It also directly contravenes our heritage as Americans. No precedent exists throughout American history until the 1960′s when liberal/socialist/collectivists began to fantasize that they could regulate and legislate in ways to ensure everyone would be “happy” and no one would be “offended”. It does NOT confer “freedom from religion” as some (many, most) secular humanists and atheists would like you believe. The text is clear and unambiguous. Only lawyers could so twist, distort and corrupt a clear concise statement. It took them over 180 years but they managed it.
The first amendment to the United States Constitution, passed during the first Congress, states; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The first stipulation is “Congress shall make no law”. This specifically prohibits Congress from legislating, ONLY. Reasonable argument based on the 14th amendment extends this prohibition to State and Local legislation.
The next stipulation is “respecting an ESTABLISHMENT (emphasis added) of religion”. This is clear and simple. Legislation that ESTABLISHES(definitions here for establish, establishment), that is creates, mandates or puts in place a religion or religions is what is prohibited. That is ALL that is prohibited, legislation that ESTABLISHES religion or religions.
There is no prohibition of religious activity by government, government employees or office holders. There is no prohibition of religious art or representations of religions or religious activity on, in or near government held (not owned) properties. There is no proscription of “endorsement” of religious activity or materials by government personnel or entities. There is no pro or anti-mandate regarding properties held by government or those serving in or employed by government.
Aside for the obvious and simple factual truth stated above there are overwhelming precedents of religious activities, services, publications and practices SPONSORED by and ENDORSED by all levels of Government (some examples) throughout our history. A couple of States had ESTABLISHEDreligions when they approved the Constitution and afterward.
Next comes the oft-disregarded but critically and equally important part that secularists and atheists don’t want to talk about; “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. Again this is clear and straight forward. It is also violated EVERY time someone “sues” to uphold the imaginary “separation of church and state“.
The “free exercise” is just that. People are free to pray, set up monuments, evangelize, write, sing, dance or do anything else related to their religion, whatever religion that may be. There is no stipulation or exclusion to this right of free exercise based on location, employment, service to government or activity. Therefore, teachers may pray in classrooms if they wish, out loud. They can even invite like believers to join them. Coaches can lead prayers, politicians can evangelize their fellows, crosses, menorahs, crèches, religious texts can be set up on public or private land. Local communities and include and exclude such as they, as a community so choose.
Equally, NO ONE CAN BE FORCED to participate in any religious activity they do not support or beliefs (or lack thereof) that they adhere to. This protection in no way limits others free exercise in the public or private square. Again, the text is clear and unambiguous. Unless, of course, you are a lawyer. In which case EVERYTHING that can make fees IS ambiguous.
There is no right to “freedom from religion”, there is no right to “not feel excluded”, there is no proscription on the FREE exercise of religion in ANYaspect or venue of the citizenry’s lives and locations. There is no proscription on any private individual or entity NOR on any public/government’s “endorsement” or “preference” for or against religious activity or objects at the Federal level. Some State Constitutions DO prohibit “endorsement” or “preference”.
Our heritage and history support frequent government sponsored and/or endorsed religious activities. Calls to prayer or thanksgiving. Blessings asked and wished upon citizens, public servants and government endeavors. This was the founders’ intent and is THE AMERICAN WAY, historically.
It remains simple and clear (except to lawyers and socialist/collectivist sheople): “Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an ESTABLISHMENT of religion, or PROHIBITING the FREE EXERCISE thereof;” (Emphasis points mine).