Separation of church and state

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Separation of church and state

Postby Jon Estes » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:29 am

Although I think the left has distorted the purpose and meaning of the founders on this topic (not found in the Constitution)...

I am asking...

If it is unlawful to voice religious views in the public square because of the SoCaS, would it also be unlawful to express anti-religious views in the public square?

A google search on the subject of anti religious protests brings up many examples.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:13 pm

Jon Estes wrote:Although I think the left has distorted the purpose and meaning of the founders on this topic (not found in the Constitution)...

I am asking...

If it is unlawful to voice religious views in the public square because of the SoCaS, would it also be unlawful to express anti-religious views in the public square?

A google search on the subject of anti religious protests brings up many examples.

I know of no interpretatation of the SoCaS that says "it is unlawful to voice religious views in the public square” from anyone including politicians. In fact that "religious voice in the public square” is explicitly enshrined in the First Amendment as an individual right.

It is not “unlawful” for an individual (or any small ad-hoc group of individuals) to express anti-religious or religious views in public.

What the SoCaS (case law but not formally in Constitution) prohibits is (1) government institutions enforcing a religious view on its citizens or favoring one religion over another, and (2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members.

Institutions (including government and corporations) can have limitations of speech (they should stick to their expertise); individuals should have free range of speech (violence or money given are not speech). There are murky cases like an individual “shouting man-overboard” when it creates a false alarm and unneeded response.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:26 pm

KeithE wrote:...(2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members.
Keith, could you give an example of what you mean here? Thanks.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:18 pm

Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:...(2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members.
Keith, could you give an example of what you mean here? Thanks.

Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.

Admittedly, drawing lines about what constitutes a “legitimate religious content” can be murky but I believe there are times when we can be sure a religious organization can and should persuade their members; but many times it is not black or white but gray. Thus claims of violation of SoCaS should only be made when the case is clear (black or white not gray) and of course made non-violently and non-judgmentally.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:58 am

KeithE wrote:
Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:...(2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members.
Keith, could you give an example of what you mean here? Thanks.

Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.

Admittedly, drawing lines about what constitutes a “legitimate religious content” can be murky but I believe there are times when we can be sure a religious organization can and should persuade their members; but many times it is not black or white but gray. Thus claims of violation of SoCaS should only be made when the case is clear (black or white not gray) and of course made non-violently and non-judgmentally.


Yeah. Just establish a cabinet level Department of Legitimate Religious Content to monitor such things. Gummit, thank God and the Bill of Rights, does not have the power to prohibit the free exercise of religion. If you are attempting to explain current tax law relative to churches then you might try again.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:33 am

KeithE wrote:
Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:...(2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members.
Keith, could you give an example of what you mean here? Thanks.

Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.

Admittedly, drawing lines about what constitutes a “legitimate religious content” can be murky but I believe there are times when we can be sure a religious organization can and should persuade their members; but many times it is not black or white but gray. Thus claims of violation of SoCaS should only be made when the case is clear (black or white not gray) and of course made non-violently and non-judgmentally.
Keith, I'm not clear on what you're getting at. Sure, if churches are waterboarding members to get their members to vote a particular way, this would be some kind of assault and the law should step in. In almost cases I'd guess it is nothing like that and the government needs to stay out of the business and teaching of churches -- even if they are teaching political issues you or I don't like, and whether or not we think that is a church's purpose.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:53 am

The principle of separation of church and state is not called that by name in the constitution, but it is directly related to the establishment clause. There are multiple court rulings which have been pretty consistent in drawing the line to define what constitutes government establishment of religion, and where individual freedoms can go. The Equal Access Act, and subsequent court rulings, established the protections of religious speech of students in schools, and opened the door for Bible clubs and studies, and for the well-known "See You At the Pole" prayer gatherings at schools all across the country. The key piece of the rulings are that the activities are student-initiated and student-led, and not supported or funded by any tax dollars (schools can refuse if the presence of a group will cause an expense to be incurred). On occasion, courts apply the Lemon Test, related to a court case involving tax dollars used to pay salaries of teachers in Catholic schools. The court ruling came up with a three pronged test to determine whether an action constituted government establishment of religion.

