electoral votes from the other 4 states.  No “extra credit” would be given toward the candidate’s overwhelming victory in Massachusetts.                                                            * A minimum of 3 electoral votes was assigned to States with small populations (one Representative plus two Senators).

Example 2 – At present, in the year 2020, California will receive 55 electoral votes while Delaware will receive 3.   In fact because of its large population, California receives as many electoral votes as the combined total of Vermont , Wyoming, West Virginia, Utah, South Dakota, Rhode Island, North Dakota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Delaware, Alaska and Hawaii combined (as many electoral votes as 15 other states ).  Thus, it can be seen that the Electoral System fairly accounts for the voting power of the greater population of California.

However, as indicated above and described below there was (and is) a subtle but important difference associated with the “the margin” of a popular vote victory in any given state and the provision for proportionally crediting states with larger populations.  The provision, put in place by the Framers of the Constitution, was to use electors in proportion with a state’s population, rather than summing  popular vote totals from each state.  Note that typically (48 out of 50 states**), use a winner take all system to decide how their electors will cast their ballots for President.

So, to illustrate how the “margin of popular vote victory” in a state is kept from unduly controlling the overall election” in the electoral system consider the following example.  Assume (relatively reasonably based on the 2010 census) that the population of California and the population of the sum of the 15 States cited above both equal 40 million and that everyone in all of the 16 states vote, for either Candidate A, a conservative from Texas, or Candidate B, a liberal (favorite son) from California.  Now let’s assume that Candidate A wins the popular vote in each of the 15 states cited above, fairly decisively, by an average margin of 55% to 45%, thus receiving 22,000,000 votes while Candidate B receives 18,000,000 votes.  However, in California Candidate B wins overwhelmingly taking 75% of the popular vote, 30,000,000 votes to 10,000,000 votes.  Under the Constitutions’s Electoral System Candidate B wins California, and gets 55 electoral votes and Candidate A wins 15 states and also gets 55 electoral votes.

However, under a popular vote system, there would be 48,000,000 votes for Candidate B and 32,000,000 votes for Candidate A.  The preference of the 15 states for Candidate A would have been completely overwhelmed by the much larger popular vote winning differential in California of 20,000,000 for Candidate B vs the total winning differential of 4,000,000 for Candidate A in the other  15 states. The net outcome toward the Presidential Election of these 16  states (without the electoral system) would be a popular vote lead of 16,000,000 votes for Candidate B – easily nullifying the democratically chosen preference of 15 States for Candidate A.   This is what the electoral system was established to avoid – potential dominance from the popular “margin of victory” in very high population states!

Clearly such a situation as the Presidential Candidate being from a very large population state, such as used in the example could swell the margin of victory in an individual state. That well could have been one of the factors that the Framers considered.  For example the population of Virginia in 1790 was nearly ten times that of Delaware and the margin of popular vote victory of a “favorite son” in Virginia could well have overwhelmed the popular votes cast in Delaware (and several other smaller population states).

The above example is not far fetched.  In our current political and demographic  landscape , without the electoral system the majority choice of 15 states could have (and would have in recent elections) been overwhelmed by the vote differential of the population in a single state based on that populations characteristics, vagaries and preferences.  The Framers likely recognized the significant disparities that could occur between the states, the potential for large variations in the popular vote differentials and the potential for large swings in the population.  For example, between the 1790 census and the 1860 census the population of New York state increased 10-fold up to 4,000,000 while Delaware’s population only increased from 69,000 to 100,000.  The Framers wanted each States choice (democratically chosen in that state) to be given its due.

The Electoral System in our Constitution accommodates the importance and individuality of the Separate States while equitably providing for the larger states to have their just share of votes for the President in accordance with their population. The Electoral Process prevented the differential in popular vote in a given state from dismissing the preferences of other states and having undue influence on the outcome of the Presidential election. The Framers instituted the Electoral System for a good reason.   The one person-one vote principal is often the right approach but in order to value each states autonomy and in order to give each state a viable say in the Presidential Election the Electoral System was needed.  The electoral system for our country, made up of individual states, was insightful, fair, brilliant and necessary.  Fortuitously the electoral system is still functioning remarkably well given the radical  change in the country’s demography  from rural to urban.                                                                                                  ** Maine and Nebraska allow for splitting their electoral votes if congressional districts are won by different candidates.

Part II – The Electoral System and the Mega City/County Effect

The inclusion of the electoral system in our constitution was fortuitous, as we will see, because now and for the foreseeable future, the electoral system is absolutely essential in maintaining a semblance of balance between the voters representing the width and breadth of the country versus mega city voters.  Without the electoral system, the popular vote dominance in major metropolitan cities and counties would control Presidential Elections henceforth.

Without a complete understanding of the underlying functioning and intent of the electoral system, people tend to consider that the electoral system is taking away their vote, especially if they voted differently than the majority of the people in their State. They hearken back to the one person – one vote dictum, without recognition that their one vote, was indeed already appropriately cast for the candidate of their choice in the “democratic” election in their State. In any event there is a natural, underlying sentiment for a National Popular vote that is easily tapped into.  However,  beyond that inherent sentiment, there is now realization by the leadership of the political parties of how important and what a critical role the Electoral System now plays in the Presidential elections.  This realization is what is driving the recent calls by Democratic Presidential candidates for the electoral system to be abolished and by the Republicans to maintain it. Further this realization has  prompted legislative actions by States currently under Democrat control to pass laws hitching their State electors to the national popular vote in the future regardless of the outcome of the vote in their State.   Clearly the political winds and demographic changes have revealed the trend that shows that the Democrat party would now profoundly benefit, for the foreseeable future, in the removal of the electoral system and the adoption of a national popular vote. The evidence for this assertion is illustrated subsequently.

One Person – One Vote – Why there are exceptions to this “rule”

Despite our inherent tendency to endorse the fairness  in the “one person-one vote” standard, there are extenuating circumstances and/or particular situations where an alternative to that customary approach is necessary to achieve an equitable, and just representation. This was, and is the case for the disparate, independent and vastly different areal populations of these Untied States in voting for the Chief Executive. It is also the case for all legislative action in each state and for the country as a whole.  The United States is a Republic, which  means that The United States operates in terms of a representative form of government.   Likewise, States, Counties and Cities elect representatives to make the decisions on all manner of issues.  A popular vote is not used to decide on each decision and each law. Only occasionally is there a referendum where an issue is put to a direct popular vote.   The Framers recognized that an exception to the one person -one vote was necessary to achieve and equitable means of selection of the President of our country in order to recognize the differences and the autonomy of each of the participating States in the voting and prevent inadvertent control or nomination of the election process.

Here is a simple example to illustrate where an adjustment of the one person-one vote dictum makes sense:    Consider a community comprised of 50 homes and associated households.  These 50 households, through taxes on their property and through home owner association fees fund the community’s amenities.  Now suppose that the 50 households are quite diverse in their family situations, as follows:  There are 10 retired couples with homes, 5 homes owned by widows, 20 households with young children (5 of which are single parent) , 10 with an average of 2 adult children (over 18) still living with them and 5 homes occupied with multi-generational families with 6 adults in the home (parents, grandparents and 2 older siblings – 6 in all). In all, in this community scenario there are 130 persons, over 18,  who would be eligible to vote under the one person-one vote rule. However, under a one vote per household rule (typical for community settings) there would be 50 votes. To elucidate the potential voting disparity a bit further, lets imagine a proposal was made to close the community pool in order to reduce homeowner fees (the pool was part of the originally advertised amenities for the homes). The pool is looked on favorably by the young families, and also by the retired couples and the widows, (not only for their use but also it results in an increase in visits from their grandchildren).  The multi-generational families and the families with adult children at home basically do not use the pool and are in favor of closing it.  So, the popular vote under “one person-one vote” would come out, 60 for and 70 against keeping the pool operational.  However, under one vote per household the result would be 35 for and 15 against. Certainly, the one vote per household is the fairest option in this scenario.  Although, this example is not an exact comparison of the Electoral System vs the National Popular vote, the inclusion of the factors related to influence of population and diversity of circumstances help provide an understanding of why there was the need for the Electoral System in the United States Presidential Elections.

Another example of the non-use of the one person-one vote, ironically, is that used in the both the Republican and Democrat Party Primaries to select the Presidential Candidate.  The Democrat Party, for example, uses a type of electoral system (delegate selection) in their primaries. Within each state, just as in the national elections, each person gets to vote for a specific candidate.  The total number of delegates (electors) a state receives are apportioned to each state in accordance with the total population of the State just as does the U.S. Constitutional Electoral System. The sum of the popular vote received by each candidate in the primaries is not tracked on the basis of the popular vote in each state directly.  The ultimate process is further adjusted (away from a direct popular vote)  via a redistribution (addition) of delegates to primary candidates who achieve more than 15% of the popular vote to account for the votes cast for candidates that did not reach 15% of the total popular vote (essentially disregarding those “popular” votes).  Finally, the Democrat Party’s primary process goes one step further in superseding a direct popular vote by invoking “super delegates” with extra voting power.

The current importance and role of the electoral system is illustrated not only by the fact that it has come into play in 2 of the last 5 Presidential elections but also in the much greater differentials in electoral votes to popular vote margin in the 2016 election than in any of the other 4 instances in the countries history when the electoral vote result and the popular vote result were different. This reflects the increase in the country’s major population centers along with the increased domination of the political persuasion of the electorate in those major metropolitan areas.

The U. S. Census shows that in 1800, 6% of the population was considered urban and 94% rural. By 1900, 40 % of the population was urban and 60% rural and by 1950 those percentages were reversed.  Fast forward to 1990 and we find that 75% were considered urban and only 25% rural.  In 2010, the census classed 19.3% as rural and 80.7% urban.  While these numbers are very telling in terms of general population shift, the definition of “urban” has changed and what is really important from the standpoint of examining the current value and importance of the electoral system is: (1) The huge populations of major metropolitan areas (cities and counties) and (2) The evolution of the populations of these very large cities and counties toward a much more uniform party preference. Thus, given these two factors, if the electoral system were to be eliminated, it would result, as shown below, in the virtual exclusion of the influence of a major portion of the country in the Presidential elections under the current political framework.

Part III – Major City/County Populations and their Current Dominance in the National Popular Vote

In the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump won the vote in 30 States and garnered 306 electoral votes, Hillary Clinton won 20 States and received 232 electoral votes.  There are, depending on how they are named and counted, 3,142 counties in the United States.  Donald Trump won 2,655 of those counties and Hillary Clinton won 487.  Figure 1 illustrates the  dominance of Trump’s victory in terms of the area of country as a whole.

election-2016-county-map

Figure 1 – 2016 Election – Counties in Red won by Donald Trump – Counties in Blue won by Hillary Clinton

Despite the “country wide” dominance of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, roughly 66 million to 63 million.  The reason — Hillary Clinton won the 100 most populated counties in the country, (the major metropolitan areas) by 12.6 million votes.

Thus, outside of the major metropolitan areas, Donald Trump won the popular vote by almost 10 million votes.  (source The Atlantic, Nov 16, 2016, How the Election Revealed the Divide Between City and Country, Ronald Brownstein)

The fundamental reason that Hillary Clinton lost the electoral vote but won the popular vote was because, just as illustrated in the examples above, “the Margin of Victory” in the highest populated areas was quite large.  And just as illustrated in the examples, the differential margin of victory that occurred in the major cities, if not for the electoral system would have easily overwhelmed the democratically determined preference of the clear majority of the States in the country.  There are three critical sub-points evident in these results:

  1. Unlike, the diversity in opinion and relatively close percentage margin between Democrat and Republican Presidential Candidates that occurs in general throughout the country, the vote in major city/county areas is predominately for the Democrat Candidate. (e.g. the Democrat vote percentage in 2016 was, 93% in the District of Columbia, approaching 90% in the counties of Bronx, Manhattan, and Prince George (Maryland), 85% in San Francisco, and near or above 80% in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles).  These large margins of victory, combined with the huge populations of these counties, amass (at present and for the foreseeable future) an insurmountable Democrat Party advantage in the national popular vote.  This was evident in the 2012 and 2016 elections and the population and political trends indicate this will be the case for the foreseeable future.
  2. As noted above Hillary Clinton gained a 12.6 million popular vote advantage from the most populous 100 counties. Her ultimate 3 million popular vote advantage, can readily be seen by simple math and examination of the voting results, be accounted for by the margin of victory in only a few of the most populous cities/counties in America. (Los Angeles county alone provided 1.25 million of the 3 million differential). So, without the Electoral System, in spite of the vigorous policy debates among the Candidates that may pervade the entire country, the Presidential Election popular vote would now appear to be controlled/decided by the distinct margin of victory in the very high populous counties and cites.
  3. The population of the 25 most populous cities/counties was 64,500,000 as of 2010 and accounted for 21% of the total US population. When one or more of the major metropolises exist in a state, the likelihood of the State’s electoral vote going to a Democrat vs a Republican is quite high. Thus with few exceptions, the very high population in the major cities typically dictate the electoral votes in the states in which they exist.

Part IV – Past, Present and Future Outlook of the Rural vs City Divide

My observation and interest in this Rural vs City Divide contrast, actually arose as I was observing the results of the Republican Primary voting in Ohio in 2008.  Senator Rick Santorum ran on very conservative social and political values and positions.  His primary opponent in the Ohio Primary was Governor Mitt Romney who, although an avowed Republican, was regarded as somewhat less conservative.

230px-Ohio_Republican_Presidential_Primary_Election_Results_by_County,_2012.svg

Figure 2 – Results by County from the 2012 Republican Primary Election                      Orange (lighter)– Mitt Romney          Green (darker) — Rick Santorum

As the results came in, more quickly from the rural counties, it appeared that Senator Santorum was going to easily win.  However, there are three large metropolitan areas in Ohio: (1) Cleveland – Akron, (2) Columbus and (3) Cincinnati. The Republicans in and around these cities, being more liberal than their rural cousins, all went for Mitt Romney, equaling Santorum’s total. The fact that the “city” influence could so clearly affect the outcome in a Republican primary was astonishing. It was then that I began looking at how increasingly influential highly populous major cities were in state and national elections. The trend is clear, Democrats are winning fewer and fewer rural counties while at the same time more consistently winning the popular vote. In 1992 and 1996 there was nearly an even Democrat/Republican spilt among US counties, but in 2000 Presidential Candidate Al Gore won the popular vote (narrowly) and did that by winning less than 700 of the 3142 counties.  In 2012 President Obama won the 100 largest counties by 12 million votes but lost the remaining 3,042 counties popular vote by nearly 7 million votes. Then in 2016, as reported above, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes by winning only 487 US Counties.

The Democrat Party’s strength is consolidated in an increasingly monolithic electorate in major US population centers.  There are a number of reasons that a greater and greater portion of the electorate in major cities votes for the Democrat Party Candidate for President and other national offices, but suffice to say: that is the case  In is not an expectation that the  Republican Party will make any significant inroads on affecting that trend.  Thus, as major metropolises continue to grow and the electorate divide in those cities continues to expand, the popular vote will almost certainly continue to be won by the Democrats. However, at present, the electoral system, provided for in the US Constitution, is able to preserve our country as the United States of America and prevent it from becoming “The United Cities of America”.

Colorado has joined 11 other states in passing a law in their states that usurps the intent of the US Constitution and the electoral system as previously described.   These States would cast their electoral votes for the Candidate who wins the national popular vote regardless of the preference of the voters in their states.  (The law in Colorado would only go into effect if enough states pass similar laws such that a total of all states with the popular vote law reaches 270 electoral votes, the number necessary to win the presidency.)   This “end around” approach of passing state laws to usurp the intent of the constitution is being employed because  a Constitutional Amendment to change to a presidential election using the Popular Vote would require ratification by 3/4 of the states which is not a realistic possibility as the smaller states would not support it. This is because a National Popular Vote system would in essence eliminate their influence on future elections.     The Colorado legislature and those of the other states  passing this law *** are, (1) In effect, relinquishing the sovereignty of their state henceforth and saying , we do not care what the people in our state want, we will go along with the population as a whole. and saying (2) We do not care that,  in effect we are eliminating the influence smaller, rural states  may have on future National Presidential Elections, and thus defying the intent of the U. S. Constitution.

