The Constitution’s First Amendment

Dear MRFF,

You are either uninformed about the meaning of the First Amendment’s reference to religion or you are intentionally misquoting it.

What the Founders wrote was a prohibitation of the federal government establishing an official religious national denomination such
as Great Britain has with it’s Church of England. There never was any intention of a total separation of church and state. In fact, the
states are free to establish an official state religious denomination, which some did early in the history of the nation and is still in
their state constitutions.

You need only walk around in our nation’s capitol city and look at the numerous examples of Christian heritage intertwined in our
national heritage. For decades, church services were held every week in the Capitol Building.

This is a Christian nation, Founded on Christian Biblical Principles.

Most sincerely,
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

I am a Christian (Episcopalian in fact) who fully supports Mikey’s and MRFF’s attempt to protect members of the U.S. Military from unconstitutional religious influence in relation to their training, assignment, advancement and retention.

The framers of the United States Constitution made a reasoned, logical, clear and concise decision to form a completely secular democratic republic (i.e. absolutely not a Christian Nation) through the individual and combined application of the following constitutional provisions:
…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Article VI, Section 3)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…(Amendment 1)

Although I agree with the importance of my Christian faith in the history and heritage of my country, I will not allow my Christian faith to cloud my agreement with our Founding Fathers that ALL RELIGIONS should and will have no particular importance in our secular democratic republic. It is due to the actual language that exists within the Constitution and intent shown by RELEVANT historical documents, rather than selective quotes and trivia, that I will continue to work to defend man’s law (U.S. Constitution) developed through a democratic process of equals over holy law (Sharia/Biblical/Judaic/etc.) interpreted by un-elected clerics every damn day of the week.

My belief in Christ and his teachings (i.e. faith) is not so feeble as to make me feel the need to prop up my Christian faith and heritage with government approved crutches. To do so as a patriotic American would be weak willed and would come at the expense of my duty to protect and defend my Constitution and the secular democratic republic it established.

Your chosen interpretation of the Constitution and its intent is simply wrong.

“The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
~Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787

“The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
~James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

The vast majority of the Founders believed strongly in separation of church and state.

Now, if you would like to make our secular democratic republic a “Christian Nation”, I recommend you summon the courage to engage in an open and honest attempt; which has been tried before:
-Christian Amendment Movement (1864)
-National Reform Association (successor to Christian Amendment Movement)
-Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders (1954)
-and many other lesser attempts with even less success.
MRFF will work to ensure that you find no greater success than your predecessors.

I defend both my Christian faith and my Constitution proudly and equally. I don’t feel the need to defend one at the expense of the other.

Equally sincerely,
Andy Kasehagen

Dear (name withheld),

My name is Rick Baker. I am an MRFF Volunteer, former Air Force Officer and rescue pilot having served two consecutive combat tours in Vietnam. I say this only to let you know that I am quite familiar with the US Constitution and therefore it’s relationship with the government and religion’s place in it.

As you know the constitution contains no references to God or Jesus or any official reference to a state religion. Without such reference, one may not assume that America was founded on Christian principles. Rather, America was founded as “a secular nation in which all religions may flourish but none dominate.”

In 1797 President Adams signed the treaty of Tripoli to assure it’s government that America would not attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Article 11 of that treaty reads:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in “Lemon Vs. Kurzman” that government, including Public Education and the Armed Forces, may not promote, encourage, recommend or proselytize one religion over another or religion over non-religion. Many such rulings have become case law which is added to our constitution and become a part thereof.
To see these case law additions relating to religion, just google US Supreme Court rulings on the “Separation of Church and State.”

The apparent religious articles found on various buildings in our Capitol are of historical nature and not intended to promote religion.

As for the religious errors made by some of our leaders such as church services held in the Capitol Building, it must be remembered that many of those in power over the years have attempted to insert their religious beliefs into government function. Thus far they have all failed and religion remains a personal activity in the home and church.

Rick Baker
Capt. USAF (Ret)
MRFF Volunteer

Dear (name withheld),

Mikey has read your email and asked me to respond to you.

It seems that you are the one that is “either uninformed about the meaning of the First Amendment’s reference to religion or you are intentionally misquoting it.”

Yes, there were state established religions by the early states, but that was done away with by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Some states may still have it in their constitutions but they are null and void by the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2) of our Constitution.

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

And even recent decisions by the Supreme Court acknowledge this.

As the Supreme Court stated in Altria Group v. Good, 555 U.S. 70 (2008), a federal law that conflicts with a state law will trump, or “preempt”, that state law.

Consistent with that command, we have long recognized that state laws that conflict with federal law are “without effect.” Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U. S. 725, 746 (1981)

As far as church services being held in the Capitol, we have this:

On July 2, 1795, the Federal Orrery newspaper of Boston reported:

City of Washington, June 19. It is with much pleasure that we discover the rising consequence of our infant city. Public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o’clock by the Reverend Mr. Ralph. (1)

In 1803, U. S. Senator John Quincy Adams confirmed: “There is no church of any denomination in this city.” (2)

“For several years after the seat of government was fixed at Washington, there were but two small [wooden] churches. . . . Now, in 1837 there are 22 churches of brick or stone.” (3)

The government did not sanction Christian religion but opened the doors of the Capitol for religious worship because there were no churches built at that time big enough to hold all of the people.
Church services at the Capitol obviously ended by 1880 according to this news article: Congress Holds First Church Service in 130 Years (4)

James Madison – hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” and signatory to it – was against Chaplains giving opening prayers.

“I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me; and it was not with my approbation, that the deviation from it took place in Congress, when they appointed Chaplains, to be paid from the National Treasury. It would have been a much better proof to their Constituents of their pious feeling if the members had contributed for the purpose, a pittance from their own pockets. As the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done, may be to apply to the Constitution the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat.” (5)

“Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?” (5)

I have been to DC a few times and walked around it. There is also Masonic influence there.
As far as Christian symbolism in the Capitol, it is too big to get into. Here is a link that explains some of them and you will find that they are not as Christian as you think they are.

This is not “a Christian nation, Founded on Christian Biblical Principles.” It was already “founded” from “sea to shining sea” and stolen from the Native American Indians. Shame.

Pastor Joan

Advisory Board member

(1) Federal Orrery, Boston, July 2, 1795, p. 2

(2) John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company, 1874), Vol. I, p. 268, October 30, 1803.

(3) Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith (Margaret Bayard), The First Forty Years of Washington Society, Galliard Hunt, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 16.



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1 Comment

  1. Well said, Andy! Your response was a beautifully written defense, here’s a hat tip to ya!

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