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Separation of Church and State - In God We Trust - and the Rules of Constitutional Interpretation
Posted: 01 November 2007 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The issue for discussion in this thread is:

What are the rules and principles that should be used to construe the words of the Constitution, in general, and the First Amendment, in particular?

I will commence the discussion with this problem:

Is a law - made by the U. S. Congress requiring “In God We Trust” to be placed on the coins of the United States - prohibited by the First Amendment?

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Posted: 01 November 2007 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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FredFlash - 01 November 2007 01:53 PM

The issue for discussion in this thread is:

What are the rules and principles that should be used to construe the words of the Constitution, in general, and the First Amendment, in particular?

I will commence the discussion with this problem:

Is a law - made by the U. S. Congress requiring “In God We Trust” to be placed on the coins of the United States - prohibited by the First Amendment?

“In God We Trust” is obviously “religion.”  The law that established the duty of Americans to trust in God is obviously “an establishment of religion.”

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Posted: 02 November 2007 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes Fred.  It is bigoted and intolerant toward Americans who don’t trust a god that they don’t believe exists.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It is my understanding that every time this has been challenged in the courts, the ruling has been that “In God We Trust” is NOT religion, it is just a basically trite and meaningless phrase.  That’s the only reason it hasn’t been overturned.  But yes, if it considered religion, it should obviously run afoul of the establishment clause.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 02:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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FredFlash - 01 November 2007 01:53 PM

Is a law - made by the U. S. Congress requiring “In God We Trust” to be placed on the coins of the United States - prohibited by the First Amendment?

[quote author=“First Amendment”]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.

Congress passed an act in 1956 that made “In God We Trust” the national motto.  I don’t know how this could be argued as not a violation of the first amendment.  I assume it has something to do with the definition of a motto, not being an endorsement.  Personally I think “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one) should be the national motto.  It has a longer history and is perfectly secular.

Opposition to this motto is not just from atheists.  United States President Theodore Roosevelt argued against the requirement of the motto on coinage, not because of a lack of faith in God, but because he thought it sacrilegious to put the name of God on something as common as money.  A number of commandments forbidding the trivial use of God’s name can be found in the Bible: Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11, and Leviticus 19:12.

Some activists have been known to cross out the motto on paper money as a form of protest and in some cases replace it with phrases such as: “In Reason We Trust” “Keep Church and State Separate” or “Federal Endorsement of a Deity or Religion Violates the US Constitution”. 

Reproduction or alteration of currency with intent to defraud does violate federal statutes; but using the greenback as a bulletin board for social protest does not. Article 331, Title 18 of the U.S. Code prohibits defacement of currency only if it is performed with such deceptive intent, or the depicted face value of the currency is altered in a significant way.  Knowing this is still legal tender and not a crime, I may join in this protest.

[ Edited: 02 November 2007 02:50 AM by retrospy ]
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Posted: 02 November 2007 03:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 November 2007 12:51 AM

Yes Fred.  It is bigoted and intolerant toward Americans who don’t trust a god that they don’t believe exists.

My main objection is that it trespasses upon the prerogatives of Jehovah.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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advocatus - 02 November 2007 02:29 AM

It is my understanding that every time this has been challenged in the courts, the ruling has been that “In God We Trust” is NOT religion

Trust in God is clearly a duty owed to the Creator, according to the Bible.

John 14:1 - “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ...”

Romans 4:5 - “...the man who…trusts God…his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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retrospy - 02 November 2007 02:34 AM
FredFlash - 01 November 2007 01:53 PM

Is a law - made by the U. S. Congress requiring “In God We Trust” to be placed on the coins of the United States - prohibited by the First Amendment?

[quote author=“First Amendment”]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.

Congress passed an act in 1956 that made “In God We Trust” the national motto.  I don’t know how this could be argued as not a violation of the first amendment.  I assume it has something to do with the definition of a motto, not being an endorsement.  Personally I think “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one) should be the national motto.  It has a longer history and is perfectly secular.

Opposition to this motto is not just from atheists.  United States President Theodore Roosevelt argued against the requirement of the motto on coinage, not because of a lack of faith in God, but because he thought it sacrilegious to put the name of God on something as common as money.  A number of commandments forbidding the trivial use of God’s name can be found in the Bible: Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11, and Leviticus 19:12.

Some activists have been known to cross out the motto on paper money as a form of protest and in some cases replace it with phrases such as: “In Reason We Trust” “Keep Church and State Separate” or “Federal Endorsement of a Deity or Religion Violates the US Constitution”. 

Reproduction or alteration of currency with intent to defraud does violate federal statutes; but using the greenback as a bulletin board for social protest does not. Article 331, Title 18 of the U.S. Code prohibits defacement of currency only if it is performed with such deceptive intent, or the depicted face value of the currency is altered in a significant way.  Knowing this is still legal tender and not a crime, I may join in this protest.

