Separation of Church and State? Not on the 2012 Campaign Trial

Below is today’s column in the Washington Post (Sunday) exploring the growing infusion of religious pitches and policies in the presidential campaign. With the anniversary this week of the Danbury letter, this is a particularly good time to take account of the condition of the wall of separation. Today is also the day of the “Red Mass,” the annual religious service held with members of the Supreme Court before the start of their term and leading Republican and Democratic politicians. While the separation of church and state is not mentioned in the Constitution, this exchange cemented the phrase in our legal and cultural lexicon. The piece below does not delve into the meaning of the First Amendment and whether it can be read broadly or narrowly given its language and history. Even if one accepts that the establishment clause was only designed to prevent the creation of an official church, there remains the long-standing principle in politics and government against the intermingling of church and state. To put it simply, religion is back in politics. While the targeted religious minorities may have changed from Baptists to Muslims, the fight over separation has resumed with the same politicized piety that once tore this country apart.

Separation of Church and State? Not on the 2012 Campaign Trial

On Oct. 7, 1801, three men wrote to the new president of the United States on behalf of their Baptist congregation in Connecticut. The letter from the Danbury Baptist Association is most famous not for its content but for the response it generated from Thomas Jefferson, who described“a wall of separation between Church & State.” The Baptists’ letter, however, deserves far greater consideration, particularly in our current political climate.

Some 210 years ago, this deeply religious group stepped forward to denounce faith-based politics and “those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion.” As reflected in the letter, it is a struggle that has existed from the nation’s founding, with politicians periodically calling upon the faithful to testify through their votes.

Those calls have generally triggered concern over the entanglement of government and religion. When the Catholic John F. Kennedy was opposed as a “papist,” for instance, he defused the criticism with a speech on the separation of church and state.

Much of that concern seemed to vanish, however, with George W. Bush and his faith-based politics. Now, religious and even sectarian pitches have become commonplace and expected on the campaign trail, even as more Americans identify themselves as secular or non-denominational. The fears of the Danbury Baptists appear to have been realized, with political campaigns, federal programs and judicial decisions moving away from a clear separation of church and state.

On any given night, listening to the presidential candidates could easily lead voters to believe that they are listening to a campaign for an ecclesiastical rather than presidential office. It is now expected that candidates will offer accounts of personal salvation and implied divine guidance. At a speech in mid-September at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, for instance, Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke of his “faith journey” and told students to “trust that God wouldn’t have put you here unless he had a unique plan for your life.” Two weeks ago, Perry extended a call for people to pray for President Obama and ask God “to give him wisdom, to open his eyes” to save the country.

Newt Gingrich has set out to claim his share of the faithful by attacking the faithless. In a speech in March, he promised to protect America from atheists, secularists and, incongruously, Muslims: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, [my grandchildren] will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

Meanwhile, former senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann have spoken out against the very notion of separation of church and state. Bachmann told a large youth ministry group a few years ago that religion is supposed to be part of government: “[Public schools] are teaching children that there is separation of church and state, and I am here to tell you that is a myth. That’s not true.” Santorum has recounted how, as a Catholic, he was “appalled” by Kennedy’s “radical” statement that he believed in a wall of separation.

Mitt Romney, as a candidate on the national stage, has had to thread the needle of appealing to the religious right while avoiding a backlash over his Mormon faith. The result has been some awkward moments for the former Massachusetts governor, including a speech during his 2008 campaign in which he assured voters that “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.”

In the 2008 race, Democrats moved to reclaim religious voters by adopting religious rhetoric and theopolitical policies. Churchgoers had represented 41 percent of the electorate in 2004, and 61 percent of them voted for Bush. Obama set out to change that percentage in favor of his own party and enthusiastically embraced faith-based politics. He proclaimed his intention to be “an instrument of God” and to create “a Kingdom right here on Earth.” Even the title of his book “The Audacity of Hope” was taken from sermons by his controversial spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Like his Republican counterparts, Obama has denounced secularists — and, implicitly, their view of complete separation of church and state. He has chastised people who object to the religiosity that has become the norm in American politics. “Secularists,” he once insisted, “are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.”

