The Necessity of Secularism, pg 35-36

Jan 17, 2018

“The principal argument that has been advanced for the view that the First Amendment permits the government to deviate from is secular character and involve itself in religious matters, at least to the extent of supporting religion in general, is the so-called nonpreferentialist interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Pursuant to this interpretation, the government can support religion, even financially, as long as the government does no favor or prefer one religious denomination over others.

Although this interpretation of the Establishment Clause has had its adherents, including some justices on the Supreme Court, the non-preferentialist reading of the Establishment Clause has been rejected repeatedly by a majority of the Supreme Court, and with good reason. In interpreting the Constitution, as is true in interpreting any legal document, we should of course, focus on the final language of the document, but the evolution of that language can also be instructive. A review of the proposals that were considered in the House and Senate reveals that one of the specific proposals that was rejected was a draft amendment that limited itself to forbidding Congress from giving preference to one religion over others. In other words, the First Congress considered a nonpreferential version of the First Amendment but declined to adopt it. ”

-Ron Lindsay, The Necessity of Secularism, pg 35-36

One comment on “The Necessity of Secularism, pg 35-36”

  • The founders certainly recognized that religion was, at one time itself, government. Divorcing the two as a fundamental premise of Enlightenment principles, in nation that viewed itself as a refuge for the dispossessed, was a necessity to establish civic comity. The very idea that they would reject the establishment of a “Christian” state, in spite of the dominance of that sect at at large in colonial America, should make take note of the principle being established. Preferential treatment of any sect connotes some form of endorsement.

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