Judicial Tyranny and Religious Freedom Lost

by Al Fonzi
President, Lincoln Club of San Luis Obispo County

On June 6, 1944, (“D-Day”) the Allies launched the largest amphibious invasion in history, hurling 186,000 troops ashore at Normandy, France to breach the Atlantic Wall of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe.” So tenuous was the outcome that the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, drafted a statement on behalf of the Allies, apologizing for the military disaster and high casualties expected. President Franklin Roosevelt, announcing the invasion on national radio, called upon the American people to join him in prayer on behalf of the soldiers in great peril. People stopped their cars and knelt by the side of the road as they prayed for the success of the Normandy invasion to liberate Europe from the Nazi terror. It was a different country in 1944. We had been at war nearly three years; we were experiencing 1000 military deaths a week and people were rapidly tiring of a war that took ever more lives of America’s youth. It was especially a war for the young; 28-year-old colonels leading hundreds of bombers over Germany was more common than not. Overseas, civilian deaths had reached tens-of-millions although the extent of the Nazi and Japanese atrocities was not yet fully realized. People willingly reached out to the God of their Fathers and prayed for the lives of their sons and deliverance from the darkness that had swept the earth during the previous decade. Roosevelt’s call for national prayer on the morning of “D-Day” was the last time any president has called for the nation to join him in prayer for national deliverance.

Two years after our total victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, in the 1947 case of Everson vs the Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the first of a series of rulings that has steadfastly driven God and Faith from the public square. It was in this case that the court used the phrase “the First amendment has erected a wall of separation of Church and State..” Prior to this case, in the first 150 years of court rulings, the clause prohibiting an establishment of religion had only been cited twice by the Supreme Court. After this ruling, the federal courts cited the prohibition clause instead of the First Amendment in totality in over 4000 rulings. I say in totality because the First Amendment also prohibits the government from restricting the free exercise of religion, just as it prohibits restrictions on your speech or the press. By 1954, one justice commented that the courts were relying so heavily upon the concept of a “wall separating church and state” so often that people would begin to believe it is actually in the constitution. It isn’t. It was in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist congregation concerned that the new constitution might establish a state religion. He assured them it would not. Prior to the Revolution each colony had been founded by various denominations with restrictions and severe penalties on other faiths. The British government also prohibited the printing of Bibles in the colonies, allowing only the officially approved Bible of the Church of England to be imported.

So, where are we today? From neutrality towards religion by government we now have open hostility to any expression of religion in the public square. We all know about the policies schools have adopted eliminating references to Christmas; were that the only source of contention! Students have been told they can’t wear red or green; too suggestive of Christmas. Students have been prohibited from praying over their food at lunch, reprimanded for discussing religious topics among themselves, especially Jews and Christians, given failing grades for writing about their Judeo-Christian faith while students writing about non-mainstream faiths are permitted; school officials allow students to invite friends to meetings, except religious meetings, share literature with friends, unless it is religious in nature; give gifts to friends, unless it is a Bible or of a religious nature. There is a strong movement to prohibit ANY public display or discussion of religion in public places, essentially confining religious practices to the home and places of worship. That would include public expression of your faith anywhere that somebody might object. The more extreme adherents to this worldview consider religious belief to be a form of mental illness and would prohibit parents from passing religious beliefs to their children; those violating such restrictions would be charged with child abuse and subject to loss of custody of their children. Think it can’t happen here? You’re naïve. Under the Obama administration, military chaplains are officially prohibited from praying “in the name of Jesus” even to their own congregations and military commanders are ordered to actively support “Gay celebrations” regardless of personal conscience or face dismissal from the service.

These policies and rulings are an affront to religious freedom but not unexpected. If you passively surrender your rights, you will have only the rights the State permits.

 

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