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Separation of Church and State

I am voting for Barack Obama, but his support of Faith based charities troubles me.

August 17, 1790, a year before the Bill of Rights was ratified, George Washington wrote the following in a letter to Tuoro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island

"...the Government of the United States...gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance...May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy."

On February 21, 1811, James Madison vetoed a bill which would have allowed Government support of faith based charities.

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

"Having examined and considered the bill entitled "An act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia," I now return the bill to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with the following objections:

Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.'' The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and polity of the church incorporated, and comprehending even the election and removal of the minister of the same, so that no change could be made therein by the particular society or by the general church of which it is a member, and whose authority it recognizes. this particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration. Nor can it be considered that the articles thus established are to be taken as the descriptive criteria only of the corporate identity of the society, inasmuch as this identity must depend on other characteristics, as the regulations established are generally unessential and alterable according to the principles and canons by which churches of that denomination govern themselves, and as the injunctions and prohibitions contained in the regulations would be enforced by the penal consequences applicable to a violation of them according to the local law.

[Emphasis added]Because the bill vests in the said incorporated church an authority to provide for the support of the poor and the education of poor children of the same, an authority which, being altogether superfluous if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies as such a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty."

James Madison.

Clearly I am not an originalist or strict constructionist, but this potential for support of one religion over another is troublesome.

How did we get here?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
id_vs
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
We started name-dropping God to add weight to our respective political agendas.
jellomarx
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Have you read Washington's letter? Outside of the obvious hypocrisy of a slave owner claiming to give to bigotry no sanction, it's wonderful.
wibblywobbly
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
It scares the hell out of me too.

We got here because politicians will say anything and pander to anyone to get elected.

Simplistic yes, but don't forget that Obama came up in the game amongst one of the most corrupt political dynasties in history of the country.

He's just playing the game.
jellomarx
Aug. 16th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
There's no question in my mind that he's the better candidate.
wibblywobbly
Aug. 16th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
There is no disputing that at all. 8 more years of the same ol'. Plus, think of the people McCain has to pander to...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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