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Don't "Allow Foreign Religions and Foreign Beliefs and Other Philosophies

to defile the very soil of this land." That's the message of a New Zealand church leader who is urging rejection of a New Zealand Human Rights Commission's draft statement that New Zealand "had no 'established religion,'" and who is supporting a declaration "that New Zealand was a Christian nation."

There are lots of different ways that a free nation can handle its religious history; I don't want to suggest that the approach of the American Constitutions -- an express prohibition on establishment of religion both in the federal constitution and in nearly all state constitutions -- or the approach of the U.S. Supreme Court's Establishment Clause precedent is the only right way. England is a free country, in which to my knowledge citizens enjoy a great deal of religious freedom and religious equality (at least with respect to the government) even though the Anglican Church is the established church. The same is true, to my knowledge, of many Western European countries.

My personal preference is for a system in which the government may not discriminate among religious people and institutions; generally may not discriminate in favor of or against religious people and institutions (subject to some possible narrow exceptions that I won't go into here); generally may not fund religious observances in their capacity as religious observances (as opposed to giving religious people and institutions equal access to broadly available funding programs); but may engage in certain kinds of religious speech, especially those that can't be extirpated without denying a great deal of the nation's history. But there's a lot of room for different approaches here, it seems to me.

Yet no country, it seems to me, can sensibly be called free if it balks at "allow[ing] foreign religions and foreign beliefs and other philosophies to proliferate into [the] country," and officially treats religious conversion as a form of "defile[ment] of the very soil of this land." Freedom means the freedom of citizens to change their own minds, and to change the minds of others, through persuasion. And that's true on religious topics as well as political topics. One can debate on the borderline about which ideas might be so dangerous and so extreme to be off limits. (I prefer, however, the American approach, in which all ideas can be advocated, and in which the narrow content-based restrictions are designed so that they don't stop the debate about any ideas.) But any definition of "so dangerous and so extreme to be off limits" that covers all non-Christian -- or non-Muslim or whatever else -- ideas is a definition that's inconsistent with freedom.

Now it doesn't sound like the church leader (Bishop Brian Tamaki) and the other participants are expressly calling now for a prohibition on other religions. But listen to Tamaki's statement: "This nation must have the right to be able to discuss and to talk about whether we are going to establish and affirm and accept our religious identity as a country, or whether we are going to walk away and let that be lost, perhaps forever, and to allow foreign religions and foreign beliefs and other philosophies to proliferate into our country and begin to defile the very soil of this land." He certainly sounds like he doesn't want to "allow foreign religions and foreign beliefs," and like he thinks his audience agrees. He sees foreign religions as not just error but as a "defile[ment]." He sees the two alternatives are either "allow[ing] foreign religions and foreign beliefs" or "establish[ing] and affirm[ing] and accept[ing] our religious identity as a country."

The concern of those who support strong anti-establishment measures -- including ones stronger than I would support -- is precisely that modest tolerance for government endorsement of a religion will lead to broad intolerance (including governmental intolerance) for other religions. Justice Scalia and others who would take a narrower view of the Establishment Clause stress that one can have some degree of endorsement of broad religious traditions but still have religious freedom and religious equality in tangible rights and benefits. I take it that others in other countries take a similar view.

But Bishop Tamaki's rhetoric points in the opposite direction: a stark choice between anti-establishment rules on the one hand and "[dis]allow[ing] foreign religions and foreign beliefs." If that's the choice, I'll gladly choose the former, despite the bowdlerizing of government speech this may cause (and that I would not prefer). I hope that others in free countries (or countries aspiring to freedom) would do the same. And those who want a middle path, and who want to urge a Scaliaesque preservation of national religious traditions while still supporting -- and assuring the public that they support -- religious freedom and equal treatment of citizens without regard to religion, should distance themselves from views such as Bishop Tamaki's.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Tom R:
My initial response was "Well, that's curtains for him blogging at Balkinisation". Having read more closely, my current response is "Isn't that a bit incongruous coming from someone of Maori background, who is presumably glad that his ancestors two centuries ago embraced an 'imported' foreign religion?"

