It's that time of year again, next week we celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. It's a busy time of year for everyone, especially for organizations like the ACLU, which seem to have made it their mission to ensure that everyone has a happy and PC winter season. Each year, as the Christmas season commences, there is a flurry of lawsuits and squabbles over our constitutional right to the "free exercise" of religion. This year has been no exception:
Last week the citizens of Berkley, MI voted against a charter amendment that would have allowed for the display of a nativity scene on city property. The hotly-debated and highly publicized battle began last year when the American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit. The ACLU claimed that putting the nativity on city land (where it had been for 20 years) was a violation of the First Amendment, so the display was moved to a local church.
In Chattanooga, TN the live nativity scene that has traditionally been a part of the annual "Grand Illumination" celebration will be relocated to private property. The nativity was moved after several people complained.
Controversy is brewing in Olean, NY over a nativity scene on city land. According to press reports, a committee will decide whether religious displays should be allowed on public property.
Last year government officials at the state capitol in Olympia, WA denied a request to put up a nativity scene on public property because, according to the Associated Press
, "state lawyers said there wasn't enough time to determine whether it would constitute government endorsement of a religion." The request was rejected despite the presence of a menorah and a "holiday" tree. A federal lawsuit was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group, challenging the decision. The lawsuit was recently settled and the nativity display will be allowed provided the state "doesn't promote one religion over another."
How It All Started
Over the course of the last forty years there has been a radical shift in the role of the American judicial system, as a result of which our religious freedoms are being stripped away. Those who were appointed to interpret the law and secure justice for the American people have abused their power in order to manipulate public policy. That shift in principle directly hangs on one phrase: separation of church and state. A concept blatantly invented by the United States Supreme Court in order to justify their personal political and social agendas. This concept has eroded the foundation laid by the founding fathers of this nation, a foundation built on the existence an almighty and loving Creator.
First it is important to point out that the words "separation of church and state" are not found anywhere in the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or even the Declaration of Independence. That phrase comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The "wall of separation between church and state" that Jefferson referred to in his letter was clearly meant to protect religious freedom and prevent government from attempting to take away our God-given unalienable rights.
So how did the phrase "separation of church and state" become a part of our vocabulary? On June 25, 1962 in Engel v. Vitale the US Supreme Court used the "separation of church and state" argument as its basis for banning prayer in public schools. Their decision marked the turning point in the interpretation of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The amendment was intended to prevent a repeat of the Church of England. But in 1962 the US Supreme Court ignored 170 years of history, legal precedent, and the clear intent of First Amendment, by interpreting that amendment to prohibit religious activities in public settings. The 1962 ruling was the first case in Supreme Court history that did not cite any previous precedents or legal cases in making its decision.
To learn more about the origins of Thanksgiving, our nation's unique religious heritage, and the challenges we now face, check out the briefing pack titled Thanksgiving: America's Challenge
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