Baptists are largely responsible for the interpretation of the establishment clause by use of the phrase "separation of church and state." One of the constitution's most prominent authors was Thomas Jefferson, who, in an explanation of the principle to the Danbury Baptist Association, used and defined the phrase. I don't see much going on that steps aside from Jefferson's clear explanation of exactly what the establishment clause meant, and it meant the separation of church and state.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Dave Roberts » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:59 am

Sandy wrote:The principle of separation of church and state is not called that by name in the constitution, but it is directly related to the establishment clause. There are multiple court rulings which have been pretty consistent in drawing the line to define what constitutes government establishment of religion, and where individual freedoms can go. The Equal Access Act, and subsequent court rulings, established the protections of religious speech of students in schools, and opened the door for Bible clubs and studies, and for the well-known "See You At the Pole" prayer gatherings at schools all across the country. The key piece of the rulings are that the activities are student-initiated and student-led, and not supported or funded by any tax dollars (schools can refuse if the presence of a group will cause an expense to be incurred). On occasion, courts apply the Lemon Test, related to a court case involving tax dollars used to pay salaries of teachers in Catholic schools. The court ruling came up with a three pronged test to determine whether an action constituted government establishment of religion.

Baptists are largely responsible for the interpretation of the establishment clause by use of the phrase "separation of church and state." One of the constitution's most prominent authors was Thomas Jefferson, who, in an explanation of the principle to the Danbury Baptist Association, used and defined the phrase. I don't see much going on that steps aside from Jefferson's clear explanation of exactly what the establishment clause meant, and it meant the separation of church and state.


Sandy, just a correction of sorts. Jefferson was not directly involved in the writing of the constitution, but he influenced his fellow Virginian, James Madison, who is regarded as the Father of the Constitution.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Haruo » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:21 am

How about teaching parents to withhold medical care from their children? This is an issue not only with Christian Science (which is famous for it) and Jehovah's Witnesses (who as far as I know only get involved if it's blood transfusions) but also these days with tons of home-schooling fundie parents who are convinced their oldest's autism is because he had a measles shot.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:25 am

I don't think that a church teaching abstinence from immunization shots is any church/state problem...unless the state goes after the Hollywood types first.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Haruo » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:36 am

William Thornton wrote:I don't think that a church teaching abstinence from immunization shots is any church/state problem...unless the state goes after the Hollywood types first.

Maybe, maybe not, depends on the church and the state. Italy has been trying to force the issue. The law was modified later to make it less rigid or onerous, but still, what if the US or a sovereign state therein were to try to enforce vaccinations; how would that differ in principle from the Eddyite extremist issues?
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:06 pm

I think the teaching of the antivaccinators is protected. I'm not familiar with case law on forcing vaccinations. I assume that communities may deny enrollment in schools.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:48 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
Sandy wrote:The principle of separation of church and state is not called that by name in the constitution, but it is directly related to the establishment clause. There are multiple court rulings which have been pretty consistent in drawing the line to define what constitutes government establishment of religion, and where individual freedoms can go. The Equal Access Act, and subsequent court rulings, established the protections of religious speech of students in schools, and opened the door for Bible clubs and studies, and for the well-known "See You At the Pole" prayer gatherings at schools all across the country. The key piece of the rulings are that the activities are student-initiated and student-led, and not supported or funded by any tax dollars (schools can refuse if the presence of a group will cause an expense to be incurred). On occasion, courts apply the Lemon Test, related to a court case involving tax dollars used to pay salaries of teachers in Catholic schools. The court ruling came up with a three pronged test to determine whether an action constituted government establishment of religion.

Baptists are largely responsible for the interpretation of the establishment clause by use of the phrase "separation of church and state." One of the constitution's most prominent authors was Thomas Jefferson, who, in an explanation of the principle to the Danbury Baptist Association, used and defined the phrase. I don't see much going on that steps aside from Jefferson's clear explanation of exactly what the establishment clause meant, and it meant the separation of church and state.