As a Christian, I believe strongly in the Golden Rule - as should Bishop Tamaki. Christianity is more than capable of holding its own in a free market of religions, as shown by the fact that when countries try to keep religious missionaries out it is almost always non-Christian (Communist, Muslim or Hindu) countries banning Christian missionaries, rather than vice versa. (True, France and Germany restrict Scientology, but it would be a stretch to class either as "Christian" in any meaningful sense).
5.30.2007 2:55am
Tom R:
... Eg, His Grace might like to ponder what happens when the boot is on the other foot.
5.30.2007 3:39am
Tom R:
IOW: It's choice, bro.
5.30.2007 4:19am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Yet no country, it seems to me, can sensibly be called free if it balks at "allow[ing] foreign religions and foreign beliefs and other philosophies to proliferate into [the] country,"

But what do we mean by religion? Is the Church of Scientology a Religion? Germany (I think wisely) banned the COS. Isn't this a case of not allowing "foreign religions and foreign beliefs and other philosophies to proliferate into [the] country?" The US with its excessive tolerance for virtually anything masquerading as a religion, has allowed COS to infiltrate the IRS and (perhaps) even the courts. Of course what's really at issue here is Islam, which is both a religion and a political movement. What do we do with a religion/movement that's basically incompatible with western values and traditions?
5.30.2007 4:36am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
In response to A. Zarkov, it seems to me that there is a crucial distinction between freedom of conscience and freedom of practice. If an ideologically-based organization is as an institution abusive, say the Church of Scientology, fundamantalist mormonism, and Hamas, it is reasonable to prohibit them as organizations. This is different from persecuting those who believe in the theology of these organizations, which is unacceptable. Practices, unlike beliefs, can be prohibited on a basis that is general and secular. For example, fundamentalist mormonism can be prohibited on the grounds that it is intrinsically abusive of women and especially of young women, for the same reasons that a secular organization dedicated to the sexual enslavement of underage women may be criminalized.

Some Islamic organizations and institutions can legitimately be suppressed on this basis, e.g. for their support of terrorism. This is distinct from suppression of mere belief in Islam.

I suggest that there is also a distinction to be drawn between suppression of belief and expression thereof, which is illegitimate, and the decision to limit immigration to those whose views are compatible with the fundamental values of society. Many countries require immigrants to conform in certain ways. Japan, for example, only grants citizenship to people who adopt a sufficiently Japanese way of life. I don't see that there is anything illegitimate about this. Similarly, there is no reason that countries like Australia, the US, and Canada should not adopt immigration policies that exclude people whose values are fundamentally incompatible with democracy. (They should, of course, be very careful in what criteria they use to judge this.)
5.30.2007 5:09am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):



But Bishop Tamaki's rhetoric points in the opposite direction: a stark choice between anti-establishment rules on the one hand and "[dis]allow[ing] foreign religions and foreign beliefs."


Not really, at least not according to this interview which provided more context for his views than the brief Instapundit linked to:



LISA What then does your stand mean for those other religions, if you think that this country is a Christian country it should be declared that, what implications would that have for other religions in your view?


BRIAN Well it will have implications because if we're secure enough to say well we recognise our Christian heritage and so establish that, then the outworking of that is going to be some certain conditions that apply for instance and I would put this out very straight and straightforward about this, that the Quran for instance would not have the same place or position as the Bible when it comes to swearing in parliament of our oaths of allegiance, and neither do I see that we have to extract our Christian god, Jesus Christ, out of prayer so that we don't offend other religions or people's beliefs, that's just one part of it.


LISA So given that perhaps some of the religions we see now in New Zealand are arriving through immigration, what's your stand on people coming into the country, immigrants who are practising different faiths.


BRIAN We're open, everybody's welcome and people have the freedom of religious choice and we're not imposing our Christianity or our beliefs on people but I think it's good enough to respect and honour our Christian heritage, establish that and then people come on those terms, welcome but you're coming to a Christian country, and I think most New Zealanders agree with that, that this is a Christian country.


LISA You're welcome but you can't practise your faith as freely as you might want to?


BRIAN Well if you officially recognise our Christian heritage and our Christianity as being our national identity our founding religion then that would have obvious consequences, so the Bible would then be sworn upon in the swearing in and our prayers would retain Jesus Christ at the end of it. So there would have to be those understandings and so we're not going to remove those just because other religions come and we're insecure about our beliefs and our religious identity. If you go to a Muslim country, if you go to a Hindu country I respect the religion and I accept that, I don't go there wanting to remove their symbols and begin to take out Allah out of their prayers and put Jesus Christ in there, that ain't gonna happen, and I won't see the next day through by the way.


