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November 7th, 2012
08:21 AM ET

Election results raise questions about Christian right's influence

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states.

On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.

“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said. “Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.”

Your Take: Should churches be polling places?

Some conservative evangelical leaders echoed that line. Albert Mohler, who heads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on Twitter that votes for same-sex marriage suggested that “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.”

A Tuesday ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state is still pending. In Minnesota, voters rejected a Tuesday measure that would have banned same-sex marriage there.

Thirty-eight states have banned same-sex marriage, mostly via constitutional amendments.

Obama’s victory also raised questions about the Christian right's influence in the electorate.

Though evangelical leaders as diverse as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and Christian icon Billy Graham voiced support for Mitt Romney (Graham stopped short of an official endorsement), Obama performed better among white evangelicals than he did in 2008 in some states.

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In swing state Ohio, exit polls showed that Obama got 30% support among white evangelicals. While that’s hardly a victory, it’s better than the 27% support Obama got among those voters four years ago.

Before the election, many evangelical leaders predicted that opposition to Obama over his support for abortion rights, his personal endorsement of same-sex marriage and his vision of government as a force for good would trump reservations evangelicals had about Romney’s past social liberalism and his Mormon faith.

“There is no evidence in voting patterns that President Obama's 'evolution' on same-sex marriage cost him anything,” Mohler said in another tweet Tuesday night.

Obama also narrowly won Catholics, even after the U.S. Catholic bishops waged a rigorous campaign against the Obama administration around the issue of religious liberty. The bishops alleged Obama was forcing Catholics to violate their own teachings by making health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage for virtually all employees.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s win among Catholics was partly a testament to the growing Latino demographic.

“Maybe Hispanic Catholics were not as moved by religious liberty-type arguments as by immigration and economics,” he said.

Unlike in 2004, when John Kerry a former altar boy lost Catholic voters, the Obama campaign had a robust religious outreach program aimed largely at Catholic and evangelical voters. The effort included videos from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, talking about their Christian faith.

Obama's success among some religious demographics also illustrated how economic issues, as opposed to culture war concerns, dominated the election cycle.

The defeat Tuesday of two Republican Senate candidates who made national headlines with anti-abortion remarks also raised questions about the Christian right’s power.

In Missouri, U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who in August walked back his remark that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

Akin’s campaign became a national cause for conservative Christian activists after the Republican Party abandoned the candidate and encouraged him to drop out over his abortion remark.

In Indiana, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock lost his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly after saying last month that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

Conservative Christians did claim some victories Tuesday night, including helping the GOP retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and helping elect tea party favorite Ted Cruz as a U.S. senator from Texas.

Ralph Reed, the leader of conservative group the Faith & Freedom Coalition, planned a Wednesday morning press conference to release his data about what he called the enduring influence of “values voters.”

“Preliminary evidence is they turned out and they voted heavily for Romney,” Reed said in an e-mail message Tuesday night.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (4,434 Responses)
  1. Linda

    If your parents killed you as an unborn baby, could you live until today? There are many bad people than good people. More evil people than before. People are going to hell because they want to kill all unborn children. If all men marry men, all women marry women, and unborn babies are killed, there are no more people on this earth, the earh will have only animals and satans.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Meatwad

      I was aborted but I turned out just fine ya'll.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I'm sure the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement will gain unsurpassed political influence now that Obama has been re-elected.
      May we live long and die out.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Linda,

      I urge you to seek professional help, your ramblings are non-sense.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • OOO

      Multiple choice:
      You
      1. Are over 85
      2. Live in the deep south
      3. Are a religious zealot
      4. Are home schooled
      5. Are all of the above

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Linda", but hell is a fictitous place, therefore Obama cannot "go" there.

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Peter Venkman

      Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • dan

      Yeah, me too. I was aborted like, 15 times. All good. Show me the data charts on evil people vs. good people, Linda. You seem to know a lot of stuff. You are a genius, I think.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Huebert

      "If your parents killed you as an unborn baby, could you live until today?"

      d'fvck did I just read?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      So now all men will marry men, and all women will marry women, and all the babies will be slaughtered. Darn, I should've voted for Romney!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Come on people.. We're giving loony Linda more attention than her nonsensical comments deserve

      November 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Linda", but satan is a mythological character.

      I see that you repeat these statements about mythological characters with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      November 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  2. Mark H

    If real Christians knew what Romney actually believed they would have run like hell.

    Google "ExposeRomney"

    November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • OOO

      All this talk about "real christians" What the hell is a real christian anyway?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  3. Kilgore

    I love the smell of Democrats in the morning. Smells like....victory.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  4. Michelle

    Keep religion in your heart, your home, your church...live it every day...but DO NOT force it upon other people or judge other people who don't believe like you do...then all will be well and balanced with the world.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Exactly Michelle. I agree 100%. Do not force it on your children. This is child abuse. The intentional indocrination of children with false-hoods in order to brain wash them is be definition mental abuse. Let them grow up with the cloud of lies and mythology affecting their critical thinking skill and reasoning. Once the brains are developed and heatlh, they can choose for themselves.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  5. Linda

    Obama should go to hell.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      As should you.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Huebert

      And they will know we are Christians by our love.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Christie Ley

      So much for being a kind, compassionate Christian. Not the teachings of Christ.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Why don't you burn him at the stake?

      Funny thing is Fox News would support you.

      Red neck Jeebus freak kills Kenyan Anti Christ!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Frodo should go to Mordor.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • OOO

      Romney lost. So run home and take your toy with you (spoiled brat?)

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • palintwit

      And you should go back to your trailer. Your brother is there and he's waiting to boink you.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Ben

      You realize what *** holes you and your ilk are going to look like in the history books, right?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Linda", but hell is a fictitious place, therefore Obama is unable to "go" there.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • dan

      Hell isn't real, by the way. You are a child, Linda.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • JohnW

      Huebert, holy crap, what a perfect response. Kudos.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. sean

    sane person and apple bush – you need to check your sources. You seemed to have missed the explanation part of the passages you are miss-representing.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Sane Person

      I know exactly what I'm talking about – an ancient fairy tale about an angry, jealous god who loves unnecessary bloodshed. A nonsensical story about a god who had to send himself to earth in human form to die for sins we haven't committed. None of it makes any sense.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • sean

      seriously that is all you got out of reading the Bible?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Sane Person

      What was I supposed to get out of it? "Love your enemies?" The very few GOOD lessons are by far overshadowed by the malevolent, evil, murderous nonsense that fills the entire Old Testament and most of the new.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • sean

      So you havent read the Bible. There are many lessons in the Bible that help some people guide their behavior. The most important being, be nice to each other. Other messages would be, work hard and you will succeed, help yourself and others whenever possible, do not judge those who disagree with you, life is worth living you just have to choose to live it.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sane Person

      There are also parts that say slavery, murder, child-killing, burning your daughter alive, stoning your son to death – are all okay. Sort of ruins the "love your neighbour" bits for me.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  7. mama k

    James Madison – 4th POTUS, and chief architect of the U.S. Constitution:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785, delivered to the Virginia General Assembly)

    I believe the eight Virginia-born presidents and their wives would be satisfied with the outcome of this election.
    I also believe the new coat of blue paint that covered Virginia when the President was first elected will last a long time.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Chad

      The entire quote below, showing exactly how you have completely changed Madison's original meaning by cherry picking the quote.
      You can thank me for correcting your error later.. You are as bad as Barton :-)

      ========
      Contextomy: …James Madison…leaned toward deism…. He spoke of the "almost fifteen centuries" during which Christianity had been on trial: "What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superst ition, bigotry, and persecution."
      Source: Brooke Allen, "Our Godless Const itution", The Nation, 2/3/2005

      Exposition: This quote is used as evidence that Madison, a "founding father" of the United States and one of the authors of its const itution, was not a Christian, but was critical of that religion.

