Not being allowed governmental favoritism doesn’t take away your rights. It simply keeps your rights where they are and doesn’t take away the rights of others. Former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin recently made disparaging remarks about "atheists armed with lawyers." She apparently has an issue with court rulings that keep government from endorsing a specific religion. But for everyone who respects the secular foundations of the United States, it’s not the lawyers they are armed with, it’s the United States Constitution. It’s the will of the Founding Fathers.
There are three tyrannies that the Founding Fathers wanted to protect us from.
1. The tyranny of a tyrant
2. The tyranny of the majority
3. The tyranny of the church
They established three solutions:
1. Separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government and a Presidency that is an elected position with terms for re-election.
2. A Bill of Rights that grants certain rights and liberties to all citizens.
3. The part of the First Amendment that contains “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” which is formally referred to as the Establishment Clause.
Combine this with the words that begins the U.S. Constitution, “We the People.”
The “Establishment Clause” was intended to prevent any government endorsement or support of religion. This means no governmental favoritism of one religion over another or none. Just as there is no governmental favoritism for a Christian, there is to be no governmental favoritism for an atheist. This is called religious liberty.
What specifically does the “Establishment Clause” mean? There have been court rulings to provide additional guidance.
Does a state action violate the Establishment Clause? The following is prohibited per guidance by Everson v. Board of Education.
-setting up a state church
-passing laws which specifically aid one religion or aid religions generally
-forcing or otherwise influencing individuals to attend or not attend church
-punishing people for ascribing to certain beliefs or disbeliefs or for attending or not attending church
-taxes levied to support religious institutions or activities
-governmental participation in religious organizations or participation by religious organizations in governmental activities
Why have separation of church and state when this country was founded on Judeo Christian values? The answer is simple. The United States was not founded on Judeo Christian values. Freedom of religion is not Biblical. A republic is not Biblical. The pagan Romans established a Republic long before they adopted Christianity. The ancient Zeus worshiping Greeks established the first democracy in Athens before Jesus Christ was born. So what was the United States founded on?
The United States was founded on the collected wisdom of philosophers, sages and legislatures over a long period of time. Don’t take it from me, take it from General George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.
“The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period, the researches of the human mind, after social happiness, have been carried to a great extent, the Treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labours of Philosophers, Sages and Legislatures, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government”
George Washington, Circular to the States, June 8, 1783
Government institutions should not have giant crosses. Government institutions should not look like churches. A hierarchy of the church should not dictate policy. There should not be a ban on education that doesn’t correspond with the Bible. People should not be punished who don’t attend church. Public funds should not support a church. The United States should not be a theocracy.
Believing in these things doesn't make you an atheist with a lawyer. It makes you a patriot.
It’s understandable why so many are confused regarding separation of church and state with the motto of “In God we Trust.” But people need to remember this had absolutely nothing to do with the Founding Fathers. The heroes of World War II didn’t have nor need “Under God” in their Pledge or “In God we Trust” on their paper currency.
Religious liberty suffered under the fear, ignorance and superstition of the 1950s. We the people need to restore the glory of “an Epoch when the rights of mankind are better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period.” “We the People,” not "We the religious" or "we the non-religious" is the Constitutional motto of the United States of America.
-James Kirk Wall