LISA What's the difference between what you're suggesting that you'd like to see here than say here than say enforcing Sharia law?


BRIAN We're not enforcing it, we're recognising and establishing what has already been a mainstay of our country's religious institutions, Christianity and I think because this government has particularly gone out of its way to attempt to tamper with that I think that we should as a country as a whole should be discussing it together and saying well do we and should we now establish Christianity as our official religion.



Basically it sounds like the guy's upset that traditional ceremonial things like including "Jesus Christ" in official oaths and using the Bible for administering oaths have fallen by the wayside in order to be "inclusive" to other religions. He wants to bring them back and, well that's pretty much it. No call for a State-established church. No mandatory tithing. No laws that prohibit people from believing or worshipping other religions. More symbolic than anything.
5.30.2007 5:37am
MDJD2B (mail):
Some societies are more tribal than our own, and conformity to certain norms e.g., speaking a language, practicing a religion) is a requirement for full participation. In such societies, non-conformists must accept a subordinate status.

Should these societies changs? Not necessarily, though I would not prefer to live in one. I would judge suchsocieties not by their imposing an official religion,(or whatever) but by how they treat non-conformists.
5.30.2007 8:02am
ATRGeek:
Whether the commingling of state and religion worked reasonably well in Western Europe rather depends at which point in time one looks. The strong separation of state and religion in the American Constitution was in part a reaction to the horrific religious wars which had decimated Western Europe (most notably the Thirty Years' War).

Now, I suspect that New Zealand is not in any particular danger of being involved in such an event. But across the world stage, I think the danger of religious wars is obviously still very much alive and well, and the wisdom of the American Constitution on this subject may, unfortunately, become readily apparent on many occasions.
5.30.2007 8:37am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Grammatically, I think you are misquoting him. What he said is don't allow defilement. You are changing the grammar to say he is saying don't allow foreign religions. Not the same thing.
It's also not clear what he means by a nation. I don't hear him calling for government action, but for each New Zealander to exercise free will by agreeing with his position.
5.30.2007 8:58am
PersonFromPorlock:
EV, a slightly fussy point: an 'establishment of religion' isn't an official religion, it's an official church. It would arguably satisfy the Religion Clause for the US to declare itself "a Christian country" as long as it didn't also declare itself a, say, Methodist country.

Such a declaration would probably be unwise and have Fourteenth Amendment problems, of course, but those are other issues.
5.30.2007 9:35am
Stacy (mail) (www):
Not that I'm advocating the mixing of church and state in western nations (quite the opposite in fact,) but if a majority of western christians decide they need to step into politics the blame will lie exclusively with those muslims who openly advocate trimming civil liberties to conform to their religious laws. What's good for the goose...
5.30.2007 10:11am
Positroll (mail):
Germany (I think wisely) banned the COS.
Nope.

Considered by the administration and courts not to be a religion but a business organisation (tax ramifications!): Yes.

Considered to be a dangerous organisation propagating "techno-totalitarianism" and therefore to be watched by the Verfassungsschutz: Yes.
See http://www.stmi.bayern.de/imperia/md/content/
stmi/sicherheit/verfassungsschutz/scientology/
system_so_engl.pdf


But not (yet?) banned ...
5.30.2007 10:30am
Paul A'Barge (mail):
officially treats religious conversion as a form of "defile[ment] of the very soil of this land

Sounds like Islam.

I think that's his point.
5.30.2007 11:06am
Seamus (mail):
I don't want to suggest that the approach of the American Constitutions -- an express prohibition on establishment of religion both in the federal constitution and in nearly all state constitutions -- or the approach of the U.S. Supreme Court's Establishment Clause precedent is the only right way. England is a free country, in which to my knowledge citizens enjoy a great deal of religious freedom and religious equality (at least with respect to the government) even though the Anglican Church is the established church. The same is true, to my knowledge, of many Western European countries.

