7/2/10

On the fallacy of the separation of church and state

Here is an interesting tidbit from history that rather tends to put the lie to the presumption that the Framers of the Constitution meant this to be a "Christian" nation:

The struggle for religious freedom and disestablishment in Massachusetts is equally interesting and of greater duration than the events in Connecticut. Beginning in 1631, the General Court decreed that unless one were a Congregationalist, he could not vote or be in politics. This decree was one of the major factors of Roger Williams' banishment to Rhode Island. In 1638, the General Court ordered a tax on all who did not voluntarily contribute to the Congregationalist minister's support. In 1672, the General Assembly ordered banishment for "broaching and maintaining damnable heresies," which essentially constituted anything contrary to the teachings of the established church. Although toleration was extended to all Protestant Christians in 1691, it did not extend to Roman Catholics.

From about the turn of the Eighteenth Century up until the time of the Revolutionary War, non-established religious sects succeeded in some of their efforts to chip away at the wall of church establishment. However, by 1776, according to General Court decree, anyone choosing to settle a town along the frontier had to build a Congregational church and support its minister. Thus, Baptists and nonconformist settlers often had to build two churches and support two ministers. This only contributed to the great strife between Congregationalists and nonconformists.

Although the Congregational Church was still highly favored, changes in attitude were apparent. In 1779, the town of Pittsfield sent a Congregational minister and a Baptist minister to the constitutional convention. In 1780, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress adopted the following constitution and Declaration of Rights. The Declaration of Rights was largely the work of John Adams. It is highly possible, from the contents of clause II, that Adams was influenced by the Virginia Declaration. Although this Declaration of Rights is a rather conservative document, it was a big step for Massachusetts, who had struggled for more than a century to obtain religious freedom. It was not until 1831 that the Massachusetts state legislature voted in favor of disestablishment. In 1833, the third article of the 1780 Declaration of Rights was finally replaced. The new article promoted religious freedom and prohibited any form of establishment.

Source: RJ&L Religious Liberty Archive

The article above is a lead-in to the Massachussets Constitution and Declaration of Rights of 1780. Click on that link, then scroll down to Article II. How would like that in our Colorado Constitution? Our Federal Constitution? How about Article III?

You see that the colony, and subsequently the State, of Massachusetts actually had a state-decreed church, with financial support for that church by citizens decreed by the state government. This did not sit well with citizens then, any more than it would today. Both articles were struck in 1833, and Massachusetts finally enjoyed religious freedom.

How could those provisions exist in a state constitution, given the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution, which Massachusetts had ratified in 1788? Good question, the answer to which is found in the 14th Amendment. More on that in a following post ...

We note that Mr. Tony Bolen is going to speak at the Tea Party Rally tomorrow, on the 'fallacy' of the separation of church and state.

It is a sad thing that the Tea Party movement has been hijacked by the likes of Bolen. I find it infuriating that Obama and his accomplices refer to the Tea Party with contempt and disdain, yet I have to admit they have a point, to a point. Bolen and those like him reduce the movement to the level of irrational foolishness, and fuel the left's contempt.

Those who believe that the Framers thought this nation should be a "Christian" nation really should do more study, rather than simply engaging in shallow thought based on half-truths and mis-quotes that make them look like they have a good argument. In that respect, they are very much like the Creationists. Which, come to think on it, they probably are.