What The Establishment Clause Really Means

the constitution

A football coach in Washington state is being threatened with the loss of his job for exercising his constitutional right to pray. But how, someone might ask, can he be threatened simply because he walks out on the field alone after the game and prays? Because, says the ACLU, he is in violation of the “separation of church and state” clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It then proceeds to enlist various school board members in threatening the coach with the loss of his job.

A 17-year-old high-school football quarterback who plays for a school in New York was flagged by a referee last week after pointing skyward in the end zone, giving thanks to God for his touchdown; by the way, he ran 73 yards through the defense to score.

There is a simple reason why the ACLU (and other organizations that want to remove every vestige of God from the public square) has been so successful. It knows most Americans are law-abiding, Constitution-respecting citizens who support adherence to the principles contained therein. What these anti-religion organizations are counting on is the ignorance of these people as regards the full statement of the so-called “Establishment Clause.”

Perhaps we should, for the sake of argument, take a brief look at portions of the “offending” document, the Constitution of the United States.

After the Preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America …”

The Founders immediately jump to the legislative (law-making) aspect of the governing document:

Article I:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” (emphasis added).

A major portion of our problem today is that left-leaning judges and courts are making laws, or wrongly interpreting laws, based on the practice of utilizing portions of the Constitution while ignoring others.

Please note, the lawmaking aspect of our form of government is granted to Congress, not local judges or courts. Let me reiterate: Lawmaking powers are the responsibility of the U.S. Congress – not left-leaning judges.

The ACLU and similar organizations are quick to leap on the Establishment Clause when attacking men like the football coach in Washington state or the baker who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual marriage.

Since most law-abiding citizens respect the Constitution and the rights of others, this tactic goes unchallenged. Could it be owing to the fact that most Americans (especially with liberals running the education process today) simply do not know the what and why of the Establishment Clause?

The “clause” utilized to challenge and prevent public prayer is taken from the First Amendment. Perhaps the entire amendment, taken in context, could shed some light on the subject. Let’s take a peek at what the Founding Fathers really said. (Please read it as it is written, not interpreted by liberal judges.)

“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.”

Please read the first clause (the source of the Establishment Clause) carefully. It says “Congress” (not judges or courts) “shall make no law …” establishing a state religion (ala Church of England). But look very carefully at this key short word in the Constitution, which is ignored by anti-freedom groups to stop free will prayer in public places: “or.”

The Founders were determined that there should be no state religion imposed upon them, but they were equally determined that no one could stop them from freely exercising their religious faith, ergo the word “or.”

Congress, therefore, could not impose on the free American people a law establishing religion“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, the government cannot force you to pray, but it can’t stop you if you freely choose to.

So who is ignorant? The people? The courts? Both? Maybe we should make the Constitution required reading for high-school students. But I’m sure the leftists would find a way to continue preventing that.

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