Of course, this argument is contrary to the theory of incorporation by which the 14th Amendment is said to have required states to observe the separation of church and state. Under that theory, the Due Process Clause "incorporates" those liberties in the Bill of Rights that are somehow "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" or are of the sort that "neither liberty nor justice would exist if [they] were sacrificed."

(In one Establishment Clause several decades ago, it was pointed out that separation of church and state is not really a "liberty" at all but an institutional arrangement; Justice Brennan papered over that problem with the incorporation theory by arguing that separation of church and state was a necessary bulwark to the free exercise of religion, which *was* a personal liberty enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Of course, this fix required him to ignore the experience, which Prof. Volokh cites, of many other countries in the world that fail to separate church and state, yet enjoy a robust freedom of religion.)
5.30.2007 11:38am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Isn't New Zealand still part of the British Commonwealth and therefore the Queen of England still its titular head and the Anglican Church still its official church? These things get complicated but Great Britain (for certain), and the commonwealth nations (I believe) that still recognize the Queen as their head of state are among the few western nations that still have an official state religion.
5.30.2007 11:45am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Of course, this fix required him to ignore the experience, which Prof. Volokh cites, of many other countries in the world that fail to separate church and state, yet enjoy a robust freedom of religion.

Very few countries in the world who have a robust freedom of religion have failed to separate church and state. Many European countries had disposed of their official state churches by World War I, and most of the rest of them did shortly thereafter. Denmark, Norway, and Iceland remain nominally Lutheran, cantons of Switzerland can have an official religion (primarily Catholic) and Greece remains officially Orthodox. And after checking the internets I discovered that the commonwealth countries (including New Zealand), even though they recognize the British Monarch as their head of state, do not necessarily recognize the Anglican Church as their state religion.
5.30.2007 12:01pm
Seamus (mail):
Isn't New Zealand still part of the British Commonwealth and therefore the Queen of England still its titular head and the Anglican Church still its official church?

In a word, no. The UK includes Northern Ireland, but the Church of Ireland (i.e., the Anglican Church in Ireland) was disestablished in 1871. Scotland is also part of the UK, but its established church is the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian).

In most, if not all, former British colonies, the Church of England (or the local form thereof) is not the state church.
5.30.2007 12:03pm
Seamus (mail):
Very few countries in the world who have a robust freedom of religion have failed to separate church and state. Many European countries had disposed of their official state churches by World War I, and most of the rest of them did shortly thereafter. Denmark, Norway, and Iceland remain nominally Lutheran, cantons of Switzerland can have an official religion (primarily Catholic) and Greece remains officially Orthodox.

I think you've managed to provide several good examples (to which you might have added England and Scotland) that pretty effectively refute the claim that "neither liberty nor justice would exist" if there were an established church. And you might have added to that list Sweden before 2000--unless you are prepared to maintain that the disestablishment of the Church of Sweden somehow put an end to a regime of religious oppression that prevailed before that date.
5.30.2007 12:08pm
Seamus (mail):
BTW, I have a suspicion that most of those who like to cite foreign legal practices regarding, say, the execution of minors as models that should guide us would find irrelevant the fact that other countries manage to simultaneously have an established religion and religious freedom, even though that fact undermines the factual premise for incorporation of the Establishment Clause.
5.30.2007 12:13pm
Anonymice:
Marshall being off his rocker in Barron v. Baltimore is plenty of reason for the incorporation of the Establishment Clause. We never would've needed the 14th if it weren't for that nonsense of his.
5.30.2007 12:37pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Brings to mind RECTOR, ETC, OF HOLY TRINITY CHURCH v. U S, 143 U.S. 457 (1892), where Justice Brewer wrote for a unanimous, if apparently a bit wacky, Court:


"While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. Com., 11 Serg. &R. 394, 400, it was decided that, 'Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; ... not Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.' And in People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290, 294, 295, Chancellor KENT, the great commentator on American law, speaking as chief justice of the supreme court of New York, said: 'The people of this state, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order. ... The free, equal, and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious
subject, is granted and secured; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound by any expressions in the constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to panish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.'.'
5.30.2007 1:11pm
ATRGeek:
I don't think the fact that state religions in some countries have not extinguished all religious liberty in those countries proves that the separation of church and state is not implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. For a parallel, consider monarchies: you can blend some elements of monarchy into a government without extinguishing republican principles (small "r") entirely, as in fact some of the same countries also demonstrate. But I would still say that monarchies are antithetical to republican principles.
5.30.2007 1:57pm
dearieme:
There isn't a Queen of England, nor has there been since 1707.
5.30.2007 3:06pm
ATRGeek:
dearieme,