Teddy Roosevelt actually removed “In God We Trust” from the money.  Believe it or not!  He was also a Baptist.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 November 2007 12:51 AM

Yes Fred.  It is bigoted and intolerant toward Americans who don’t trust a god that they don’t believe exists.

The issue is whether it violates the Constitution, and why.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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retrospy - 02 November 2007 02:34 AM

I don’t know how this could be argued as not a violation of the first amendment.

Why do you say that?

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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FredFlash - 02 November 2007 04:08 AM

Teddy Roosevelt ... was also a Baptist.

He was Dutch Reformed. See also HERE.

Just to set the record straight for anyone who actually cares.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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FredFlash - 02 November 2007 04:10 AM
erasmusinfinity - 02 November 2007 12:51 AM

Yes Fred.  It is bigoted and intolerant toward Americans who don’t trust a god that they don’t believe exists.

The issue is whether it violates the Constitution, and why.

Did slavery violate the constitution?  Bigotry is wrongful however you slice it.  You should be ashamed of yourself Freddy.

[quote author=“FredFlash”]John 14:1 - “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ...”

Romans 4:5 - “...the man who…trusts God…his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him

Quoting bible verse as evidence of jehovah to someone who doesn’t believe there is a jehovah makes about as much sense as quoting Twas The Night before Christmas to someone who doesn’t believe there is a Santa Claus.  You may as well be stating “it is so because I said so.”

[quote author=“FredFlash”]My main objection is that it trespasses upon the prerogatives of Jehovah.

Remember Freddy, you are talking to people, mostly, who don’t believe there is any sort of jehovah.

Frankly, I am sick of hearing the hate filled privilege to which you feel so entitled.  You have effectively convinced me, through this forum, that your cult is not only based on ridiculous and fantastical false beliefs but is also an utterly immoral.  Your views don’t sound all that different from Osama Bin Laden’s to me.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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dougsmith - 02 November 2007 04:35 AM
FredFlash - 02 November 2007 04:08 AM

Teddy Roosevelt ... was also a Baptist.

He was Dutch Reformed. See also HERE.

Just to set the record straight for anyone who actually cares.

Dude, the Dutch Reformed don’t believe in separation of Church and State.  Teddy did.  Connect the dots.  Substance over form.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Freddy’s Baptist cult is pictured here.

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Posted: 02 November 2007 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 November 2007 04:49 AM
FredFlash - 02 November 2007 04:10 AM
erasmusinfinity - 02 November 2007 12:51 AM

Yes Fred.  It is bigoted and intolerant toward Americans who don’t trust a god that they don’t believe exists.

The issue is whether it violates the Constitution, and why.

Did slavery violate the constitution? 

Nope.  The Constitution grants the government no power over slavery.

Bigotry is wrongful however you slice it. 

Again, the issue on the table is whether “In God We Trust” violated the Constitution, not whether it is bigotry.

You should be ashamed of yourself Freddy.

Huh?

[quote author=“FredFlash”]John 14:1 - “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ...”

Romans 4:5 - “...the man who…trusts God…his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him

Quoting bible verse as evidence of jehovah to someone who doesn’t believe there is a jehovah makes about as much sense as quoting Twas The Night before Christmas to someone who doesn’t believe there is a Santa Claus.  You may as well be stating “it is so because I said so.”

I didn’t quote those verses to prove the existence of Jehovah, dude.  I quoted them as evidence that the question - of whether we (who believe in the existence of a Creator) have a duty to trust in God - is a matter of religion.  Remember, dude, or be informed for the first time that, “religion” is “the duty we owe to our Creator.”

[quote author=“FredFlash”]My main objection is that it trespasses upon the prerogatives of Jehovah.

Remember Freddy, you are talking to people, mostly, who don’t believe there is any sort of jehovah.

I see.  So, I should conform my speech to your religious views?  I don’t think so, dude.

Frankly, I am sick of hearing the hate filled privilege to which you feel so entitled.

What is so hateful about the people’s privilege (as you put it; or as I would say, the inalienable “right” ) to no civil authority over their religion(s)? 

You have effectively convinced me, through this forum, that your cult is not only based on ridiculous and fantastical false beliefs but is also an utterly immoral.  Your views don’t sound all that different from Osama Bin Laden’s to me.

You and Osama are the ones demanding that others conform their words to your religious opinions, dude.  Not me!

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Posted: 02 November 2007 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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PaineMan - 02 November 2007 05:46 AM

Freddy’s Baptist cult is pictured here.

Those aren’t even Baptists, dude.  They’re Satan Worshipers, like George Bush and Patrick Henry.

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