Why would they do that?  Simple!  Because if enough states sign on to this popular vote dictate, it will ensure a Democrat is in the White House for the foreseeable future, for the reasons documented in the above discussions.  Namely, the “Margin of Victory” in the Democrat strongholds in the major metropolises will overwhelm the popular vote totals in the rest of the country.  To wit, the 12 million plus popular vote advantage reaped in the 100 most populous counties in the United States gave Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012 the popular vote win by 3 million and 6 million votes respectively. This occurred despite these two Candidates soundly losing the popular vote in the rest of the United States (the other 3000 counties) by 9 million and 6 million votes respectively. The demography and political leaning of the 100 most populous counties is not likely to change, that’s why the states with Democrat control in their states are pushing for the popular vote and demeaning the Electoral System.  It is no surprise that all the states signed on thus far in favor of a popular vote option voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election.

However, the above rationale is not presented to the populous pushing for a National Popular vote. The concept is promoted under the very appealing “One Person – One Vote” and “Every Vote Should Count” banners. Certainly, these are good concepts, and certainly the Framers were aware of their value.  But the truth is that it is all about gaining political power and undoing what has proven to be an equitable and fair system that was put in place to recognize the individuality and autonomy of the States, large and small.  And now we see that through its inherent intent of recognizing the individuality and independence of each state, the Electoral  System has also provided for protecting the influence of the voters in both city and country. Thank goodness for the wisdom of the Framers and for the Electoral System placed in the U. S. Constitution

*** The bill in Colorado will only take effect if the law is passed by states representing at least 270 electoral college votes, which is the amount needed to win the presidency. With the addition of Colorado, that number now sits at 181. Other jurisdictions that have enacted the legislation include Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, California and the District of Columbia. New Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Somewhere

Starting Somewhere –  great accomplishments emerging from modest beginnings

“ …we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness …”
This was a majestic declaration that led and continues to lead to a noble and wonderful spirit in people and to many brave, astonishing, unselfish acts that give the gift of the knowledge and of the reality of these rights to millions of people and their progeny.
History provides us with many valuable and important lessons. Understanding the background and subsequent historic record behind the development of concepts like the “self-evident” truth of certain unalienable rights”, teaches the lesson that in accomplishing reforms: A start, even if modest and imperfect, is very important, you might even say essential. Such a lesson comes from the Magna Carta.
The Magna Carta could be described as a self-serving tool of the rich and titled. Namely – Barons, Lords and Nobles. The Magna Carta was only in effect for a few months before being rendered invalid by the King who had agreed to it and signed it. But, despite the above valid characterization and abrupt dissolution it was a start of something great. The legacy of the Magna Carta is acclaimed and venerated in Britain and the United States. It is still held up as a beacon of liberty and has been cited by the Supreme Court over 100 times. Let’s examine its history and the lesson taught.
The Genesis of the Magna Carta
The middle ages in Europe is well known for its social, economic, and governmental system of feudalism. In simple terms feudalism was a class system. Serfs, peasants, and villeins resided at the bottom of this class system. These people worked the land for Nobles (Earls, Lords, Barons, etc.), who were given lands by a King to whom they promised allegiance (and a lot more). In addition to providing food and materials to the King, the Lords were required to raise and equip an army for the King when called upon (like for the Crusades), obey and fulfill a plethora of royal demands, pay general and special taxes, and pay large sums of money for “royal permission” to carry out common ordinary activities, like getting married or inheriting property from their relations. In turn, the Nobles, in exchange for providing land and protection for their serfs, exploited their serfs, taxed them heavily, restricted their freedoms, forced them to labor, and required them to serve when an army was to be raised.
Also, it is well known that often the Kings in the middle ages were notoriously bad. They were self-serving, excessively greedy, ruled capriciously, and often got into wars that cost their country and its people dearly. Nobles and peasants alike lost their lives and lands. One such “bad” King was King John of England, the brother of Richard I, (the Lionhearted) whom he succeeded in 1199, when Richard was killed in battle. King John was an abysmal King by just about any measure, (economically, militarily, and morally). The one thing he was good at was administration (i.e. raising funds for his use). He made excessive demands and squeezed every cent he could out of the Church and out of the Nobility. And his foreign policy was a disaster as he gave up lands to arch enemy France for essentially nothing. So it was that in January of 1215, after 16 years of pathetic Kingship, a number of the Earls, Lord’s and Baron’s as well as the Catholic Church Bishops in England got fed up with King John’s greedy despotism and submitted oral and written demands for reforms. This collection of Nobles banded together to ensure the demands were met by force if necessary. They formed “The Army of the Lord” to go up against the King and the King’s forces. The King’s forces were paid foreign mercenaries and some powerful nobles who remained loyal to King John in order to retain his favor.
The role of the Church in this match up and especially that of the Archbishop of Canterbury was quite significant. A very powerful and influential pope, Innocent III, had laid an interdict on England in 1208. An interdict was a directive or ruling from the Pope on religious matters. This interdict took away the English people’s access to the Sacraments and their rights to a Christian burial. The punishment came about because King John wanted to and did appoint his own English Bishops. But Pope Innocent III would not approve them and King John ignored the pope. Can you imagine how devastating the Pope’s decree would be to believers? Further, the Pope subsequently, in 1209, excommunicated King John when John would not accept the Pope’s appointment of Stephen Langton as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The opportunistic King, during this falling out with the Pope, proceeded to appropriate the Church’s considerable wealth and property throughout Great Britain. However, later in 1213 when John was in dire straits financially and was being badgered for concessions by his Nobles he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, duplicitously claiming that he was; “returning to obedience to the church”, and “taking up the cross” (that is pledging to the Pope to lead an army on a crusade). This pledge to the Pope resulted in the Pope relieving King John from his debts, giving him a 3-year grace period to fulfill any obligations he may promise the Nobles and promising his favor in the King’s current dispute with the Nobles. The King’s gambit worked, the unethical, adaptable, political Pope was so focused on mounting another Crusade, that he endorsed the avaricious, duplicitous King John in his dispute with the Barons and the English Bishops. Pope Innocent III even threw Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton under the bus, telling Langton and the other English Bishops, whom John had ransacked, to now accede to this malevolent King’s wishes. Oh, and by the way, King John never did “return to obedience” and lead that promised crusade.
But the English Bishops and especially Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, also pretty much ignored the Pope and worked towards negotiating concessions from the King. In fact, Arch-Bishop Stephen Langton negotiated the whole affair. So, with this peek of the Church’s role in the event, let us return to the clash between the King and his Nobles that lead to the signing of the Magna Carta.
After giving the King a written set of demands (limitation of his powers) during the winter of 1214-15 and subsequently chasing the King and his entourage around great Britain trying to pin him down and gain some concessions, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton and the force led by the discontented Lords (the “Army of the Lord”) cornered the King just outside London. The set of demands that had been given to the to the King in 1214 was the forerunner of the actual Magna Carta, it was known as the “Unknown Charter” because what was in it was “unknown” until it was located in France in 1863. Once pinned down and facing the pursuing Army, the King agreed to meet the discontented Barons and Lords at a large open meadow called Runnymede. There, in 1215 at a meeting convened and lead by Stephen Langton, the King and his advisors read and assented to a newly prepared set of demands from the Nobles, which became known as the Magna Carta (the Great Charter). ——– That is how the Magna Carta came to be. —–So what was in it?
Content of the Magna Carta
Just what was in the Magna Carta that has made it such a revered document with respect to promoting individual liberty? Well, surprisingly it was primarily a “Benefit Package” for the Nobility. But there were a couple of seeds of hope for the rights of common man scattered among these concessions to the privileged class.  These nascent steps toward individual rights is what historians source as credence to the Magna Carta’s weighty role in promoting individual rights.
The Magna Carta consisted of 63 articles covering such matters as limits on payments to the King, inheritance law, policing of the royal forest, controls on military service required of the Nobles, and “respect” for independence of the Church. Almost all of these 63 articles related to the pecuniary relationship between the Nobility and the king, (e.g., how much money the King was to be paid when land was passed to an heir). Many of the demands dealt with very mundane activities, which revealed how the King had been imposing his will arbitrarily and capriciously on the Nobles (e.g. the taking of timber from their lands, seizing horses and carts for transportation, imposing arbitrary fines, requiring a bridge to be built, etc.).
The point to grasp here, is that the Magna Carta, a document now recognized as a forerunner to establishing the concept of the individual’s liberties and rights under a government, was chiefly an agreement between one extremely powerful, very rich King and a bunch of other influential rich guys. Further, within a few months the King reneged on the whole thing and war broke out between the Barons and the King’s Army comprised chiefly of the King’s Foreign mercenaries. The Magna Carta agreement had little to do with the common person who tilled the land, fought and died in the ill-conceived wars, and lived from hand to mouth. Viewed in the light of what we now all believe, understand, and demand today with respect to individual rights and freedoms it could have been relegated to an after thought. And you can be assured, that the contents of this agreement, (if put out in advance of its signature for “public comment”) would have been ridiculed and “raked over the coals” by the surplus of “political” critics and the modern media if there had been such entities in those days.
But wait!! As we will see it was a start!! Buried within that plethora of Royal vs Noble fiscal finagling, there were two clauses that were indeed monumental precursors to the later granting of “freedoms and individual rights”. Articles 38 and 39 were substantive with respect to the future of individual liberties. One article required that “accusations alone were not adequate to “put a man to law” (convict). Trustworthy witnesses were required. And the second of these important articles demanded that a “legal judgment of peers” was required for conviction of a “free man”.
These two articles were preserved though later charters and they formed the foundation of the need for witnesses (rather than being found guilty just on the basis of an accusation) and of the right of trial by a jury of your peers.
With regard to respecting the independence of the Church from the King, the very first article of the Magna Carta stated that: “The English Church should be free and have its rights in full and its liberties intact”. This article illustrated the strong influence that the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, who negotiated the proceedings, had on the outcome.
Despite the fact that this specific agreement, the actual Magna Carta, was discarded and voided by the extremely powerful king two months after it had been made, it is credited with being the foundation of the development of our country’s declaration of individual rights and a government of the people by the people and for the people. The principle of individual rights is now a nearly universally accepted norm among nations with non-totalitarian governments. Why! Because once the idea of negotiating for fair treatment and insisting on liberties was started and some of those liberties were put in writing, they were able to resurface, be referenced, added to, and strengthened in future negotiations with rulers, both authoritarian and fair-minded.
Reflecting on the history of the Magna Carta and its ultimate significance, two realities are evident.
The first reality is that societal advancements, (as well as advancements in every aspect of human endeavor), do not generally appear complete and in their fully developed state. It takes time, sometimes centuries, to build on the idea, for advancements to be made and for a reform/concept to come to full fruition. Further, there may be setbacks along the way that have to be overcome. The origination and implementation of the concept that: “……we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, can be traced from citizenship in the Roman Empire to the Magna Carta (1215) to John Locke’s (1690) treatise, to the Declaration of Independence (1776) and then to the Civil War (1865) and it continues today. Reforms / improvements typically start somewhere and build on the underlying concept or principle.
The second reality, very much in evidence in our current litigious and partisan culture, is that when a good or potentially great idea or concept is introduced (in its incomplete or yet to be fully developed state) it becomes a target, ripe for being condemned, criticized and even mocked. Condemnation and criticism is in vogue – if there is something that can be singled out as a potential problem or something can be claimed as an ulterior motive for the idea – that is what gets the attention – not the potential value or good in the idea. I can just imagine the critique (mocking, condemning and belittling), that the Magna Carta would have gotten by the equivalent of our current media. The headline would likely have been: “King grants Millions in concessions to rich, greedy Nobles and Barons”. A comparable act in our day might read: “Government grants Billions in tax concessions to Wall Street and big money Corporations.” A parallel in our society could be the “all” powerful commissioner of the NFL meeting with the rich and influential owners of the NFL teams and announcing a new agreement that included Television Revenues being increased by 50% as “really important in the annals of history”. That effort would be mocked and ridiculed. But what if, like the Magna Carta the agreement also initiated an important reform, (e.g. – kicking off an independent player health and safety evaluation in each organization) and that nascent health and safety reform ultimately lead to a comprehensive protocol that reduced long term injury rates by 200%.)
The net result of a “hypercritical”, highly partisan environment is that any idea must  overcome a legion of obnoxious, illogical, objections that are raised. So, there may be challenges, constraints, and hurdles to leap, but without starting somewhere the likelihood is that nothing will get done. In our complex society making a change almost certainly will not be equally favorable for everyone. Demeaning nascent attempts of improvement because they are inadequate, incomplete or flawed is easy but shortsighted. So the lesson from history is START – put your idea forward and stick with it and if it doesn’t fully blossom right away – don’t worry, future generations may pick it up and run with it!
There are many examples of “reforms” or “changes” that began with modest beginnings here is perhaps the most significant modest beginning ever the birth of the Christian Religion.

Christianity – When I give the children in our church an overview of the history of Christianity – Old Testament – New Testament and on to the Present Day – I always ask how many Christians there were just after Jesus died on the Cross and rose again 3 days later. The answer, of course was only 2 or 3 – or perhaps a maximum of about 14. That is because, a Christian is, by definition, one who believes that Christ died on the cross for their sins. So those few followers who had paid attention to Jesus when He told them of God’s plan for salvation, (a person just needs to believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins), became the first Christians. Because when Jesus arose on Easter morning, by golly they believed what He had said. Within a few weeks after Jesus appeared to a number of people the ranks of Christians had “swelled” to perhaps 20 or 30. A very modest start. Further the Gospel message “of grace” – you did not have to earn your salvation it was a free gift, was regarded as “folly” to Jew and Gentile alike. Regardless from this meager start Christianity spread throughout the World and now has 2.4 Billion adherents.

The Rise,Fall and Struggle for the Free Exercise of Religion in America

Freedom of Religion in America – From the Landing of the Pilgrims (Episode 1) to The Supreme Court’s demolition of our Free Exercise Rights (Episode 6)

Preface – The fundamental right of Religious Freedom and the imposition of the concept of the Separation of Church and State are at odds.  The latter concept as it is applied to the conduct of our daily lives and imposed upon our societal affairs as if it were a part of our founding documents is a distortion, an invention, a lie that spread throughout the nation and is now regarded by most as a factual truth. Astonishingly, neither the term, nor the concept of “Separation of Church and State” appears in the U.S. Constitution.  Yet, now, the overreaching, misguided, and malicious invoking of the concept of Separation of Church and State diminishes the actual free exercise of religion specifically provided for in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The first tenet in the Bill of Rights as stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution is that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  (“respecting” may be read as “pertaining to” or “with respect to”) 

Episode 1 Arrival of the Pilgrims and the Formation of the Colonies

Religious intolerance before the founding of the United States was, with few exceptions, the norm throughout the early history of “civilized” people.  Religious intolerance was typically integrally related to the political and military subjugation of one people by another empire or country.  Religious observances by the conquered people were often forbidden or abolished by the conquering country because of the political threat they could present to the control of the country and not because of a desire to “convert” the conquered.  This was not always the case.  The spread of Islam was religiously motivated as well as politically motivated.  The conquered peoples were generally forced to follow the religion of their conquerors.  The Romans on the other hand allowed concurred peoples to maintain their religious observances as long as they also “respected the Roman Gods” – the Jewish people, however, were granted an exemption. Another unusual exception was Akbar (a Muslim ruler) who allowed the Hindus in India to maintain their religious worship. He found this was advantageous in keeping his empire peaceful.

However, more germane to the consideration of the “right” to freedom of religion in America were the internal events in countries in Europe following the Reformation.   There were struggles against religious persecution and the freedom to practice a religion by many Christian sects.  The Moravians struggled against counter reformation governments in Eastern Europe, the Huguenots were persecuted by the Catholic French Government, the Irish Catholics struggled against England, and of course the Puritans had to escape the dictates of Anglican State Church of England.  All of these struggles helped develop the concept of the individual’s right to freedom of religion and to a degree helped ensure that “freedom of religion” was a right that came to be included in America’s Bill of Rights.  However, a common misconception is that Colonial America was a land that promoted and supported “Freedom of Religion”.  The Puritans (called Pilgrims) came to the unsettled American shores so that they could freely practice their religion but they did not endorse the concept of “freedom of religion”.  The Puritans escaped their religious persecution but they did not allow “freedom of religion” in their new lands.

