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Alas, it is nothing new that slander, propaganda, and the ridicule of large swaths of the American body of people passes for “news” these days. Sometimes though, it just gets under the skin, you know, even if you are aware that it’s meant to get under your skin. The New York Daily News gives us one recent example in its attack on Christians, The U.S. Constitution, and North Carolina state legislators.

I’ll get to that, but first, some background.

Mar. 13, 2013: ACLU-NCLF files federal lawsuit (Lund, et al. v. Rowan County) seeking a judgment that the Rowan County Board of Commissioners practice of opening their meetings with Christian prayer violates the US and NC Constitutions, and therefore seeking to ban the practice.

Mar. 19, 2013: Rowan County Board of Commissioners votes unanimously to fight the lawsuit after a public meeting, which of course, opened with a prayer. Nearby Forsyth Co., NC lost a similar court battle that lasted 5 years and cost $280,000, culminating in a decision which prompted nearly two dozen NC communities to stop prayer in government meetings.

Apr. 01, 2013: General Assembly of North Carolina passes House Joint Resolution (H.J.R. 494), proclaiming (introducing) “The Rowan County, NC, Defense of Religion Act of 2013”. The NC General Assembly in this resolution, both generally and with respect to religion, is asserting state sovereignty, “declaring that the State of North Carolina does not recognize the authority of federal judicial opinions arising from the exertion of powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States”.

US Constitution, Amendment I:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

US Constitution, Amendment X:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

NC Constitution, Article I, § 13: Religious Liberty:

All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

NC Constitution, Article IX, § 1: Education Encouraged

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

…and then, from charlatans and propagandists at the New York Daily News we get this:

Headline: Let us pray! North Carolina lawmakers propose bill that challenges U.S. Constitution
The ‘Defense of Religion Act’ would allow prayer in public institutions, including schools. Opponents say it would overturn a long line of U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Let us Pray!”??? Does this not ring of condescension and ridicule? “Oh look, the stupid little rednecks want to pray.” Demeaning, snobbish, elitist, disgusting.

Challenges U.S. Constitution”??? This is a flat out LIE. The resolution honors the Constitution, and challenges the authority of the federal government where it dishonors the Constitution.

And don’t you just love it how people, when it suits them, hold up Supreme Court precedent as beyond reproach. The fact is that the Court has gotten it wrong before in their rulings, and will again, and nobody is above criticism or censure in our system.

Washington's bound copy of the Acts of the First Congress

Washington’s bound copy of the Acts of the First Congress

The Daily News article is adorned with an image of George Washington’s beautifully bound copy of the “Acts of the First Congress” encased in glass. Beneath the image reads the caption: “The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights proclaims a separation between church and state. The new bill would specifically allow the County Commission of Rowan County, about an hour north of Charlotte, to continue opening its meetings with Christian prayers.”

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights” implies theses are divided entities, which is misleading, and to what end I don’t know. But what follows is another blatant falsehood, the assertion that the Constitution “proclaims a separation between church and state”. Read the 1st Amendment above, and find that proclamation.

The United States Congress may not “establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.” was James Madison’s interpretation of this clause when discussed in the House of Representatives Aug. 15, 1789. In other words, the 1st Amendment is about protection from federal religious coercion.

Speaking of the U.S. House, it has opened its proceedings with prayer since the beginning, and still does to this day. To suddenly allege this practice is and always was unconstitutional is absolute drivel.

The story concludes with the following quotes:

From the ACLU: (the bill’s sponsors) “fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principle of the separation of powers that dates back to the founding of this country.”

From a “legal scholar”: “They basically want to ensure that a long line of U.S. Supreme Court rulings have no validity either here in Rowan County or here in the entire state. They’re basing it on — to put it mildly — discredited legal theory that the states can deny the power of the federal government within their jurisdiction.”

No Constitutional provision forbids prayer in public institutions, and any federal laws or rulings to that effect are invalid and unconstitutional inventions. States are among the separate powers that date back to founding of this country, so far back in fact that they predate and even created the powers of the federal government. And where states deny specific power to a federal government adrift of its Constitutional bounds, it’s not “legal theory”, it’s duty.

Finally, and since the NY Daily News saw fit to display with prominence President Washington’s book because hey, it looks cool and official and says “President” on it and people would never doubt a story with that picture, I leave with this:

George Washington, in his 1796 Farewell Address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Tell us again, you who seek to bastardize our principled founding and rip out the heart of our Christian heritage, how it is that your mythical separation of church and state ought to be considered as a valid “interpretation” of Constitutional protections of liberty; tell us again how there is no place amidst government for religion and morality; tell us again that hayseed states have no right to defend themselves against an overbearing, increasingly tyrannical and centralized federal government; tell us, so we at least know that dishonor has a name.

~tdv

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