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Kinchlow Blathers About Church and State

The Worldnutdaily now features weekly columns by Ben Kinchlow, former co-host of the 700 Club. Unsurprisingly, they demonstrate all the ignorance we’ve come to expect from WND columnists. His latest column contains lots of nonsense about separation of church and state. Like, did you know that it’s a communist idea?

Let me state unequivocally: The concept of separation of church and state used incessantly by anti-prayer, anti-Bible and anti-God forces to erode our constitutional liberties is clearly articulated in Article 124 of the Constitution. However, it is the Soviet (not the U.S.) Constitution:

“[T]he church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the State and the school from the church.”

When I was growing up, my stepmother watched the 700 Club incessantly. I remember her making a similar argument to me when I was 17 or 18, that separation of church and state wasn’t in the Constitution, it was in the Communist Manifesto. So I went to my room and got a copy of the Communist Manifesto and a copy of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists and showed them to her. She was horrified that I had a copy of the manifesto in the house, as if reading it was going to turn me into a commie (I am anything but, of course).

Let us be clear at the outset: There is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution or any other founding document that articulates, supports or defends the concept of the separation of church and state.

The source of the subject phrase, “separation of church and state,” is a letter written by then-President Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptist ministers in Danbury, Conn., who were concerned that a state church would impinge upon their religious liberties, as was the case in England. Furthermore, it meant the exact opposite of what the anti-God forces infer today.

President Jefferson reassured them thusly:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. …” (Emphasis added.)
– Thomas Jefferson, Jan. 1, 1802

Clearly, the “wall of separation” was/is to prevent the establishment of an official state church and to keep the state out of the church – not vice versa. While I am not an attorney, it seems clear to me that the moment someone invokes the First Amendment “establishment clause,” they immediately violate the “free-exercise clause.” Furthermore, “Congress shall make no law … ” – not local judges or school boards, etc.

First, it’s certainly amusing that he claims there is nothing at all to suggest a separation of church and state in the Constitution, then he quotes Jefferson explicitly describing the purpose of the religion clauses of the First Amendment as establishing such a separation. Madison said the same thing many times, of course. And both Jefferson and Madison also argued quite plainly that the Establishment Clause forbid much more than the establishment of a national church; it also forbid, in their view, the government from giving any aid at all to religion, including declarations of days of prayer and thanksgiving, military and congressional chaplaincies, and so forth. So the very man he’s quoting as endorsing his position actually takes the exact opposite position.

Second, the notion that invoking the Establishment Clause violates the Free Exercise Clause is beyond idiotic. That would read the Establishment Clause out of the Constitution entirely (which I don’t doubt he favors, but it’s hardly a valid argument). The obvious distinction, which he is too irrational to recognize, is that the Establishment Clause applies to what the government can and can’t do, while the Free Exercise Clause applies to what the individual can do.

Lastly, he ignores, as nearly all Christian Nation apologists do, the 14th amendment. It happened nearly 150 years ago. You’d think word would have reached them by now.

Comments

  1. Michael Heath says

    Mr. Kinchlow’s argument is particularly absurd because the constitutional framers were so intent on protecting individual conscience and religious freedom rights they didn’t merely numerate those rights, they also explicitly prohibited government powers via the Establishment Clause to better assure government wouldn’t intrude on those rights. From this perspective the framers distinguish their zeal to protect these specific rights beyond their efforts to protect the exercise of other numerated rights by way of the Establishment Clause, the exact opposite of what Mr. Kinchlow argues.

  2. slc1 says

    As I stated in an earlier thread, folks like Mr. Kinchlow think that the 14th Amendment is not legitimately part of the Constitution because it was passed in the absence of the states that joined the confederacy.

  3. says

    Furthermore, “Congress shall make no law … ” – not local judges or school boards, etc.

    Judges never make laws. They only interpret and enforce those that already exist.

  4. savoy47 says

    respecting an establishment of religion: What does this mean?
    A) Pertaining to the creation of a religion.
    Or
    B) Show respect to a religious establishment.

  5. Randomfactor says

    Both. The US cannot establish a national religion as official nor can it show favor to any one religion over others. (Of course, the latter has been violated repeatedly.)

  6. matty1 says

    Lastly, he ignores, as nearly all Christian Nation apologists do, the 14th amendment. It happened nearly 150 years ago. You’d think word would have reached them by now.

    To be fair its hard to share news when you communicate by incoherent grunting and pointing at the strangers.

  7. barry21 says

    “It happened nearly 150 years ago. You’d think word would have reached them by now.”

    Ed, this guy is still hazy on the events of 2,000 years ago. You’ve got a LONG wait until he gets around to the 14th Amendment.