Founding of the 13 Colonies    –   One of our most prized freedoms in the United States is the Freedom of Religion.  How did we come to have that freedom?   A common misunderstanding, based on the well known flight of the Puritans (Pilgrims) to avoid religious persecution in England, is that religious freedom was present here in America from the outset and that its incorporation in the Bill of Rights was just a formal recognition of its long term existence.   Well, surprise!!  The Pilgrims (who actually were of the Puritan religious sect) did not support religious toleration at all, much less religious freedom.   Laws were passed by the Puritans in Massachusetts in 1644 which required exile of Anabaptists and laws were passed which fined ship’s captains for bringing in Quakers to Massachusetts and for whipping and assigning to prison with hard labor any Quakers who managed to gain entry to the colony.  The New England Puritan settlers had very strict laws in their communities requiring adherence to religious and moral precepts of their sect.  Fines or harsh punishments were invoked for not attending church.  The “Code of 1650” established by the colony of Connecticut had as its opening statement: “Whosoever shall worship a God other than the Lord shall be put to death”

The colonists also certainly did not foster the concept of “separation of church and state” as evidenced in the “Immediate Act” they passed to govern themselves, which stated:  “We the undersigned, who for the glory of God, the advancement of the Christian faith and the honor of our native land have undertaken to found the first colony on these remote shores, do agree in this document, by solemn and mutual consent before God, to band together in a body politic in order to govern ourselves ——-.”  Everything the early Puritan settlers did, including governing themselves, centered on their religious beliefs.

Although the details were different and less extreme, the same lack of religious freedom and religious toleration was the norm in most of the other colonies.  The concept of “state churches” or “established” churches was transplanted to many of the American colonies from Europe, where many countries (France, Russia, Greece, Germany, Spain, etc.) had state churches at one time.  The governments of these countries financially supported, legislated for and protected these “state churches”.  The people of these countries were born into church membership just as they were born into citizenship.  Nine of the thirteen original colonies carried over this concept by way of their charters form England and thus had “established state churches” during the colonial period.

Most of the original colonies were “Crown Colonies”, that is, colonies authorized under the auspices of the King of England.  England at this period in history was Anglican (Church of England also now referred to as Episcopalian) and thus the official “state church” of these colonies (including 5 southern colonies) was established by charter as Anglican.  Those people who arrived in the colonies and did not practice the “state religion” suffered prejudice, persecution, and discredit.  Basically they were regarded as second class citizens.

Even the colony of Maryland, often thought of as a haven for Roman Catholics within the Colonies, as it was founded for the Roman Catholics by the Calverts, was chartered as an Anglican colony.   Catholics although prevalent were denied the right to vote.  Even an Act that sounded good and for which Maryland has been recognized as a leader in religious toleration, the “Maryland Toleration Act” passed by the protestant majority legislature in 1649 was not very progressive with regard to religious freedom.  That Act allowed other religious groups to exist and worship in the colony but retained the Colonies right to withdraw or limit that permission, which it did.  “From 1654 to 1661 and from 1692 to the end of the Revolutionary period, Maryland, in fact nullified its Toleration Act.”

The most fertile seeds for the concept and adoption of “Christian” religious freedom in America were planted in Rhode Island and in Pennsylvania.  Roger Williams, a puritan minister, upon arrival in Boston in 1631, began zealous pursuit of “purifying” the Puritans from association with the King of England and the charters under which they operated.  Puritans were called and were by definition, “Separatists”, as they had separated themselves in England from the Anglican “state church”.    Williams, however, felt that the charter under which these colonists operated violated the Separatist ideal and he continually ran afoul of the neophyte Puritan religious and Civil establishment, including the Plymouth Colony where he initially was favorably received and assisted in ministry.  In addition to separatism he began to speak out for individual religious freedom.  He believed that civil magistrates should not have the authority to punish citizens for “Sabbath-breaking, false worship, and blasphemy, and that every individual should be free to follow his own convictions in religious matters”.  After 5 years, in 1636, he left Massachusetts and founded the Providence Plantation (Rhode Island) which guaranteed freedom of belief (in a Christian sect) to all, (except outspoken atheists and Roman Catholics).   Later Roman Catholics were permitted in his Rhode Island Colony.   In 1651 England claimed the right to “govern” Rhode Island and in 1663 granted a charter to the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations which acknowledged Rhode Island’s religious freedom practices.

Unlike Rhode Island’s religious tolerance “experiment” developing out of conflict over a civil principle (granting of charters), the Pennsylvania colony was expressly formed to allow freedom of religion.   Pennsylvania was established as a “land grant” colony to satisfy a debt owed by the King of England to William Pitt’s father, not as a “crown” colony.  Thus, Pitt’s objective to create a colony that allowed for freedom of religion (due to his desire to protect himself and fellow Quakers from persecution) was able to be achieved free of the Anglican “state church” requirement.  As a result Pennsylvania became the seat of religious toleration (of Christian sects) within the colonies, welcoming the entire spectrum of sects and mainline Christian churches, from Moravians to Roman Catholics, and of course Quakers.

Despite the “official state church” concept carried over from England and pervading most of the American colonies, the influx of settlers from throughout Europe with their varied religious backgrounds infused religious diversity into the population throughout the colonies.  Further the spirit of individualism and the rigorous pursuit of individuals and families to carve out a living, trumped the snobbish “European conventions” required for societal acceptance. Thus, families and individuals in America were more likely to be respected and accepted for what they did rather than for where they came from or what they believed.

That brings us to the end of Episode 1 of “Freedom of Religion”.  Episode 2 picks up as the 13 “independent” Colonies began to think about joining together to collectively challenge, King George and Britain – the Mother Country over economic issues and the abuse of other rights of “Englishmen”.

Episode 2 – Colonial Unification and Constitutional History Related to Freedom of Religion

As described in Episode 1 neither “freedom of religion” nor the concept of or even the idea of “Separation of Church and State” were present as principles in the founding and early expansion of the 13 Colonies.  As the colonies grew over the next 100 years or so and the revolutionary period approached, “state churches” continued to exist in most of the colonies.  The concepts of freedom of religion and religious toleration arose or existed in some regions but there was no organized, concerted effort to extend or push this ideal.  More commonly there were prejudicial actions and restrictions placed on individuals and groups who did not belong to the “state” sponsored church.  For example, typically membership in the “state church” was a requirement for holding a position in the colony’s government. Each colony functioned relatively independently, and when the colonies did work together it was usually related to common defense, foreign policy, trade or some other economic issue.  And internally, within each colony, because there were more important or more pressing issues to occupy the consciousness of the populous, religious toleration was to a certain extent “unofficially” practiced except for official colony business like elections.

However, the status quo of the Colonies, each to some degree under the thumb of the British King and Parliament, began to change after the French and Indian War.  The Colonists, viewing themselves as British subjects, considered they had the “rights” of British subjects. When issues with England’s governance of the Colonies arose (taxation, quartering of British soldiers, etc.) they considered that the Mother Country was restricting or retracting their rights as Englishmen.  Freedom of religion, however, was not one of the rights about which most Colonists were concerned.  Many were Anglican in the first place, and they had not previously had a religious freedom right under the crown.  Further Britain was not actively involved in the religious affairs of their subjects in the American Colonies.   So religious freedom was not one of the root issues leading to the revolutionary war.  But as a practical matter there were several forces that eventually drove religious freedom to the forefront of the Bill of Rights and the statement of individual freedoms.

These forces included: (1) the necessity of the religiously disparate colonies to unite, (2) the common sense that recognized the diversity in Christian sects present among the states and within the total population had to be accommodated, (3) recognition of the incongruity of individual liberty and freedom for all and the dictating of a religious belief by a governing body, (4) the absence of any religious fervor or agenda among the founding fathers toward pushing for any particular Christian sect (and certainly the heretofore dominant “Anglican” denomination would not be in favor because of its ties to England), and (5) the religious freedom resolution which was put into the Virginia Constitution in which James Madison participated.

The 13 original colonies were not all that interested in uniting and giving up their “states rights”, not at the time before the Revolutionary War nor even afterward when the time came to prepare a Constitution and form a stronger central government.  However, it must have been evident to the leaders of the colonies who did unite under the Articles of Confederation, and who did prepare a Constitution for the governing of the United States, that:

  • there was no need for the individual states, much less the central government, to establish a “state church”
  • it was not reasonable or realistic to establish a single church denomination to which each of the United States would be required to adopt
  • such a requirement would have been antithetical to the cause of individual freedom.

Further at that time in history, Deism (believe in a Supreme Being but not necessarily the Christian Gospel) had become popular among many, including some of the most influential founding fathers (writers of the constitution).  Commonly deists continued to attend church services (Anglican, Puritan, Universalist, etc. ) throughout their lives, as it was important in maintaining their social standing.  However, imposing a state church upon the populous would not have been something that all of them would have personally supported.

Thus, upon winning independence from Britain and becoming united Colonies, the freedoms that the colonists had specifically fought for and won became reality.  Freedom of religion, while not a right given much attention with respect to the Revolutionary War, was a byproduct of it.  While a large number of Anglicans and New England Congregationalists may not have even considered freedom of religion an issue (as they essentially had it all along), there were likely a great number of colonists who recognized and rejoiced in the fact that there was no longer a “state church” and that freedom of religion would become a reality and an acknowledged fact.  The numerous Christian denominations present in America who had been the receivers of religious intolerance would have been keenly interested in making religious freedom a documented fact in the new country and in its constitution.   The need to acknowledge this fact may have been one of the major driving forces behind the need for the Bill of Rights.

One major exception to the general state of ambivalence of the liberated Colonists attention toward documenting religious liberty was in the colony of Virginia. Recall that  Virginia was one of the colonies that had an established Anglican “state” Church.    Virginia, was alive with the fervor of individual liberties, and one of those liberties that was being abridged was freedom of religion via the imposition of the Anglican Church.  So, notwithstanding that the Anglican Church was the church home of most of the prominent Virginia revolutionaries and statesmen who had sought liberty, it was even more so the home church of the loyalists (British supporters).  The patriot revolutionaries including James Madison, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson, who were representatives to the Virginia constitutional convention did not like the idea of the imposition of the requirements of a “state” Anglican Church in Virginia and supported and obtained “a declaration of the free exercise of religion” in their Constitution.   Three years later, government aid to the Anglican Church was cut off and in 1786 (just before the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787) Jefferson’s famous “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” was passed by both houses of the state legislature.  This bill stated “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion”, and guaranteed Virginians that they would not be compelled to “support any religious worship place or ministry whatsoever”.  It took other states many years to include like language in their state constitutions.

The answer to the question of how and why “freedom of religion” became the first and one of the key rights, named in the Bill of Rights, despite it not being a key issue driving the Revolution War, is now becoming a bit clearer.  But it is still three more years before “Freedom of Religion” becomes an integral part of our founding documents.

As indicated above, at the time the Constitution was being written, maintaining States Rights was the prevailing mentality among the delegates.  Most delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 represented their states with the idea that the central government should be limited.  Thus, the intent and focus of those preparing the Constitution was, that only the powers and responsibilities delegated to the central Government would be covered in the Constitution, everything else, anything that was not specifically included in the Constitution, would remain with the states or with the people.  (This intent, while not written in the body of the Constitution was later captured in the Bill of Rights and exists as the 10th amendment.)

Because of the limited delegation of powers intent and focus, James Madison, the prime mover of the Constitution, and other delegates did not consider it necessary for the Constitution to spell out those powers / rights that were not given to the Central Government.  Thus, it is not surprising, especially in light of the discussion above, that there was no consideration and no discussion of a “state church” or anything to do with religion in the Constitution.   There was to be no coercive power, no legislative influence, and no support given to one church denomination over another by the Federal Government.  The Constitution assigned no powers and responsibilities to the central Government regarding religion.  There was no discussion of the concept or idea of the separation of church and state.    By silence on the matter it was clear that the past practice of a “state church” would not be the future practice and thus the Federal Government would not be establishing a “preferred” state sponsored Christian denomination.   Churches (and their status in various states) and the Federal Government were recognized and accepted as distinct institutions.  But importantly, not as conflicting institutions.  Many of the founding fathers considered, just as the Pilgrims did, that the making of America was divinely inspired and divinely led.  James Madison, known as the father of the Constitution, when commenting on the Constitution, stated:  “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind of self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”   John Adams recognized the opportunity of the American Colonies to found a great democracy of the people as a gift from God and said we therefore “better get it right”.

So on September 17, 1787 the U.S. Constitution was completed and sent to the states for ratification and on June 21, 1788 it was ratified by the 9th state and became the law of the land.  The key aspect of the Constitution, with respect to religion, was that it did not specify a “State Church” and in fact the Federal Government was granted no powers with respect to “governing” religion.  However, ratification came with requests from several states that the rights of the people be spelled out.

That brings us to the end of Episode 2.  In the next episode we will learn how James Madison’s simply stated first sentence in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”, came to be. That statement, which is the only statement concerning religion or the church within the United States Constitution (as amended), provides the basis of a clear understanding of the intent of the founding fathers and we will ultimately see how that intent was implemented, respected and followed for the next 150 years.

Episode 3 – The Bill of Rights Guarantees Citizens Free Exercise of Religion and No “State” Church

The U.S. Constitution was ratified by 9 states in September of 1788.  The business of implementing the newly formed government got underway, and by March 1789 the President had been elected and the First Congress was in session.  There was a great amount of work to be done by that First Congress.  They had to establish the Department of State, the Department of Treasury and the Department of War.  They had to set up a way to get revenue through tariffs.  But high on the priority list for one delegate, James Madison, was the passage of amendments to the Constitution that would guarantee the rights of the people. Madison worked tirelessly to get a suite of 12 amendments guaranteeing our personal rights passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Indeed, they were passed on Sept. 25, 1789 just 4 days before the Congress adjourned and then they were sent to the states for ratification. The efforts by Madison represented great dedication and commitment to the people of the United States.  As you may recall, James Madison, who is known as the Father of the Constitution, did not consider the statement of these rights as a necessity in the Constitution since powers not specifically assigned to the Federal Government were to remain with the people and the States. But during ratification of the Constitution several of the Colonies insisted, as a condition of their acceptance, that the new Government take steps to ensure these personal rights.  Madison took on the responsibility to see that they were added to the Constitution. His devotion to this effort was incredible and is a fascinating story in itself.  Ten of the twelve amendments were ratified by the States and became famously known as The Bill of Rights.  (Interestingly, one of the 12 not ratified at the time, called for salaries of Congress to not be able to be changed till the next session. It was ratified 202 years later, in 1992, and became the Twenty Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.)

As an interesting aside, it is noted that the term “religion” as used in the first amendment was almost certainly not referring to the wide variety and nature of the world religions (Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.) as we now commonly use the term, rather it was used in reference to different Christian denominations (Congregationalist, Quaker, Anglican, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterian, etc.).  These were the “religions” which people recognized in their “world” (approximately 99.75% of the Colonists were Christian). They were the ‘religions” with which the founders were familiar and on which intolerance and discrimination had been practiced. That this was the common understanding of the founding fathers is attested to some years later (1800) in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush when he stated –“…the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro’ the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists.”

The intent of the First Amendment religious freedom clauses

The first two clauses of the First Amendment guarantee two aspects of Freedom of Religion.  “Congress shall make no law, respecting an establishment of religion (clause 1), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (clause 2).

Review of American history before the Bill of Rights was written clearly shows the intent of Madison in formulating and Congress in adopting these two First Amendment clauses was that:

(1) the newly formed Federal Government would not establish a “state” religion and

(2) that laws could not be made by the Federal Government that restricted people from practicing their chosen religion (Christian denomination).

It is instructive to note that in the first amendment there were just these two, short and to the point, statements made relative to religious freedom.  It is essential to understand the background and reasons for these particular statements in order to establish their specific purpose and, importantly, what they did not include.   These two statements were inter-related, as both addressed and fostered removal of the “built in religious preferences in the founding of the colonies and resulting religious discrimination which the framers recognized and had witnessed.  Both statements assured the populous that the Federal Government would not be involved in promoting religious preference or in restricting an individual’s religious observance.  That is why a Freedom of Religion” right was needed in the first amendment.