After taking office, Obama expanded the scope of Bush’s controversial faith-based programs. At his inauguration, he attempted to appeal to conservative religious voters by asking minister Rick Warren to give the invocation. Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” seemed perfect for Obama’s faith-infused, purpose-driven politics.

This is all a far cry from Jefferson, who refused to issue Thanksgiving Day proclamationsbecause he thought it would violate the establishment clause. Later, Andrew Jackson also declined to declare days of Thanksgiving or fasting out of the same concern. The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams and approved by George Washington and the Senate, included a statement that “the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

It is doubtful that Washington and Adams, let alone Jefferson, would fare well today espousing such sentiments. Indeed, tea party favorite Sarah Palin has said that “hearing any leader declare that America isn’t a Christian nation” is positively “mind-boggling.”

In today’s theopolitical world, it is hard to see where God ends and Mammon begins. For example, Perry was asked this summer not just whether he prayed but what he prayed for. Easy, he responded. He asks God to guide Obama to “turn back the health-care law . . . ask that his EPA back down these regulations that are causing businesses to hesitate to spend money.” While some may find it difficult to imagine praying for pollution, that misses the point. The key for Perry was to erase the distinction between prayer and politics.

Emphasizing religion in politics tends to deemphasize the responsibility of politicians for their decisions. Last spring, Perry was facing a devastating drought, state-wide wildfires and criticism that Texas had underfunded firefighting units. He issued an official order proclaiming three “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”

In this climate, it is remarkable to read the letter of the Danbury Baptists, warning that it “is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men — should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order.”

One problem with mixing religion and politics is that it quickly becomes a competition for demonstrating fealty to the faith, including promises of favoritism for mainstream religions or, conversely, discrimination against minorities. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has spoken of not wanting Americans “to lose our Judeo-Christian identity” and said earlier this year that he would not be comfortable appointing Muslims to his Cabinet — a position he later withdrew and apologized for after meeting with Muslim leaders.

Despite polls showing that 66percent of Americans support “a clear separation of church and state,” those Americans do not seem to be motivating politicians or shaping politics. Indeed, Democratic strategists believe that secularists have nowhere to turn — which means Obama can court religious voters without fear of losing others’ support. The result is that the 34 percent who do not support separation seem to drive the political agenda.

The danger of explicit appeals to faith in politics isn’t the establishment of an official religion; that remains highly unlikely. Rather, faith-based politics can become faith-based laws that enforce morality codes, expand public subsidies for religious institutions or sideline religious (or non-religious) minorities. Most important, our political-religious climate threatens to replace a campaign for the best policies with a contest of the most pious.

As our politicians move away from separation principles, the courts inevitably follow suit. We now appear to have (or be close to having) a majority of anti-separation Supreme Court justices who favor a type of state-supported monotheism. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a 2005 dissent that there is a clear majority on the court that opposes “the demonstrably false principle that the government cannot favor religion over irreligion.” He noted that “the three most popular religions in the United States, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam — which combined account for 97.7% of all believers — are monotheistic.”

Even as the world recoils from the extremism of religious-based groups and political systems in places such as Iran and Pakistan, the United States is gradually erasing the bright line that has existed for decades between religion and government. While religious instability and strife in countries around the globe should reinforce the values of separation and the message of the Danbury Baptists, instead politicians are selling themselves as the Judeo-Christian answer to a troubled world; confident, as Perry put it recently, that “He has me here at a time such as this.”

Politicized piety is at the heart of the 2012 campaign. We need to rebuild the wall between church and state that has long protected us from ourselves. The question is: Do we have enough faith in secular government to get it done?

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

93 thoughts on “Separation of Church and State? Not on the 2012 Campaign Trial

  1. Ignorance in this degree, concentrated in both the head and belly of a lumbering superpower, is now a problem for the entire world.

    -Sam Harris, 2005. And QFT.

  2. Great story and very appropriate considering the current state of attacks upon that important wall. The Dems need to stake out a very clear position that the separation is critical for our Democracy.

  3. The wall is crumbling. Perhaps it has already crumbled away. I cannot pick up the local paper without reading a letter to the editor about this being a Bible-based country and the politicians need to get back to Bible-based governing.

