Saturday, April 03, 2004

Matto had a great post in response to this TNR post. Worth reading both.

UPDATE: seditious libel also has some brief commentary, more in support of the TNR article.

My Thoughts Since Akhil Amar apparently stole some of my thoughts for his lecture, I'll steal some of his now, from his book The Bill of Rights (buy it on

"The establishment clause did more than prohibit Congress from establishing a national church. Its mandate that Congress shall make no law 'respecting an establishment of religion' also prohibited the national legislature from interfering with, or trying to disestablish, churches established by state and local governments. In 1789, at least six states had government-supported churches--Congregationalism held sway in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut under local-rule establishment schemes, while Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia each featured a more general form of establishment in its state constitution...Interestingly, the federal establishment clause as finally worded most closely tracked the proposal from the ratifying convention of one of the staunchest establishment states, New Hampshire, that "Congress shall make no laws touching religion"; this proposal, if adopted, would obviously have immunized New Hampshire from any attempted federal disestablishment."
Now, you may not agree with Professor Amar's research on this topic, but it seems to me that the Framers had no intention of eliminating God or religion from public life, and even the workings of the government. They wanted to leave it up to the states, and make sure that the federal government had no say in either including or excluding religion from anything. So, maybe "Under God" shouldn't have ever been inserted, and "In God We Trust" shouldn't have been place on the money. But, to the people who want to exclude prayer from schools at the federal level, or want everyone to restrain from Under God in public schools, I say, deal with it in the states as the framers intended. (hat tip to Robby for calling my attention to this passage today -- who says Jeopardy kids aren't smart?)

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