The Establishment ClauseCongress shall make no law, respecting an establishment of religion — One could imagine the outrage and total unacceptability of the new Constitution by the Congregationalists in the New England Colonies if they were told that the Anglican Church was to be the “state” church of the new nation.  Or if the Anglicans in South Carolina were told that the new nation’s official church was to be Congregationalist.  The simply stated “establishment clause” assured the states and their people that the new Federal Government would not be allowed to establish a particular “Christian denomination” as the church of nation. This was simply and clearly the intended purpose of the “establishment” clause and its only purpose.

That was its’ specific and intended purpose. It is important to note that the purpose of this clause is simple, clear, and single focused.   In future years its’ intent will be misconstrued and grossly expanded to imply that any public display or expression of religion is prohibited by the establishment clause.  Further, it is important to note, that some individual states at this time (1789) still had an official “state” church (denomination) and in fact continued in that status for many more years.  This situation was consistent with the Constitution’s limits on the Federal Government and the delegate’s desire to maintain “States Rights”.  This situation further illustrates that in the implementation of the first amendment, advocacy, public display and public expression of that religion in these states was not considered to be in violation of the establishment clause and was not suppressed.  It only referred to prohibiting the Federal Government from establishing a national denomination.

“Free Exercise of Religion” Clause – Whereas the first right guaranteed by the first amendment (“establishment” clause) was primarily directed toward the country as a whole (honoring the status of religion of the majority of the people therein), the second clause dealt directly with an individual’s rights with respect to the Federal Government. Namely guaranteeing that the Federal Government would not make laws inhibiting the free exercise of an individual’s religion.

As previously noted, Madison and the members of Congress formulating the Bill of Rights, at our nation’s first congressional session, would have certainly been aware of the social, political and economic discrimination due to “state” church dominance in many of the colonies. These Congressmen certainly would have also been aware of the religious persecution in the mother country that had been the impetus for some of the initial settlement of the colonies.  America was now, in 1787, free of British rule and it was the English King and the English Parliament who had established the “Church of England”.  It was the English King who had dictated that the Charter Colonies were to have the Church of England as their “state church”.  Breaking from this practice, while not a primary driver of the American Revolution, was an obvious and inevitable outcome of gaining independence.   Thus, in the spirit of declaring, as well as promoting, the principle of freedom of religion and individual liberty garnered through gaining independence from English rule, the “free exercise of religion” clause was included in the first amendment.  This clause ensured protection of individuals and religious sects against any laws being made by the Federal Government that would prohibit the free exercise of their religion.

However, this clause pertained only to the Federal Government so discrimination could still occur within individual states.  Never the less, declaring and documenting the principle to the right to “free exercise of their religion” was important to the Baptists, the Moravians, the Quakers, the Catholics, the Presbyterians and many other Christian denominations who had immigrated to this country.  These other Christian denominations had been discriminated against by law and by common convention in those colonies where an “official” church was recognized (New England) or where one had been established by a “Crown” Charter.

The rationale for, as well as the intent and meaning of, the “Free Exercise” clause is straight-forward and clear.  The framers wanted to assure the people that the new Federal Government, under the Constitution, would not interfere in the free exercise of their chosen religious denomination, at all!!   James Madison and the Congressional Delegations (House and Senate) who formulated and agreed on the specific language of the Bill of Rights recognized that the people needed and wanted this religious freedom assurance in order to accept the Federal Government established by the Constitution and this second clause of the first amendment guaranteed that.

It is instructive and important to reiterate that the religious freedom clauses of the first amendment pertained only to a restriction on the “Federal Government” established by the Constitution.  Thus, a state (such as Massachusetts, or North Carolina) could and still did have an “official” church denomination representing their state. The Bill of Rights did not directly apply to state and local governance.  But the first amendment religious principles did serve as an example to the states (and the people) and put forth a “national” principle that ultimately held sway.  The official state religions remained for a number of years before they were disestablished in state constitutions in conformance to the first clause of the first amendment.

Further, as a practical matter, bias and discrimination could and did still take place against other religious sects within a state. Only where states adopted “free exercise” statements in their constitutions or enact laws involving religious discrimination would such discrimination become unacceptable or “illegal”.     But, the spirit and intent of establishing “the free exercise of religion” in the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights set the example for individual states and local governments as well as for individual Americans to follow.  In general, individual states came to honor the free exercise of religion and did not enact laws that prohibited the free exercise thereof.  Likewise, with the growth and expansion of the United States, and the influx of immigrants, acceptance and tolerance of other Christian denominations and later other world religions became the American norm.  However, individual morality and decency cannot be legislated and as will be discussed later (non-governmental) religious discrimination, bias, and intolerance by individuals and groups existed at the time the Constitution was written and continues today.

The relatively simple rationale (basis, purpose and intent) for the inclusion of two clauses on religious freedom explained above is quite clear.   What is also very clear is that the First Amendment clauses related to religion did not restrict or put any limitations on religious expression on individuals or organizations (churches, schools, local communities, state and local governments, etc.) the only restrictions invoked were on the Federal Government.

There was no intent for the government to be devoid or separated from religion (Christianity), far from it.  That is the essence of the misunderstanding or “myth” of separation.

 With this background on the meaning and intent of the two religious freedom clauses in the first amendment we are ready to examine the illegitimacy and irrationality of the imposition of the “separation of church and state” concept in applying the “establishment clause”.  This “myth” was planted and has grown in the last 50 years or so.  That myth is that: “The founding fathers considered and dictated in the Constitution that there should be “Separation of Church and State”.   This belief, currently accepted, taught and applied is demonstrably false.  The term was erroneously and maliciously “made up” and ascribed as the meaning and intent of the First Amendment, and has been used to invalidate and undermine the original intent and meaning of the First Amendment.  The words of this phrase, which are ascribed to President Thomas Jefferson, were not Jefferson’s words but were, along with their erroneous interpretation, “made up” based on a100+ year old letter written by Jefferson.

With respect to the term “separation of church and state” it is noted that:

  • The writings of the founding fathers endorse the linkage, the value and the necessity of religion within our government and thus belie the much later “judicially mandated” judgment that the church should be excluded from the State. The first amendment is unidirectional – it was and is only intended to exclude the government from establishing a state church and from interference of the free exercise of religion.
  • The concept of “separation of church and state”, was not brought up during the drafting and debates on the first amendment wording.
  • The concept / phrase “separation of church and state” was not used by Jefferson or by any founding father, rather that term was derived (after 150 years had passed) from a “literary” figure of speech used in a private letter supporting the first amendment’s objective of restricting government from interference with religious practice.       Further such a source (private letter) regardless of the belated interpretation of meaning or intent does not have the force of law or of a judicial finding.
  • The term is never mentioned or used in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or in Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
  • The term “separation of church and state” was not used in any statements or rulings by the judiciary in the 100 plus years subsequent to the adoption of the first amendment.

Information and discussion on each of these points and on the erroneous introduction, deliberate misuse and malicious application of this phrase and on its resultant effect of eradicating the intent of the first amendment will be discussed.  This Episode will include discussion of the first two bullet points.  We will cover the latter 3 in Episode 4.

It will be abundantly clear from this examination that linking the “establishment clause” to “removal” (separation) of religion from all the normal, commonplace activities in our civil society is ludicrous.  Making that connection was an opportunistic and intentional distortion that imposed the will and ideology of a few influential people on the nation’s populous and once introduced it was exacerbated by an activist judiciary such that the intent of the first amendment “free exercise clause” has been changed to “NO free exercise”.  The establishment clause, interpreted to mean, “separation of church and state”, (i.e. removal of any semblance of religion from anything to do with civil society), resulted in seriously tearing down the intent and viability of the free exercise clause, which was clearly the desire of the founders.

The “Free Exercise of Religion” and the “Myth of Separation”

  • The linkage of religion and morality to America’s founding and to the sustainability of the government, as expressed in writing and as practiced by the founding fathers.

 

The founding fathers, including, but not limited to, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Franklin recognized, and documented their belief that our nation’s founding was ordained by God and that the successful survival of this new “governmental concept of a democratic republic,– of the people, by the people and for the people”,  depended on the people of the nation maintaining faith in God and on sustaining the high moral standards rendered in the Judeo-Christian traditions and imbedded in the laws of our country.  A few of the statements on the linkage of God to our freedom and to the success of our government and country are given below:  There are many more that could be cited:

“It is impossible to govern rightly the World without God and the Bible” George Washington

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”  …  “The worship of God is a duty…Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature… I never doubted the existence of the Deity, that he made the world, and governed it by His Providence…The pleasures of this world are rather from God’s goodness than our own merit… Whoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive (essential) Christianity will change the face of the world… Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”  – Benjamin Franklin

Both George Washington (an Episcopal vestryman) and John Adams offered strong rhetorical support for religion. In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion, as the source of morality, “a necessary spring of popular government,” and an indispensable support to political prosperity .   Adams claimed that statesmen “may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”

Jefferson noted…….”A free people claim their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” , “[It is] God who gave us liberty. And 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 a Gift of God?”

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind of self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison (1751-1836) Father of the Constitution, 4th President of the United States

The founding fathers believed and oft stated that if the people governed did not maintain high morals and strong virtue based on faith in God that the Government they instituted would not succeed.

After 4 or 5 weeks at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin appealed to the convention’s President, (George Washington), for prayers to God be offered at the outset of each session.  He noted that daily prayers were offered to God at the outset of the conflict with Great Britain and that if it were not for them {the prayers} we would not have prevailed.  Franklin wondered if they {the convention’s delegates} had forgotten that powerful friend (God).     The last two paragraphs of Franklin’s speech are given below:

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build, they labor in vain that build it.” {Psalm 127} I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.”

The Second Continental Congress (1774) started the practice of prayer before each session.  The First Congress under the Constitution (1789) continued the practice of a prayer by a chaplain before each session and that practice carries on to this day.

It is evident from the representative statements of the founders given above, that separation of God (religion) from the government was not even a thought much less an objective in the formation of our governmental system, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.  It was not even a consideration in their discussions.   Just the opposite was the case.  The founders credited God, not Kings or governments, with giving us our natural rights, our freedoms and our chance to form a more perfect union.  What they did not want was the government interfering with an individual’s religious observances.  It is unmistakable that the intent of the first amendment was to ensure that the Federal Government did not interfere with the observance of religion by the governed, not that religion should be removed from anything that the government was involved with or from the lives of the governed.

  • The term “separation of church and state” was not brought up during the drafting and debates on the first amendment wording.

 

The amendments to be made to the Constitution to ensure individual rights and thus fulfill the promises made relative to its successful ratification, were initially drafted by James Madison for consideration by the first Congress.  Madison’s draft was discussed and debated in committee, debated by both houses of congress, written in final form and finally passed and then sent for ratification by the states.   The note below refutes the idea that “separation” of church from state was the intent of the first amendment “establishment” clause:

“The Congressional Record from June 7 to September 25, 1789, documents the months of discussions and debates of the ninety members of congress (Founding Fathers) who deliberated on the proper wording of the First Amendment.  During those debates and discussions there was never a mention by anyone of those ninety “Framers” of the phrase “separation of church and state.” It seems logical that if this concept had been the intent or even a consideration of the intent for the First Amendment religious clauses then someone among the ninety who framed the Amendment would have raised that concept and used that phrase; none did.” 

This evidence concurs with and supports the discussion above on the rationale for and the intent of the “establishment clause”.  This statement was very simple, straightforward and clear.  It was based on the understanding of how religion was established in the colonies and the problem being addressed was the experience of and potential for Government control and interference with religion and not the reverse!  The reverse (removing religion from government) would have been antithetical because a religious belief and/or a respect for God was an integral part of the founding fathers lives, and to suggest that those beliefs and understandings should be separated from the formulation of a government of the people, for the people, and by the people would not have been conceivable.  And this evidence from the Congressional record again shows that it was not.

In Episode 4 we will see further evidence of the fallaciousness and falsehood that is inherent in the invoking of the concept of the separation of church and state as the intent of the establishment clause.  Then we will see how such an interpretation was not invoked for the first 150 years after the First Amendment was written.

Episode 4 –The Bill of Rights, States Rights, President Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists        

We learned in Episode 3 that the concept of Separation of Church and State was not incorporated in the U.S. Constitution and that it was antithetical to the philosophy of the founders.  The concept was not even recorded as a consideration in the development of the First Amendment.  To wit, the writings of the founding fathers endorse the linkage, the value and the necessity of religion within our government and our country and the term “separation of church and state”, was not mentioned in the Congressional Record of the discussions and debates held on the first amendment wording.

Now, continuing with points that expose the “myth” that there be separation of church and state, it is noted that:

  • The term is never mentioned or used in the U. S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights or in Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

 

The fact that it is not in the U.S. Constitution and, the Bill of Rights is foundational and has already been cited. This fact is included in this inventory of evidence for completeness, but the real point of significance is its’ absence in Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.  This absence is noteworthy on two counts, (1) the Virginia Statute is regarded as a likely basis or springboard from which the First Amendment was formulated and (2) Jefferson’s later misconstrued association with invoking the concept.

  • The term “separation of church and state” was fashioned from the casual use of “literary” license (a metaphor) used by Jefferson in a private letter.

The source of the term “separation of church and state” was “contrived”  or invented based on a word used in a letter written by President Jefferson’s in 1802, in response to the Danbury Baptist Association.  The Baptist’s had written to Jefferson complaining of discrimination stemming from the “official” (or state) religion that existed in the state of Connecticut.   The Association sought support for extension (to the state level) of the First Amendment concept of keeping government from interfering with the religious practices of the people. (Recall our earlier discussion that the First Amendment restrictions only applied to the Federal Government).  Jefferson expressed moral support for the position of the Danbury Baptists.   Giving that support was the reason behind Jefferson’s letter.   His response was in conformance to the undeniable point that the intent of the first two clauses of the First Amendment was to put restrictions on the Federal Government from interference with an individual’s right to religious freedom.  Keeping the government out of an individual’s religion was the “wall” Jefferson referred to that had been constructed by the First Amendment.  That was the real meaning of his subsequently misapplied “wall of separation” statement in his 1802 response to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.  Jefferson was only reiterating a government “hands off” religion policy – That is all!

The Danbury Baptist Association was a group of 26 Baptist churches in the Connecticut Valley who considered themselves persecuted by the legislature of the state of Connecticut that had established Congregationalism as its official state religion.  Here is the full text of Jefferson’s response:

Letter to the Danbury Baptists

January 1, 1802 To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen,

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th. Jefferson

There are several important points to take from this letter relative to its future misapplication:

  • As noted in the earlier discussion, the First Amendment (religion clauses) applied only to a restriction on the Federal Government. Individual states were not restricted by the first amendment from having an official state religion (as Connecticut did). This was consistent with the Constitution limiting the power of a central government and not interfering with state governments.
  • The Association knew, and acknowledged in their letter to Jefferson that, “the president of the United States is not the national legislator,…”, but hoped that his views on religious liberty would “shine and prevail through all these states and all the world.”       In other words they hoped that support by Jefferson would help the individual states move forward in adopting the principle embodied in the “establishment clause” of: “not having a designated church within a state”.
  • Jefferson could not and did not provide any direct relief or solution to the Baptist’s concern but he did, as requested, express his support of religious liberty being granted in the individual states through his statement, “Adhering to this expression [establishment clause] of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments ….”.   And this support may have helped, as Connecticut did “disestablish” Congregationalism as the official church in Connecticut in 1818.
  • Most importantly, with respect to the future misapplication and disingenuous use of Jefferson’s phrase by the Court 145 years later, “building a wall of separation”, in his letter supporting, and describing the First Amendment, is that the statement immediately follows, (in the same sentence), and is clearly made in reference to the restriction on the Federal Government from passing any law establishing a religion or prohibiting free exercise of religion. He is reiterating that the First Amendment is intended as a wall to keep the government out of religion. To illustrate, or describe the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment religious clauses he had just quoted, Jefferson could have said something like that the First Amendment “puts up a no trespassing sign”, in reference to the government, but probably, being well read and knowledgeable, was cleverly, alluding to Roger Williams’ (founder of the Baptist Church) earlier writings which stated: that there is: “[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world”.   Jefferson used the same “wall” metaphor to explain the purpose of the first amendment – simply substituting government or “state” for “wilderness of the world”.
  • Jefferson did not make any specific references to or in any way suggest or imply that religion must be excluded from schools, or government or the “public square” in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. Nor did he do so in his very famous, “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom”, which preceded and is believed to have been the “model” for the first amendment religious clauses. Neither the concept of or the term “separation of church and state” appear in the Virginia Statute.  That document, like the first two clauses of the First Amendment, disavows the concept of a state church and exalts the protection of free exercise of religion.
  • Finally, Jefferson, as President, uses a brief prayer to conclude his letter. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.” Thus, in his official government capacity he was incorporating an association with religion in his response, which belies the later interpretations of separation.

