I grew up watching Ben Kinchlow on the 700 Club and thought at the time that he was so smart and charming. Now? Not so much. His latest Worldnetdaily column is bursting at the seams with dishonest and idiotic arguments about separation of church and state.
In 1962, a parent, Steven Engel, alleged that a neutral, nonsectarian 22-word prayer violated his child’s First Amendment rights. His attorneys argued this (completely voluntary) prayer constituted “an establishment of religion.” Long story short, the Supreme Court ruled for him in the 1962 Engel vs. Vitale case and God was officially removed from schools, and now He is being banished from every inch of the public square.
Leaving aside the question of what the hell a “neutral” prayer could possibly be, this is such a dishonest argument. If having school children recite government-composed prayers is not a violation of the First Amendment, what on earth possibly could be? And what do you suppose Kinchlow’s reaction would be if that same exact prayer (“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen”) said Allah instead of God? Would he care that it was technically voluntary (if a student wants to paint a big target on their back)? Would he be throwing a fit about God being “officially removed from schools”? Of course not.
Of course, since we all know exactly what the Constitution says, let me ask a question: Where are the following two statements found?
1) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
2) “In order to ensure citizens freedom of conscience, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship is recognized for all citizens.”
When asked this question, many people who saw the phrase in statement 2 which reads, “the church is separated from the state,” concluded this is the famous “separation of church and state” principle they have heard about ad nauseum. Facts of the matter are, statement 1 is, indeed, found in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Statement 2, “the church is separated from the state” is also from the constitution – the constitution of the now defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, a political system specifically founded on atheistic principles.
After an objective look at what is happening in many of our courts and schools today, one might be forced to conclude the U.S. Supreme Court and other institutions are basing their decisions on the constitutional principles of the old USSR.
Oh boy, that old argument. So by this “reasoning,” James Madison, who argued that even having congressional and military chaplains was a violation of the First Amendment, must have been cribbing from the Soviet constitution that wouldn’t exist for more than a century. Ditto Thomas Jefferson.
Let me reiterate – nowhere in the U.S. Constitution can you find the phrase “separation of church and state.” It simply is not there. Instead, a careful and unbiased reading clearly reveals the founders’ intent – not two separate clauses but one simple statement: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added).
You know what else isn’t in the constitution? The phrase “separation of powers.” And “checks and balances.” But those are phrases used by the founders to describe the intent of several provisions of the Constitution, just as they used “separation of church and state” to describe the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
The moment you tell me I cannot have free, voluntary acknowledgement of God, under the “establishment clause” (so called), you immediately violate my right to do so under the “free exercise” clause.
Which has nothing whatsoever to do with Engel v Vitale. Not telling students they have to recite a government-composed prayer is not telling them they can’t voluntarily acknowledge God to their heart’s content. In fact, quite the opposite. That there are people stupid or deluded enough to fall for arguments this moronic is kind of depressing.