    A letter today said, in part, “…most people don’t know the federal budget deficit is a moral issue. The Bible teaches in Romans 13, ‘Owe no man anything…’ Christians should support a balanced budget…”

    The writer of that letter said debt is sinful according to the Bible and therefore we were a sinful country. The reasoning so convoluted that it could give one a headache, but when you wade through the Bible verses and quotes, it came down to a Republican talking point. Taxes bad; debt bad; keeping your own stuff good. Nothing in the letter mentioned taking care of the sick and downtrodden, nothing about throwing the moneychangers out of the temple.

    The religious right is clearly wrong.

  4. good article. I think “the wall of seperation” is falling apart, and pehaps that is for the good and perhaps not. Who knows?
    However, I think religion and politics are unseperable. I do not think that a country will be standing without religion.

  5. engliziatgogo, that attitude is exactly the problem. The country will do just fine without religion, especially organized religion. It will NOT do fine without morals or ethics. The latter is not dependent on the former. The former could do with a bit more of the latter.

  6. my favorite is newt gingrich saying

    “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, [my grandchildren] will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

    he strings together as many loaded phrases as he can in one sentence.

  7. Pete-

    He obviously meant “secular atheist radical Islamists and Jewish Irishmen from France”. And we all know what kind of poltroons THOSE people are. They should all go back where they came from, wherever that is and don’t ask me anyway either.

  8. I would like to see the poll that states 66% of Americans support “a clear separation of church and state.” If that is true, its only because this premise is not being taught correctly in school systems. Man is a spiritual being, therefore religion will always be part of governments by design. this “wall” is actually more of a “Diode” allowing man and his faith to institute governments for the protection of the blessings of liberty: all the while not allowing the federal government to tell a person what denomination to be, or who to pray to, or who to bow to etc. I am suprised at the lack of true american history that was swiped under a rug to write a majority of this blog.

  9. fFunny how with all our talk about separation of church and state and people claiming President Obama is the anti Christ no one is talking about Today’s Red Mass held with the GOP, Dems and US Justices. I wonder if they will discuss petition # 11-5381 which is a case filed by a woman claiming she is Satan, Risen & Reborn as the Daughter of God, Sister Spirit and Wife of Jesus Christ. Satan contends “no law respecting an establishment of religion ” aka our 1st AMENdment is a Tort, Wrong and Shame Before the GOD We as a Nation are told to Trust.

  10. Busy, busy, busy. My poor fingers are aching from all the sewing, embrordering, adorning, glitterizing and bedazzling the letters for use on the courthouse steps. I’m gonna make a pretty profit too. My biggest sellers so far are the letters “H” for heathen and “B” for blasphemer. I ran out of “I’s” during the run of the Beck Show. (Islamofascistmarxocommie…etc) Gotta love the Free Market System. Amen, and Praise Mammon.

  11. robert

    perhaps it is more of a “Zener Diode” and constantly having fight to keep your religion out of our public schools is the knee voltage.

  12. Man is a spiritual being, therefore religion will always be part of governments by design.

    Pure conjecture and a completely unnecessary product of a divided sense of self, which in turn evokes that most vile form of reasoning; human exceptionalism.

    Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. — Denis Diderot

  13. A little historical perspective — when they wrote the Constitution, the drafters were less than a century away from the end of the religious disputes of Tudor, Stuart, Commonwealth, and Restoration Great Britain (including the Act of Union with Scotland and the settlement of the (non)relationship between the episcopal Church of England and the presbyterian Church of Scotland). They were well aware of the strife that could result from entanglement of religion with politics and sought to limit it.

    It is no surprise that they inserted the no religious test clause in the Constitution itself or that the 1st Amendment followed quickly after ratification of the Constitution.

    The current crop of religiopoliticians seems eager to bring that strife back.

  14. But I thought Christians were against plural marriage, something the OT is full of. In fact You are commanded to marry your brothers wife should he die, and try to have children with her also.

    The crab and lobster industry is dead, so is much of the clothing industry as blended fabrics are forbidden. Barbers will have to be religiously trained, farmers too as there are strict rules about planting & harvesting. Banking industry is going to change a great deal because debts are to be forgiven every 7 years – try getting a mortgage!