Although maybe if the supporters of Scottish independence get their way, there will be again.
5.30.2007 3:20pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Hardy,

Just because something exists in Supreme Court dicta (or even holdings) doesn't mean it's right (in this case, it was dicta). If Brewer meant the US is demographically Christian, he's right. Though, such demographics tell us nothing about public policy, i.e., the US is demographically predominantly white, but our public institutions, are, in the ideal, race neutral.

If he tried to argue that the US was intended to be "founded" as a Christian Nation in a public sense he gets his history wrong.

This ground has been well-tread by historians. The notion that the US is a "Christian Nation" in a public, foundational sense, is laughed out of the academy and, indeed, has been the subject recent books, most of them read like demolishing a strawman. (See for instance, Alan Dershowitz's latest).

The only reason why these books actually deal with a current issue — that is one that has not been "settled," — is because so many millions of people believe the twaddle coming from "Christian Nation" circles, like Wallbuilders and Coral Ridge.

Again, even though they sell millions, such circles are not from the "academy"; they are private organizations. Few of the stars in circle (i.e., David Barton, William Federer) are trained historians or Phds. And the most notable conservative evangelicals and Catholics who are real scholars with PhDs in prestigious academic positions and have studied the issue, like Mark Noll, George Marsden, Gary Scott Smith, Robert Kraynak, and many others, don't agree with the "Christian Nation" thesis either.
5.30.2007 3:25pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
My apologies Mr. Hardy, I didn't notice your qualifier "where Justice Brewer wrote for a unanimous, if apparently a bit wacky, Court."
5.30.2007 3:28pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
There isn't a Queen of England, nor has there been since 1707.

1603 actually.

Technically her title is, Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

But try fitting that on a business card.
5.30.2007 3:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Although maybe if the supporters of Scottish independence get their way, there will be again.

You've still got the Welsh to deal with.
5.30.2007 3:36pm
ATRGeek:
As is so often the case, attitudes on the Supreme Court reflects larger societal attitudes, sometimes at a bit of a lag. This Supreme Court decision is more or less coincident with the "Third Great Awakening", and a major theme of that particular religious revival was the social origins of sin and the importance of Christianity as a cure for social ills (this is the "Awakening" that produced the Salvation Army, Billy Sunday, and eventually Prohibition).
5.30.2007 4:07pm
Mark Field (mail):

Marshall being off his rocker in Barron v. Baltimore is plenty of reason for the incorporation of the Establishment Clause. We never would've needed the 14th if it weren't for that nonsense of his.


We'd never have worried about Marshall if Madison's proposed amendment banning state establishments had passed.
5.30.2007 4:25pm
ATRGeek:
J. F. Thomas,

True, although my understanding is that the Laws in Wales Acts actually merged Wales into England, and that as of 1707 Wales was simply part of the Kingdom of England, and only afterward was the country known as "England and Wales". Hence, a return to the pre-1707 status quo might cause what later became known as "England and Wales" to simply be called the Kingdom of England. Particularly after the Local Government Act of 1972, however, I guess the Welsh might insist on "England and Wales" (although they aren't in the Union Jack, so maybe not).

The real problem, I gather, would be Northern Ireland, which I understand is considered a separate legal unit within the United Kingdom (like Scotland and unlike Wales).

So, maybe the "United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland", or the "United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland"? Surely someone has already thought this through (meaning what happens to the name of the kingdom if there is no longer such a thing as a unified "Great Britain").
5.30.2007 4:40pm
Pub Editor:
Jon Rowe,

Here's your substantive point:

If he tried to argue that the US was intended to be "founded" as a Christian Nation in a public sense he gets his history wrong.

You are almost certainly correct as far as that goes.

However, to back up your argument, why just note that your position has the support of "the academy" and "real scholars with PhDs in prestigious academic positions"? It seems to me that you would make a far more persuasive argument by "dig[ing] deep into the primary sources," as you say Dershowitz did to his benefit in his last book. You could list some quotes from Jefferson, Madison or Hamilton to show that they were not looking to establish a Christian nation or repeat John Winthrop's "city on a hill." Or you could include links to some of these primary sources that support your position.