      Context:: …[E]xperience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superst ition, bigotry and persecution.
      Source: James Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious As sessments", 6/20/1785

      Exposure: The contextomy leaves out the crucial part of the sentence which shows that Madison was not arguing against Christianity per se, but against its legal establishment, or the establishment of any religion. Moreover, given that he was writing in 1785, the Christian religion had been "on trial" for almost eighteen, as opposed to fifteen, centuries. Madison was presumably dating the legal establishment of Christianity to the reign of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, in the early fourth century, that is, "almost fifteen centuries" earlier. Madison's words were taken from a lengthy argument against a specific bill in Virginia's legislature which would have levied a tax in order to financially support the teaching of Christianity, and he argued against such a tax on the grounds that past legal support of Christianity had led to its corruption.

      Example: Kenneth J. Kahn, "Letters: Founding Fathers?", The New York Times Magazine, 2/28/2010. A recent sighting of the contextomy, obviously taken from the Nation article.

      Source: Ann Althouse, "The Nation, not helping the argument for separating Church and State", Althouse, 2/4/2005.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/contexts.html

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • mama k

      Chad, you seem to not notice that I argue for separation of church and state as a specific issue independently from most other things. And with regard to my leaving anything out, it doesn't really matter, because it is obvious from all of Madison's and Jefferson's writings on the issue that they were both fierce promoters of separation. In fact, they were the leading edge, so to speak, on the issue. Go ahead and use the whole thing – it doesn't diminish the fact that they were furious over the fighting amongst Christian sects that were going on in their home state. Deadly fighting in several states, actually. So regardless of their religious leanings, they had an immediate need to implement the 1st Amendment with its Establishment Clause. My point has always been that religious sects got in the way of the establishment of a fair, representative government up until we had the 1st Amendment.

      So you can argue circles until your hearts content, dear, but everything boils down to the law that they left us with above all others – and it's a secular law.

      For us, it's not about their individual religion. True Madison was Anglican and even helped establish the Episcopal church in America. He was more Deist later in life, but I don't think he ever divorced his Christianity. That's not the point they left for us. The point is that these key founders, because of the Christian in-fighting they witnessed, knew it would be better for the government to be as secular as possible.

      I would say if you see other things these men might have said about their faith that's of value to you, that's fine – but it's about their faith – not about what they left for America as a whole in the Constitution and its Amendments – the tone there is obvious and reflects their desire to have a secular government.

      During his presidency, James Madison vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom**.

      (** Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

      November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Chad

      1. Thanks for acknowledging you cherry picked the quote, and that the quote as you presented it dramatically misrepresented Madisons intent. "And with regard to my leaving anything out, it doesn't really matter
      2. "Separation of Church and State" is not in the consti tution, that's just a fact. I know you hate it, but there it is, it's a fact.
      3. The framers intent with respect to the first amendment was twofold (no national religion, free exercise of religion), and had nothing whatsoever to do with the recent atheistic attempts to preclude a mention of God from all public discourse.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad,

      that passage was *not* cherry picked. It is a key part of Madison's argument against the state being embroiled with religious matters. It is clear that Madison believed in the doctrine of separation and the whole point of the remonstrance supports an argument based on separation.

      Quoting from:

      http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/madison_m&r_1785.html

      "Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance was written in opposition to a bill, introduced into the General Assembly of Virginia, to levy a general assessment for the support of teachers of religions. The assessment bill was tabled, and in its place the legislature enacted Jefferson's Bill for Religious Liberty."

      In case you have forgotten the Bill for Religious Liberty, here it is:

      "Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

      While technically constrained to Virginia it is as good a definition of the concept of the doctrine of separation as anything. Jefferson was very proud of this.

      ---------------

      You might also like to note that Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 8* (2012), which, in a manner of speaking is similar to the Virginia bill that Madison opposed, FAILED yesterday – 56% – 44%. Another victory for the doctrine of separation.

      * The measure moves to repeal the state's ban of public dollars for religious funding, also known as the "Blaine Amendment."

      November 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Chad

      @GOPer "that pa ssage was *not* cherry picked.."

      =>LOL
      dont know what planet you live on, but here on earth this is the definition:

      Cherry picking , suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. It is a kind of fallacy of selective attention, the most common example of which is the confirmation bias. Cherry picking may be committed unintentionally

      Here is the cherry picked verse: During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superst ition, bigotry and persecution.

      Here is the complete verse: [E]xperience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superst ition, bigotry and persecution

      The cherry picking leaves out the crucial part of the sentence which shows that Madison was not arguing against Christianity per se, but against its legal establishment, or the establishment of any religion

      better luck next time!

      November 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • mama k

      And finally, Chad – you wrote:

      "3. The framers intent with respect to the first amendment was twofold (no national religion, free exercise of religion), and had nothing whatsoever to do with the recent atheistic attempts to preclude a mention of God from all public discourse."

      Chad – this part of that: "The framers intent with respect to the first amendment was twofold (no national religion, free exercise of religion), " That is the separation of church and state. I think it's easy to agree on the "free exercise" part. But you cannot have "no national religion" if you have a specific type of religion involved in the day to day activities of the government or the day to day activities of government-sponsored programs or things like prayer in public school. Not only do I think like that, but he Supreme Court obvsiouly has felt that way for the past several decades. (There was even some other ruling before 1962 and 1963. Again – look at what Madison felt about retaining chaplains – same thing.)

      So you're wrong about the 1st Amendment, Chad. And you jump too big a step going from that all the way to the use of the word God. Because, as we know, God is many things to many people over the millennia. I personally don't have a problem with references to God, although I can understand why others might have a problem. But when you bring Christianity into the mix and want to put Christian prayer back in public schools? Good luck with that – because that is, even if you don't like the term, an issue of separation of church and state, plain and clear.

      Some might even argue that, even if the framer's intent was to not preclude reference to God, that their wisdom and priority was to create a Constitution that would protect future generations from infringement on their personal and religious rights, and making it flexible enough to adapt to changes in demographics.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • mama k

      Chad – even with the full text that you supplied – the evidence is clear that Madison was furious over the Christian fighting. If you've read my many posts, you know that the issue of separation of church and state is my core message. I will, in the future include the additional text.

      It was Madison's wish to have religion removed as much as possible from government affairs – everything points to this. He didn't even like the idea of chaplains being utilized in the house nor senate. (See my last post.)

      It is obvious from their many writings on the matter that these key founders wanted a little religious involvement in government. They wrote about it – Jefferson has several places where he does reference the separation of church and state. Their feelings about it couldn't be any clearer. Whether or not it is titled as such in the 1st Amendment or not is of no matter. Their intent is clear, their words in the the key documents are clear and address it, and the rulings that have come since reflect it. The 1962 and 1963 rulings both reflect it. I find the 1963 ruling more important because it is not invoving a reference to God, but involves Christian prayer in schools where we now have ~21% non-Christian classes in our pub>blic schools.

      As I've said before Chad – if they didn't devise a Constitution with a strict separation, the often deadly fighting that was occurring then may not have settled down and a weakened fledgling country might have been reclaimed by the Brits. Then we would never have had the mix of religions that are allowed to flourish today. So it's pretty obvious, Chad, that it is to everyone's benefit that we have a strong, secular government.

      (This post actually goes above the other one – it got held up by the word filter.)

      November 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k "But you cannot have "no national religion" if you have a specific type of religion involved in the day to day activities of the government or the day to day activities of government-sponsored programs or things like prayer in public school"
      @Chad "utter nonsense. National religion means exactly what it says, an official state religion. Your attempt to twist it to mean "no mention of God" was never the framers intent, as clearly demonstrated by their public behavior, legislation and and official docu ments, "

      ====
      @mama k "The Supreme Court obvsiouly has felt that way for the past several decades"
      @Chad "I agree, this nonsense twisting of the framers intent is a development of the very recent past."

