COMMEMORATING THE CONSTITUTION & CITIZENSHIP

“Constitution and Citizenship Day” is our national joint observance on September 17th commemorating (1) the day in 1787 when America’s creation document was signed by 39 Founders at the Constitutional Convention and (2) the privilege of American citizenship. Constitution educational programming is also federally mandated.

Constitution knowledge is lamentably lacking. Citizens learn best from the original founding and governing documents created by our Founders (1776 Declaration of Independence, 1782 Mottos, 1787 Preamble & Constitution, 1791 Bill of Rights & 1797 Treaty of Tripoli) and their history.

The Declaration of Independence (not a law nor governing document) used inclusive universal terms and declared governments derive their powers from “the Consent of the Governed”.

The original Mottos selected by our Founders are secular and remain on the United States Great Seal, one-dollar bill, et al – “E Pluribus Unum (One From Many), “Novos Ardo Seclorum” (New Order of the Ages) and “Annuit Coeptis” (Undertakings Favored).

The Preamble stated six secular reasons our nation was established for “We the People”. The Constitution is the original document lawfully establishing our secular government. The Bill of Rights (first 10 Amendments) provides our individual liberties.

The Constitution created three separate and equal government branches for a check and balance on power. The legislative branch enacts law (Article I), executive branch executes law (Article II), and judicial branch interprets law with authority to decide all Constitution cases (Article III).

Article V provides only two ways to amend the Constitution: (1) constitutional convention requiring 2/3s of state legislatures to convene and enact amendment, then ratification by 3/4s of states (0 amendments); or (2) amendment enactment by 2/3s of US Senate and House of Representatives, then ratification by 3/4s of states (27 amendments).

The majority of American citizens do not know what our Constitution says about religion according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

The secular Constitution contains no deity reference and commands “no religious test ” shall ever be required as a qualification to any public office protecting government from religion (Article VI). Over 80% of colonists did not belong to religion establishments in 1776.

We were the first government in history formed without acknowledging dependency on a higher authority (emperor, monarch, deity, religion, etc). There were no public prayers during the 116 day Constitutional Convention. James Madison reminded delegates of its secular purpose – “This is derived from the superior power of the people.”

The 1st Amendment provides our historic trinity of religious liberties – (1) freedom from religion, (2) freedom of religion or no religion, and (3) freedom for religion speech. It protects religion from government and prohibits our government from lawfully “respecting”  a religion establishment. Its genesis was the 1785 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom mandating “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

It is fact, history and law our Constitution created a secular republic – not a sectarian nation based on religion. This was publicly proclaimed by our Founders in the Treaty of Tripoli, an international legal document negotiated and written during 1st President George Washington’s administration, unanimously ratified by the US Senate and signed by 2nd President John Adams, notifying the world “…The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”.

It should also be noted the US Congress acknowledged and affirmed Native-American contribution and influence “…the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution” and “the confederacy of the original Thirteen Colonies into one republic was influenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the Constitution itself.” (US Senate Resolution, 1988).

World history records the human harm caused when governments and religion combined. Separation of church and state is a fundamental liberty of free citizens keeping public government out of private religion and private religion out of public government. It was clearly intended by our Founders as provided by their establishment documents, indisputably documented by historic records, publicly acknowledged by every President except the current clueless contrarian, and judicially confirmed as the law of our land. Jesus even separated church and state (Mark 12:17).

We became the first nation in history to provide constitutional freedom of belief (religious or non-religious) and genesis for the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 declaring “…everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”.

Our original founding documents, unlike foreign religious scripture from antiquity, were prepared in English in America by Americans for Americans and exist for accurate interpretation. They cannot be selectively spun like non-original copies of questionably translated and altered religious scriptures in ancient foreign languages.

History deniers and revisionists with self-serving sectarian agendas deliberately, disingenuously and dishonestly disregard our historic secular founding. Their contrived claims are based on their personal ideology – not on the facts, history, law or founding documents.

We can celebrate with patriotic pride our American Constitution and Citizenship.

“The Constitution is a guide which I will never abandon.” – 1st President GEORGE WASHINGTON

The very definition of a republic is “…a nation of laws and not of man.” – 2nd President JOHN ADAMS

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make ‘no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercis thereof’, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” – 3rd President THOMAS JEFFERSON

John Compere
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Former Chief Judge, US Army Legal Services Agency & Court of Military Review
Disabled American Veteran ( Vietnam Era)
Advisory Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

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