And The First Amendment
The Church of England was created by King Henry VIII in 1534. Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon, but asked the Pope to annul the marriage (say that there was a mistake and that Henry and Catherine were never really married). He had wanted to annul the marriage because he wanted a male heir to his throne and Catherine could not produce one.
When the annulment was refused, Henry VIII used his position as King to break away from the Roman Catholic Church, and establish the Church of England, sometimes called the Anglican (English) Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of the Church of England, with its formal head being the current ruling English monarch.
King Henry VIII created the Church, made himself the church’s “Supreme Governor”, then got him a new wife.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It’s the first decree that I want to focus on…
“…shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, …“.
In my never-known-to-be-humble opinion and with a little English historical knowledge, I believe our Forefathers worded the Amendment to prevent another Henry VIII, whereby the Government could create a religion to suit its own purpose.
Plain and simple.
It was never meant to apply to Christmas trees or the Ten Commandments.
This, apparently, makes me an “Accommodationist”, one who argues along with Justice William O. Douglas that “[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being”. As such, for many conservatives, the Establishment Clause solely prevents the establishment of a state church, not public acknowledgements of God nor “developing policies that encourage general religious beliefs that do not favor a particular sect and are consistent with the secular government’s goals.”
Nowhere in the Constitution is it mentioned, “separation of Church and State”, a phrase that has been bandied about by liberals for so long that many, if not most, believe that the Constitution is so written.
The term, “separation of Church and State”, was written in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.
“I contemplate with sovereign 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 & State.”
The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion.
From the dictionary…
Establish: verb (used with object)
1. to found, institute, build, or bring into being on a firm or stable basis:
to establish a university; to establish a medical practice.
2. to install or settle in a position, place, business, etc.:
to establish one’s child in business.
3. to show to be valid or true; prove:
to establish the facts of the matter.
4. to cause to be accepted or recognized:
to establish a custom; She established herself as a leading surgeon.
5. to bring about permanently:
to establish order.
6. to enact, appoint, or ordain for permanence, as a law; fix unalterably.
7. to make (a church) a national or state institution.
A Christmas tree, a Nativity Scene or a plaque with the Ten Commandments on government property may acknowledge a particular religion, but these symbols could not possibly establish, nor lead to the establishment of, a religion. Those Supreme Court Justices and government employees who fear that it might, had best be sitting at their desks on December 25th.
If you won’t allow an acknowledgement of our Savior’s birth, you can’t have His day off either.