      =====
      @mama k "So you're wrong about the 1st Amendment, Chad. "
      @chad "ah.. no.. see above. Your revisionism fails..."

      November 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Wow, talk about completely fucking retarded. Not having a religion involved in political decisions means not legislating religious doctrine. I have no idea how often this has been pointed out to you, or whether you just pretend like you don't see it, or if you completely fucking delude yourself into thinking it's never been brought up.

      Do you just enjoy being as pathetically useless as possible here Chad? It seems like you're here exclusively to make the sam refuted points over and over, like it will somehow magically make you right.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      Mostly out of curiosity, but, if Madison's only intention in the Establishment Clause was to not have a "nation religion", then why did he have a problem with the Virginia bill that was being proposed?

      November 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • mama k

      And actually, Chad, until you brought it up, I've never said anything about referencing the word God in public discourse. In fact, when I talk about the 1962, 1963 rulings, in recent posts, I only reference the 1963 ruling, because that is the one regarding Bible readings. So you keep jumping from the framer's intent to that issue of reference of God when I've never even said that. My focus has always been on the separation as related to, as HG stated, legislating religious doctrine and explaining why this became necessary. And it's not my fault that James Madison even came to feel that retaining chaplains for the house and senate was wrong. You can't blame that on me. The protections are there because if you give a religious nutcase and inch he'll take a mile. The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Chad

      @ME II "Mostly out of curiosity, but, if Madison's only intention in the Establishment Clause was to not have a "nation religion", then why did he have a problem with the Virginia bill that was being proposed?"

      @Chad "Madison's words were taken from a lengthy argument against a specific bill in Virginia's legislature which would have levied a tax in order to financially support the teaching of Christianity, and he argued against such a tax on the grounds that past legal support of Christianity had led to its corruption"

      November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Chad

      IOW, keep government out of religion.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k ".. The protections are there because if you give a religious nutcase and inch he'll take a mile. . The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities."

      @Chad "it always takes time, but we eventually get to the REAL reason behind the revisionist nonsense, which is as TTTOO says "converting the government to be properly atheistic"

      Just drop the revisionist subterfuge and be honest.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And in typical dishonest Chad fashion, he does not address anything said, and merely continues with assertions that have nothing to do with the issue. Thank you for showing all of us, once again, that you are a dishonest fucktard Chad. Thank you for showing us that you really don't care about anything except attacking non-issues and avoiding points.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      So, was he saying that a bill assessing money in support of religion was, in fact, an encroachment into religion?

      And, money not being the only method of support available to a government, would it not be fair to say that any support, or perhaps any endorsement, of religion by government would be an encroachment into religion?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • mama k

      And Chad – notice how Madison uses the word persecution – that has nothing to do with taxes. As I've said many times before there was terrible persecution going on in Virginia and other states, often deadly – amongst Christian sects. Madison was furious about this -especially toward his own church, because evidently they were seen as more the aggressors. There's no way to sugar-coat why he and Jefferson felt so strongly about wanting a clear separation. There were others that knew it was needed as well. I think you would have seen much more of an argument from other key founders if they really thought this separation wasn't needed.

      I really don't think you understand how important it was to most of the key founders that the government be secular.

      Here is something from John Adams, POTUS #2:

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      [..]

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      (A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

      November 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Chad

      @ME II "So, was he saying that a bill assessing money in support of religion was, in fact, an encroachment into religion?"
      @Chad "keep government out of religion, that was his argument"

      ===
      @ME II "And, money not being the only method of support available to a government, would it not be fair to say that any support, or perhaps any endorsement, of religion by government would be an encroachment into religion?"
      @Chad "No establishment of a preferred religion, no establishment of a national religion.

      That does NOT however, as shown above, mean that government officials are to be prohibited from referring to God, and asking His guidance and blessing in their official duties.
      That distinction is clearly evident in their official doc uments, their legislation, and their speeches.

      So, no, you dont get to somehow make a claim that government needs to be atheistic to "prevent encroachment".

      November 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k "There's no way to sugar-coat why he and Jefferson felt so strongly about wanting a clear separation"

      @Chad "back to the subterfuge eh? :-)

      1. Atheist "Jefferson/Madison wanted a separation"
      2. Theist "agreed, they wanted to keep the government out of religion"
      3. Atheist "oh no.. that's not what separation means!! separation means to convert the government to be properly atheistic!"
      4. Theist "??? obviously that can not be the intent of the framers, look at their writings, their legislation"
      5. Atheist "who cares what the framers intended!! it's our consti tution, we get to make it whatever we want! You people that worship the God of Israel are retarded!!! I mean, wait, strike that.. what I meant to say was go to step 1.",

      November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      But, if government support is encroachment into religion, where do you draw the line? How do you distinguish between say, "asking His guidance," and endorsing a religion?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • mama k

      Before I respond to this, I would any readers of this to start from the beginning to see the circles Chad has gone with this.

      Now, Chad, you wrote:

      --Chad:
      1. Atheist "Jefferson/Madison wanted a separation"
      2. Theist "agreed, they wanted to keep the government out of religion"
      3. Atheist "oh no.. that's not what separation means!! separation means to convert the government to be properly atheistic!"
      4. Theist "??? obviously that can not be the intent of the framers, look at their writings, their legislation"
      5. Atheist "who cares what the framers intended!! it's our consti tution, we get to make it whatever we want! You people that worship the God of Israel are retarded!!! I mean, wait, strike that.. what I meant to say was go to step 1.",
      --end of Chad's last post

      mama k:

      forget #5, Chad – you're just being silly. But let's look at the others:

      #1 & #2: You're only painting part of the picture -the Establishment Clause, Chad – did you forget that already.
      #3: No one here said anything about the founders wanting an atheist government, Chad – they wanted it to be as secular as possible to satisfy the Establishment Clause. So here you're starting to be silly.

      #4 – their writing do tell us many things on many levels. We do know that these were by and large, all Christian men who were greatly affected by many things – some things are very evident:

      -The fighting amongst Christian sects (say it a few times to yourself, Chad until it sinks in). It infuriated the key founders.
      -Deism. The key founders were heavily affected by it. Even G Washington's doctor claimed that George died a Deist.

      I don't doubt at all that most of them insisted on praying to God for guidance and using his name without even thinking about any repercussion in public discourse. That's not the issue, Chad. What most affects us today is what they wrote in our key doc uments – and what they wrote that shows what led them to need those doc uments.

      Secular, Chad, not atheistic. I'll say it again, because you must have missed it. Thankfully, they realized that you cannot enforce the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment without preventing a particular religion – even Christianity – from legislating, and getting its hands into the affairs of government. Again, referencing God as a tradition is one thing, but paying for chaplains for the senate is another -as I said, a practice that Madison was against. Referencing God as a tradition is one thing, but dictating in a school district that 21% of the children in a class have to twiddle their thumbs while the Christians get Bible readings is another – the Supreme Court went against that and that is the law still today.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k: “forget #5, Chad – you're just being silly. But let's look at the others:”
      @Chad “really? Well, we have your example of exactly what that looks like don’t we :-)
      @mama k “. The protections are there because if you give a religious nutcase and inch he'll take a mile. . The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities."

      =========
      @mama k “No one here said anything about the founders wanting an atheist government, Chad – they wanted it to be as secular as possible to satisfy the Establishment Clause. “
      @Chad “Utter nonsense. As demonstrated above, the first amendment was in place to prevent establishment of a state religion and to guarantee freedom of religion. It says absolutely nothing about keeping the God of Israel out of public discourse. As their speeches and legislation demonstrates.

      And that’s the end of it. Pretty simple. We don’t have to really speculate on what they wanted, we know.