    I grew up in a religious family, have read the Bible cover to cover twice and let me tell you it would almost be worth having these brain dead morons in charge just to watch them tie themselves in knots trying to implement biblical law.

  15. culheath sez: “Ever seen those TV evangelists calling for more donations?”


    As Charlie Daniels said, “They tell you to send your money to the Lord, but they give you their address.”

  16. This is sad, sad, sad….. Picture the Amanda Knox in an Italian Courtroom….The next time look at the Crucifix on the way…Church quality….All…religions are sanctioned by the government in some sense….Through tax exemption or direct payments….It is my feeling that we don’t sanction one over the other…and make it a National Obligation….

    Prof, I too think that the founders would be heralded as misfits….But then aren’t we getting ready for Rudolph and all of the other reindeer games….

  17. I think Newt is a bit confused.

    Secular atheism and radical Islam are mutually exclusive terms; therefore there is no probability of the US being simultaneously dominated by either.

    Perhaps he will tell the next audience that he can help solve the energy problem by mixing oil and water at a 50/50 ratio, thereby doubling the known oil reserves overnight.

  18. Robert E. Stage Jr. 1, October 2, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Well, what religion would you choose as the state religion?

    The 450 some odd denominations of Protestantism, in just the US, are at each other’s throats over such spiritual things as whether a lectern must be made out of a holy wood from the holy land, or to the contrary if fiberglass passes spiritual muster.

    Add Catholics and some would say “the Pope is infallible” which might conflict with some Protestants who think “the king can do no wrong”.

    I won’t add the torque Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism would add to that toxic mix, because you either get my drift or don’t.

  19. dredd,

    “…either get my drift or don’t.”

    Are you propounding worshiping oak trees or just plain ole drift wood….There is merit in Oak….as it has more flavor when used in smoking…Cypress…not so good….

    But here is a link to some good woods to use to smoke:

  20. “The question is: Do we have enough faith in secular government to get it done?”


    While a pithy conclusion, it pays homage to the exact problem Jefferson addressed to the good churchmen of Danbury. He was no believer in blind faith as he clearly understood it’s real beneficiaries — and it was not its subscribers.*

    The real question is: Will we trust in our experience and reasoned pragmatism hard earned for over 200 years or adopt the ignorance, superstition, and dogma of the First Century to fashion the solution to the problems of today?

    Like, Jefferson I know the true beneficiaries of each philosophy.

    *”This doctrine [‘that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers’] is the genuine fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of
    honors, wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold.”

    ~Thomas Jefferson: Report for University of Virginia, 1818.

  21. O-Bomb-a is indeed and “instrument of God”, because he can determine the guilt or innocence of Americans from 7000 miles away and destroy them with mighty thunderbolts from heaven above.

  22. AY–“Are you propounding worshiping oak trees..”

    Sounds rather compelling; at least the oak tree provides things I can actually use, such as shade, fuel and acorns.

  23. Great article, Prof. Turley.

    One of the reasons I couldn’t vote for Obama was his repeatedly saying “God Bless the United States of America” at the end of every speech.

    First, I believe he is a hypocrite. I do not think he believes in God or is religious in any way. At least when GWB used words like this, he was sincere.

    Second, I believe in a sold brick wall between church and state.

    I am wracking my brain and trying to remember when it became politically necessary to invoke God and/or his/her blessings in order to be elected president. I don’t remember other presidents before GWB invoking God’s blessing. When did this practice start?

    This situation is extremely frightening to me. With the glorification of ignorance, attacks on science, evolution, etc., I feel like we are regressing as a nation back to pre-Enlightenment days. Very very scary.

  24. Catullus:

    ” O-Bomb-a is indeed and “instrument of God”, because he can determine the guilt or innocence of Americans from 7000 miles away and destroy them with mighty thunderbolts from heaven above.

    That would make him Apollo, but a good thought nonetheless. If he’d just use those submarines more, he could graduate up to Poseidon.

  25. We believers in dual deism…..(not to be confused with Dewey decimal)….Oak unlike people, at least has value…

  26. @ Catullus:

    good post. horrible but true.

