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Separation Of Church And State?

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10 comments to Separation Of Church And State?

  • mrwilson41

    I don’t believe so in either case. The mayor is allowed to express their religious views and was not encouraging others to do the same, unlike the National Day of Prayer.

    It may have been in indirect recommendation, but then how many degrees from being indirect do you take it. For example, is it wrong to like Pictionary, because the show was once hosted by Alan Thicke, who co-starred with Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains, who is proponent of teaching creationism in our classroom?

  • Horse

    It doesn’t seem like a violation of the 1st Amendment, however it is a violation of common sense and intelligence.

    In a financial crisis, the elected leader is spending time supplicating imaginary beings instead of actually gathering the thoughts of real individuals who could solve the problem.

  • This Mayor’s actions are stupid, but I don’t see how they come anywhere near violating the Constitution. The Mayor is not using her office to impose her religion on anyone, she is using her religion to “help” her do her job, which is a good reason to not vote for her, but there is no reason to bring the Constitution into this.

  • petrucio

    I think the First Amendment itself is what guarantees her the right to ‘the free exercise thereof’ or her wacky ideas, whoever inappropriate they might seem here.

  • vdewan

    I think they key fact here is that the ceremony was “organized by local religious leaders.” The fact that the Mayor participated in the event does not make it unconstitutional. However, had this been a state sponsored event there would be a very strong argument that it would be unconstitutional.

  • Nigel

    I work in and grew up and currently live near Harrisburg. The current Mayor is an embarrassment on many levels, but I don’t think she’s violating the constitutional religious protections. She’s an unfortunate public servant. A few months ago people protesting her were treated to her shaking head at them and then hold her hand up in prayer for them. Weird.

  • shig23

    I don’t see how this is even a question. An elected official’s practice of religion is different from direct religious involvement in government, and the dividing line has been fairly well established over the years. Or is this a game of Constitutional Law or Fiction?

  • KeithJM

    I’m OK with a mayor practicing religion. To say she can’t practice religion would be applying a religious test in order to let someone take office, which is clearly prohibited by the constitution. Once she’s practicing religion, she can talk about it publicly if she wishes. She just can’t use the government to force anyone else to participate.

    Also, in the sentence “Jefferson’s description of the law has been sighted several times by courts” should use cited (short for citation) instead of sighted.

  • I think it’s important to remember the context under which the Establishment Clause was written. The American colonies had just gained independence from an extremely corrupt government that was married to the church on one hand and a giant monopoly corporation on the other. The founders realized, quite wisely, that government, religion, and industry should not be hand-in-hand.

    I don’t think the deists who wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended it to mean that government and religion should never cross paths or acknowledge each others’ existence. Just that they shouldn’t get too cozy.

  • If I may be a little pedantic, it’s not strictly true that Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state.” He was likely reflecting on something that Roger Williams (Baptist preacher, founder of Rhode Island, & advocate for religious tolerance) had said a century and a half earlier: “[W]hen they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, and made his Garden a Wilderness, as at this day.” (“Mr. Cottons Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered.”) Williams used similar “wall” and “hedge” language in his tract The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience. Given how well-read he was, It’s hard to conceive that Jefferson penned this phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists without the trigger of Williams’s own writings.

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