      The prayed to the God of Israel, the believed in a personal God Who intervenes in history, they sought His guidance and asked for His blessings. They enacted legislation observing and acknowledging Him. Your attempts at revisionism fail utterly, your attempts to create the fantasy that our founding fathers somehow wanted to create a government where the very activities they engaged in would be unconsti tutional is utterly ridiculous.

      You are of course free to lobby the government, or encourage legislation from the bench to create your atheistic government, however the one thing you can not do is re-write history :-)

      November 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look at all the pretty smiley faces Chard is posting! That is always an indication that Chard is feeling threatened. And rightly so. Mama k has the Vegetable stewing in his own juices.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • mama k

      And again, Chad, you are not correctly representing some of the things I wrote, thus missing the main points.

      – from Chad's last post ---–
      @mama k “No one here said anything about the founders wanting an atheist government, Chad – they wanted it to be as secular as possible to satisfy the Establishment Clause. “
      @Chad “Utter nonsense. As demonstrated above, the first amendment was in place to prevent establishment of a state religion and to guarantee freedom of religion. It says absolutely nothing about keeping the God of Israel out of public discourse. As their speeches and legislation demonstrates.
      -----------

      Again, NO ONE is arguing with you about keeping the mention of God out of public discourse. NO ONE mentioned God and public discourse but you, Chad.
      I already said that – did you miss it, Chad? Let me paste it again for you – I wrote:
      "I don't doubt at all that most of them insisted on praying to God for guidance and using his name without even thinking about any repercussion in public discourse. That's not the issue, Chad."

      Now, it is not nonsense that the key framers wanted as secular a government as possible. Again, we are not talking atheistic, and we are not talking about using God's name in speeches. We are talking about operating or legislating with any preference to a specific religion. And they realized the easiest way to do this was to operate and legislate as much as possible without the involvement of any specific religion. We do know this because of what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote. Maybe you missed the reference I gave regarding Madison's view on house and senate chaplains. He had that view, so that's what he wanted – he didn't want the chaplains retained. That's a lot of insight into the man who was the key crafter. The man who was really fed up with the religious fighting in his home state.

      Here's something new to support Madison's view about government:

      Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.

      (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      So you can go in circles with the ceremonial prayer to God stuff, but show me something from Jefferson or Madison that supports the idea that they were fine with expressed Christianity-specific tenets being involved as part of the legislative process of the federal government. Show me something from Jefferson or Madison that shows that were were A-OK with expression of Christian-specific tenets being a normal part of the day-to-day operation of the government. I don't believe such a thing exists, Chad, because these men were on the warpath to establish a government that was as secular as possible. It became Madison's goal long before he was even in a position to do anything about it. Why? Go back the the part that I asked you to repeat to yourself if you didn't get it.

      So no, Chad – you keep leaving out what is important. Fortunately for us, the Supreme Court ruled just fine to support this thing you keep ignoring – the Establishment Clause.

      Next, from your last post:

      --– more from Chad's last post ------
      The prayed to the God of Israel, the believed in a personal God Who intervenes in history, they sought His guidance and asked for His blessings. They enacted legislation observing and acknowledging Him. Your attempts at revisionism fail utterly, your attempts to create the fantasy that our founding fathers somehow wanted to create a government where the very activities they engaged in would be unconsti tutional is utterly ridiculous. And that’s the end of it. Pretty simple. We don’t have to really speculate on what they wanted, we know.
      ----------------

      Again, Chad, because you missed the point, the first part of what you just said there is not important. No one is contesting that ceremonial prayer was performed, etc. You're the only one that brought that up, Chad. And I assure you revisionism is what you are guilty of, because you keep ignoring the important aspects of history- both what these men wrote with regard to separation and the obvious: what it would take to keep one particular religion, over others, from affecting legislation. And you are really reaching for straws on the last sentence, Chad. It in no way reflects what I stated above. The key framers simply had a vision for government to be as secular as possible. That didn't change who they were or the religious lives they otherwise led. So I've shown what they wanted and it's not what you thought it was.

      Lastly,

      --– more from Chad's last post ------
      You are of course free to lobby the government, or encourage legislation from the bench to create your atheistic government, however the one thing you can not do is re-write history
      ----------------

      I have no need to change the good laws that are already on the books, Chad, lol. All American should want to protect the current laws – they are there to benefit everyone. And I remind you that, in terms of the government, it is secular in nature, not atheistic. You are the one trying to ignore part of history, Chad.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Chad is a perfect little believer, very good at ignoring things such as not having a shred of evidence for his gods or his beliefs.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Chad

      @mama k ".. The protections are there because if you give a religious nutcase and inch he'll take a mile. . The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities."

      @Mama k, “it is not nonsense that the key framers wanted as secular a government as possible. Again, we are not talking atheistic, and we are not talking about using God's name in speeches. We are talking about operating or legislating with any preference to a specific religion”

      @Chad “back to the subterfuge eh?
      The point that you continue to willfully ignore is that Madison’s concerns were NOT (as you erroneously attempt to impute) to keep any acknowledgement of, or appeal to, the God of Israel in their official capacity. Rather it was to prevent establishment of an official religion and ensure religious liberty: Madison's most famous statement on behalf of religious liberty was his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious A ssessments, which he wrote to oppose a bill that would have authorized tax support for Christian ministers in the state of Virginia.

      =======
      @Mama k, “And they realized the easiest way to do this was to operate and legislate as much as possible without the involvement of any specific religion”
      @Chad “here is where your subterfuge comes in, the purpose was to ensure religious liberty, not create a government that did not acknowledgement, or appeal to, the God of Israel in their official capacity”

      =======
      Here is the complete reasoning behind not wanting chaplains; again, the purpose was to prevent an establishment of a national religion (that’s why you cherry pick it to make it seem Madison wanted a “secular government” as you have defined it )

      Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Const itution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In the strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Const itution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Consti tuent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?
      The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Consti tutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain! To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the veil at once and exhibit in its nak ed deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.
      If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily as sociated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Const ituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Consti tuents, do so at their own expense. How small a contribution from each member of Cong wd suffice for the purpose! How just wd it be in its principle! How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Const itution; and the divine right of conscience! Why should the expence of a religious worship be allowed for the Legislature, be paid by the public, more than that for the Ex. or Judiciary branch of the Gov. (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).

      I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespa ss on the private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me; and it was not with my approbation that the deviation from it took place in Congress, when they appointed chaplains, to be paid from the National Treasury. It would have been a much better proof to their consti tuents of their pious feeling if the members had contributed for the purpose a pittance from their own pockets. As the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done may be to apply to the Const itution the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat [i.e., the law does not care about such trifles].
      There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive proclamations of fasts and festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of INJUNCTION, or have lost sight of the equality of ALL religious sects in the eye of the Consti tution. Whilst I was honored with the executive trust, I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere DESIGNATIONS of a day on which all who thought proper might UNITE in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms. In this sense, I presume, you reserve to the Government a right to APPOINT particular days for religious worship. I know not what may be the way of thinking on this subject in Louisiana. I should suppose the Catholic portion of the people, at least, as a small and even unpopular sect in the U. States would rally as they did in Virginia when religious liberty was a Legislative topic to its broadest principle (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      ========
      @mama k “but show me something from Jefferson or Madison that supports the idea that they were fine with expressed Christianity-specific tenets being involved as part of the legislative process of the federal government”
      @Chad “my pleasure !