    I never thought I would see the day when an American citizen would be executed by an American president without even an attempt at due process. I had problems with the OBL murder but in his case, it was pretty clear that he was the “mastermind” behind 9/11. As for Aw-Laki…..

    The jubilation at Aw-Laki’s murder makes me sick to my stomach.

  27. Reasoning based upon belief instead of empirical fact is prime facie faulty and no way to manage society let alone a society facing the challenges presented by the modern world. You cannot pray away global warming. You cannot pray away the population bomb. You cannot pray away the decline of potable water. You cannot pray away the global food crisis. You cannot pray away radiation after a nuclear war. You cannot pray the dead back to life after a pandemic, biological warfare or a “biological accident”. You cannot pray away the horror of chemical warfare. You cannot pray away the damage of child abuse. You cannot pray away the damage of the physically and mentally ill not getting treatment so some insurance company buffoon can afford his yacht. You cannot pray away injustice. You cannot pray way inequity. You cannot pray away people from different cultures or of different races or different creeds.

    You cannot pray away any problem.
    Not of you want a positive solution not left to random chance.
    If you like to and it provides you comfort, by all means, pray about these problems.
    But if you want them fixed?
    You’d better be ready to get off your ass and look for practical solutions.
    All evidence points to God helping those who help themselves if He is not simply indifferent about the future of the human species or simply non-existent.

    Systems that manage a society like law need to be grounded in the hard harsh reality of fact, not the nebulous hopes and wishful thinking of theology.

    A secular state is a buffer against error in decision making.

  28. mespo727272–straying off topic….your references to Apollo and Poseidon placed my mind on the path of Greek mythology and I arrived, for some reason, at Eros and I thought of Zenodotus’ “Statue of Eros”:

    Who carved Love
    and placed him by
    this fountain,
    he could control
    such fire
    with water?

    I plan on embracing Thanatos later on today, with a tasty meal of slow-cooked barbecued ribs, a few (perhaps more) fine vodka martinis and an indolent afternoon of watching ritualized tribal combat, AKA NFL Football.

  29. Professor Turley,

    Excellent post.

    Newt Gingrich has set out to claim his share of the faithful by attacking the faithless. In a speech in March, he promised to protect America from … Muslims: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America … will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

    Too late Newtster, “no understanding of what it once meant to be an American” has already happened to the plutonomy.

    No wonder you praised Obama for dusting al-Awalaki.

    But many do not know that al-Awalaki was the Imam at George Washington University where Professor Turley teaches law.

    Is the professor next Newtster?

  30. Just remember AY, it was you who gave me the job the next time you want to complain about bird poop on your truck.

  31. Hey Gene,

    No problem feeling like you’re floating in the clouds….I think if you can get as high as you think… the memorable words of my friend Joe….

  32. That’s a great tune, AY, but speaking of getting high, I still can’t watch it without thinking of this version . . .

    (sorry for the bad sound)

  33. Dred

    The only religion We as a Nation can have is the one propsed in the Mayflower Compact, Maie with Indians, Kings and Queens i.e., “The Advancement of the Christian Faith. So although there were no Christians or Protestants in attendance, at Red Mass me thinks our nation may be in for a rude awakening. So Satan message to America is thus: America Wake the Hell Up cause Time is Short and I ab soul loot ly love my God and my God Given Govrnment Job. FYI They should have listened to Thomas Jefferson who warned the Almighty Will Not Take Side With US on this one.

  34. ALTPM–HEATHEN, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel.

    Ambrose Bierce

  35. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Matthew 7:1.

    The goodness or badness of a person’s actions lies in the nature of their actions themselves, not in which team they root for or which God they claim as their own. There are good people of every modern religious flavor including as you so judgmentally say, heathens. Just so, there are bad people of every modern religious flavor too. Including *gasp* bad Christians, bad Muslims, bad Jews, bad Jainists, bad Buddhists, bad Hindus and bad heathens.

  36. Gene H—“..not in which team they root for..”

    I have faith that God is on the side of the Green Bay Packers and she will see to it that the good and pure Packers will prevail over the evil Broncos today at the holy shrine of Lambeau.