The words, chosen by Jefferson in his letter to support the First Amendment concept of restriction on government interference, are just that, his chosen words.  Note that Jefferson’s response to the Danbury Baptists did not engender any change, any debate, or any questioning of his intent or meaning at the time of its writing in 1802.  That illustrates that his statements were viewed to be in conformance with the original intent and existing understanding of the meaning, interpretation and application of the First Amendment.  Jefferson’s comments stood without challenge or question for more than a hundred years.

Finally, even if the “wall of separation” words were to be ascribed the “made-up” connotation of separation of church and state now given to them by the courts, those words and their erroneous interpretation do not represent law.  They do not have the force of authority to override the meaning and intent of an Amendment passed by Congress and ratified by the states and duly followed for over 150 years.  Those words should not have been used to warp, manipulate and expand the objective of the establishment clause so as to play a dominate role in our society, and completely reverse the intent of the freedom of exercise clause.

The great paradox and tragedy that stems from the misuse of Jefferson’s words is that the intended goal in the Bill of Rights of giving the people of the United States freedom to exercise their religion without government interference has now been eradicated and turned 180 degrees from the original intent.  The delegates at the Constitution Convention sought to limit the powers of the Federal Government but now the Federal Government (and the dollars it doles out) permeates and to some extent controls every aspect of our lives.  And now, by judicial fiat, there must be no hint of religion in anything that the Federal Government touches or is involved with – which includes schools, state governments, local governments, health care, etc.).  Further the concept of excluding religion (such as school children singing Christmas Carols and communities putting up a nativity scene) has been invoked by periodic judicial rulings and have been publicized so as to make civic and public bodies run scared.  These rulings typically made on behalf of atheist organizations are then spread further by fear, by threat and by media hype and / or bias.   Further, as a practical matter the “separation” or religion exclusion doctrine is primarily applied to Christianity – “political correctness” and selective “tolerance” gives a free pass to all other religions. The students in my grandson’s high school social studies class were directed to get down on the floor, face east and pray to Allah to demonstrate tolerance for Islam. And they did, save for my grandson.  When he said that doing so was uncomfortable for him, the teacher called him a bigot and sent him out of the room and to the principal’s office. This state of affairs is 180 degrees from our founding fathers view of the world and makes a mockery of the First Amendment.

This concludes Episode 4 and our observation of the true intent Jefferson’s message to the Danbury Baptists.   In Episode 5(A) and 5(b) we will gain some historical perspectives on the history of the development religion in the United States in the formative years of our country.  Including the statements and rulings by the judiciary in the 150 plus years subsequent to the adoption of the First Amendment.

We will see that the United States is indeed a Christian nation and will describe the evolution of Christianity and other religions in the United States.  This background will help illustrate and explain how dramatic and how inconsistent was the turn of events that now restricts the “free exercise of religion” and pursuit of happiness for Christians in our country.  This background may also give context to the degree of animosity, vitriol and vengeance being pursued by atheists against Christianity.

Episode 5 – Operation of the Free Exercise of the Christian Religion in the United States for more than One Hundred and Fifty Years after the Bill of Rights was Adopted

Episode 5(a) – Our Nation’s Christian Heritage

This section relates a few interesting aspects related to our founding and subsequent development as a Christian Nation. This information fits within the context of the history of the Freedom of Religion in the US but was also provided as a standalone piece because there is merit to providing it as a response to the current challenges to the veracity that we were founded as a Christian nation and that we are yet today a Christian nation.

Introduction – The United States was founded as a Christian nation and remains one today.

There is little doubt that upon its founding America’s people and its founders believed in God and were a Christian nation. That we were a Christian nation remained unquestionably true for one hundred and fifty years after our founding.  And now although under attack, especially in the last few decades by individual atheists, atheist groups, gay rights organizations and rulings by liberal judges, that remains true today.  This reality is evidenced in terms of: (1) the principles upon which the United States was founded, (2) the dominant religion of its people, and (3) the basis of the civil laws under which it operates and the associated judiciary rulings handed down for more than 150 years.  So despite the “running scared of legal repercussions” actions by school administrators and elected officials and President Obama’s unsubstantiated, and erroneous statement in 2009, that, “We no longer consider ourselves a Christian nation”, America remains, to this day, a Christian nation.

Christianity was the dominant religion in America upon its founding and remains the dominant religion.

At the time America declared its independence in 1776 the colonies were overwhelmingly Protestant Christians.   The book Myth of Separation between Church and State by Dee Wampler cites that 98% of the 2.5 million population in 1776 professed to be Protestant Christians.  Most of the remainder were Catholics.  This matches with the estimate was that there were 35,000 Catholics in the U.S. in 1776 (1.75%).  Jewish historians estimate that in 1776 that there were 2,500 people of the Jewish religion ( 0.1% of the population) in the colonies.  There were a few Muslims (brought in as bondsmen or slaves), and there may have been a few Hindus, Buddhists and peoples of other religions but the number was so small as to be “politically” insignificant and for the most part went unrecorded.

The dominance of Protestant Christian denominations is also reflected in the societal practices and laws of the day.  Although not enforced, many states had laws which required such things as church attendance on Sunday and other “Sunday” laws, which were enforced, that dictated acceptable Sunday activities (e.g. shops could not be open on Sunday).  Further, Protestant domination was reflected in the voting laws of most states where Catholics, Jews and atheists were excluded from voting as well as from holding public office. These relatively “harsh”, intolerant attitudes were a carryover from the mind-sets of the initial colonizers (Puritans) and the imposed Anglican “state church” in the Crown Colonies, and do not reflect the much more tolerant (even subservient and submissive) attitudes of Christians that subsequently developed in America. We became a tolerant Christian nation, applying the first amendment, “free exercise of religion clause” to all the world’s religions, despite the narrow extent and context that existed when it was composed *.

* The belief that the term “religion” in the first amendment statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…., meant a specific “Christian denomination”, is reflected in the following two examples: In the words of the Supreme Court of Maryland in the case of Runkel v. Winemiller in 1796, just a few years after the Constitution was adopted, they wrote:   “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their liberty.”  And Thomas Jefferson stated in a letter to Benjamin Rush —  “the establishment clause relates to selection of a particular sect.”

A walk around our nation’s capital and reading the writings on the monuments gives testimony to the faith, trust, and reliance on God that was shared and lived out by our nation’s founders and leaders.

There are two other significant, aspects related to “religion” of the 1700 and 1800’s which provide insight into our Christian heritage and its subsequent aberrant exploitation.  These are:

  • The nature of the “Protestant” Church in Colonial America and the impact of the Great Awakenings
  • The appellation of “deist” ascribed to several of the founding fathers.

The “Protestant” Church in Colonial America and the impact of the Great Awakenings 

Although a wide variety of Christian denominations or sects came to America and found acceptance in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and the mid-Atlantic states, the Protestant church, until the mid18th century, was primarily made up of “main line” denominations of Congregationalists and Anglicans along with Presbyterians, German Lutherans, and Baptists.   Despite the restoration by Luther in the Reformation, of the concept of “grace” (the free gift of salvation through faith) and of a loving God who sent his Son to die for our sins, these denominations still largely focused on “salvation by good works”.  These “works” included the requirements of regular church attendance, strictly following creeds and participation in the sacraments.  The Congregationalists Church services would have been characterized by emphasizing strict discipline and Anglican services by pomp and formal liturgy. What is often referred to as preaching of “fire and brimstone”, (i.e. – shape up or you will be condemned) was the order of the day.   Church attendance and church membership was performed more on the basis of obligation and societal norms than on a strong emotional belief or faith.  This situation changed markedly with the “Great Awakenings”.   In simplest terms the “Awakenings” were the teaching and subsequent acceptance of what is now recognized as the essence of Christianity – “Belief in Christ as the Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of all, providing salvation to all those who accept Christ as their Savior.” (basically this is what  “evangelicals” believe)

The first Great Awakening came about due to the “conversion” of a missionary to America from England, John Wesley. (Now that is really paradoxical!!)  He and his brother Charles, were members of the Anglican Church in England and had come to Georgia as “missionaries”.  While here, a Moravian bishop asked John Wesley if he “knew” Jesus. Wesley said, “yes, he knew that Jesus was the savior of the world”.  “But do you know he has saved you?” asked the Moravian.  John Wesley answered that he did not possess that knowledge.  One evening two months later (in 1738), after returning to England, John Wesley underwent a “conversion” experience in which he came to realize that Christ had died for his sins and that he, “personally” was saved.  He said “..my heart strangely warmed.  I felt that I did believe in Christ, in Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” 

He along with his brother Charles, who had had a similar experience two days previously, founded the “Methodist” movement and along with Charles Whitefield came back to America as evangelists, preaching the concept of the personal experience of salvation by the grace of God (not of salvation by doing good works).   This more emotional, more heartfelt faith swept the colonies (1740 – 1780) and resulted in a religious revival.  It is regarded as the single most transforming event in the religious history of the colonies.  Charles Whitefield, who worked with the Wesleys came to preach in the colonies 7 times before his death in 1770. He was a renowned evangelist and orator who drew huge crowds. This was Ben Franklin’s experience.

Benjamin Franklin, who later worked with Whitefield for 3 decades tells of the first time he went to hear him speak (Whitefield was in Philadelphia raising funds for an orphanage in Georgia).  Franklin went to hear him, but had decided in advance that he did not intend to contribute to the cause. (He had in his possession a handful of coppers some silver dollars and five pistoles of gold.) After listening to Whitefield, Franklin began to soften and resolved to give him the coppers.  His oratory was so good Franklin was ashamed of that decision and decided to contribute the silver as well. But when Whitefield finished so admirably as the plate came around Franklin emptied his pockets Gold and all!!

Although the “Awakening” was initiated by these Methodists, the message, of personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ through the revival format, caught fire in the Baptist Church. Even the Congregationalist denomination through the evangelist Jonathan Edwards was affected.

The Second Great Awakening took place during the period 1800 – 1830 and focused on spreading the message of personal salvation to the unchurched, through revivals and camp meetings, especially in the expanding frontier areas of Kentucky, Tennessee and southern Ohio.

Certainly the “great awakenings” invigorated religious worship in America (see the figure below on the growth of the number of congregations of each of a number of denominations), however, the most important effect was the change in the nature of the understanding being taught and lived by the people. There was in essence incorporation of the principles of the reformation.   The Christian church in America moved away from a salvation through “good behavior and good works” emphasis and thrived as an evangelical church teaching and preaching the Gospel – salvation through faith in Christ.   This personal involvement and personal commitment of the American people to their Christian faith, which evolved in the colonies beginning with the first Great Awakening, is the defining element of religion in America and allowed Christianity to be sustained at high levels of active participation over the centuries (unlike Europe where now perhaps only 2% of the populous attend church).  

Deism in Colonial America

A number of the founding fathers, (Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson being the most notable) have been described as Deists, often with the accompanying inference that America was not founded as a Christian nation.   Deism, can be described as: “belief in the existence of God on the evidence of reason and nature only, and rejection of God’s subsequent involvement in the affairs of men”.  It is an idea, belief or thought that arose during the “Age of Enlightenment” in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Deism is not an organized religion, in fact, one of the tenants of “true” Deism is that organized religion is not necessary.  Painting these founders with a broad and dismissive “deist” brush does not provide an accurate picture of these founder’s thoughts on God and religion and on their thoughts on the role of God and religion in the formation and the future success of our form of government.  And it certainly does not reflect the nature of their religious practices or the diversity of their opinions.

John Adams, a new Englander, regularly attended church throughout his life. His wife Abigail’s father was a Congregationalist minister and although that was the church he attended, his belief was Unitarian.  Which in that day meant he thought of God as one (not three) with Jesus being raised up as divine by God.  Hence the deist label for Adams, since many deists were Unitarian.   Notwithstanding this one different theological point of view, Adams considered himself a Christian and believed it imperative that the ethical and moral teachings of Jesus be followed.  As President, Adams twice called for national fast days to renew the nation’s sense of divine mission.  Adams was a deep thinker and a good writer and clearly one of the most influential founding fathers in terms of formulating and drafting the documents which established our form of government and he considered that God had provided the opportunity for the formation of this government of freedom by the people and that leaders of this effort, of which he was one, should ensure it was carried out well. This, thought of God providing him, our people, and our country with this opportunity was not at all Deist.

George Washington was raised in and attended the Anglican Church throughout his life, he served as a vestryman in the church, and as an officer he “read” services to his men in the army prior to the Revolutionary War.  He did not write about his personal religious views, thus the degree of his orthodoxy with respect to Christianity are hypothesized from his religious practices. The inference that George Washington was a Deist came to a great degree from his use of terms for God like, “the Grand Author”, “The Deity” and “The Supreme Being” in speeches and official statements.  However, he did not avoid the word God or the mention of Jesus in what he wrote and said. (see Washington’s Papers).  The Anglican church had “Sacrament Sundays” services (during which communion was given) four times per year.  Services on these Sundays were held in two parts (the Desk and Pulpit service) and the “Lords Supper”. It was a common practice among parishioners of the day to attend only the first service.   Nelly Custis, his adopted granddaughter, related that she and George Washington would leave after the first service and send the carriage back for Martha.  In response to a biographer asking about Washington’s religious views Nelly Custis summed up the religion of George Washington quite well, “I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity,”.  He communed with his God in secret…. He was a silent thoughtful man.”  In his last will and testament Washington validated this opinion when he wrote, “You do well to learn …. above all the religion of Jesus Christ.” 

Benjamin Franklin studied theology as a young man, he chose the Presbyterian church as his first church home in Philadelphia, but later attended Christ Church (Episcopal) the most because he liked the pomp and circumstance.  However, he was ambivalent toward choosing any one Christian denomination. He contributed toward the construction of every church (and one synagogue) in Philadelphia.  Franklin wrote; “Here is my Creed.  I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs the world by his Providence.  That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing good to his other Children.  That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another life, respecting its conduct in this.  These I take these to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion.”  He encouraged organized religion because it enhanced the morality of the people.  His motion for prayer at the Constitutional Convention and his experience illustrate that he did not eschew religion.  And, although his intellectual outlook may have had deist components his actions and his belief in the value and need for organized religion and of the potential for God’s interaction in the affairs of men were decidedly non-deist.

Thomas Jefferson – It is well known that Jefferson developed his own “edited” version of the Bible by cutting out those portions which he had a hard time believing or accepting, like the ‘Incarnation” (God becoming human through the virgin birth).   What is not so well known is that Jefferson did believe in the teachings of Jesus and felt it critical that these be taught and followed. In a letter to Benjamin Rush he said, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which I believe Jesus wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other. (#) In his last will and testament Jefferson wrote, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” This then is what Jefferson thought of himself, not so much different than many professing Christians.  Jefferson is often put forward as the best “Founding Father” example of how we were not a Christian nation at the time of the formation of our government.  Clearly, his statements belie that assertion, however, even if that were true it is instructive to recall that Jefferson was not a member of the Constitutional Convention or of the Congress that two years later developed the amendments that became the Bill of Rights. Thus, ascribing the meaning behind the religious statements in these documents to Jefferson would be unsound logic.

A number of other Founding Fathers declared their Christian faith and its role in government quite boldly.  It should be clear, even from this brief examination, that the personal religious beliefs of these founders add to, rather than dissuade, the assertion that America was a Christian nation at the time of its founding.

Is the United States still a Christian Nation?