      Whilst I was honored with the executive trust, I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere DESIGNATIONS of a day on which all who thought proper might UNITE in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms. In this sense, I presume, you reserve to the Government a right to APPOINT particular days for religious worship. I know not what may be the way of thinking on this subject in Louisiana. I should suppose the Catholic portion of the people, at least, as a small and even unpopular sect in the U. States would rally as they did in Virginia when religious liberty was a Legislative topic to its broadest principle (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      In summary, your repeated attempts to misconstrue Madison's desire to ensure religious liberty and prevent establishment of a national religion as creating a government where no appeal to or acknowledgement of the God of Israel in official roles and in legislation or other official docs utterly fails, as demonstrated.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Douglas

      mama k, arguing with Chad is like trying to argue with a brick, they're to dense to "get it." Just ignore the troll.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      @mama k, ".. The protections are there because if you give a religious nutcase and inch he'll take a mile. . The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities."

      Just to clarify, I think, @mama k was referring to religious nutcases not all religious believers.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Chad

      "Just to clarify, I think, @mama k was referring to religious nutcases not all religious believers."

      I would just LOVE to hear mama k define the difference between the two :-)

      November 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      And we'd all love for you to actually discuss something honestly. But we all know that's not going to happen. Honesty isn't even part of your thought process is it Chad?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      Perhaps you can clarify something.

      Is not your quote saying specifically that "the appointment of Chaplains to ...Congress" is inconsistent with the Consti.tution because it woud be "[some]thing something like an establishment of a national religion"?

      And yet, it is not expressly establishing a national religion, but is inconsistent.

      Additionally, how does "... religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms. " equate to "Christianity-specific tenets"?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Chad

      Madison's explanation: "The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Consti tuent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?

      November 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      So what do you think would made Chaplains acceptable to Madison?
      Not paying them?
      Not providing a "a religious worship for the Consti tuent"?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • mama k

      My goodness, Chad – you dance around an issue worse than Mitt Romney.

      Chad now says: "The point that you continue to willfully ignore is that Madison’s concerns were NOT (as you erroneously attempt to impute) to keep any acknowledgement of, or appeal to, the God of Israel in their official capacity".

      No Chad, again you miss the point. Again, no one said anything about his view on ceremonial prayer or mention of God. You are the only one who brought that up, Chad, so you are arguing with yourself. I have spoken to what I believe is evident of Madison's intent for the operation of the government. Legislating with injection from a specific religious standpoint. It's a NO NO in Madison's view, Jefferson's view and what they wrote into the Const itution.

      I don't even have to copy what you used from the Edward Livingston letter. It seems that it actually supports the point I was trying to make. (I would urge others to read the entire letter.) And again you bring up the practices of ceremonial prayer and reference to God, something that no one argued with you on, Chad, so to me it is just an obviously attempt to deflect the points addressed to you.

      Now you just said: Chad: "the purpose was to prevent an establishment of a national religion (that’s why you cherry pick it to make it seem Madison wanted a “secular government” as you have defined it )"

      Well I'm at least glad that you are seeing that Madison had an agenda to ensure that a national religion was established. What you don't seem to get, Chad, is that it is obvious from his writings, and Jefferson's, that the only way they could see accomplishing that was to keep the government as secular as possible. His wonderings in letters like this support that notion, so I would urge anyone to read the whole thing. But Chad, I notice you didn't highlight this part:

      The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Consti tutional principles

      and there are several other places that support what I said was his view and his intent.

      And what about the following in JM's letter, Chad?

      Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      How can you not see this as anything but his opinion that the government should operate in as secular a manner as possible?

      I see you chose to ignore that from my previous post.

      And then, when I asked you for something that showed "expressed Christianity-specific tenets being involved as part of the legislative process", you cited another part of the letter where he speaks about Proclamations – not legislation, and it actually sounds like he is a little apologetic. But regardless, again you are talking about something ceremonial where no one argued with you on that – you are not speaking to legislation. So you do nothing Chad but circle around and old argument that was not one in the first place. And you continue to ignore what Madison's intent was for the most important aspects of its duties.

      One more thing, Chad. On the issue of Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious A ssessments – you do have correct the general subject for which that address was written. But, as with any opinion or address, the writing is clear when someone is making a case for anything, you can hear what's bugging them in the words. If all Madison was upset over was strictly a financial issue, I'm pretty sure he would not have been using words like persecution and bigotry, especially not against his own religious organization, if something wasn't really bothering him. So again, you love to ignore this part, but Christian sects were feuding in many of the states. And like I said – we start to see the tone from him early on in his life – that led him to be wary any one group trying to gain control. If he was not worried about anything but his Christianity, why wouldn't he just let the Episcopals take over and be the head of a theocratic government? There is a reason, Chad – this is why I keep going back to what he witnessed in Virginia and how it bothered him. And that's why I keep bringing up the Remonstrance because we can hear it in his words there. And it should be no surprise that we see not much argument, but rather support from Madison's fellow Virginians on the matter, because they all knew about the feuding that was going on as well: Washington, Mason, Monroe & Jefferson. Mason, who had opposed Madison on some other issues particular to Virginia, opposed Patrick Henry's 1785 Bill for the Support of the Teachers of the Christian Religion and encourage Madison to author the Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious A ssessments.

      So no, Chad, your attempts to drive the issue in a circle are ridiculous. Madison's intent for the primary duties of the government are clear. They could worship their God and they could try to keep religion out of the government as much as possible to avoid improperly legislating in a manner that favored one type over the other. Add a dash of Deism and you have some minds that, lucky for us, were up to the task.

      Let me repeat this one Madison quote for you again, Chad – so you can ignore it twice as you did once already:

      Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • mama k

      In the fifth from the last paragraph of my last post, at the end of the last sentence, I am talking about the government, so more clearly:

      And you continue to ignore what Madison's intent was for the most important aspects of the government's duties.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Chad

      :-)

      @mamak: the fundamental thing you just arent getting (or, perhaps are, but are attempting to re-write history on), is that everything Madison did was geared to only one of two goals:
      1. didnt want government interfering with religion
      2. didnt want to establish a national religion (appointing Chaplains, Letter to Edward Livingston, see below how your cherry picking fails utterly)

      It is simply hilarious that you continue to try and cherry pick quotes LOL
      Keep em coming, I love the opportunity :-)

      @Mama K "And what about the following in JM's letter, Chad? "
      ah yes, your quote mining project.. :-)

      Your cherry picked quote "Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      the complete quote showing his concern was to prevent establishment of a religion
      note the part you cut out completely clarifies his intent.. :-)

      Notwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, and the full establishment of it in some parts of our country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Government and Religion neither can be duly supported. Such, indeed, is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded against. And in a Government of opinion like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together. It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion. The example of Holland proved that a toleration of sects dissenting from the established sect was safe, and even useful. The example of the colonies, now States, which rejected religious establishments altogether, proved that all sects might be safely and even advantageously put on a footing of equal and entire freedom; and a continuance of their example since the Declaration of Independence has shown that its success in Colonies was not to be ascribed to their connection with the parent country. if a further confirmation of the truth could be wanted, it is to be found in the examples furnished by the States which had abolished their religious establishments. I cannot speak particularly of any of the cases excepting that of Virginia, where it is impossible to deny that religion prevails with more zeal and a more exemplary priesthood than it ever did when established and patronized by public authority. We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      November 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • mama k

      Gosh, Chad, I thought you were smarter than this. You do realize what you highlighted – yes – does support his concern for protection against national establishment of a particular religion – nothing new there since we already discussed that. But the part that I quoted – which is part of the same letter clearly shows his thinking on how to best accomplish that – again Chad, since you seem to be dense about this – to use his words:

      and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.

      What part of that is it that you don't understand, Chad? What you highlighted doesn't contradict that – it just speaks generally about the issue of establishment. But in this quote, we hear his thinking on "getting there". Keep trying to ignore the important points, Chad.

      Same old tactics, Chad – dodge and revisit non-issues.

      I would urge others to also read what I wrote in my last post regarding the Remonstrance and what it indicated by way of Madison's words.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Chad

      Instead of your revisionist imputations, I guess I'll go with what Madison himself said about how best to go about ensuring that no national religion was established, and freedom of exercise was provided.