  37. I have seen the Lord and He is called “Lombardi”. All Praise to St.Vincent who lifted the lowly and smote the wicked who dwell in the City of Second.


  38. Gene H., – I’m pleased someone caught the inference for contradictory consequences abound when a person choosing the I. D. of Catullus fails to grasp the paganus within the word heathen and in so doing misses the sarcasm directed at such pretense.

    It was just a bit of light entertainment for a Sunday afternoon.

  39. BurntOffering 1, October 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm


    The only religion We as a Nation can have is the one propsed in the Mayflower Compact
    You go back before the Constitution which limits religion to this and that.

    Later events are more appropriate, for example the US Constitution, which says “we” can have any religion we want to.

    Furthermore, it indicates that no religion should be the approved religion of the state, nor should any religion be the disapproved religion of the state.

    Those who resist that eventuality are obvious power junkies who are attempting to oppress those of different religions, beliefs, creeds, and the like.

    Thus the wisdom of the “separation of church and state” becomes obvious.

  40. ALTM,

    Methinks you missed the point of my comment, which is in itself amusing. Your protests of the pagan runs afoul of the words of Matthew. The response of Catullus was a demonstration of reductio ad absurdum illustrating the absurdity of identifying good or bad actions via team affiliation as you do in using the term heathen as a pejorative. The value of a person’s actions rests not in their chosen team, be it Team Jesus, Team Allah, Team Jehovah, Team Shiva or Team Buddha. The value of a person’s actions rests in the inherent nature of the action itself, rarely the intent and never their religious affiliation.

  41. Catullus, – Latin, your supposed tongue. Paganus was the Latin word for countryside dweller, hick, anyone not military.etc. Morphed into pagans and early Christians morphed pagans into heathens to describe those not believing in the one God. Trying to fit in with the earlier, light-hearted, posts regarding Greek mythology and the Roman I.D. Catullus, I went to a hidden Latin term disguised by the Christian usage, heathen. Thus trying to stay true to the subject, Separation of Church and State? Not on the 2012 Campaign Trial.

    It will probably come as no surprise to anyone if I reveal that I am not a professional comedian.

  42. Gene H., – No, I simply spun it to suit my own ends. If you read the post above then you will understand that pejorative usage was not the intent. Although the response to Catullus was posted after your comment, it was being written while you were posting and thus I had not read your response until after I posted the response yo Catullus.

    May I suggest that your interpretation is based on the name I chose as an identifier.

    I do appreciate the exercise

  43. Actually I am quoting Article VI, rwhich was before the 1st AMENdment about Debts, Treaties, & Oaths which states; “All debts contracted and engagements entered into Before the adoption of this Constituion shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution under the Confederation”. You also made this mistake; I am not talking about Individual states, but Federal Government’s Excecutive, legislative and Judical part. We as a nation Can have a GOD, and We cant make anyone believe or not. which is their Right . But you gotta be given a choice or vote.

    The Mayflower Compact, was made “In the name of God Amen. We the undersigned….having undertaken for the glory of God and the Advancement of the Christian faith”. So I contend since this was the plan from the start, any other religion than Christian would be a Breach of Contract, form of Religion Fraud

  44. If my padre was born in Mexico and my momma was born just over the border, am I a real Mexican or a Mexican American?

  45. Real Native American
    1, October 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm
    You all can leave anytime you want. We want our land back.

    And that is that!

    But sadly, your ancestors ran into the great machine. That machine disguised itself as Christian, or Enlightened. It called you heathens, savages, Indians for crying out loud. That same machine thinks you should be grateful for the casinos it has allowed you to build. I’d laugh at us too, if I were you for we are ridiculous.

  46. Real American Indian; AMEN which is my goal since I am a Plain American Indian Negro Native Democratic Assistimated Sister Christian Citizen; or a pain the the ascc for short. This too is my point since Native American Indain women WERE the Head of the households in some parts. Land rights and blessing were bestowed from Mother to Daughter. Not like the Father, Son and Holy Ghost religion that does not mention or recognized the necessity of a Woman as the Holy Hostess. You know like the Mother of Jesus Christ that they say was a virgin so no man could claim to be his father. Little did we know as in heaven, so in earth, his father and mother were one in the same or both Females

  47. “Are you propounding worshiping oak trees or just plain ole drift wood….There is merit in Oak….as it has more flavor when used in smoking…Cypress…not so good….”