As noted earlier when the nation was founded (1780-90) essentially everyone (99.75%) belonged to a Christian congregation.  We will in the next episode subsequently see how that dominance was reflected in the social / educational / judicial / political life of the country.   Based on 1948 Gallup poll data, 91% of the population identified themselves as Christian. This illustrates that Christianity was still the dominant religion of the country.  That percentage has gradually declined with more immigrants following other religions coming to America and more people identifying as unaffiliated. About 2% identify as atheists.  So about 50 years later in 2007, pew research indicated that 79% identified as Christian.  Still a dominant majority.  Further, beyond our people’s attestation to Christianity, our nation’s generous behavior in terms of accepting, and helping the poor and needy both internally and externally, and helping the oppressed reflect Christian principles.

President Obama’s comment during his visit to Turkey in 2009 about the U.S. not being a Christian nation was of course, not reflective of reality, we are, primarily, a Christian nation. In three years he had become more strident with respect to his declaration.   In 2006, Obama made a similar statement but qualified it. He said, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”  In one sense, the sense of our country being tolerant and accepting, and allowing free exercise of religion, those words are true.  However, in the sense of describing our character as a nation, which is the sense in which the statement was made, those words are ludicrous. Our nation does not have the character of a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist nation.  But what is most paradoxical and distressing, is that whereas we, as a tolerant Christian nation, have welcomed and allowed free exercise of the world’s religions in our country, the free exercise of Christianity is no longer a reality. The free exercise of the Christian religion faces a constant battle with the judicial and administrative parts of our government.  The last episode of this Freedom of Religion series will be exploring how this came to pass and how it must be resisted in order to restore our First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion.

Episode 5(b) –Christianity: A vital and accepted part of America’s Civil Society 1789 – 1944

We left episode 4 in 1802 as we learned that Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists reinforced the First Amendment principle that the Government was to stay out of the business of establishing a single religious denomination for the whole country.  Jefferson did not state, suggest or imply that our civil society, the public square, our educational system or any other aspect of our government (local, state or Federal) should be devoid of or separated from religion. To have done so would have been a denunciation and a direct contradiction of the principle of the “free exercise of religion” guaranteed by the second clause of the First Amendment.  The continuation of this guaranteed free exercise of religion in the United States for over 150 years authenticated the proper understanding of Jefferson’s letter.

For over 150 years the free exercise of religion was safeguarded as intended by the First Amendment and religious diversity and tolerance was advanced in the country. In fact, as described in episode 5(a), Christianity flourished and Christian congregations increased at a remarkable rate.  Christianity, Christian holidays and related community celebrations and observances were a central part of all public life in these United States including the educational system. The validity of this state of affairs as being in accordance with the provisions of the First Amendment was validated by its acknowledgement and acceptance throughout the country for a century and a half, virtually without challenge.    And of course as is obvious, no “state religion” was established in the country.  Indeed, there was no consideration given to such a thing.  Now we will trace the history and record of this period of over 150+ years of the free exercise of religion and associated religious harmony.

 When the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written essentially the entire population of America was Christian.  Thus, it is no surprise that there was common acceptance of Christianity, Christian Holidays and celebration and Christian moral principles in everything that went on in civil society as a whole.  Christianity and Christian principles permeated community activities and public and private education.  Municipal, state and federal governments as well as the courts were integrally infused and linked with Christianity and the teachings in the Bible. These circumstances paralleled the sentiments of the founding fathers as necessary to maintain our unique, form of government (of the people by the people and for the people).   This close alignment of public life and Christianity was the norm and still remains so in the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans.  In the few instances when the legality of this close association was questioned during the first 150 years following the writing of the Constitution, the Congress and the Court affirmed that this close alignment was lawful (constitutional), followed precedent and was consistent with the intent of the framers.  Illustrations of the interrelationship of religion and civil society throughout the first 150 years after the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are given below:

Public Areas and Government Buildings

Inscriptions on the interior and exterior of the government buildings and public/civic monuments constructed in Washington DC shortly after the founding of our government, continuing through the period of the Civil War and into modern times reflect our Christian heritage and testify to the integral relationship of government and religion.

Portrayals of the Ten Commandments are found in many government buildings in Washington, D. C. including: (1) in the National Archives; (2) in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress along with a bronze statue of Moses and (3) in numerous locations at the U. S. Supreme Court; in the frieze above the Justices, on the oak door at the rear of the Chamber, in the gable apex, and in dozens of locations on the bronze latticework surrounding the Supreme Court Bar seating. Depiction of the Ten Commandments in the Federal buildings in Washington DC has been emulated in many state and local government / judicial buildings throughout the nation.

Three of the most prominent and oft visited public areas / monuments in our country are the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.   The Washington Monument has numerous Bible verses and religious statements carved on its walls, including: “Holiness to the Lord”, “Search the Scriptures”, “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7), “May Heaven to this Union continue its beneficence,” and “In God We Trust”, and the Latin inscription Laus Deo – “Praise be to God” – is engraved on the monument’s capstone.

Of the five areas inside the Jefferson Memorial into which Jefferson’s words have been carved, four are God-centered, including Jefferson’s declarations that (1) “God who gave us life gave us liberty.”, (2) “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”, and (3) “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

The Lincoln Memorial contains numerous acknowledgments of God and citations of Bible verses, including the declarations that (1) “we here highly resolve that . . . this nation under God . . . shall not perish from the earth”; (2) “The Almighty has His own purposes. (3) ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh’ (Matthew 18:7)”; (4) “as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’ (Psalms 19:9)”; and (5) from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, based on Isaiah 40:4-5 — “one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh see it together”.

 Education

Colleges – Essentially all of the established Colleges in America at the time of the writing of the Constitution had been founded or co-founded by a Christian denomination.  Thus, higher education had a strong Christian component and influence.   Private tutoring to prepare students for college was often carried out by ministers.  The first colleges were:  Harvard – Congregationalist, College of William and Mary – Anglican, Yale – Presbyterian, Princeton – Presbyterian, College of Philadelphia – Christian non-denominational founded by civic leaders –  King’s College – Anglican, College of Rhode Island – Baptist – Queen’s College (Rutgers) – Dutch Reform, Dartmouth – Congregationalist and Georgetown University was founded by Catholic Jesuits in 1789 (the same year that the Bill of Rights was written).  The University of Georgia was founded in 1785 and the University of North Carolina was founded in 1789.

Initially Colonial children learned to read in their schools from “The New England Primer”.  Many of the letters of the alphabet were taught / represented through the use of a Bible “story/rhyme” accompanied by a picture —   for A – In Adam’s fall, We sinned all, for B –  Thy life to mend, this Book attend (with a picture showing The Holy Bible), for P – Peter denies his Lord and cries.  For S – Samuel anoints whom God appoints.     The “The New England Primer” was 90 pages long and included religious maxims, catechism answers, and moral lessons.  It remained in print well into the 19th century and was used until the 20th century.

Noah Webster’s “Blue Back Speller” began replacing The New England Primer for teaching children to read beginning around 1800.  After providing the students with training on individual words the book presented, “Lessons of easy Words, to teach Children to read, and to know their Duty.”  A few of the initial lessons or readings that the children practiced are reproduced below.  It is amazing to see that the mention of God and the Lord was not just “allowed” but that Christian theology and moral principles were the core of what the children learned as they began to read.  Clearly teaching the moral principles of Christianity as well as the theology was an integral part of the public education of the young children.

LESSON I. No man may put off the law of God. My joy is in his law all the day. O may I not go in the way of sin. Let me not go in the way of ill men.  II.   A bad man is a foe to the law. It is his joy to do ill. All men go out of the way. Who can say he has no sin?  III.   The way of man is ill. My son, do as you are bid. But if you are bid, do no ill. See not my sin, and let me not go to the pit. IV.  Rest in the Lord, and mind his word. My son, hold fast the law that is good. You must not tell a lie, nor do hurt. We must let no man hurt us.  VII.  This life is not long, but the life to come has no end. We must pray for them that hate us. We must love them that love not us. We must do as we like to be done to.  XI.   He that came to save us will wash us from all sin; I will be glad in his name. A good boy will do all that is just; he will flee From vice; he will do good, and walk in the way of life. Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world; for they are sin. I will not fear what flesh can do to me; for my trust is in him who made the world. He is nigh to them that pray to him, and praise his name.  and save your soul from pain and woe.                  XIII.   A good child will not lie, swear nor steal. He will be good at home, and ask to read his book, when he gets up, he will wash his hands and face clean; he will comb his hair, and make haste to school; he will not play by the way, as bad boys do.                    XIV.  When good boys and girls are at school, they will mind their books, and try to learn to spell and read well, and not play in time of school. When they are at church, they will sit, kneel or stand still; and when they are at home, will read some good book, that God may bless them.                       XV.    As for those boys and girls that mind not their books, and love not church and school, but play with such as tell tales, tell lies, curse, swear and steal they will come to some bad end, and must be whip till they mend their ways.

The Public Square

To get an “independent view” of the pulse of America in the early 1800’s, a great work to turn to is that by Alexis de Tocqueville from France.   Tocqueville toured America for nine months in 1831 and wrote the classic works, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America.  Alexis de Tocqueville’s comment on early America’s political institutions was, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”

The meeting house in Colonial days was typically the first public building built as new villages sprang up. A meeting-house had a dual purpose as a place of worship and as a place for public meetings.  Similarly, as the country spread westward a church or school house would be the first building constructed and that building, (which ever it was constructed as), would also serve the other need as well.  Further that building typically served as the location for public meetings.  Such common usage made sense and no one thought twice about it.  

Judicial and Congressional Findings

Although minimal there were a few statements by Congress and rulings by the judiciary in the first 150+ years of our country that confirmed that the true intent of the First Amendment was to allow the free exercise of religion in all aspects of our civil society including government.

In 1781, a publisher petitioned Congress for permission to print Bibles.   Congress not only approved his request but issued this statement in 1782:   “The Congress of the United States approves and recommends to the people, the Holy Bible…for use in schools.”

The Aitken Bible of 1782 was reviewed, approved and authorized by the US Congress. The Bible was reviewed first for accuracy by the Congressional Chaplains White and Duffield and they reported on its accuracy. Then the Journals of Congress for September 1782 records on page 469, “Resolved. That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitkin, as subservient to the interest of religion as well as an influence of the progress of arts in this country and being satisfied from the above report (by the congressional chaplains), they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation.”

The first recorded incidence after 1802 (date of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists) of their being a question raised on the interrelationship of religion and government was in 1853.  A group* petitioned Congress to “separate Christian principles from government”.  The group desired such things as: chaplains being turned out of the Congress and the Military.  Their petition was referred to the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees to investigate.

( *this group was not identified in any of the references to it, however the fact that it happened is evident from the subsequent congressional reports.)

Each of the committees studied the issue with respect to the First Amendment and reported as follows:

1853 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Report on Religion

The clause speaks of “an establishment of religion.” What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to that establishment which existed in the mother-country…[which was an] endowment, at the public expense, in exclusion of or in preference to any other, by giving its members exclusive political rights, and by compelling the attendance of those who rejected its communion upon its worship or religious observances. These three particulars constituted that union of church and state of which our ancestors were so justly jealous, and against which they so wisely and carefully provided…They [the Founders] intended, by this Amendment, to prohibit “an establishment of religion” such as the English Church presented, or any thing like it. But they had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people…they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy.

1854 U. S House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Report on Religion

What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed defining what a man must believe; it must have rites and ordinances which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive and penalties for the nonconformist. There never was an established religion without all these…Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]. Any attempt to level and discard all religion would have been viewed with universal indignation…It [religion] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests…In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity; that, in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions. That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.

The Committees explained that they would not separate these principles, for it was these principles and activities which had made us so successful—they had been our foundation, our basis.

Apparently following up and concluding the investigations United States Congress (May 1854), in the Thirty-Fourth Congress assembled passed a resolution which Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts being Speaker of the House stated as follows:

Whereas, The people of these United States, from their earliest history to the present time, have been led by the hand of a kind Providence, and are indebted for the countless blessings of the past and present, and dependent for continued prosperity in the future upon Almighty God; and whereas the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it eminently becomes the representatives of a people so highly favored to acknowledge in the most public manner their reverence for God.

*this group was not identified in any of the references to it, however the fact that it happened is evident from the subsequent congressional reports.

During the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, yet another group challenging specific Christian principles in government arrived before the Supreme Court.  Jefferson’s letter had remained unused for years, for as time had progressed after its use in 1802—and after no national denomination had been established—his letter had fallen into obscurity.  But now—75 years later—in the case Reynolds v. United States, the plaintiffs resurrected Jefferson’s letter, hoping to use it to their advantage. In that case, the Court printed a lengthy segment of Jefferson’s letter and then used his letter to again prove that it was permissible to maintain Christian values, principles, and practices in official policy.  For the next 15 years during that legal controversy, the Supreme Court utilized Jefferson’s letter to ensure that Christian principles remained a part of government. Two months later, the Judiciary Committee made this strong declaration: “The great, vital, and conservative element in our system [the thing that holds our system together] is the believe of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Then in 1892 Supreme Court ruled that “Christian principles must remain the basis for American laws and institutions” and cited 80 precedents for its decision.

In 1931, the Court affirmed America as a Christian nation. In the U.S v. Macintosh, the Court ruled, “We are a Christian people, according to one another the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God.” In addition to being a “Christian people,” the Court asserted that obedience to the will of God was duty of American citizens.

In 1944 the National Education Association published a series of sixteen “Personal Growth Leaflets” to help public-school students become “familiar with our great literary heritage.” The back of the booklet read, “It is important that people who are to live together and work together happily shall have a common mind–a common body of appreciations and ideals to animate and inspire them.” The NEA’s selections for inspiring American students is extraordinary: the Lord’s Prayer; the poem “Father in Heaven, We Thank Thee”; another poem that introduced the concept of daily prayers; a thanksgiving poem that admonished kids to “thank the One who gave all the good things that we have.”  There was no legal challenge to this publication.

Summary

America’s history from the time of our founding up to 1944 shows the close interrelationship of religion and U.S. civil society, in education, in government, in the judiciary and in the public square and illustrates that the free exercise of religion was indeed the accepted norm in the United States and was in accordance with the First Amendment principles.  No wonder de Tocqueville wrote what he did about Americans combining the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately that it was impossible to make them conceive of the one without the other. De Tocqueville’s testimony is so valuable because he was an unbiased, independent eyewitness to what was actually occurring in early America. But on the horizon is a black cloud. In the next episode we will examine how in 1947 the Supreme Court placed the First Amendment’s guarantee of Freedom of Religion in peril and it is that peril from which we are still trying to escape.

Episode 6 – The dismantling of the true meaning and intent of the First Amendment

The fundamental right of Religious Freedom and the imposition of the concept of the Separation of Church and State are at odds.  The latter concept as it is applied to the conduct of our daily lives and imposed upon our societal affairs as if it were a part of our countries founding documents is a distortion, an invention, a lie that spread throughout the nation and is now regarded by most as a factual truth. Astonishingly, neither the term, nor the concept of “Separation of Church and State” appears in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights First Amendment.  Yet, now, the overreaching, misguided, and malicious application of the concept of Separation of Church and State diminishes the actual free exercise of religion specifically provided for in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

We begin now in the mid 1940’s. Having helped liberate Europe and defeated Japan, Americans were ready to again enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We were still under the protection of the First Amendment and able to enjoy the free exercise of the Christian religion as we had for over 150 years. The Bible and prayer were still commonly used in our schools. The Courts had declared that we were a Christian nation.  Christmas was celebrated in the public square, there was prayer to open public meetings and the Ten Commandments were engraved in the Supreme Court Building and in court houses around the nation.  And then came:

A radical turn by the Supreme Court. 

Recall the initial words of first amendment as they pertain to freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Also recall the Colonial history of there being “state” churches and how it was clearly described in Episode 3 that the first phrase in the First Amendment, “the establishment clause”, pertained specifically to restricting the Federal Government from establishing a “state” church.  That intent was clear. That understanding and the free exercise of religion flourished from the time the Bill of Rights was written (1789) until 1947.

In 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court made a 180-degree turn from past history and precedent. Without citing a single precedent, and ignoring 150 years of historically consistent rulings, the Court decided that the First Amendment “establishment clause” had a much broader meaning than not establishing a state church and announced that; “The wall of separation between church and state must be kept high and impregnable”. Invoking this concept was a radical departure from the past. With that statement by Justice Hugo Black, the myth of separation between church and state was born.  Before that time the phrase “separation of church and state” was hardly know, it did not even appear in the World Book Encyclopedia until 1967.