      I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere DESIGNATIONS of a day on which all who thought proper might UNITE in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms. In this sense, I presume, you reserve to the Government a right to APPOINT particular days for religious worship. I know not what may be the way of thinking on this subject in Louisiana. I should suppose the Catholic portion of the people, at least, as a small and even unpopular sect in the U. States would rally as they did in Virginia when religious liberty was a Legislative topic to its broadest principle (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      November 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • mama k

      Revisionist imputations, Chad? Really? Well, I think readers can read that entire letter by Madison and tell from my last quote from it is quite evident that his opinion that religion should be distanced as much as possible from the primary duties of the government. You can continue to dance around that issue by repeating yourself about issues of ceremonial prayer, worship, speeches, etc., but when it comes down to legislative involvement, his intent is clear.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k "but when it comes down to legislative involvement, his intent is clear."

      @Chad "I completely agree!

      found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere DESIGNATIONS of a day on which all who thought proper might UNITE in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms. In this sense, I presume, you reserve to the Government a right to APPOINT particular days for religious worship. I know not what may be the way of thinking on this subject in Louisiana. I should suppose the Catholic portion of the people, at least, as a small and even unpopular sect in the U. States would rally as they did in Virginia when religious liberty was a Legislative topic to its broadest principle (James Madison in Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

      November 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      While I'm sure you will disagree, it does seem evident that Madison was promoting a strict separation of church and state. He obviously did not agree with the Congressional Chaplains, especially not publicly funded ones.

      ...it was not with my approbation, that the deviation from it took place in Congress, when they appointed Chaplains, to be paid from the National Treasury.

      And to a lesser extent, it seems evident that he disagreed with his predecessors' "Proclamations". Admittedly, his disagreement seems to have been in the lack of equality in the proclamations, not necessarily in the proclamations themselves. This is indicated in the sentence preceding your recent quote:

      There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution.

      So, as your quote indicates, while finding it "necessary" on occasion to make proclamations, he made sure to treat all religions equally, i.e. not giving favor to the "God of Israel". This is in line, I think, with most SCOTUS decisions, in that the government is not allowed to endorse any one religion over others, but can actually support all religions (and lack of religion), as long as none are favored above others.

      I think also that he indicates a certain grudging acceptance of some "deviation from the strict principle" of separation already in practice at the time of his Presidency, but as a fait accompli more than in agreement, and rather than fighting such deviations he decided to not mess with such 'triffles'.

      As the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done maybe to apply to the constitution the maxim of the law, de minimis non curant.

      Additionally, I noticed that your objection became oddly specific: "no appeal to or acknowledgement of the God of Israel in official roles and in legislation or other official docs"
      I'm curious as to what statements you are thinking of when you say this? Do you have an example of something that you think should be allowed that stricter separationists would not?

      November 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Chad

      @ME II “While I'm sure you will disagree, it does seem evident that Madison was promoting a strict separation of church and state”
      @Chad “the disagreement is in the definition of “separation of church and state”. Can you define what you mean by that phrase?

      =========
      @ME II “He obviously did not agree with the Congressional Chaplains, especially not publicly funded ones.”
      @Chad “ah, but WHY did he disagree? That’s the question.”

      ========
      @ME II “So, as your quote indicates, while finding it "necessary" on occasion to make proclamations, he made sure to treat all religions equally, i.e. not giving favor to the "God of Israel".
      @Chad “Your problem begins right there with your “i.e” (your extrapolation).. attempting to impute to Madison a concern he did not have. He wanted to treat all religions the same, that DOES NOT mean that no mention of God, no appeal to God, no national observance of God would be tolerated (as is very clear from his writings).

      ========
      @ME II “I'm curious as to what statements you are thinking of when you say this? Do you have an example of something that you think should be allowed that stricter separationists would not?”
      @Chad “here ya go. Bet you never realized James Madison said anything like this :-)
      Think it would fly today??? No.. why? Because the intent of establishing the first amendment by our founding fathers has been per verted.

      THANKSGIVING DAY 1814
      BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

      The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of public humiliation and fasting and of prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace, I have deemed it proper by this proclamation to recommend that Thursday, the 12th of January next, be set apart as a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious as semblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance and amendment. They will be invited by the same solemn occasion to call to mind the distinguished favors conferred on the American people in the general health which has been enjoyed, in the abundant fruits of the season, in the progress of the arts instrumental to their comfort, their prosperity, and their security, and in the victories which have so powerfully contributed to the defense and protection of our country, a devout thankfulness for all which ought to be mingled with their supplications to the Beneficent Parent of the Human Race that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses against Him; to support and animate them in the discharge of their respective duties; to continue to them the precious advantages flowing from political inst itutions so ausp icious to their safety against dangers from abroad, to their tranquillity at home, and to their liberties, civil and religious; and that He would in a special manner preside over the nation in its public councils and const ituted authorities, giving wisdom to its measures and success to its arms in maintaining its rights and in overcoming all hostile designs and attempts against it; and, finally, that by inspiring the enemy with dispositions favorable to a just and reasonable peace its blessings may be speedily and happily restores.

      Given at the city of Washington, the 16th day of November, 1814, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-eighth.
      JAMES MADISON

      November 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "He wanted to treat all religions the same, that DOES NOT mean that no mention of God, no appeal to God, no national observance of God would be tolerated (as is very clear from his writings)."

      Perhaps my 'problem' does begin here... how exactly does one treat all religions equally and at the same time mention only one, or a small set, of them?

      As for the Proclamation, I had not read that particular one before, so, thank you for the quote.

      However, I would suggest that, as Madison said, he "found it neccessary", apparently by Joint Resolution and precedence, to make such proclamations he tried to make them "indiscriminate," "recommendatory", and "mere designations of a day." In other words, I think, he was attempting a compromise between a Congressional Resolution that he make the proclamation and what he might have preferred, "that Govts ought not to interpose in relation to those subject to their authority but in cases where that can do it with effect."

      Or, "It was thought not proper to refuse a compliance altogether; but a form & language were employed, which were
      meant to deaden as much as possible any claim of political right to enjoin relig ious observances
      by resting these
      expressly on the voluntary compliance of individuals, and even by limiting the recommendation to such as wished
      simultaneous as well as voluntary performance of a religious act on the occasion."

      (http://www.au.org/files/images/page_photos/james-madison-on.pdf)

      I would suggest that he was somewhat successful in being more generic, at least compared to Washington's.
      "Many private letters reproached the Proclamations issued by J.M. for using general terms, used in that of Presit W—n; and some of them for not inserting particulars according with the faith of certain Xn sects."

      As for a definition of "separation of church and state", I think the Lemon Test is a good start. Because in addition to other reasons, I agree with Madison's point above that governments shouldn't interpose in subjects over which they have no authority nor power. That, it seems to me, would be the religious person's view even more so than the non-religious person's.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • ME II

      try that quote again:

      "It was thought not proper to refuse a compliance altogether; but a form & language were employed, which were meant to deaden as much as possible any claim of political right to enjoin relig ious observances by resting these expressly on the voluntary compliance of individuals, and even by limiting the recommendation to such as wished simultaneous as well as voluntary performance of a religious act on the occasion."

      November 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • mama k

      I still would like you to address this quote from the Livingston letter, Chad:

      Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      This clearly shows Madison's view on how the Establishment Clause would be best enforced.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Chad

      @hawaii, if you want to change the const itution, there is a way, it's called an amendment.

      What you are talking about (considering the intent of the founders irrelevant instead "properly applying" it what ever way you want), would be against the law for a member of the judiciary to do.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • mama k

      I'm not sure if Chad's last post was really meant for here or for page 48, where he is having a very similar discussion. In any even, ME II, I would check out how that discussion has "progressed" as well.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama k "I still would like you to address this quote from the Livingston letter, Chad:

      Notwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, and the full establishment of it in some parts of our country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Government and Religion neither can be duly supported. Such, indeed, is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded against. And in a Government of opinion like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together. It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion.