    Reform Druids can worship small shrubs.

  48. Ben,

    Anything you value….has some worshiping involved…..

    Tonight….I smoked chicken with Pecan woods….and put a wonderful Tomato Compote….after the skin had browned….

  49. “faith-based politics can become faith-based laws that enforce morality codes, ” You need look no further than the war against abortion and planned parenthood to knkow it is not “can become” but has and become.
    And let’s not forget that Reagen and his cronies, left and right, seemed to have no problem when a miinister sat in the dias with Reagen and pronounced “G-d does not hear the prayers of Jews.” This is not such a new issue, just louder and stronger, which makes it a whole lot scarier because too many people are listening to the espousers.

  50. I need a lawyer NOW willing to represent me on a Writ of Cert before the US Supreme Court I was suppose to put in booklet format by Oct. 24th. Instead Ive decided to do an Extra Ordinary writ so I could enjoin GOP governors and members of the 112th Congress for theses Crimes and Lies: 1) Abuse of Power, 2) Breach of Promise, 3) Conspiracy­, 4) Discrimi- Nation of Gender and Mass Religion Fraud caused by their claim To Trust In GOD and our 1st Amendment.­ law respecting an establishm­ent of religion”. All of my life I was Promised; One Nation Under God, With Liberty & Justice for All. However since they cannot be tested on their religion and most have signed a pledge by lobbyist Grover Norquist Not To Ever Raise Taxes, its quite obvious to me which Party conspired together and denied this promise to 99% of US in favor of the top 1% and who sold their souls to a Dont Tread On Me Flagpole. I also plan to request that Justices Scalia, and Clarence Thomas recuse themselves before deciding my case due to Exparte meetings and Ginny Thomas comment she is determined to defeat President Obama’s agenda. I really Hope the Dems Insist on their Recusals”

  51. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a 2005 dissent that there is a clear majority on the court that opposes “the demonstrably false principle that the government cannot favor religion over irreligion.”
    Bizzare. Has he bothered to do the demonstration?
    Buddhists are atheists. Is Buddhism a religion or an irreligion?

  52. NEVER FORGET – This great REPUBLIC of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA was founded and dedicated by Christians, all with Christian Beliefs. The Supreme Court has explicitly held that the Establishment Clause doesn’t invalidate laws simply because their supporters backed them for religious reasons. See, e.g., McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 442 (1961); Bob Jones Univ. v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983); Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S 297, 319-20 (1980). And for the reasons I mention above, the Court’s decisions here were correct. True, the First Amendment does bar the government from teaching religion, from requiring religious practices such as prayer, and (generally) from singling out conduct for better or worse treatment because it’s religiously motivated (e.g., punishing religious animal sacrifices but not secularly motivated animal killing, or giving a sales tax exemption to religious publications but not secular ones). But it doesn’t bar the government from implementing religiously-motivated prohibitions on people’s conduct, whether as to murder, theft, slavery, civil rights, cloning, or abortion.

  53. Otteray Scribe bleated “engliziatgogo, that attitude is exactly the problem. The country will do just fine without religion, especially organized religion. It will NOT do fine without morals or ethics. The latter is not dependent on the former. The former could do with a bit more of the latter.”

    The problem is atheists want to do away with religion but atheism unwittingly saws off the branch it is perched upon. Atheism, being a religious belief, is hypocritical if it criticizes other religions.

  54. The government has no business in the church. That is the intent of the “separation of church and state”. Pastors have every right to discuss politics. Each candidate can be discussed, what they believe in, does it violate scripture, etc… BUT the wingnuts have been successfull in scaring churches so they are afraid to talk about politics. A church does not answer to the govenment, but to God. So that being said, why would a pastor think he can’t say anything about a candidate running for office?

    The problem is when a church gets a 501(c)3. That grants the government certain leverage or authority over their church. A church is better off not having a 501(c)3.

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