The First Amendment

and it’s “Establishment Clause”

Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776. The document was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson when he scribed the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It also became the basis of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The last section mentions religion:

Section 16. That religion, or the duty which 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; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

Interesting it be, that years later in 1789, when the Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution, the very first Amendment dealt with religion. Religion had moved in importance from the last clause in Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, to the first in the new American Constitution. It is worded much more simply; anyone can understand the meaning. Read the exact words from the Constitution:

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

For those who have never read the Constitution, it is surprising that there is no mention of the infamous mantra “separation of church and state”. That phrase does not exist in the Constitution. In fact, the understanding of the First Amendment is that citizens are free to practice any religion and the Congress is not to prohibit them from doing so. In addition, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speach and of the press. Engraving the Ten Commandants onto a religious tract, or onto a granite tablet is undeniably a form of “speech”. Two counties in Kentucky utilized that form of speech and posted the ancient biblical laws inside of their courthouses, and yesterday, they were ruled against by a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States.

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