      This clearly shows Madison's view on how the Establishment Clause would be best enforced.

      @Chad "I completely agree, it clearly shows the purpose of the clause was to prevent the establishment of a state religion, and the way to accomplish that was not to avoid an alliance or coalition between Government and Religion.

      apologies for providing more of the text of his letter and by so doing demonstrate exactly what Madison meant. I know how you dearly love to distort by cherry picking...

      November 10, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • mama k

      So Chad – as I said I am fine with the entire letter. Now what part of what you clipped there last does not culminate into his statement:

      "and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.?

      How does that not represent the crux of the matter for future generations?

      November 10, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "...the way to accomplish that was not to avoid an 'alliance or coalition between Government and Religion.'"

      Just to clarify, the "not" above was a typo, correct? Because Madison seems to be referring to such an "alliance" as "the old error" and avoiding them was exactly what he was proposing.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Chad

      @mama k "and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.?
      How does that not represent the crux of the matter for future generations?"

      @Chad "A. What is the "matter" that Madison was referring to?
      B. What was his remedy

      You are failing to understand both questions, seeking instead to levy your own "matter" and your own remedy. That is the entire problem, and that is why you like to cherry pick, because in so doing, it is easier for you to get away from Madison's answer for both questions. Like @HawaiiGuest you seem remarkably unconcerned with understanding the original intent.

      The "matter" that Madison was referring to: It is clear from the entire letter, that Madison's concern was with the creation of an official state religion through an alliance or coalition between Government and Religion. The intermingling of ecclesiastic authorities in the workings of the Government. For example, having the Archbishop as an unelected member of the house/senate.

      The reason your cherry picking stops where it does, is because of the statement that immediately follows it, namely "It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion

      His one and only concern being expressed is that a state religion not be established.

      His remedy: is for government to stay out of religion (in this particular case, not levying a tax to support religious instruction).

      His remedy is NOT: to enforce a rule that government officials in their official capacity must exclude acknowledgement of and requests for guidance from the God of Israel.
      His remedy does NOT mean that it would be forbidden to establish voluntary days of prayer and fasting to the God of Israel according to your Christian denomination.
      His remedy does NOT mean that the God of Israel can not be mentioned in legislation nor acknowledged as sovereign.
      His remedy does NOT mean that he embraced your view that "@mama k: The only way you can enforce the absence of a state religion is to keep the all of them out of the damn government and government-sponsored activities.

      end of story.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Chad

      @ME II, yes.. typo

      November 10, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "[Madison's] one and only concern being expressed is that a state religion not be established."

      I would disagree. I think his primary concern was religious liberty and how to best achieve that given the framework of the federal government. One critical element to achieving that liberty is the need to avoid a state religion, true, but that is not the only concern. Even religious liberty has limits.

      "I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace."

      His remedy, or best approach anyway, was "that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." You restrict this to only meaning the forbidding of a state religion, but he says specifically, "the less they are mixed together," the better (assuming of course that "greater purity" is better). And avoiding references to God, etc. from the government is less mixed, is it not?

      November 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ME II

      Do I think that Madison's intent was to ban all mention of God? Not in an absolute sense, no. However, I do think his intent was to limit the mention/acknowledgement/etc. of God/religion by government as much as possible, i.e "the less they are mixed". He did not find it possible to eliminate proclamations, but we may have that ability now and I think it would be in line with his intent for us to do so.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • mama k

      Exactly, ME II, and thank you for getting to the bottom of Madison's intent. I don't think the man who used the word "bigotry" toward his own church was at all anxious to involve religion in the primary duties of the new government, outside of these ceremonial traditions that Chad keeps mentioning. Also be sure to see page 48, where the discussion is very similar on church and state with the added "bonus" of Chad trying to defend traditional marriage.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Chad

      @ME II "Do I think that Madison's intent was to ban all mention of God? Not in an absolute sense, no. However, I do think his intent was to limit the mention/acknowledgement/etc. of God/religion by government as much as possible, i.e "the less they are mixed". He did not find it possible to eliminate proclamations, but we may have that ability now and I think it would be in line with his intent for us to do so."

      @Chad "demonstrably nonsense:
      A. He did not attempt to limit his own public appeals to the God of Israel (reference his thanksgiving proclamation as an example)
      B. That hypothesis requires that Madison was essentially coerced into writing what he wrote referencing the God of Israel, engaging in rhetoric that he neither believed in, nor felt was the proper consti tutional behavior by an elected official.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,

      "He did not attempt to limit his own public appeals to the God of Israel (reference his thanksgiving proclamation as an example)"

      Of course he did. And he said so himself:
      "But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms.…"

      He didn't elminate them, but he did limit himself.

      "That hypothesis requires that Madison was essentially coerced into writing what he wrote referencing the God of Israel, engaging in rhetoric that he neither believed in, nor felt was the proper consti tutional behavior by an elected official."

      You are exaggerating. He felt pressure to acquies to Congresses Resolution, yes. Is that coercion? No more so than anyone performing duties they are not thrilled with.

      Did he give a proclamation that he felt it was better not to give, yes. Is that rhetoric? In a sense of 'only rhetoric', no, because I think he believed what he wrote. In a sense of rhetoric as oratory and speech making, certainly, that was part of his job.

      "There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Consti[]tution. Whilst I was honored with the Executive Trust I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors."

      November 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • ME II

      Should be... "acquiesce"

      November 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • mama k

      @ME II "Do I think that Madison's intent was to ban all mention of God? Not in an absolute sense, no. However, I do think his intent was to limit the mention/acknowledgement/etc. of God/religion by government as much as possible, i.e "the less they are mixed". He did not find it possible to eliminate proclamations, but we may have that ability now and I think it would be in line with his intent for us to do so."

      @Chad "demonstrably nonsense:
      A. He did not attempt to limit his own public appeals to the God of Israel (reference his thanksgiving proclamation as an example)
      B. That hypothesis requires that Madison was essentially coerced into writing what he wrote referencing the God of Israel, engaging in rhetoric that he neither believed in, nor felt was the proper consti tutional behavior by an elected official.

      (mama k [new])

      And again in A, Chad only affirms a point that ME II was not arguing.

      And again in B, Chad ignores all the signs that Madison's writings do in fact hint that he thought religious involvement should be distanced from government as much as possible, outside of his traditional ceremonial involvements. It seems like you would have trouble chewing gum and walking at the same time, Chad, but thankfully for us, Madison's mind was obviously capable of much more than that.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      p.s.
      Do I think that Madison considered his Proclamation unconst.itutional? No.
      Do I think that Madison would have considered it better to not give Proclamations involving religion? Yes, absolutely.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Endless debate.

      My older brother was on debate teams in school and college and was very good in that he usually ended up on the winning side He would formulate arguements on both sides of the proposition and would use me as a foil for his ideas. I would argue one side then we would switch around and argue the other. I would challenge the CHAD, to cut, paste and post the opposite side of the James Madison debate that he has conjured up (that has nothing to do with the topic of the article). If there is no one to say whose arguement wins the day there is little point to the excercise, the Chad's ego will never let him admit he has lost or is wrong.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad "He did not attempt to limit his own public appeals to the God of Israel (reference his thanksgiving proclamation as an example)"

      @ME II Of course he did. And he said so himself: "But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms.…" He didn't elminate them, but he did limit himself.

      @chad “No, he did not limit his appeal to or acknowledgement of when in an official capacity, what he did was not make it an mandatory observance, which would have been a move to creating an state religion.

