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Sep 14, 2005

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Roger L. Cauvin

A few other interesting tidbits:

1. Congress passed a law in 1954 inserting the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The First Amendment begins, "Congress shall make no law...."

2. James Madison was the primary framer of the First Amendment, and he clearly believed it had broad application. In fact, as president, he vetoed two bills on grounds that they violated the Establishment Clause.

3. Madison believed that the appointment of publicly-funded congressional chaplains was a violation of the First Amdendment.

4. In framing the First Amendment, Madison consulted with Thomas Jefferson, who once wrote, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god."

Christopher St. John

Although it's fiction, and not particularly accurate, the Neal Stephenson "Baroque Cycle" series gives a bit of the flavor of the insane mix of religion and politics that existed in England during the lead-up to the American Revolution. (Religion, and religious persecution, were a tool of political control. Yeah, I know, not exactly new to the 1700's, but the situation was obviously on the minds of the architects of the Revolution)

Although the point is often made that religion is bad for politics, the founding fathers were obviously aware that the other direction is as much a threat to liberty: politics has a very bad influence of religion. Perhaps this direction of argument would be useful in convincing the "this is a Christian country" crowd that perhaps the separation clause wasn't such a bad idea. It's all fun and games till a Jehovah's Witness gets his teeth kicked in for being the wrong sort of Christian...

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