10 de novembro de 2007

O que há de errado em amar ao próximo como a ti mesmo e a Deus sobre todas as coisas?

THIS BOOK CHRONICLES discrimination against Christians in American society. While tolerance is touted as the highest virtue in our popular culture, Christians are often subjected to scorn and ridicule and denied their religious freedoms. In no way does this book mean to imply that other groups are not subjected to discrimination or to deny the seriousness of that discrimination. The difference, however, is that it seems that when other groups (or individuals from those groups) experience discrimination or mistreatment the popular culture properly decries it. But when it comes to anti-Christian discrimination, the culture's attitude seems to be, "Yes, please do shut up those Bible-thumping idiots!" Anti-Christian discrimination occurs in a variety of contexts throughout our culture, from the public sector to the private sector, in the mainstream media and in Hollywood, in the public education system and in our universities. Often the discrimination comes from activist judges misinterpreting the law (the hostility to Christian religious freedom infects our judiciary as much as anywhere else); other times it comes from entities misapplying the law. It also comes from what we call "political correctness." The discrimination mostly stems from a hostility to Christianity and from rampant disinformation in our society about what the Constitution actually requires in terms of the so-called "separation of church and state." Though there is a significant body of law safeguarding religious liberties, the law is not always followed-even when the courts interpret it correctly (in accordance with the framers' original intent). Now, it is also true that though the courts, including the Supreme Court, have often ruled directly against the obvious original intent of the Constitution, I can't always say their rulings are unconstitutional. Why? Because the law is what the highest court says it is. Even if it's wrong, the court is the final arbiter. What I can say is that these rulings ought to be seen by the Court as unconstitutional. This highlights why the appointment of Supreme Court justices and other appellate judges who hold to the original intent of the Constitution is so vital to the preservation of our liberties. When we cast our ballots for politicians, we should think about that. Anti-Christian discrimination in our society is getting more blatant and more widespread every day. The cultural assumptions of our society influence changes in the law, and the culture is moving against the public expression of Christian belief. The famous prayer case we discuss later, Engel v. Vitale (1962), could not have occurred at any other time in our history. And since 1962, the wedge of secularism against the public expression of Christianity has been driven much, much farther. The fundamental issue, as mentioned earlier, is that people freely throw around phrases, such as the "separation of church and state," without understanding their true meaning, especially under the Constitution as originally written. So let's establish a few basic facts. First, we must recognize that the framers believed that religious freedom was of paramount importance; it was a primary reason for emigration to America. Religious freedom was so important to them that they sought to guaranty it by the placement of two separate clauses in the very first amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment begins with the two clauses back to back: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” The first clause is known as “The Establishment Clause" and the second, the "Free Exercise Clause. You'll note there is no language in either-or anywhere else in the Constitution-mandating a wall of separation between church and state. That phrase, as we'll see in Chapter One, comes from a letter of Thomas Jefferson, several years after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were well in place. Moreover, the phrase has been taken out of context, distorting what Jefferson meant. Nevertheless, those advocating a strict separation (often referred to in this book as "separationists"), point to the "Establishment Clause” as evidence the framers intended a strict separation. But it's important to understand that both clauses, the establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, were adopted by the framers for the explicit purpose of promoting, not suppressing religious freedom. That may be obvious with the Free Exercise Clause-its literal language says as much-but people tend to overlook it with the Establishment Clause. The purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent the federal government from establishing a particular denominational religion that would serve to inhibit our religious freedoms; it was not intended to keep Christianity out of the public square. Yet today the Establishment Clause is routinely used to suppress people's free exercise rights of religion in our schools and in public life. Of course, one of the problems of applying original intent analysis to these issues is that the relationship between government and education today is radically different from how it was at the time of the nation's founding. In the first place, the Establishment Clause only restricted the federal government, not the states. Its language makes that quite clear, "Congress shall make no law..." At the time of the ratification of the First Amendment, many states in fact had state-established religions. There is no better evidence-besides its plain language-that the Establishment Clause was never intended to prevent state governments from establishing their own religions. Again, the language of the clause is instructive. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." That clearly meant that the federal government was precluded from establishing a national religion, but also that the federal government was precluded from interfering with the right of individual states to do as they pleased respecting the establishment of their own religions. Later, of course, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified and the Supreme Court, in a series of abhorrent decisions we will discuss later, ruled that the First Amendment Establishment Clause was applicable to the states through incorporation in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. While there is no question that these decisions were gross examples of judicial activism and that the Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to constitute a federal restriction on the state's right to establish a religion, these precedents are now the law of the land. Worse, though, is that as government has grown, so too have its restrictions on the free exercise of religion. The courts say that public schools, because they are partially funded by federal money (First Amendment) and because they are predominantly funded by state money (Fourteenth Amendment) cannot engage in activities that are deemed an endorsement of a religion. Just the slightest nod to a religion will be enough to trigger an Establishment Clause violation. As we'll see, many schools and courts take this to absurd extremes, and to get to these absurd extremes they have had to torture the original intent of the Constitution. Indeed, we should remember that when the Constitution was written, Christian religious instruction was the primary purpose of education. To the extent that we can imagine public schools being endorsed by the founders, we can be certain that they would not have objected to religious instruction, but would have insisted on it. If the founders could have anticipated that our schools would become a government near-monopoly and that the Establishment Clause would be stretched beyond recognition to prohibit Christian instruction, I think it's safe to say they would have opposed public education altogether. We all know the framers were among the wisest men in history. Ignoring their original intent for the First Amendment of the Constitution, as we shall see, has already had alarming consequences for our precious freedoms. And unless we do something about it, it's going to get worse, seriously worse.