So exactly what happened.  How did this change come about?

The genesis of the change resulted, rather innocuously, from a Supreme Court case that actually came down on the side of religious freedom. In Everson vs. Board of Education, Arch Everson, challenged a 1941 New Jersey Law that allowed local school districts to provide students transportation to school.  In Everson’s township both public and private (parochial) students were provided transportation.  A total of $357 for the year was allocated by the township toward the transportation of parochial students.  Everson alleged that this indirect aid to religion violated the New Jersey Constitution and the First Amendment. Everson lost the case in the highest New Jersey State court and then it was taken on to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled against Everson, on the basis of the majority opinion, written by Justice Hugo Black, that: “ … the state bill was constitutionally permissible because the reimbursements were offered to all students regardless of religion and because the payments were made to parents and not any religious institution.”  Sounds reasonable and in accord with the First Amendment, right? –  What was being authorized certainly could not be considered as the Federal Government establishing a state religion.

But Wait!!    In the write up of the majority opinion, Justice Black stated that:

“ —-The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance.”

So far so good. These statements follow the true intent of the two Freedom of Religion clauses of the First Amendment, the “establishment clause” and the “free exercise clause”.  But Justice Black then added this statement, perhaps without contemplation of the future expanding reach of the government or the devious interpretation that would be made linking “tax” and “funding”.

No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

This statement, followed by Black’s closing statement in the majority opinion that “the wall of separation between church and state must be kept high and impregnable”, opened a pathway for future courts to rule against allowing any religious expression to be associated with activities that had any government funding.  But the separation concept was just plain made up. There is nothing in the First Amendment clauses that suggest separation or a wall or taxes and nothing in the conduct of our country for 150 years that suggested separation.  The separation of church and  state was not conceived of or established by the founders, nor was it part of our national heritage.

In 1962, the innocuous seeds of the Everson case burst into full bloom and began their invasive attack on America’s Christian population.  Black’s words became controlling precedent for Engle v. Vitale–the case that removed prayer in public education by ruling voluntary and denominationally neutral prayer unconstitutional. The actual prayer that was ruled on was rather benign: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee and we beg thy blessings upon us and our parents, our teachers, and our country.” Tragically, Engle v. Vitale started a domino effect of court rulings that threatened to remove our religious heritage from the public arena, especially from education.

In the 1963 decision of Abington v. Schempp, the Court removed Bible reading from public education. The Court’s justification? “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be and have been psychologically harmful to a child.” Simply amazing!! Suddenly, the best- selling book of all time and the most quoted source by the founding fathers was unconstitutional and psychologically harmful. The honorable court certainly didn’t share the religious values of the founders nor the sustainers of the Republic. Abraham Lincoln said, “But for the Bible we would not know right from wrong.” Exactly. One of the reasons moral bearings have been lost in the country is that the objective values of right and wrong have been removed from children’s education.

In 1969, it became unconstitutional to erect a war memorial in the shape of a cross (Lowe v. City of Eugene, 1969). The Court carried that same religious intolerance into a 1994 case in which a cross in a San Diego park had to be removed.

In 1976, it became unconstitutional for a board of education to use or refer to the word God in any official writings (State of Ohio v. Whisner). In 1979, it became unconstitutional for a kindergarten class to ask whose birthday was being celebrated in a Christmas assembly (Florey v. Sioux Falls School District).

By 1980 this incredibly twisted approach made it unconstitutional to post the Ten Commandments on school walls. According to Stone v. Graham, “If posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps venerate and obey the commandments; this is not a permissible objective.” James Madison, the man most responsible for the U.S. Constitution said “[We] have staked the future of all of our political Constitutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Once again, the honorable Court is completely out of step with the founding fathers. Madison was absolutely right–the pathetic condition of our culture reflects the inability of individuals to control themselves. While the Ten Commandments hang above the chief justice of the Supreme Court, they are hypocritically censored from the halls of our schools. George Washington said that apart from religion, there can be no morality.

In 1985, in Wallace v. Jaffree, the Supreme Court in the ultimate absurdity outlawed allowing a “moment of silence” in Alabama schools.  Ruling a state law, providing for a moment of silence, as unconstitutional. Several states had gone this route in response to the outlawing of school prayer. The reach of the Federal Government was now being taken to extremes.  The rationale for the ruling was that any bill (even those which are constitutionally acceptable) is unconstitutional if the author of the bill had a religious activity in mind when the bill was written. In this case the Court carried the separation of church and state concept beyond belief. In addition to applying to religious activities, words, and symbols, along with anything else that might cause someone to think about God, now the mythological wall may be brought to bear on an author’s thoughts while penning a bill.

Why did the Courts make such a drastic departure from our roots? The answer is two-fold, on the one hand there are mean spirited, anti-Christian, intolerant individuals who use the freedom’s granted in the Bill of Rights for their purpose of hurting others and secondly there are the social activist judges who have a complete disregard for the Constitution’s intent. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes illustrated his personal contempt for the original intent of the Constitution when he said, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what judges say it is.” The words of Supreme Court Justice Brennan are more inflammatory:  “It is arrogant to use the Constitution as the founding fathers intended, it must be interpreted in light of current problems and current needs.”

The arrogance really lies in these liberal judges not interpreting the Constitution as the founding fathers intended but, rather, in reinterpreting the Constitution to meet their personal ideas. It takes brazen audacity to ignore the intentions of the founding fathers and to turn one’s back on the Constitution / Bill of Rights and 150 years of American history that faithfully followed it.

In a 2014 speech Justice Antonin Scalia criticized members of the Court who champion a more evolving, “living” view of the Constitution — a judicial philosophy he has previously said only an “idiot” could believe. “Our {the Supreme Court’s} latest take on the subject, which is quite different from previous takes, is that the state must be neutral, not only between religions, but between religion and non-religion,”. “That’s just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution.”

If Americans want a more secular political system that guarantees those distinctions, they can “enact that by statute,” Scalia said, “but to say that’s what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd.”

Progression of the Myth of Separation from the Courts to Daily Life 

The court case rulings cited above and the associated thought metastasized rapidly. With the aid of a liberal media eager to publicize the demise of traditional values and an increasingly liberal educational system, the vast majority of the U.S. population became convinced that the concept of separation of church and state was a fixture of the Constitution. Further, many school administrators, teachers and municipal leaders considered that mentioning or observing anything to do with Christianity was off limits. Thus, celebration of Christian holidays or even mentioning God in public schools could result in law suits or discipline. The country was literally traumatized. But paradoxically, while the free exercise of religion relative to Christianity was being drastically curtailed, tolerance as an ethic was being pushed. Open mindedness toward others religions was being advanced by social justice activists. No problem with discussing Islam in the schools.

Likewise, evidence of Christianity in the public square was being shut down. Boycotts, dismissals, and protests would occur against companies and individuals who dared to publically express / display their Christian beliefs. Businesses and employers removed any references related to Christianity and adopted non-descript substitute greetings to avoid offending no-believers. This change was: (1) being driven by protests from atheist individual or groups bringing lawsuits, (2) being supported by those who were now being taught the validity of the concept of “separation of church and state” and (3) being accepted by people of faith who now believed (incorrectly) that “separation of church and state” was part of our heritage.

But all is not lost – truth is on the side of the real meaning of the First Amendment!

Fighting Back to regain the Free Exercise of (Christian) Religion

Although he was in the minority in the “silent prayer” decision in 1985, Justice William H. Rehnquist, penned a bitter dissent to the case in which he attacked the reasoning in the 1962 Ever­son case. “There is simply no historical foundation,” Rehnquist wrote, “for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the ‘wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson.” Rehnquist called Everson’s lofty rhetoric “useless as a guide to sound constitutional adjudication” and labeled Jeffer­son’s wall metaphor “useless as a guide to judging.”  Other high court justices, notably Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, have since joined the attack.

In general, the Supreme Court began to become more conservative with the appoints by Presidents Reagan and President Bush (the elder) so the extremely liberal decisions under Justice Earl Warren’s Court (1953-1969) did not continue.  A list of decisions that are more favorable to religious freedom are listed below covering the period 1984 -2014.  However, there were many others that were not favorable as the Court has continued to follow the precedents and tests that had been established during the Warren years.

There are a number of groups that have formed to defend Freedom of Religion (Christianity) such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Heritage Foundation.  It is my understanding that these groups have overwhelmingly won the frivolous cases brought against schools where school principals have banned or atheist’s groups have challenged the singing of Christmas carols and against towns putting up nativity displays.

There has been a fairly strong backlash against the efforts to remove Christ from Christmas and the nativity from Christmas displays.   Progress has been made in recent years and religious freedom has even been a topic in the current Republican presidential primaries. But the struggle for the free exercise of the Christian religion goes on.  The dissent to this point of view is embedded in the myth that the founders intend there to be separation of church and state.  That is wrong!

All the founders wanted to achieve by the first two clauses of the First Amendment was to ensure (1) that there would be no Federal Government specified religion for the nation (no specific Christian denomination) and (2) to allow everyone the freedom and privilege to choose and participate in their own denomination (or none at all) without interference or control by the Federal Government.   That the first simple provision specifying that the Federal Government could not designate a state church could be twisted by the Courts in such a way that it generated blatant Federal Government interference and in so doing decimated the free exercise provision is unconscionable.  The original and continued “reinterpretation” of the establishment clause of the First Amendment by the Supreme Court was and is an effrontery to the founders and is a great injustice to the American people.

Our job – Spread the Truth that the concept of “Separation of Church and State” is not part of the U. S. Constitution, is not a correct interpretation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment and its imposition on our lives and on the Right of the free exercise of religion is a travesty.                         Thanks for Reading – Larry Von Thun

Court Cases since 1984 which upheld Freedom of Religion for Christians

Lynch v. Donnelly (l984) The Court upheld a nativity display among other symbols in a public park “to celebrate the Christmas holiday and to depict the origins of that holiday.”

Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990) The 1990 Equal Access Act, which required that public schools give religious groups the same access to facilities that other extracurricular groups have, was upheld. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette (1995) A cross placed by a private group in a traditional public forum adjoining the state house did not violate the Establishment Clause, as the space was open to all on equal terms.

Mitchell v. Helms (2000) The federal government could provide computer equipment to all schools—public, private and parochial—under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The aid was religiously neutral and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001) Religious clubs were allowed to meet in public schools after class hours as other clubs were permitted to do. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) A government program providing tuition vouchers for Cleveland schoolchildren to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing was upheld. The vouchers were neutral towards religion and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004) A father challenged the constitutionality of requiring public school teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, which has included the phrase “under God” since 1954. The Court determined that Mr. Newdow, as a non-custodial parent, did not have standing to bring the case to court and therefore did not answer the constitutional question

Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001) Religious clubs were allowed to meet in public schools after class hours as other clubs were permitted to do. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) A government program providing tuition vouchers for Cleveland schoolchildren to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing was upheld. The vouchers were neutral towards religion and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Van Orden v. Perry (2005) A six-foot monument displaying the Ten Commandments donated by a private group and placed with other monuments next to the Texas State Capitol had a secular purpose and would not lead an observer to conclude that the state endorsed the religious message, and therefore did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (2007) After the Bush Administration created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for the purpose of allowing religious charity organizations to gain federal funding, the Court ruled that taxpayers cannot bring Establishment Clause challenges against programs funded by the executive office

Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014)

Held that the New York town could continue opening legislative sessions with sectarian prayers.

America – Let us be One People

America – Let us be One People ——

and Eliminate the Scourge of Statistical Divisiveness                                  

Introduction

When I was a small boy living in Colorado in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s I recall hearing statements of condemnation, expressions of prejudice and derogatory comments directed toward peoples of different races, different nationalities and different religious denominations on a regular basis. I heard such prejudice spoken mostly by my father, but I also I saw it in written material and I heard it from people outside the home.   As I witnessed it, such behavior was common, accepted, — smirked at sometimes — but was not widely condemned.  Despite the propensity of a child to absorb the prejudices of their parents, I fortunately escaped that tendency and did not grow up with any perceptible prejudice toward Catholics, Jews, Negros, Japanese or Mexicans.  Interestingly, I did absorb a bias against Ford automobiles, which my father also condemned. It took me some time to overcome this imbedded, irrational, knee-jerk impulse to reject Fords.

Since that time, the people of this country individually and collectively, through law, experience, education, and serious strife in the 60’s,  have become enlightened and our nation has made great strides toward overcoming prejudice with respect to race, nationality and religious affiliation.  As Dennis Prager noted in his book Still the Best Hope, “Indeed, America has so exorcised racism that — for nearly all Americans—electing the country’s first black president was a triumph, but having a black president was no big deal.”  That is not to say that prejudice does not still exist in the hearts and minds of many individuals and in the lamentable actions of some, it certainly does.  But overall our national character and our basic principles in this area have improved greatly since I was a boy.

in my judgment, this improvement in our national character made great strides forward in the two or three decades after 1965, however, progress seems to have retrogressed over the last 25 years and especially so in the last few years.  Now spurious and bogus charges of racism or prejudice and discussion countering those charges abound and serve only to divide us as a people and entrench animosity.  Why has this occurred?  What are the forces that perpetuate racism and prejudice?  I believe that the lack of progress toward erasing racism and prejudice is in large part due to three major practices which tend to foster racism and prejudice.  These practices, ostensibly designed or intended to combat prejudice actually serve to inflame emotions and perpetuate racial and religious divisions.  These practices are:

  1. The collection and publication of a numerical breakdown in terms of racial, religious or ethnic terms, of almost every action our general population engages in, e.g., employment, education, political affiliation, voting preference, church attendance, etc. This information, widely publicized and promoted in the media and sometimes sensationalized is used as rationale for some condition or behavior. The proliferation divides and stereotypes our population, and certainly does not unite us.
  2. Widely and readily publicized commentary by political opportunists and by racial activists on almost any adverse event or condition arising in our country that can in some way be construed as race related (or even if no rational basis for that assertion exists), keeping these self serving people in the news and continuing to divide the people.
  3. Ludicrous “enforcement” of “politically correct” wording.

Most everyone is familiar with practices 2 and 3.  However, the first is one you may not have considered as being harmful.  I regard the collection and publication of race, religious, gender, economic status based statistics as a destructive and malevolent activity that perpetuates prejudice and division.

Statistical Racism in the form of Ethnic, Nationality, Gender and Religious Breakdown

The United States is a melting pot of peoples from all over the world.  We began as and continue to be a nation of immigrants seeking opportunity and individual freedom.  Although the process of the amalgamation of the peoples that comprise our nation today was not without strife, injustice and prejudice, the fact is that we did come together quite well.  We have a very diverse populace that for the most part are accepting of one another.  One dramatic, visual portrayal of America’s global representation is in the makeup of our Olympic teams. The Olympic participants from most countries have a common heritage and understandably they look alike.  Our representatives represent heritages that span the globe and include every race – but they are all Americans. My grandson, who attended a somewhat ethnically diverse school, conceived a tee shirt design for our country.  On the back of this t-shirt you put your heritage – such as 10% Korean, 20% Irish, 30% German, 20% Vietnamese, 10% Mexican, 10% Greek and on the front goes- 100% AMERICAN.  We are comprised of millions and millions of people of mixed nationality and it does not matter one bit.  Certainly there are lots of people who have only a Chinese heritage, or Ethiopian Heritage, or Mexican Heritage or Anglo-Saxon heritage but in every case the front of the shirt would say 100% AMERICAN.

Chuck and I worked on some of the same projects.  We were fierce competitors on the tennis court as we both tried to achieve the number two ranking in Class A singles in our company.  We were a good double play combination in softball.  On Sunday I went to a Lutheran Church and he went to a Baptist church, we both attended a prayer group together at noon on Tuesday’s at work.  He was a fellow civil engineer and I missed him when he moved back East.   To me, he was Chuck and to him, I was Larry.  But to the news media of today, to the purveyors of statistics,  to the pollsters and to the election reporters and to those trying to stir up animosity, I am a White, He is an African American — I am a right wing evangelical Christian, He is an African American —–  I am a conservative and Chuck  — He is an African American.  He is lumped with the 95% of the African Americans who voted for Obama and the Democrats and with a great number of other statistical identifiers.  I am lumped with rich whites who do not care about the poor.

