No one who is paid by any government agency, at any level of government, may lead others in prayer or use any religious language in a public setting.
No religious objects such as crosses or nativity scenes can be placed on public land no matter if it is local, state, or federal land.
No religious activity can take place on land that is owned by any level of government.
All it takes is for one individual to complain that they are offended and all of these public displays of religion are stopped. This all takes place in the name of the separation of church and state which is the true meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
None of these activities are banned by First Amendment, any other amendment of the Constitution, or any valid federal law. The First Amendment was added to the US Constitution to protect these activities not prevent them.
The establishment clause of the First Amendment only prevents the federal government from establishing an official state religion such as England did with the Church of England.
There is a second clause to this amendment that deals with religion, the free exercise of religion clause. For some reason this clause always seems to get forgotten by those trying to ban these public religious activities. The purpose of this clause is to prevent the federal government from interfering with the free exercise of religion by any individual regardless if they are employed by any government agency or not; whether the activity takes place on public land or not.
Recently a federal judge ruled that students at a Texas high school could not pray at their own graduation because this would lead to irreparable harm to the one student that objected to the student led prayer. This judge threatened to jail any student that defied his ban. The fact that this ruling was overturned on appeal does not prevent it from being a perfect example to illustrate how much the meaning of the First Amendment has been distorted.
The freedom to exercise our religious beliefs in public as well as private is one of our most important natural rights. The Pilgrims fled England because they were persecuted for exercising their religious beliefs.
The freedom to exercise our religious beliefs is not granted to us by the First Amendment. The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect our individual natural right of freedom of religion by preventing the federal government from interfering with our God given natural rights in any way. Freedom of religion, like all natural rights, is an individual right granted to us by God. We are free to exercise all our natural rights as we wish as long as we do not harm others or interfere with the ability of others to exercise their natural rights.
If someone is offended because others are exercising traditional religious beliefs in public, that does not rise to the level of harm sufficient to prevent one individual, let alone a group of individuals, from exercising their natural rights in public. The case can be made if the religious behavior being exercised is so outside traditional society norms that it greatly offends a large number of people, then the local community can stop that activity. If the religious activity is harmful, such as human sacrifice, incest, polygamy, or animal sacrifice, the States can outlaw it.
No matter how harmful or offensive the religious activity is the federal government cannot interfere with it in any way. That is the purpose of First Amendment, to prevent the federal government. and only the federal government. from interfering with our most important natural rights. The federal government has now turned the First Amendment on its head so many ways it is now preventing the free exercise of traditional religion by individuals across the entire country and we are virtually powerless to stop it. This one federal court decision was overturned but countless have not been.
Our founding fathers knew it was dangerous for the federal government to meddle with our natural rights in any way because we would not be able to restrain the federal government when it becomes abusive, as it is now.
Our founding fathers also knew individuals could abuse their natural rights by harming others or interfering with the natural rights of others, They knew that some government body would have to pass laws to try and prevent these abuses and deal with them when they happen, Our founding fathers knew it was far better to make these decisions on the most local level possible. The more local the government the easier it is for the people to keep a close eye on it and deal with it when it becomes abusive.
Some ordinary, day to day, type decisions have to made concerning the exercise of religion. These decisions include such topics as: whether or not to allow prayer services on street corners, or in public parks. The local government is the proper place for making these decisions.
When it comes to preventing harmful religious practices such as human sacrifice and polygamy, the State level is the proper place for this.
Freedom of religion has been turned around 180 degrees by our out of control federal government. The current meaning of the clause is freedom from religion. Freedom from religion is not a natural God-given natural right. From the very beginning of our country, we as a people, have always been tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs. Now a small and very vocal group of very intolerant people have made it very difficult for the majority of us to practice our traditional religious beliefs in public. They have accomplished this by turning to a group of federal judges from all levels including the Supreme Court. These federal judges are violating the freedom of religion clause and are now doing exactly the opposite of the very plain meaning and purpose of the First Amendment.
The public education system and main stream media are also guilty accomplices because they promote this perverted meaning of the First Amendment as absolute historic fact. They have done such an outstanding job distorting the meaning of the First Amendment that even many in the Tea Party get it wrong when they discuss the original meaning.
Here are some other misconceptions of the original meaning of the First Amendment I have encountered.
Students can lead prayers but teachers cannot because they are paid by the government. Wrong, public school teachers and all other government officials at any level including the federal level, did not surrender their most important natural rights when they became teachers or government employees.
If you recite a Christian prayer on government property or display a Christian object on public property you have to include prayers and objects from the Jewish and Muslim religions otherwise you would be violating the establishment clause. Wrong, this clause only pertains to the US Congress period. Also the meaning of the word religion as understood by the framers of the Constitution applied only to different Christian sects such as Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans,
Religion cannot be taught nor can the Bible be read in public school because of the separation of church and state. Wrong. Up until 1962 religion was taught and the Bible read regularly in public school. The separation of church and state is a lie.
The 14th Amendment extended Bill of Rights to the State and local level giving the Supreme Court the power to strike down State laws. Wrong. The doctrine of incorporation is a lie. That was discussed during the 14th Amendment debates and was shot down.
All of these religious activities took place all across America from the time the first European Settlers arrived, during the entire time we were an English colony, through the time our Constitution and Bill of Rights was were ratified, up until 1947 without interference. In 1947 the Supreme Court violated the Constitution by first introducing the separation of church and state doctrine along with the incorporation doctrine. This interference began then and has since increased because Supreme Court and all federal courts have been routinely striking State and locals laws and issuing rulings banning public exercises and displays of religion.
During the congressional debates for the Bill of Rights James Madison proposed extending the Bill of Rights to the State and local level and giving the federal courts veto powers over state laws. This idea was very quickly shot down. It is clear from the transcripts of these debates that the Bill of Rights was never meant to apply to the State and local levels. The idea of the 14th Amendment doing the same was discussed in congress during the debates for that amendment. That idea was also quickly shot down.
Our founding fathers frequently wrote about the importance of keeping religion and morality firmly established in public life. They saw this as a fundamentally important method of preserving liberty.
The entire text of the First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 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.