The First Amendment and Obama

10 November, 2008 - Monday

You know.. what I don’t understand is this:

Why does anyone care what Barack Obamas religion is??

The facts and questions surrounding Barack Obamas religion are easy and simple to find.  A quick Google search brings up about 12,600,000 results for “Barack Obama Religion”.  There is an amazing amount of information and curiosity on the part of Americans about Obamas religion.  And I ask this, in real wonderment, why??

I’ll admit that this whole “religion” thing is baffling to me, especially as a.. a.. Born Again Atheist.  I was raised Catholic and once I hit 18 and moved out on my own, I left religion behind.  But I have tolerance for those who still believe, who still need and want religion in their lives.  I may not understand it, but it’s tolerated.  I have friends who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and who knows what else. My son’s best friend is Buddhist, and his other best friend is Muslim.  WTF is the big deal??

I ask this because, yet again, in my office, people were talking about the “fact” Obama is Muslim.    They still think, after 20+ months of campaign, and a win in the election, with all the information that has been put out there, that he is Muslim.  Right off the bat this just pisses me off.

The guy (we’ll call him John), who made the statement this morning (“Obama is a f***’ing Muslim”), looked at me as if I had 9 heads and a snake-like body when I said, “So what? That is why we have the Constitution.”  He clearly has no idea what the First Amendment is, except something about “Freedom of Religion”.  To John, Freedom of Religion means “Freedom to be a Christian.”

The United States Constitution, which grants two (2, duo, 1 more than 1!) clauses regarding religion:

“[1]Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, [2]or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ”

[1]The Establishment clause prohibits

  • the creation of a national religion
  • the preference of one religion over another
  • the preference of religion over non-religion.

The US Supreme Court ruled June 27, 1994, in Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (Case Law) , that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion”.

[2]The Free Exercise Clause::

  • or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  (Case Law)

That means we cannot prohibit anyone from establishing, and/or practicing any religion, and we are not allowed to persecute for having no religion.

This is our law.  This is how our Supreme Court ruled on the First Amendment Of The Constitution of The United States of America. The Constitution does not say  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, UNLESS you are Muslim. ”

So tell me, what does it really matter?  Being a Muslim does not immediately put you into the same category of Fundamentalist Muslims.  There is a huge difference.  Does somebody being a Christian – A Baptist, say – get immediately put into the category of “Born Agains” or the Fundamentalist Christian Right?  In the same way, not all Mormons have 5 wives – not all are fundamentalist.

Do we only value our Constitution when it suits us?  Why should it matter if somebody is Muslim, Jewish, Catholic or Atheist?  Do we only get to exercise our freedom of religion, as long as it is Christian?

“But the Founding Fathers put “In God We Trust” on our money!!

In April 22, 1864, Congress passed an Amendment authorizing the motto “In God We Trust” to be placed on the two-cent coin.  It appeared on various coins throughout the years, and appeared on paper money in 1957. The phrase was eventually printed on all paper bills, superseding the motto “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One) adopted by the Union in 1782.  I say, let’s go back to E Pluribus Unum.

“But the Founding Fathers fled religious persecution, and were themselves religious!”

First, all but 8 of the Founding Fathers were born in America.  They didn’t flee anywhere. And second, take a look at what our Founding Fathers had to say on the subject of religion:

  • “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.” – Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787)
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of… Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”- Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)
  • “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” – James Madison (Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 1785.)
  • “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.” – Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)
  • Every man “ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” – George Washington (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia in May, 1789)
  • “That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.” – Patrick Henry (Virginia Bill of Rights, June 12, 1776.)

I just shake my head, because there is no answer to this question.  And there is no solution to it, until people start to practice tolerance.  And from what I have seen here in my office today, I don’t know how or when that will really happen.

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7 Responses to “The First Amendment and Obama”

  1. afaiktoit Says:

    I hear he’s a secret undercover terrorist who’s going to fly the white house into an airplane.

  2. Rahul Says:

    cool one afaiktoit!!! haha ;)

  3. z03r4 Says:

    Some people tell me that Obama’s religion is christian, not a moslem.

    I still confused on this rumor.

  4. dukelupus Says:

    z03r4: unfortunately it seems that Obama is christian, indeed. It would be much better for the world, if he would be an atheist, of course.

  5. lifessupport Says:

    He just won and now people talk. People always have a say about everything. It’s stupid.

  6. Lawdy Says:

    afaiktoit & Rahul: :P is my answer to you both ;)

    z03r4 – Obama has declared himself a Christian – you can see what he himself has had to say here: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/faith/ — watch the video. He is quite candid, and forthcoming.

    DukeLupus – I don’t find it unfortunate that Obama is a Christian. Nor would I if he had been a Muslim, Jew or a Calvanist. If somebody is secure enough in their own beliefs, and isn’t telling me that I must live that way, or believe that way, I don’t see a harm in it. (He isn’t a born again Christian, who thinks I must be “saved by Jesus”, and telling me so all the time) Religion can be comforting to some. Not that I disagree with what you said about being an Atheist. I think it would have been fantastic if the US voted in an Atheist. But that is probably long, and far off.

    and lastly, lifessupport – Well, people have been talking about Obama for a long time. And as the President, they’ll not stop asking questions and making comments. Our news is full of GWB, just as it was Clinton, and Bush, Sr, and Ronny. Everyone has that right to say stupid things. Thats the other part of the First Amendment. But because of that right to say stupid things, others have the same right to correct them. I say “right” to correct them, when, in reality, I mean “Responsibility”.

  7. lifessupport Says:

    I just wish people wouldn’t do that early at this point. I mean, he haven’t started anything yet. But, yeah people always have that right.


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