Sandy, just a correction of sorts. Jefferson was not directly involved in the writing of the constitution, but he influenced his fellow Virginian, James Madison, who is regarded as the Father of the Constitution.


Duly noted. I should have said one of its most prominent early interpreters, and who laid a foundation for his day regarding how the constitution was interpreted and applied.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:21 pm

William Thornton wrote:I think the teaching of the antivaccinators is protected. I'm not familiar with case law on forcing vaccinations. I assume that communities may deny enrollment in schools.


It is protected. Laws requiring vaccination are state, I don't think there's anything on the federal level. Here in Pennsylvania, all you have to do is state your objection to the law, in writing, with the statute number listed, as either a matter of conscience related to required medical treatment, or as a matter of religious belief. The local public school district employs a nurse as a compliance officer who also serves the private and home school groups. We have several families who submit a letter each year.

It's not just fundamentalist home schoolers who object to this. We have several families who are Reformed Presbyterian who not only object to providing immunization for their children, but also don't pledge the flags or play instruments in church.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:38 pm

Sandy wrote:It's not just fundamentalist home schoolers who object to this. We have several families who are Reformed Presbyterian who not only object to providing immunization for their children, but also don't pledge the flags or play instruments in church.
In addition to fundamentalists and other Christians, I know several free-spirit "hippie" types who also object to immunizations.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:55 pm

William Thornton wrote:
KeithE wrote:
I know of no interpretatation of the SoCaS that says "it is unlawful to voice religious views in the public square” from anyone including politicians. In fact that "religious voice in the public square” is explicitly enshrined in the First Amendment as an individual right.
.......
What the SoCaS prohibits is church institutions coercing political views on it's members.
Vaughn asked
Keith, could you give an example of what you mean here? Thanks.

Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.


Yeah. Just establish a cabinet level Department of Legitimate Religious Content to monitor such things. Gummit, thank God and the Bill of Rights, does not have the power to prohibit the free exercise of religion. If you are attempting to explain current tax law relative to churches then you might try again.


I don’t deserve that sarcasm, William; just answering Rvaughn’s question. Note I did support "the free exercise of religion" as applied to people (just as the First Amendment means) and I did not try to "explain current tax law relative churches”
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:14 am

KeithE wrote:I don’t deserve that sarcasm, William; just answering Rvaughn’s question. Note I did support "the free exercise of religion" as applied to people (just as the First Amendment means) and I did not try to "explain current tax law relative churches”


So, what did you have in mind with the sentence Rvaughn quoted?
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Haruo » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:08 am

Rvaughn wrote:
Sandy wrote:
William Thornton wrote:It's not just fundamentalist home schoolers who object to this. We have several families who are Reformed Presbyterian who not only object to providing immunization for their children, but also don't pledge the flags or play instruments in church.
In addition to fundamentalists and other Christians, I know several free-spirit "hippie" types who also object to immunizations.

Rvaughn here (almost certainly inadvertently) misattributes words of Sandy's to William. FWIW. Not sure if that clarification will help anyone sort any of this out.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:50 am

Keith said: "What the SoCaS (case law but not formally in Constitution) prohibits is (1) government institutions enforcing a religious view on its citizens or favoring one religion over another, and (2) church institutions coercing political views on it's members."

Rvaughn asked about (2) to which Keith answered:

"Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.

Admittedly, drawing lines about what constitutes a “legitimate religious content” can be murky but I believe there are times when we can be sure a religious organization can and should persuade their members; but many times it is not black or white but gray. Thus claims of violation of SoCaS should only be made when the case is clear (black or white not gray) and of course made non-violently and non-judgmentally."

I was reacting to the church/state issue involved with "any religious institution...should not try and persuade (or pressure)...soft persuasion should be permitted..."

I don't see that Keith exactly explained this. Is he attempting to explain church/state law or offering an opinion on what churches should say? If the former, that is, if the state should or is restricting the free exercise of religion on the basis of legitimate religious content or on the basis of persuasion of pressure of members or society based on the object of persuasion?

