Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

How can it be as simple as that? Volumes have been written on the meaning and purpose of the "establishment clause." But I couldn't agree more with Mr. Casey. Go back to the source, the records on the work-up of the Bill of Rights; it is plain and simple. The writers of the First Amendment, steeped in history, Enlightenment philosophy and current European events, knew exactly what the were doing in stating clearly and simply the status of government vis-à-vis religion. The fantasy under which the Christian fundamentalist minority labors is evil incarnate. It undermines the genius of the founders and denies a basic element not only of our government but of our society. Freedom of religion is a right. To be or not to be religious, without interference from the government and without the establishment of a state religion, a truly secular government--moral, yes, but non-sectarian and free of bias. That is the ideal, if we can keep it. History is littered with the wreckage of countries that could not.

Tom Hardenbergh

Bath, MI

Jan 20 2008 - 2:29am

Web Letter

Well, in the first place, historians write history, not political scientists! But this resolution would be unconstitutional if it were passed by Congress. Congress is specifically forbidden to make any law regarding the establishment of religion, or preventing the free expression thereof. Certainly, freedom of religion, being the first part of the First Amendment, was an important part of the Bill of Rights. But it was set aside as an individual right that government is not allowed to touch. Similarly, in the 1950s Congress passed a law that added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, which is also unconstitutional for the same reason. The purpose of the First Amendment, with regard to religion, is to protect religion from the government, by keeping the government out of religion. Freedom of religion is an individual civil right that government is not allowed to touch.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Jan 17 2008 - 5:57pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.