Re: Church-State -- some history

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 11:21:11 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "John W Burgeson" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 10:48 AM
Subject: Church-State -- some history

An e-mail being circulated by Christians who may not quite understand the
current thinking on church-state issues goes as follows (in part):

>>You may have heard in the news that a couple of Post Offices in Texas
have been forced to take down small posters that say "IN GOD WE TRUST."
They claim that the law is being violated; something silly involving
"electioneering posters.">>

No -- the law that is being violated is the 1st amendment to the

    No, what is being violated is an extrapolation from the 1st Amendment.
"An establishment of religion" in 1790 meant an established church, such as
the Church of England. It did not mean that congress could not favor
religion over no religion, use "God" language, &c.

    Whether or not the use of phrases like "In God we trust" is helpful,
whether or not we _should_ make the above extrapolation, &c are legitimate
questions. For myself, I have serious doubts about the value of such
slogans. "In God we trust" seems to me very much like the altar "To an
unknown God" that Paul plays off of in Acts 17. But my point here is simply
that a strict reading of the constitution doesn't rule it out, whatever some
courts have decided in recent years.

       Of course this argument is valid only to the extent that one holds to
(a) the original intent of framers of parts of the constitution in question
and (b) strict construction of the constitution. I would argue for both.

Received on Thu May 13 11:21:39 2004

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