Food for thought

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been reading a great book, Liars for Jesus, about the twisting of historical facts (and just plain lying) to support the notion that the USA was intended to be a Christian Nation. I found the following reference especially interesting, so I’m sharing it with you.

First there is a quotation from a constitution (which one, I will reveal later), and an explanation by an author. The subjects are religion and public education.

SEC. 4. All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship against his consent, and no preference shall be given by-law to any religious society, nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.

Here’s the gloss:

No one has a right to regulate our consciences or our worship for us. The right of each one to obey his own conscience in the matter of worship cannot be defeated by any law. This applies to his right to attend such church as he chooses, or not to attend; and to helping in the erection and support of any church or religious organization. That a person belongs to any particular church, or does not belong to any, cannot be urged as a qualification or disqualification for an office, nor deny to any suitor in court the right to call him as a witness. This does not say, nor does it mean, that the state, or the law, or the court, only, shall not apply the “religious test;” it means that no one has a right to apply that test. If a voter votes for a candidate solely because of that candidate’s religious belief, that voter violates the letter and spirit of this section of the bill of rights. As all the people have the right to their religious belief, it is right that the law shall not give any preference to any religious body or organization, but that it should fully protect each body in the enjoyment of its own organization and mode of worship. As education makes better citizens, the state ought to encourage it.

The constitution quoted is that of the state of Nebraska (1875), which according to that document cannot foster or support one religion over another. Hm. And that state should also encourage and provide public education. Hm hm. Most states have similar provisions in their constitutions. You should read yours sometime.

The commentary is not from some wild-eyed liberal/commie/socialist/marxist, but an educator named M.B.C True, who wrote a civics book for the Nebraska school system.

In 1885.

A hundred twenty-six years ago, people understood the the principle of the separation of church and state, and the necessity of government (that is, the taxpayers) to provide an education for all children.

Why are these ideas so hard for some people to understand now?
True, M.B.C., A Manual of the History and Civil Government of the State of Nebraska, Leach Shewell and Sanborn, Boston and New York, 1885.

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