So, recently, on Facebook, I responded to a Facebook friend’s posting about some political topic… it took a swerve towards religion and the Constitution and stuff. I made a comment that the establishment clause both protects government from religious interference and protects the religious from government interference.
This was, of course, met by derision. There is no establishment clause. There is no separation of church and state and the founding fathers never intended for one. It’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. These are common refrains from conservative religious people. Christine O’Donnell tried to pull this as some grand gotcha.
And the pompous and silly attempts at grandstanding hinge on the technicality that the phrase “separation of Church and State” never appears in the Constitution. And the poor logic that tends to feed conservative “constitutionalists” means that they also tend to claim that there is no establishment clause. Of course, there is.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof”. That’s pretty cut and dried. “No law respecting an establishment of religion” is clear as a bell. It’s a very simple way of saying that no religion gets favor from the government. It says that your religion doesn’t get to make the laws of this country. It says our citizens have a right to freedom from religion.
The second part expresses your right to freely exercise your religious beliefs. But that free exercise doesn’t go beyond yourself or your religious community. You do not get to impose your religious community’s standards on the public. You can believe homosexuality is sin-you don’t get to restrict the protection of gays from harassment or unequal treatment. It’s not really that hard, but I read absurd claim after absurd claim from the right trying to play little games and ignoring the clear intent of the establishment clause.
The irony is, the same people who freak out about America falling under Sharia Law? Are the same people who fight the establishment clause…you know, the thing that keeps us from falling under Sharia Law.