As the article appeared in the
Los Angeles, California Daily News on
Saturday, April 19, 1997.
Click the image to enlarge.
Text follows below.
Enlightening church-state debate
Framers of Constitution sought to preserve free speech of religious figures in First Amendment, not to remove piety from public practice.
By Robert Colaco
I am writing to respectfully disagree with the commentary article printed by the Daily News on Saturday, April 12, titled “Religious right vs. public schools.” The commentary was by Mr. Harry Schwartzbart, president of the San Fernando Chapter of
Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
First of all let me address two of Mr. Schwartzbart’s statements: “Because of the Constitution’s church/state separation provisions...” and “The separation of church and state mandated by the first 16 words of the First Amendment guarantees religious
freedom and freedom of conscience to all Americans.”
These statements, are just not true.
Since Mr. Schwartzbart talks about the first 16 words of the First Amendment let me quote them: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Where is “the separation of church and state mandated”? In fact those words and notion are not mandated anywhere in our Constitution nor in the Declaration of Independence.
So, where did that statement come from?
In David Barton’s book “The Myth of Separation,” he says; “At the time of the Constitution, although the states encouraged Christianity, no state allowed an exclusive state-sponsored denomination. However, many citizens did recall from earlier years
when one denomination ruled over and oppressed all others. Even though those abuses were not current history in 1802, the fear of recurrence still lingered in some minds. It was in this context that the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to President
Although the statesmen and patriots who framed the Constitution had made it clear that no one Christian denomination would become the official denomination, the Danbury Baptists expressed their concern over a rumor that a particular denomination was
soon to be recognized as the national denomination. On Jan. 1, 1802, President Jefferson spoke to a gathering of the Danbury Baptists at Danbury, Connecticut.
In his remarks to that group, Jefferson addressed their fears, using the now infamous phrase to assure them that the federal government would not establish them, nor any other denomination of Christianity, as the national denomination: ...I
contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation
between Church and State."
Unfortunately the proverb (truism) that says “if you tell a lie long enough people will come to believe it is true,” is true in this case.
The way I see it in the context of the Constitution it was the freedom of speech of the pastor first and then the press that was being protected here. The writers of the constitution argued at length regarding its content. We can not think that they
just haphazardly placed the freedom of religion ahead of the freedom to speak your beliefs. In those days it was commonly from the pulpit that most social and political activism originated.
Is it so wrong to teach children not to steal? Is it so wrong to teach them not to lie? Is it so wrong to teach them not to kill? Is it so wrong to teach them not to be materialistic or jealous of what others have?
Is it so wrong to teach children to respect marriage and not to think of sex lightly? Is it so wrong to want to protect our children from sexually transmitted diseases?
Most of America agrees with me that it is not so wrong and these are the same standards that are stated in the Ten Commandments.
Pastors and Christians, whether they are political leaders, teachers, business owners or employees, do have a right to affect the culture just like any other American so says the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Robert Colaco is the national chairman of Citizens for a Better America.
© copyright 1997 Citizens For A Better America ® (CFABA.org)
Publisher of the Have You Been Lied To? ™ Flyer
Robert Colaco, National Chairman, Founder.
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