Fact Checking: The First Amendment

      1 Comment on Fact Checking: The First Amendment

Ok. So we’ve got a candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State (Dan Severson) saying this on the “World Truth Radio Show”:

Quite often you hear people say, ‘What about separation of church and state?’ There is no such thing. I mean it just does not exist, and it does not exist in America for a purpose, because we are a Christian nation. We are a nation based on Christian principles and ideals, and those are the things that guarantee our liberties. It is one of those things that is so fundamental to the freedoms that we have that when you begin to restrict our belief and our attestation to our Christian values you begin to restrict our liberties. You simply cannot continue a nation as America without that Christian base of liberty.

Fact check time. What *does* the First Amendment say?

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.

Always fact check before you make assertions.

Here’s an article explaining the issue further, if you’d like to read more.

  • I think the point the person was trying to make is that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the Constitution. And that is a fact. The statement of separation of church and state comes from an opinion issued by a Supreme Court justice, and while it may be precedent it is not part of the Constitution. And the passage you quoted from the Constitution speaks to not allowing the government to create a state church at which citizens must worship – think the Church of England. In our case it might be the Church of America.

    And in fact, the Founders were all Christians and many of their views did in fact come out of Christian principles. I’m puzzled as to why people find this so offensive – is there something wrong with Christian principles? They are mostly about kindness and showing love to your fellow man. And the unalienable rights enumerated by the Founders were rights they believed bestowed by God (the divine creator), not man. Which I think is the point here.

    Freedom of religion in my mind is about the freedom to worship in the way you want to worship (or not) and if borrowing common sense principles from one’s religious beliefs to determine fairness and ensure personal freedoms as it relates to law doesn’t seem odd to me at all.

    Just my two cents though.