Except for the lying part, it is amusing to see the whining of the ‘freedom from religion’ folks and their apologistic “We never said that” contortions with regard to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. While we would like to think that it is distraction in a pathetic attempt to escape blame for the tears and tatters in the religious fabric of our country, hopefully soon to be repaired by both state and national conservative majorities according to the wishes of The People, there is also the very real possibility that it is meant to appease CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Student Association and the Islamic Society of North America.
These faux First Amendment types propose that all the Islamists really want is freedom, but they are throwing down the prayer mats in the gym in order to keep the Newseum and Vanderbilt University off the terrorists’ “to do” list, or something. Possible confirmation for that contention can be found here. The esteemed Mr. Haynes referenced below is, at a minimum, in the company of people with agendas other than promoting the First Amendment:
The purpose of the workshop was to develop plans to disseminate the findings of the Scholars Forum through a variety of media and public programs that will help re-shape and re-orient the thinking of the American public in various walks of life on the history of Muslim societies and their legacy in the pre-modern and modernizing world.
The latest in a continuing series from our old pal Charles C. Haynes, of the Freedom Forum and the First Amendment Center pleads over and over again that kids can pray in school if they want to, and that the famous 1962 Supreme Court Case infringed not one iota on that freedom. Says Haynes:
But the Big Lie in the school-prayer debate is the false charge that the Supreme Court expelled God or eliminated praying from public schools. In reality, the court has never banned prayers in schools—in Engel or in any other decision.
Instead, the court ruled that, under the establishment clause of the First Amendment, “it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government.”
In other words, state-sponsored prayers in schools are unconstitutional. Students, on the other hand, are fully free to pray in public schools—alone or in groups, as long as they don’t disrupt the school or interfere with the rights of others.
It’s true that in the aftermath of the Engel decision, some school administrators took things too far by prohibiting “constitutionally protected student religious expression.” Of course, other administrators and school boards practiced civil disobedience by continuing school-sponsored religious practices in defiance of the court’s ruling.
Get that, folks? The only crimp in the student’s style for the last 50 years has been that “some school administrators took things too far.” S0, we suppose that the hundreds, even thousands of cases we have seen reported in the newspapers owned by or associated with Mr. Haynes’ Gannett/USA sponsors and in other media throughout the nation, and the activities of brazen federal judges shutting down entire events because a coach, school principal or trustee looked on admiringly during one of the holy roller sessions Haynes says have been, or could have been, going on all these years, all those incidents we just dreamed, or imagined. Beat us up again, and then tell us how much you love us, Charles.
The entire country has been bothered, bewitched and befuddled for five decades, and no constitutional scholars have stepped forward to clear the air. Why, it’s all just been a gross misunderstanding, and all those administrators, teachers, coaches, school board members or PTA people who have been reprimanded, fined, suspended, sued and let go by authorities believing they were constitutionally bound to separate God and school have been wronged, we presume. All those kids who have been hooked off the stage at the “Our Father” moment can now hurl rocks at their tormentors, the administrators, and leave the ACLU and the First Amendment Center and the Americans for the Separation of Church and State blameless. Is that the proposal? Ergo, the Freedom Forum/ First Amendment Center will now probably sponsor lawsuits involving wrongful termination, damages and emotional suffering, right? Right???
But while the wiggling and wriggling goes on, the categorical falsehoods about what is contained in the First Amendment of the Constitution continue unabated. The maddening part of it of course, is that the lies are not emanating from politicians but from folks whose whole raison d’etre is supposed to be educating the public about our Founding Charter. And, once more, here it comes:
But in recent decades, most public school officials have begun to get religion—and prayer—right. They (finally) understand the difference between government speech promoting religion—which the establishment clause prohibits—and student religious speech, which the free-exercise and free-speech clauses protect.
And once more, very clearly and very distinctly, THAT IS A LIE. Not only does the First Amendment not prohibit religious speech by anybody, the notion that “students” have it as a ‘constitutionally protected’ right on the merits of their being ‘students’ is nowhere demonstrable. They have it as Americans. Period.
In their little essays and diatribes and info-pieces there is one thing these types rarely, if ever, do and that is to publish the actual text of the Constitution along with their oh-so-learned interpretations of what was meant by this or that clause, article or amendment. Doing the work they refuse to do, we present The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment for your perusal:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Do you detect any reference whatsoever in the Establishment Clause to “government”, or to “speech” or to “promoting religion”? What has been nuanced to death in legal battle after legal battle over the decades is the word “establishment”, when all that is required to understand the clause is the phrase “Congress shall make no law”.
What the apologists for Engel v. Vitale want us to believe is that when any state official (by “state official” they mean ANY official within a State) opens his yap or winks and nods regarding prayer or religious utterances, it is, via the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, a violation, since “states” can’t deny federal civil rights. But it is way past arrogance to use the 14th amendment to insert prohibitions into the First Amendment that are not there. Nothing in the First Amendment prohibits any federal official from joining or admiring or attending or publicly expressing approval of a prayer or a religious utterance, ceremony or observance unless he acts to codify it, and federal officials have no more latitude, or restriction, in this regard than state officials. If you need to, you can look up the 9th and 10th Amendments in the Constitution as well. One of the most absurd and insulting malpractices of jurisprudence in the last fifty years has been equating Mrs. Schwartz’s wearing of the Star of David into the classroom with an Act of Congress. But of course the debate rages on, with the debaters on the right side of the issue hamstrung by the notion of “precedent” and the argument that Harvard graduates know more about the Constitution than bricklayers. Sigh.
There is nothing new or revelatory in all of the above. We all know this, and we have said it before, often til we are blue in the face and most often to each other. But here is the point that needs to be made at this juncture: The faux First Amendment types are playing with fire here, and they probably know it. They are probably doing a shuck and jive and a CYA and a sleight-of-hand all rolled into one with this greenlighting of what the kids are allowed to say and do in school in re religion, especially with the Muslims now demanding a bigger piece of the action as to what is kosher (sorry), and not, in public education. The danger to the Statists is that the kids will not only pull out their bibles and korans and start reading them, even out loud, in school, but that they might just pull out their Constitutions and start reading those for pleasure and edification as well.
There is the distinct possibility that school children might just find the Constitution fascinating reading, indeed might just start asking some questions about why their teacher can’t join them in a prayer in the conference room during lunch break, or why the coach can’t take a knee with them before kickoff at the big game, since there aren’t, and never have been, any bills introduced in Congress on the subject.
So here is our hope for the states and localities across the land, the rural and urban communities concerned about the future of the country – that they tuck little copies of the Constitution in their children’s backpacks along with the little bibles that Charles Haynes and his fellow travelers now grudgingly concede it’s okay for them to have and use. Because what is contained in the Constitution is so simple and straightforward that even children can understand it, and they have just as much right to know what the Constitution says as what the Bible says. Oh, and if the thirty-somethings and the forty-somethings could only be tipped off to the richness and fullness and congealing satisfaction in their public lives as Americans that has been denied them and their offspring by the Godless Statists over the last half-century, and all because of lies, they might be a little upset as well. The tipline: 1-800-Read Your Constitution.
Yes, the church and the state shall remain separated, but not the people and their Constitution. So be it.