    @Deen (comment #4) – Judge-made law is a phrase that got pounded into my head in law school. The whole notion of legal precedent is based on the idea that judicial opinions carry the weight of law.

    The idea of Federal Regulations provides a useful parallel. Executive agencies (and their un-elected personnel) have the power to promulgate rules that bind us with the same weight as Congressional legislation.

    Neither judicial decisions or regulations are created by the legislature, and they don’t fit the civics class notion of what law is, but they’re indistinguishable in effect.

  8. bobcarroll says

    Another adherent to David Barton’s “Son-based” history, “solar.” That is, his “School of lies and revisionism.”

  9. barry21 says

    Re: Kinchlow’s stupid essay

    There is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution or any other founding document that articulates, supports or defends the concept of the separation of church and state.

    The absence of the phrase “separation of church and state” from the Constitution says NOTHING about the absence of the concept. If that were a valid line of argument, then “federalism”, “separation of powers” and “fair trials” would not be American institutions, either.

    Like those other phrases, “separation of church and state” describes what the Constitution does, in language distinct from that in the document.

  10. abb3w says

    Ed:

    The obvious distinction, which he is too irrational to recognize, is that the Establishment Clause applies to what the government can and can’t do, while the Free Exercise Clause applies to what the individual can do.

    A guarantee to individuals the Freedom Of Religious Exercise, but the Freedom From Religious Government.

    Pedantically, though it’s non-standard, “Antiestablishment Clause” would be more a more accurate nomenclature. I don’t suppose I can convince you to try and facilitate that linguistic shift…?

    On the other hand, while the 14th has been around for on the order of 150 years now, the notion that it bound the states to (among other things) the Antiestablishment requirement of the First Amendment is most prominently from case law less than half that age. I suspect he associates it with communism because the McCollum and Everson cases and their aftermath were features of the post-WWII struggle against communism, and thus anything bad (in the sense of “he dislikes it) that developed in the US between when the Nazis were defeated and the Soviet Union collapsed were the fault of the communists. (Presumably, any post-Soviet problems are to be considered the result of Muslim Atheists.)

    Taz:

    The “the anti-God forces”? Cool. Do we get T-shirts?

    Potentially, yes. The Richard Dawkins foundation sometimes give some away to local atheist student groups prior to a visit. If that’s not applicable to your case, there are also any number of places to buy some on your own.

  11. gshelley says

    I wonder if he would still want to ignore the 14th if some local body tried to prevent or limit people’s (Christian) religious freedom. I suspect not.

  12. says

    I am going to strangle the next person who suggests that it’s a one-way wall.

    WALLS ARE TWO WAYS, GENIUSES!

    I am in a cubicle at the moment, between myself and my colleague next door is a wall. I cannot directly affect her, nor can she directly affect me.

  13. D. C. Sessions says

    The invisibility of the 14th is a carryover. Some buildings don’t have a 13th floor; the disappearance of the 14th Amendment is just an extension of the abhorence they have for the 13th. Both of them are, after all, profoundly offensive to the Republican base.

  14. D. C. Sessions says

    The Warsaw Confederation of 1573 guaranteed religious freedom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

    See? It is a Communist conspiracy!

  15. Modusoperandi says

    slc1 “As I stated in an earlier thread, folks like Mr. Kinchlow think that the 14th Amendment is not legitimately part of the Constitution because it was passed in the absence of the states that joined the confederacy.”
    That’s the old timeline. In the new one the Yankees left Real America® to form a union.

    Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort “I am in a cubicle at the moment, between myself and my colleague next door is a wall. I cannot directly affect her, nor can she directly affect me.”
    /me lobs wad of paper over cubical wall. Take that, Separation of Cubicle and Cubicle!

  16. Michael Heath says

    abb3w:

    while the 14th has been around for on the order of 150 years now, the notion that it bound the states to (among other things) the Antiestablishment requirement of the First Amendment is most prominently from case law less than half that age. I suspect he associates it with communism because the McCollum and Everson cases and their aftermath were features of the post-WWII struggle against communism . . .

    I highly doubt Mr. Kinchlow knows what’s in the 14th Amendment, let alone the history of incorporation and arguments for and against as revealed in subsequent rulings.

    Lastly Christianists are not wrong and hypocrites so much because of a rejection of modern precedents but instead because they reject the original meaning and the original intent of:
    Article IV, Sec. 2′s ‘privileges and immunities’ clause,
    the 1st Amendment,
    the 9th Amendment,
    the 10th Amendment, and
    the 14th Amendment,
    all while simultaneously claiming that originalism is the only valid interpretative technique.

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