Simply saying that "the academy" backs your position while organizations outside the academy do not is unlikely to score many points on a conservative/libertarian blog, where complaints about radicals in academia are commonplace. Many members of the Group of 88 have Ph.D.s and occupy "prestigious academic positions." Meanwhile, even amateurs can make substantive contributions to scholarship.
5.30.2007 4:53pm
Pub Editor:
FWIW, here's Justice Black's dicta on the Establishment Clause from EVERSON v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF EWING TP., 330 U.S. 1 (1947). I know of valid reasons not to like Justice Black and to be suspicious of his reasons for writing and ruling as he did in this case, but I still find these lines inspiring:


A large proportion of the early settlers of this country came here from Europe to escape the bondage of laws which compelled them to support and attend government favored churches. The centuries immediately before and contemporaneous with the colonization of America had been filled with turmoil, civil strife, and persecutions, generated in large part by established sects determined to [330 U.S. 1, 9] maintain their absolute political and religious supremacy. With the power of government supporting them, at various times and places, Catholics had persecuted Protestants, Protestants had persecuted Catholics, Protestant sects had persecuted other Protestant sects, Catholics of one shade of belief had persecuted Catholics of another shade of belief, and all of these had from time to time persecuted Jews. In efforts to force loyalty to whatever religious group happened to be on top and in league with the government of a particular time and place, men and women had been fined, cast in jail, cruelly tortured, and killed. Among the offenses for which these punishments had been inflicted were such things as speaking disrespectfully of the views of ministers of government-established churches, nonattendance at those churches, expressions of non-belief in their doctrines, and failure to pay taxes and tithes to support them. 5


These practices of the old world were transplanted to and began to thrive in the soil of the new America. The very charters granted by the English Crown to the individuals and companies designated to make the laws which would control the destinies of the colonials authorized these individuals and companies to erect religious establishments which all, whether believers or non-believers, would be required to support and attend. 6 An exercise of [330 U.S. 1, 10] this authority was accompanied by a repetition of many of the old world practices and persecutions. Catholics found themselves hounded and proscribed because of their faith; Quakers who followed their conscience went to jail; Baptists were peculiarly obnoxious to certain dominant Protestant sects; men and women of varied faiths who happened to be in a minority in a particular locality were persecuted because they steadfastly persisted in worshipping God only as their own consciences dictated. 7 And all of these dissenters were compelled to pay tithes and taxes8 to support government-sponsored churches whose ministers preached inflammatory sermons designed to strengthen and consolidate the established faith by generating a burning hatred against dissenters. [330 U.S. 1, 11] These practices became so commonplace as to shock the freedom-loving colonials into a feeling of abhorrence. 9 The imposition of taxes to pay ministers' salaries and to build and maintain churches and church property aroused their indignation. 10 It was these feelings which found expression in the First Amendment. No one locality and no one group throughout the Colonies can rightly be given entire credit for having aroused the sentiment that culminated in adoption of the Bill of Rights' provisions embracing religious liberty. But Virginia, where the established church had achieved a dominant influence in political affairs and where many excesses attracted wide public attention, p ovided a great stimulus and able leadership for the movement. The people there, as elsewhere, reached the conviction that individual religious liberty could be achieved best under a government which was stripped of all power to tax, to support, or otherwise to assist any or all religions, or to interfere with the beliefs of any religious individual or group.

The movement toward this end reached its dramatic climax in Virginia in 1785-86 when the Virginia legislative body was about to renew Virginia's tax levy for the support of the established church. Thomas Jeffer- [330 U.S. 1, 12] son and James Madison led the fight against this tax. Madison wrote his great Memorial and Remonstrance against the law. 11 In it, he eloquently argued that a true religion did not need the support of law; that no person, either believer or non-believer, should be taxed to support a religious institution of any kind; that the best interest of a society required that the minds of men always be wholly free; and that cruel persecutions were the inevitable result of government-established religions. Madison's Remonstrance received strong support throughout Virginia, 12 and the Assembly postponed consideration of the proposed tax measure until its next session. When the proposal came up for consideration at that session, it not only died in committee, but the Assembly enacted the famous 'Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty' originally written by Thomas Jefferson. 13 The preamble to that Bill stated among other things that

'Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are [330 U.S. 1, 13] a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either . . .; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern ...'

