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Source: (consider it) Thread: The (false) wall of separation between church and state
leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Has anyone ever used a different religious book or a book of no religious content?

A solicitor only had a dictionary to hand but told me That all the words in the Bible were in there somewhere.

[ 16. February 2017, 17:26: Message edited by: leo ]

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
We don't have to actually imagine it, just remember their reactions to the idea that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, was going to take his oath of office* with his hand on a Qur'an. There were a lot of folks on the American right who argued all that and worse. Ellison eventually used a Qur'an (in English translation) owned by Thomas Jefferson in (the staged re-creation of*) his oath of office.


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*Congressional representatives are actually sworn in en masse without having their hands on anything, but a staged recreation with scripture and other trappings for each individual Representative is done later for photo-op purposes.

Yes, I'd forgotten about that! Then there was the fumble at Obama's first inauguration on the phrase "faithfully execute," which prompted a do-over the next day just to forestall any objections that Obama wasn't properly sworn in. As a result, there was no further questioning of Obama's legitimacy for the next eight years.
[Two face]

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An omer is a tenth of an ephah. (Exodus 16:36)

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Gramps49
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The original text of the constitution only dictates the words by which the president is sworn in. It does not dictate the use of a Bible or even the phrase, "so help me God." Those were added by tradition. Washington started the tradition of using the Bible at his inauguration.

It is my understanding that John Quincy Adams used a book containing a copy of the constitution--not a holy book of any kind. In my mind, if anything should be used, it should only be the constitution.

The phrase, "so help me God," was probably used by Washington (we only have written accounts of the inauguration and some include the phrase, others do not). Up until FDR some presidents used it, others did not. After FDR all presidents have used it.

All federal oaths are basically patterned after the constitutional oath of the president. When I was sworn in as an officer in the United States Air Force, the officer who swore me in did use a Bible, but I cannot remember the "so help me God" phrase.

The phrase "so help me God" is not uniquely American. Other nations that allow it but not necessarily require it, are Australia, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, Poland, The Philippines, and the United Kingdom. Historically it was even used in medieval France but not now.

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Like virtually everything else, "the Founders" did not have a uniform opinion on this question. There were "accommodationists" like George Washington and John Adams who believed that the government should not take sides in religious controversies but that it could promote religion generally, provided it did not favor one sect over another. Then there were the "separationists" like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who thought even the vague, feel-good promotion of non-sectarian religiosity advocated by Washington and Adams was going too far. Jefferson notably drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which Madison pushed through to passage by the Virginia legislature and later used as a template for the religious portions of the First Amendment.


And as noted in the link you gave. he was proud of that Statute that he had it listed on his tombstone along with the Declaration of Independence. It was not an idle passing thought.
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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
We don't have to actually imagine it, just remember their reactions to the idea that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, was going to take his oath of office* with his hand on a Qur'an. There were a lot of folks on the American right who argued all that and worse. Ellison eventually used a Qur'an (in English translation) owned by Thomas Jefferson in (the staged re-creation of*) his oath of office. ...

That reaction is barmy. The whole point about swearing on something is that a person swears by what they are afraid of breaking, not what someone else thinks they ought to be bound by.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Jefferson notably drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which Madison pushed through to passage by the Virginia legislature and later used as a template for the religious portions of the First Amendment.

And as noted in the link you gave. he was proud of that Statute that he had it listed on his tombstone along with the Declaration of Independence. It was not an idle passing thought.
Those two things plus his role in founding the University of Virginia are the only accomplishments listed on his tombstone. If that grave marker was the only evidence future historians had of the life of Thomas Jefferson they'd never know he was once President of the United States.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Brenda Clough
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He drafted the tombstone's inscription himself, so we must assume that it is as Jefferson wished it to be.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Palimpsest
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My own interpretation of Constitutional History is that the reason non-establishment was important enough to be the first amendment, and one of the Bill of Rights that was considered essential is that pretty much all the colonists could look around and see other states with majorities of other religions. One would like to be able to move through Boston, Maryland or Connecticut without being subject to a state theocracy which was not of your religion.
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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
My own interpretation of Constitutional History is that the reason non-establishment was important enough to be the first amendment, and one of the Bill of Rights that was considered essential is that pretty much all the colonists could look around and see other states with majorities of other religions. One would like to be able to move through Boston, Maryland or Connecticut without being subject to a state theocracy which was not of your religion.

The European wars of the 16-17th centuries were also recent enough that they could see how well having a state religion worked out.

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An omer is a tenth of an ephah. (Exodus 16:36)

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
My own interpretation of Constitutional History is that the reason non-establishment was important enough to be the first amendment, and one of the Bill of Rights that was considered essential is that pretty much all the colonists could look around and see other states with majorities of other religions.

The European wars of the 16-17th centuries were also recent enough that they could see how well having a state religion worked out.
There's that, and the fact that a lot of the key Founders, as I mentioned previously, had some pretty heterodox religious beliefs. It seems plausible that the Constitutional provision against religious tests was put in because people like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson would fail any religious test likely to be adopted.

quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
One would like to be able to move through Boston, Maryland or Connecticut without being subject to a state theocracy which was not of your religion.

It should be noted that initially the First Amendment only applied to the federal government and that many of the individual states had official, established churches in the early days of the Republic. However, largely due to the influence of people like Jefferson and Madison, plus the notion that an official state church was a European-style political perversion like monarchy, most states disestablished their state religions within the first decade of the ratification of the Constitution. Massachusetts was the last holdout, not disestablishing themselves until 1834.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Has anyone ever used a different religious book or a book of no religious content?

A solicitor only had a dictionary to hand but told me That all the words in the Bible were in there somewhere.
I've heard oaths administered with various wordings, the least orthodox being:

"Q. Is it true?
A. Sort of."

English law specifically endorses the oath "with uplifted hand" or "Scottish" oath which does not require any sacred text. The form of words is "I swear by Almighty God [and as I shall answer to God at the [great and terrible] day of judgement] that...". The words in parentheses being optional.

There is also a (possibly apocryphal) story of a Magistrates Court using a first aid manual for the administration of oaths for years (the suggestion being that it had the cross of St John on the cover and was mistaken for a bible) before a curious witness opened it to read.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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