      ========
      @Chad "That hypothesis requires that Madison was essentially coerced into writing what he wrote referencing the God of Israel, engaging in rhetoric that he neither believed in, nor felt was the proper consti tutional behavior by an elected official."
      @ME II “You are exaggerating. He felt pressure to acquiesce to Congresses Resolution, yes. Is that coercion? No more so than anyone performing duties they are not thrilled with.”
      @Chad “nonsense again, the acknowledgment and appeal to God in that proclamation is consistent with his personal writings.”

      ========
      @ME II “Did he give a proclamation that he felt it was better not to give, yes”
      @Chad “oh brother.. proof? Let me guess, you just know it, right?
      LOL

      This picture you are trying to construct is utter nonsense. There is simply too much out there to rewrite history to the extent you are trying to.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "This picture you are trying to construct is utter nonsense."
      I and others have posted examples of Madison's own writings that indicate his thoughts that "the less [church and state] are mixed together" the better, that it was a "deviation" from the principle of separation to pay for Chaplains in Congress as well as in Executive Proclamations when "they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution," and that he had some reservations about his own Proclamations and was "careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate."

      If you think all this "utter nonsense" then further discussion will be of little use.

      Peace.

      November 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Chad

      Well, it's a tough argument to make.. using cherry picked portions to try and establish that someone didnt really think what they wrote, and would have preferred to do something different.

      Especially when that someone was one of the founders, people that literally put their lives on the line to form the new nation and were hardly susceptible to doing something that he thought was better not to do..

      November 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Can't even surrender your own ego to admit you were wrong, can you, you pompous bag of wind?

      November 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And yes, Chard, you have been completely and utterly trounced on this issue. Too bad you are so prideful you can't even admit it when you are wrong. No grace, no humility. Typical fundie.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Really-O?

      RE: Chad's, "Well, it's a tough argument to make..."

      Babel, plain and simple. Take away the copy & paste and Chad is nearly mute.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • mama k

      Here, Madison actually mentions a separation of church and state:

      It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Govt could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, & that the Xn religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

      (from Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819)

      Of course Chad will accuse me of "cherry-picking". The letter is long and I urge that any that have the time read the entire letter. There is much in it unrelated to religion. So if Chad wants to post the letter, I'll let him prepare for the word filter.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  8. yossi

    Why is this even discussed? I thought the main point of religion in the U.S was to NOT get mingled in between politics at all, what "Christians" or "jews" or "muslims " think should have NO INFLUENCE on legislation .

    November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Michelle

      Surely you have been watching TV the last 6 months. The religious right has made it an issue and we are trying to un-make it an issue.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  9. No God but Jehovah

    May God have mercy on this nation. We have given ourselves over to Satan's puppet. May God forgive us all!

    November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Ben

      Get that trash out of my country, mor0n

      November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Mercifull AND imaginary!

      Ny, what amazing powers your Jeebus has!

      Maybe he can become an Avenger!!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • OOO

      Oh stop it, please.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      Ever wonder how the hyperreligious can even use a computer? What do they think is going on in there, tiny Jesus's shoving around microscopic angels? God help them if they get the Blue Screen; they'll think it's the Second Coming.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Daniel

      This comment is just ridiculous....shut your mouth and read your book of fairy tales...err..i mean Bible

      November 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Christie Ley

      You need to get your head out of the bible and get some education.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • dan

      I was in a thrash metal band in high school called Satan's Puppet. We weren't very good. I'm tone deaf (I played bass) and the singer was kind of a dick. Anyway, Linda, Hail Satan is what I wanted to say.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • dan

      No God but Jehovah, you forgot about Zeus, L. Ron Hubbard, and Jimmy Page - who's technically just a guitar god. JZ is also a god, but that's just straight up mic skills.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • headlessthompsongunner

      You couldn't have provided any greater example of why Romney just lost the election.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      No God but Jehovah

      May Santa have mercy on this nation. We have given ourselves over to Satan's puppet. May Santa forgive us all!
      .
      You guys are getting crazier and crazier

      November 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Jim

    There is supposed to be a separation of church and state. If the churches want to influence politics, let them pay taxes, too.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  11. palintwit

    Conservatives love the baby jesus but they love to boink their cousins even more.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  12. JesusIsTheWay

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Athy

      So? Your point, if any?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cool, send his Palestinian rear end off to Afghanistan.

      The Muslims got an IED with his name on it

      November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      John.4:20 bloweth thy smoke back up your own butt hole. God is a joke.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Sane Person

      For god so loved the world that he threatened to eternally torture anyone who doesn't worship him.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Christie Ley

      Please stop the preaching. People will find their own way, whatever that way is and don't need to have religion shoved down their throats.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So your all powerful god had to sacrifice himself, to himself in order to create a loophole in a rule he created.

      That doesn't make any sense at all.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      Is this they same god who's supposed to show up one of these days and murder us all? Some tough love there.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      JesusIsTheWay

      John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only testicle, that whosoever believeth in testicle should not perish, but have everlasting testicles.
      .
      Interesting

      November 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      John 3:16 somehow doesn't speak of a loving individual and it proves nothing to a non-believer. Your jesus character really didn't die if it came back to life after 3 days. Do you know of any other case like this having occurred at any other point in history? So, if not, what makes your jesus character so special? What evidence outside of using your buybull do you have that any of what that verse pertains to happened?

      November 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      God takes the children of so many of us for no apparent reason and with no promise of resurrection. So let's make it
      "For God felt obliged to give his only begotten son, then welshed on the deal."

      November 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  13. JB

    This just proves that the Christian Right may have the volume and the anger, but they don't have the numbers. Not in states that matter. The young people coming to power see them for the hypocrites they are, and go the other way. In another election cycle or two, the evangelicals won't be worth the effort for the GOP to pander to any more. They will look as pathetic as the last of the hard-line segregationalists did.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  14. matken

    I wonder if people with odd ideas about women (and other issues) are attracted to religion and the Republican Party or does religion and the Republican Party give people odd ideas .Either way, I personally would like to thank Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their assistance in getting President Obama re-elected. Your contribution was greatly appreciated.

    Speaking of strange ideas from "the right," I understand just days before the U.S. presidential election, evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, suggested that "this could be America's last call" before the return of Christ, and has asked voters to pray for guidance. I wouldn't be surprised if comments like this one also helped to get President Obama re-elected.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. mark

    Religious voters are dumb. The absolute LAST thing the GOP ever wants to do is outlaw abortion, because then they would all stay home thereafter. One issue voters go away after their one issue is resolved.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Michelle

      Here in Oklahoma...it was their main objective for the last two years. I have marched, written emails, called, protested...they tried to get the final bill through the legislature "Personhood" but we became aware and stopped it from being heard. So, yes, they are trying to outlaw abortion all over the country.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Christie Ley

    The Christian Right tried to steer this country in a direction that met their wants and needs. They have now been shown that there are other more important and pressing issues that this country must deal with. Priorities have been set straight, so let us move forward to create a strong economy, a healthy society, and well educated youth. Let us build a strong and sturdy foundation for future generations.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  17. krussell

    The Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John don't even agree on the timing of the resurection. How are they supposed to agree on one candidate?

    November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  18. JesusIsTheWay

    Jesus Loves you :)

    November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Jesus is imaginary

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Andy

      They should put those smiley faces at the ends of verses in the Bibles. Just to remind the followers to not be so glum. Of course it wouldn't make the fiction any more true.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus loves the little children

      And the priests do too!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • dan

      Jesus used to love me, but now he just wants to be friends. We were gay together for a bit back in college.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  19. What!!?

    "Christian right's influence"...................Please don't call them Christian!

    November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  20. rey

    Its not so much the bible as the population that uses it to justify their intrusion into other peoples lives. They believe they have the right to deny others the rights that they themselves cling towith a clenched fist. I'm sorry for them.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.