Perhaps the wording is a mess but should the state restrict free exercise on the basis Keith attempted to outline above?
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Rvaughn » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:24 pm

Haruo wrote:Rvaughn wrote:
Sandy wrote:
William Thornton wrote:It's not just fundamentalist home schoolers who object to this. We have several families who are Reformed Presbyterian who not only object to providing immunization for their children, but also don't pledge the flags or play instruments in church.
In addition to fundamentalists and other Christians, I know several free-spirit "hippie" types who also object to immunizations.

Rvaughn here (almost certainly inadvertently) misattributes words of Sandy's to William. FWIW. Not sure if that clarification will help anyone sort any of this out.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Jim » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:01 pm

KeithE wrote:Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.


Any entity, individual or institutional, should exercise the right to attempt to influence any other entity concerning any matter. The media do this all the time. It's called "freedom of speech."
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby KeithE » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:33 pm

Jim wrote:
KeithE wrote:Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.


Any entity, individual or institutional, should exercise the right to attempt to influence any other entity concerning any matter. The media do this all the time. It's called "freedom of speech."

That’s a plausible viewpoint which I'll respect. But I still believe the institution of the church should stay out of purely political matters if it expects the state (and the media) to stay of purely religious matters in order to preserve religious liberty.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Jim » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:35 pm

KeithE wrote:
Jim wrote:
KeithE wrote:Any religious institution (individual church, denomination, parachurch org...) should not try persuade (or pressure) any member or society as a whole on purely political matters (say candidates/parties to vote for, or PAC contributions recipients). When there is a legitimate religious content (e.g. abortion, going to war, helping the poor with govt money, ...) soft persuasion should be permitted in my view but accept what happens if you don’t get your way.


Any entity, individual or institutional, should exercise the right to attempt to influence any other entity concerning any matter. The media do this all the time. It's called "freedom of speech."

That’s a plausible viewpoint which I'll respect. But I still believe the institution of the church should stay out of purely political matters if it expects the state (and the media) to stay of purely religious matters in order to preserve religious liberty.


Does that mean that the state should have stayed out of the bigamy/polygamy matter vis-à-vis the Mormons? Of course, the Reno/Bubba bloody fiasco concerning the Koresh gang went badly wrong but could a case be made for their effort? A "purely religious matter" is about as vague as "soft persuasion." Should the state stay out of all Islamic matters since the Koran teaches death to the infidel (me), or should it be diligent in watching the Muslims carefully? Actually, I don't consider Islam a religion, just a cancer on the world, but there it is.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby William Thornton » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:04 pm

Here's Jim: "Any entity, individual or institutional, should exercise the right to attempt to influence any other entity concerning any matter. The media do this all the time. It's called "freedom of speech.""

Keith calls this a "plausible viewpoint" which is an awfully tepid way to support the first amendment.

Keith continues with, "I still believe the institution of the church should stay out of purely political matters if it expects the state (and the media) to stay of purely religious matters in order to preserve religious liberty."

It is unclear if Keith misunderstands the first amendment or is sliding into offering his opinion on what is best for churches to do in regard to political speech. Churches clearly have a constitutional right to make political speech and is is not abridged by the gummit deciding what speech is political or religious or overly aggressive in secular politics or whatever. The only restriction, aside from speech adjudicated to be unprotected, is on tax exemptions which isn't being enforced anyway. Churches in their official institutional speech as well as individual speech are protected.

Which is why when he made a statement, not followed by making any sensible argument, that "soft persuasion" on "legitimate religious content" got the attention of myself and Rvaughn. Neither of these ("soft...legitimate") has anything to do with the constitution but a lot to do with some rather sordid historical precedents.
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Re: Separation of church and state

Postby Haruo » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:06 pm

I'm in favor of freedom of speech (and I deprecate a lot of the activity to suppress it in fringe right folks recently) but I disagree with Jim's notion. I think there are lots of issues that neither I nor anyone else has a duty to attempt to influence others on. So while I believe they should have that right, I don't think Jim's statement William quoted amount to any sort of summation of the First Amendment, and I think tepid support is about the most Jim should get on it.
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