A long time ago, about 30 years ago, this thought came to me: — “The way we will be able to tell that we no longer have racism is when we stop discussing and identifying  and measuring everything in terms of race.”   About the same time, my wife passed on some advice that she had heard, and I have practiced it ever since – When you are telling about or describing someone who is of a race, nationality or religion that is different than yours (and may typically be characterized by that attribute), then, when identifying them to someone else do so in terms of characteristics and attributes other than their race, nationality or religion – do not use color, ethnicity or religion.  If that was done all the time, and it is now done to a much greater extent than in my youth, it would illustrate our enlightenment.

In examining this subject there is one other aspect of great importance and that is valuing diversity.  Valuing differences, the unique characteristics and aptitudes of different races and nationalities is not prejudice or racism.  I believe it is fine to recognize, celebrate, and use special skills, talents and attributes and to recognize the heritage from which that attribute is associated.  There is a distinct difference between valuing and recognizing diversity and being a racist.

The ideal is clear.  We should interact, work and live with each other without regard to skin color, national origin, economic status or religion.  That ideal is diminished through the collection, dissemination, and inflammatory use of such information on the basis of race, religion, gender or nationality.  Having the populace barraged with statistics on crime rates, marriage rates, income levels, voting preference and many other things in terms of race, nationality, gender, etc., serves to make people think of other people in those terms rather than as individuals. Further it is not uncommon, when as an individual, a person from a given race, religion, gender or nationality voices an opinion that is different than that of the “statistical norm” or stereotype, their position is not valued as that of an individual but as a deviation from the norm of their “people” and they are cast as a “token” representative of the “group” with point of view they are expressing and a “traitor” to their group.  This obsession with the collection, classification and dissection of political, economic or other trends according to race, religion, gender or nationality is a government / societal intrusion that is destructive to the common good. The entire process tends to stereotype people and leads to bias, prejudice and racism.

Clearly, In America we want to foster and perpetuate individuality and freedom of thought and expression.  To do this we must discontinue lumping people together by race, religion, gender, economic status and stereotyping the “expected” response – in essence advertising and promoting how different groupings of people are “expected” to respond.  News organizations and pollsters (and all other social welfare, health organizations, and other government entities that collect information and categorize it by race, religion, gender, economic status) should cease and desist in the collection and publication of these data.  The initial reason and justification for such data collection may have been intended for helpful,  “social engineering”, purposes.  However, now it is clearly evident that this incessant stereotyping is divisive and is aiding and abetting societal unrest.

Thanks for Reading –  Larry Von Thun

 

Freedom of Religion – Episode 6 (last)

Freedom of Religion – Episode 6

The dismantling of the true meaning and intent of the first amendment – the last episode but not the final say 

This is the story of Freedom of Religion in the United States and the subsequent attempt at its subjugation by the concept of “Separation of Church and State”

The fundamental right of Religious Freedom struggles against the imposition of the concept of “Separation of Church and State”.  The latter concept as it was and is invoked in the conduct of our lives and in our societal affairs is a falsehood, a misrepresentation, that spread throughout the nation before the truth got its boots on, and is now regarded by most as a factual truth. Paradoxically, neither the term, nor the concept of “Separation of Church and State” appears in the U.S. Constitution.  Yet, the overreaching, misguided and zealous invoking of the concept of Separation of Church and State, as if it were the law of the land, has effectively served to diminish the actual free exercise of religion specifically provided for in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

We left Episode 5 of the Freedom of Religion series in the mid 1940’s. Having helped liberate Europe, Americans were ready to again enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We were still under the protection of the First Amendment and able to enjoy the free exercise of the Christian religion as they had for over 150 years. The bible and prayer were still commonly used in our schools. The Courts had declared that we were a Christian nation.  Christmas was celebrated in the public square, there was prayer to open public meetings and the Ten Commandments were engraved in the Supreme Court Building and in court houses around the nation.  And then came:

A radical turn by the Supreme Court 

Recall the initial words of first amendment as they pertain to freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Also recall the Colonial history of there being “state” churches and how it was clearly described in Episode 3 that the first phrase in the First Amendment, “the establishment clause”, pertained specifically to restricting the Federal Government from establishing a “state” church.  That intent was clear. That understanding and the free exercise of religion flourished from the time the Bill of Rights was written (1789) until 1947.

In 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court made a 180-degree turn from past history and precedent. Without citing a single precedent, and ignoring 150 years of historically consistent rulings, the Court decided that the First Amendment “establishment clause” had a much broader meaning than not establishing a state church and announced that; “The wall of separation between church and state must be kept high and impregnable”. Invoking this concept was a radical departure from the past. With that statement by Justice Hugo Black, the myth of separation between church and state was born.  Before that time the phrase “separation of church and state” was hardly know, it did not even appear in the World Book Encyclopedia until 1967.

So exactly what happened.  How did this change come about?

The genesis of the change resulted, rather innocuously, from a Supreme Court case that actually came down on the side of religious freedom. In Everson vs. Board of Education, Arch Everson, challenged a 1941 New Jersey Law that allowed local school districts to provide students transportation to school.  In Everson’s township both public and private (parochial) students were provided transportation.  A total of $357 for the year was allocated by the township toward the transportation of parochial students.  Everson alleged that this indirect aid to religion violated the New Jersey Constitution and the First Amendment. Everson’s lost the case in the highest New Jersey State court and then was taken on to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled against Everson, on the basis of the majority opinion, written by Justice Hugo Black, that: “ … the state bill was constitutionally permissible because the reimbursements were offered to all students regardless of religion and because the payments were made to parents and not any religious institution.”  Sounds reasonable and in accord with the First Amendment, right? –  What was being authorized certainly could not be considered as the Federal Government establishing a state religion.

But Wait!!    In the write up of the majority opinion, Justice Black stated that:

“ —-The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance.”

So far so good. These statements follow the true intent of the two Freedom of Religion clauses of the First Amendment, the “establishment clause” and the “free exercise clause”.  But Justice Black then added this statement, perhaps without contemplation of the future expanding reach of the government or the devious interpretation that would be made linking “tax” and “funding”.

No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

This statement, followed by Black’s closing statement in the majority opinion that “the wall of separation between church and state must be kept high and impregnable”, opened a pathway for future courts to rule against allowing any religious expression to be associated with activities that had any government funding.  But the separation concept was just plain made up. There is nothing in the First Amendment clauses that suggest separation or a wall or taxes and nothing in the conduct of our country for 150 years that suggested separation.  The separation of church and  state was not conceived of or established by the founders, nor was it part of our national heritage.

In 1962, the innocuous seeds of the Everson case burst into full bloom and began their invasive attack on America’s Christian population.  Black’s words became controlling precedent for Engle v. Vitale–the case that removed prayer in public education by ruling voluntary and denominationally neutral prayer unconstitutional. The actual prayer that was ruled on was rather benign: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee and we beg thy blessings upon us and our parents, our teachers, and our country.” Tragically, Engle v. Vitale started a domino effect of court rulings that threatened to remove our religious heritage from the public arena, especially from education.

In the 1963 decision of Abington v. Schempp, the Court removed Bible reading from public education. The Court’s justification? “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be and have been psychologically harmful to a child.” Simply amazing!! Suddenly, the best- selling book of all time and the most quoted source by the founding fathers was unconstitutional and psychologically harmful. The honorable court certainly didn’t share the religious values of the founders nor the sustainers of the Republic. Abraham Lincoln said, “But for the Bible we would not know right from wrong.” Exactly. One of the reasons moral bearings have been lost in the country is that the objective values of right and wrong have been removed from children’s education.

In 1969, it became unconstitutional to erect a war memorial in the shape of a cross (Lowe v. City of Eugene, 1969). The Court carried that same religious intolerance into a 1994 case in which a cross in a San Diego park had to be removed.

In 1976, it became unconstitutional for a board of education to use or refer to the word God in any official writings (State of Ohio v. Whisner). In 1979, it became unconstitutional for a kindergarten class to ask whose birthday was being celebrated in a Christmas assembly (Florey v. Sioux Falls School District).

By 1980 this incredibly twisted approach made it unconstitutional to post the Ten Commandments on school walls. According to Stone v. Graham, “If posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps venerate and obey the commandments; this is not a permissible objective.” James Madison, the man most responsible for the U.S. Constitution said “[We] have staked the future of all of our political Constitutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”20 Once again, the honorable Court is completely out of step with the founding fathers. Madison was absolutely right–the pathetic condition of our culture reflects the inability of individuals to control themselves. While the Ten Commandments hang above the chief justice of the Supreme Court, they are hypocritically censored from the halls of our schools. George Washington said that apart from religion, there can be no morality.

In 1985, Wallace v. Jaffree, the Supreme Court in the ultimate absurdity outlawed allowing a “moment of silence” in Alabama schools.  Ruling a state law, providing for a moment of silence, as unconstitutional. Several states had gone this route in response to the outlawing of school prayer. The reach of the Federal Government now being taken to extremes.  The rationale for the ruling was that any bill (even those which are constitutionally acceptable) is unconstitutional if the author of the bill had a religious activity in mind when the bill was written. In this case the Court carried the separation of church and state concept beyond belief. In addition to applying to religious activities, words, and symbols, along with anything else that might cause someone to think about God, now the mythological wall may be brought to bear on an author’s thoughts while penning a bill.

Why did the Courts make such a drastic departure from our roots? The answer is two-fold, on the one hand there are mean spirited, anti-Christian, intolerant individuals who use the freedom’s granted in the Bill of Rights for their purpose of hurting others and secondly there are the social activist judges who have a complete disregard for the Constitution’s intent. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes illustrated his personal contempt for the original intent of the Constitution when he said, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what judges say it is.” The words of Supreme Court Justice Brennan are more inflammatory:  “It is arrogant to use the Constitution as the founding fathers intended, it must be interpreted in light of current problems and current needs.”

The arrogance really lies in these liberal judges not interpreting the Constitution as the founding fathers intended but, rather, in reinterpreting the Constitution to meet their personal ideas. It takes brazen audacity to ignore the intentions of the founding fathers and to turn one’s back on the Constitution / Bill of Rights and 150 years of American history that faithfully followed it.

In a 2014 speech Justice Antonin Scalia criticized members of the Court who champion a more evolving, “living” view of the Constitution — a judicial philosophy he has previously said only an “idiot” could believe. “Our {the Supreme Court’s} latest take on the subject, which is quite different from previous takes, is that the state must be neutral, not only between religions, but between religion and non-religion,”. “That’s just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution.”

If Americans want a more secular political system that guarantees those distinctions, they can “enact that by statute,” Scalia said, “but to say that’s what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd.”

Progression of the Myth of Separation from the Courts to Daily Life

The court case rulings cited above and the associated thought metastasized rapidly. With the aid of a liberal media eager to publicize the demise of traditional values and an increasingly liberal educational system, the vast majority of the US population became convinced that the concept of separation of church and state was a fixture of the Constitution. Further, many school administrators, teachers and municipal leaders considered that mentioning or observing anything to do with Christianity was off limits. Thus, celebration of Christian holidays or even mentioning God in public schools could result in law suits or discipline. The country was literally traumatized. But paradoxically, while the free exercise of religion relative to Christianity was being drastically curtailed, tolerance as an ethic was being pushed. Open mindedness toward others religions was being advanced by social justice activists. No problem with discussing Islam in the schools.

Likewise, evidence of Christianity in the public square was being shut down. Boycotts, dismissals, and protests would occur against companies and individuals who dared to publically express / display their Christian beliefs. Businesses and employers removed any references related to Christianity and adopted non-descript substitute greetings to avoid offending no-believers. This change was: (1) being driven by protests from atheist individual or groups bringing, (2) being supported by those who were now being taught the validity of the concept of “separation of church and state” and (3) being accepted by people of faith who now believed (incorrectly) that “separation of church and state” was part of our heritage.

But all is not lost – truth is on the side of the real meaning of the First Amendment!

Fighting Back to regain the Free Exercise of (Christian) Religion

Although he was in the minority in the “silent prayer” decision in 1985, Justice William H. Rehnquist, penned a bitter dissent to the case in which he attacked the reasoning in the 1962 Ever­son case. “There is simply no historical foundation,” Rehnquist wrote, “for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the ‘wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson.” Rehnquist called Everson’s lofty rhetoric “useless as a guide to sound constitutional adjudication” and labeled Jeffer­son’s wall metaphor “useless as a guide to judging.”  Other high court justices, notably Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, have since joined the attack.

In general, the Supreme Court began to become more conservative with the appoints by Presidents Reagan and President Bush (the elder) so the extremely liberal decisions under Justice Earl Warren’s Court (1953-1969) did not continue.  A list of decisions that are more favorable to religious freedom are listed below covering the period 1984 -2014.  However, there were many others that were not favorable as the Court has continued to follow the precedents and tests that had been established during the Warren years.

There are a number of groups that have formed to defend Freedom of Religion (Christianity) such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Heritage Foundation.  It is my understanding that these groups have overwhelmingly won the frivolous cases brought against schools where school principals have banned or atheist’s groups have challenged the singing of Christmas carols and against towns putting up displays.

There has been a fairly strong backlash against the efforts to remove Christ from Christmas and the nativity from Christmas displays.   Progress has been made in recent years and religious freedom has even been a hot topic in the Republican presidential primaries. But the struggle for the free exercise of the Christian religion goes on.  The dissent to this point of view is embedded in the myth that the founders intend there to be separation of church and state.  That is wrong!

All the founders wanted to achieve by the first two clauses of the First Amendment was to ensure (1) that there would be no Federal Government specified religion for the nation (no specific Christian denomination) and (2) to allow everyone the freedom and privilege to choose and participate in their own denomination (or none art all) without interference or control by the Federal Government.   That the first simple provision specifying that the Federal Government could not designate a state church could be twisted by the Courts in such a way that it generated blatant Federal Government interference and in so doing decimated the free exercise provision is unconscionable.  The original and continued “reinterpretation” of the establishment clause of the First Amendment by the Supreme Court was and is an effrontery to the founders and is a great injustice to the American people.

Our job – Spread the Truth that the concept of “Separation of Church and State” is not part of the U. S. Constitution, is not a correct interpretation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment and its imposition on our lives and on the Right of the free exercise of religion is a travesty.                         Thanks for Reading – Larry Von Thun

 

Court Cases since 1984 which upheld Freedom of Religion for Christians

Lynch v. Donnelly (l984) The Court upheld a nativity display among other symbols in a public park “to celebrate the Christmas holiday and to depict the origins of that holiday.”

Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990) The 1990 Equal Access Act, which required that public schools give religious groups the same access to facilities that other extracurricular groups have, was upheld. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette (1995) A cross placed by a private group in a traditional public forum adjoining the state house did not violate the Establishment Clause, as the space was open to all on equal terms.

Mitchell v. Helms (2000) The federal government could provide computer equipment to all schools—public, private and parochial—under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The aid was religiously neutral and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001) Religious clubs were allowed to meet in public schools after class hours as other clubs were permitted to do. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) A government program providing tuition vouchers for Cleveland schoolchildren to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing was upheld. The vouchers were neutral towards religion and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004) A father challenged the constitutionality of requiring public school teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, which has included the phrase “under God” since 1954. The Court determined that Mr. Newdow, as a non-custodial parent, did not have standing to bring the case to court and therefore did not answer the constitutional question

Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001) Religious clubs were allowed to meet in public schools after class hours as other clubs were permitted to do. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) A government program providing tuition vouchers for Cleveland schoolchildren to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing was upheld. The vouchers were neutral towards religion and did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Van Orden v. Perry (2005) A six-foot monument displaying the Ten Commandments donated by a private group and placed with other monuments next to the Texas State Capitol had a secular purpose and would not lead an observer to conclude that the state endorsed the religious message, and therefore did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (2007) After the Bush Administration created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for the purpose of allowing religious charity organizations to gain federal funding, the Court ruled that taxpayers cannot bring Establishment Clause challenges against programs funded by the executive office

Town of Greece vs Galloway (2014) Held that the New York town could continue opening legislative sessions with sectarian prayers.