The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

More notes from the Bible Belt

Not all people who live in the Bible Belt are Fundamentalist fruit baskets; no, sometimes they're clueless progressives who slept through civics class.

Why, in violation of the Constitution, has Rosman [Rosman being the only other town in Transylvania County, and is even smaller than Brevard. —Editor] allowed a local church to present a live Nativity scene on public property?

What local official is responsible for enforcing the law of the land in this situation?

The author might be thinking of the “separation of church and state,” but that phrase nevers appears in the Declaration of Independence nor in the Constitution of the United States of America (it comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson).

The only strictions placed upon the Federal Government is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

and this bit in Article VI:

… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

It says nothing about banning religious displays. In fact, until the Fourteenth Amendment, it might have passed Constitutional muster for a state (for example, Utah had it been admitted as a state prior to 1868) to legislate an establishment of religion, under the Tenth Amendment (as the First Amendment only applies to Congress, not a state). The Fourteenth Amendment pushes the restrictions the Constitution placed on the Federal government to the State governments (so there goes any State-level mandated religion) but even then, it still says nothing about a government displaying Nativity scenes.

Knowing nothing more about the “Rosman Nativity Scandal of 2012” than what's presented in the opinion letter, it wouldn't surprise me if the said local church didn't fill out the appropriate forms and pay the appropriate fees to host a public display on public property, allowing the church members to exercise the other part of the First Amendment:

… or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I'm sure that had a group wanted to present a Kwanzaa celebration on public property they could fill out the proper forms and paid the proper fees just like the church members probably did.

Sheesh! It's not like the Constitution is hard to read.

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