And the statute itself enacted

'That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened, in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief. . . .'14

This Court has previously recognized that the provisions of the First Amendment, in the drafting and adoption of which Madison and Jefferson played such leading roles, had the same objective and were intended to provide the same protection against governmental intrusion on religious liberty as the Virginia statute. Reynolds v. United States, supra, 98 U.S. at page 164; Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. 679; Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333, 342 , 10 S.Ct. 299, 300. Prior to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, the First Amendment did not apply as a restraint against the states. 15 Most of them did soon provide similar constitutional protections [330 U.S. 1, 14] for religious liberty. 16 But some states persisted for about half a century in imposing restraints upon the free exercise of religion and in discriminating against particular religious groups. 17 In recent years, so far as the provision against the establishment of a religion is concerned, the question has most frequently arisen in connection with proposed state aid to church schools and efforts to carry on religious teachings in the public schools in accordance with the tenets of a particular sect. 18 Some churches have either sought or accepted state financial support for their schools. Here again the efforts to obtain state aid or acceptance of it have not been limited to any one particular faith. 19 The state courts, in the main, have remained faithful to the language of their own constitutional provisions designed to protect religious freedom and to separate religious and governments. Their decisions, however, show the difficulty in drawing the line between tax legislation which provides funds for the welfare of the general public and that which is designed to support institutions which teach religion. 20


The meaning and scope of the First Amendment, preventing establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, in the light of its history and the evils it [330 U.S. 1, 15] was designed forever to suppress, have been several times elaborated by the decisions of this Court prior to the application of the First Amendment to the states by the Fourteenth. 21 The broad meaning given the Amendment by these earlier cases has been accepted by this Court in its decisions concerning an individual's religious freedom rendered since the Fourteenth Amendment was interpreted to make the prohibitions of the First applicable to state action abridging religious freedom. 22 There is every reason to give the sam application and broad interpretation to the 'establishment of religion' clause. The interrelation of these complementary clauses was well summarized in a statement of the Court of Appeals of South Carolina,23 quoted with approval by this Court, in Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. 679, 730: 'The structure of our government has, for the preservation of civil liberty, rescued the temporal institutions from religious interference. On the other hand, it has secured religious liberty from the invasions of the civil authority.'

The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertain- [330 U.S. 1, 16] ing or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.' Reynolds v. United States, supra, 98 U.S. at page 164.


BTW, Justice Jackson wrote a compelling dissent in this case, although I do not think he took issue with the language quoted above. Also, apropo Jon Rowe, I note that Jackson--solicitor general, attorney general, SCOTUS justice, Chief American Prosecutor at Nuremberg--never obtained his law degree.
5.30.2007 5:04pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
True, although my understanding is that the Laws in Wales Acts actually merged Wales into England, and that as of 1707 Wales was simply part of the Kingdom of England

If Scotland does get independence, the calls for Welsh independence, which have been growing (and some of the Welsh separatists can be quite violent, burning the property of English residents) will become even stronger. After all, the Welsh have been under the English thumb for much longer than either the Irish or the Scottish (since the fourteenth century).
5.30.2007 5:37pm
markm (mail):
Whether the commingling of state and religion worked reasonably well in Western Europe rather depends at which point in time one looks.

It's been a few centuries since that led to religious wars, but it certainly didn't work well to preserve religious faith in the present day.
5.30.2007 6:05pm
Tom R (mail):
Australia, like NZ, has a monarch who happens to also moonlight as (a) Queen of England and (b) Supreme Governor of the Church of England, but Aust has never had an established church (which is not to deny that a lot of govtal accommodations of religion in Aust - land grants to churches, state aid to religious schools, automatic registration as a marriage celebrant for all clergy, who unlike civil celebrants don't have to apply to be registered as such - wouldn't run foul of the very wide US definition of "establishment").

Aust began as a convict colony with a large number (usually 25-40%) Irish Catholics, unlike either England or Republic of Ireland where the religious minority was minuscule. There is an amusing anecdote about Joe Lyons, Prime Minister in the 1930s and father of (IIRC) nine or ten children, meeting King George. "Many Irish Catholics in Australia, Lyons?" HM asked over dinner. "Oh, quite a few", the PM replied. "You want to watch them," the King advised: "They breed like rabbits".
5.30.2007 6:11pm
Tracy W (mail):
Basically it sounds like the guy's upset that traditional ceremonial things like including "Jesus Christ" in official oaths and using the Bible for administering oaths have fallen by the wayside in order to be "inclusive" to other religions.

Of course the funny thing is that when NZ was originally set up (I'm speaking post-1840) there weren't requirements to use the Bible, or require people to swear oaths stating "Jesus Christ". There was some discussion early on in the establishment of parliament as to whether to have prayers and the like but Parliament decided it would make Jewish members uncomfortable.

So he's trying to bring back a tradition that just wasn't in NZ.
5.30.2007 6:42pm
ATRGeek:
J. F. Thomas,

That is likely true, although as of now my understanding is that support for Welsh independence in Wales is substantially lower than the support for Scottish independence in Scotland. Still, I gather the Welsh are now seriously on the devolution path, which seemed to be a step toward popularizing independence for the Scottish.
5.30.2007 6:53pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Pub Editor:

Good point. For the primary sources see my blogs where I dig deep into the historical record on a daily basis. Besides the one linked to my name -- Positive Liberty -- a group blog, I reproduce all of my posts on my personal blog.

I didn't reproduce any of those quotations because I didn't feel the need to start such an argument from the sources here; but I am intimately familiar with the primary source record. But your larger point is well taken. Indeed, though I am a college professor with graduate degrees, 1) I teach in a business division at a community college, and 2) I have no PhD or advanced degree in history (I have a JD, MBA, and LL.M., all from Temple University). Though I have published two scholarly articles on the matter, one in First Things, and the other in Liberty. So I am precisely the kind of armchair expert who "seeks to make substantive contributions to scholarship."
5.30.2007 7:44pm
neurodoc:
If Scotland does get independence...

A most amusing letter to the Washington Post today about Sean Connery's support for Scottish independance:


In his May 26 op-ed, "Making History in Scotland," actor Sean Connery wrote: "My politics come from a simple belief: that my country, Scotland, should have equal status with the nearly 200 other independent countries around the world."

It is interesting to note that Mr. Connery has such pride in his country that he lives as a tax exile in the Bahamas.


WILLIAM GARRETT
Harrow, England


Just another celebrity whose political opinion is so undeserving of respect.
5.31.2007 12:17am
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Even purportedly free and democratic countries have attempted to chill religious conversion -- the fear of "foreign beliefs" is quite strong in some places. Some states in India, for example, passed laws prohibiting missionary activity, and local governments have winked at assaults on missionaries. When a "lost tribe" of Indians descended from Jews was discovered and offered citizenship in Israel, the group was pressured to have the conversion performed off Indian soil (I believe it happened on the flight to Israel). The treatment of Christianity as a "foreign belief" is particularly ludicrous, given that St. Thomas brought Christianity to India around AD 52, before it had spread to England where's it's now the state religion.
5.31.2007 12:16pm
Tom R (mail):
The issue of foreign missionaries bringing an alien religion gets sucked into the argument about colonialism and (now) globalisation, if they are assisted (b) by the guns of an imperial power or (b) (more recently) by 'well-funded" American groups. Note too that a lot of the Christian evangelism done in India, as in the Middle East, is done by Evangelical Protestants and Pentecostals who (a) are much more "Americanised" in their style and methods than Catholics/ Orthodox, (b) are more willing to reject cultural accommodations with the native society as "paganised", and (c) regard the existing millennia-old churches (usually Catholic or Orthodox in their affiliation) as "dead" - IOW, they view themselves as "new", rather than taking up the "we've been here since 52 AD" option. They aim at mass conversions (NPI) rather than survival as a small, tolerated ancient holdover sect. Given that countries like South Korea have flipped to majority Protestant/ Pentecostal over the past 50 years, and that China and several Latin American nations have a good chance of following in the 21st century, I wouldn't say they are unrealistic in their hopes.
5.31.2007 5:53pm