Fischer’s Still-Idiotic View of the First Amendment

Bryan Fischer, being the Christian fascist that he is, writes once again that the First Amendment applies only to Christians, not to the adherents of any other religion. Reacting to the Florida school stopping outside distribution by religious groups, he offers his usual stupidity and hyperbole:

The Orange County School Board in Florida is getting ready to ban God.

The board had allowed an evangelical group to passively distribute Bibles on its campuses. Passive distribution means simply that nobody is handing them out. They are placed on a table and students can come by and pick one up if they want. If they don’t want one, they don’t have to go get one.

But once members of the Satanic Temple publicly declared their intentions to distribute material on the “philosophy and practice of Satanism,” the board re-evaluated its stand and decided not only to ban Satan from its campuses but God too. No longer will Bible distribution be allowed on its campuses.

And how does this “ban God”? Is your deity so weak that this little rule change prevents him from existing at that school?

This incident serves as a prime example of how the gross distortion of the First Amendment is destroying religious liberty and turning Christian literature into the educational equivalent of pornography, something that is considered so toxic it must be kept from the eyes of inquisitive students.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, incredibly fucking wrong. All it means is that Christian literature is being treated exactly the same way the literature of any other religion is, which is exactly what the First Amendment requires. The government cannot take a position on the truth or falsity of any religion, including yours. Which is exactly why this bothers Fischer about it. You see, he advocates “smaller government” — except he wants the government to be a big church that promotes Christianity to kids in school even if they are of a different religion. Like I said, Christian fascist.

I have written on numerous occasions that the purpose of the First Amendment, as Justice Joseph Story declares in his monumental history of the Constitution, was only to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith and to prevent the selection and designation of one Christian denomination as the official church of the United States.

Story said the purpose of the Founders in crafting the First Amendment was not to “countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, Judaism or infidelity…but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects” (meaning denominations).

But because low-information educators have so mangled our history, and activist judges have so mangled our Constitution, most Americans, even educated ones, do not understand this basic fact about the First Amendment: that by the word “religion” in the First Amendment, the Founders meant only the various expressions of Christianity.

He has flogged that out of context Joseph Story quote for all its worth. But bear in mind that Story was not one of the Founding Fathers at all. He had no role in either the Declaration of Independence (written 8 years before he was born) or the Constitution (written when he was 7 years old). Two decades later he was appointed to the Supreme Court. And for all Fischer’s talk of Story thinking Christianity was the only thing protected by the First Amendment, Fischer would certainly not consider Story a Christian himself. Story’s brother William wrote his biography, which included this from a letter he wrote to Story’s son:

“After my continued absence from home for four or five years, we met again, your father being now about eighteen years old, and renewed our former affection towards each other. At this time we were, from a similarity of sentiment, drawn more closely together. I allude particularly to our religious opinions. We frequently discussed the subject of the divinity and the humanity of Christ, and we both agreed in believing in his humanity. Thus you see that your father and myself were early Unitarians, long before the doctrine was preached among us by any one…

This faith he retained during his whole life, and was ever ardent in his advocacy of the views of Liberal Christians. He was several times President of the American Unitarian Association…He admitted within the pale of salvation Mahommedan and Christian, Catholic and Infidel. He believed that whatever is sincere and honest is recognized of God.”

So Story believed that Jesus was only a man and he was both a unitarian and a universalist (though not a Unitarian Universalist, which did not exist at the time). Fischer would condemn him as a heretic and an infidel and claim that he himself was not protected by the First Amendment.

About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Exod 16:10 ~ “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God and shall not share the table with other gods and their books and scrolls and carvings and whatnot.”

    Luke 43:2-5 ~ “And He said ‘And you shall leave copies of my book on a table and kids can take one or whatever, but should those who are not Me try to leave their books there too, take Mine away and hide them amongst your number. For it is better for none to have your Father but you than to have Him mixed in with others on a table and stuff.”

  • eric

    the purpose of the First Amendment, as Justice Joseph Story declares in his monumental history of the Constitution, was only to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith and to prevent the selection and designation of one Christian denomination as the official church of the United States.

    So, if the US Congress wants to declare Islam the official state religion, that’s okay then? Because the establishment and exercise clauses only relate to Christianity, right?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    I love when conservatives who largely exist in echo chambers accuse others of being “low information” types.

  • John Pieret

    Thomas Jefferson, a real Founding Father and whose Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom was the inspiration for the Establishment Clause, thought differently. As he said of the Virginia Act:

    Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion [which Jefferson called “some mutilations in the preamble” to overcome opposition to the Act], an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jeffauto.asp

    Of course, the Establishment Clause has no such preamble and its language is straightforward.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Don’t say ‘nuthin about no Christians.

  • Anthony K

    Story said the purpose of the Founders in crafting the First Amendment was not to “countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, Judaism or infidelity…but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects” (meaning denominations).

    So what happened to the Judeo- in the Christianity that founded America? It’s there and not-there at the same time? We must turn to physics to learn the answer:

    Judaism is penned up in so-called Judeo-Christianity, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the Jews): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that Judaism is part of American Judeo-Christianity if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the Judeo and Christianity (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.—Erwin Schrödinger, GOP Analyst

  • cptdoom

    Fischer would condemn him as a heretic and an infidel and claim that he himself was not protected by the First Amendment.

    And yet, as far as I can recall, Fischer never denounced the one actual heretic nominated by the GOP in the last Presidential election. If Fischer had any gonads, he would bring Mr. Romney on his radio program and explain how millions of Mormans have no Constitutional right to their religious beliefs. I’m sure that would go over big with his fellow conservatives who consider Joseph Smith to be a prophet of God, including his fellow broadcaster Glenn Beck.

  • theguy

    If anybody’s “low-information” it’s Adolf Fischsticks. From what I see, wingnuts accuse others being “low-information voters” all the time. It’s one of their go-to insults where they accuse others of sharing their empty, meaningless, cruel and hypocritical beliefs.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    cptdoom, as long as they hate the right people, Mormons are Christian enough. For now.

  • busterggi

    If god really cared then he’d show up in the Orange County schools on all their Cheetos, chips, grilled cheese and other holy edibles.

  • http://rationalrant.blogspot.com/ sbh

    While Story did indeed write that “The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government” as often quoted, this is only the beginning of his discussion. His conclusion is not that the first amendment applies only to Christianity, but that under it and the clause prohibiting religious tests the Federal government has no power to exclude people of any religious (or non-religious) belief. His specific final words are:

    It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.

  • david

    Even if the 1st amendment had been intended to only apply to Christianity (it wasn’t, but for the sake of argument), the 14th would have overturned that restriction, just as it overturned the unequal treatment of “other persons.”

    “No State shall make or enforce any law which … nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”

  • marcozandrini

    If Fischer’s cult is so great, why does he have to spend so much time defending it?

  • Mobius

    I was raised in the Baptist Church and I recall as a teenager hearing a similar message from my pastor…the Constitution gives you “freedom of religion”, not “freedom FROM religion”. The message being, of course, that “none of the above” was not part of the multiple choice answers.

  • http://behind-blue-eyes.us gworroll

    I’ve seen a proposed wording of the First Amendment that actually did limit it to Christianity put forth as evidence that they intended it to be limited to Christians.

    I didn’t bother fact checking- if it wasn’t real, then game over. The thought apparently never crossed their minds. If it was real, still game over- it would show they considered and *rejected* doing so.

    Wish I had bookmarked that site. Would have been a goldmine of idiocy that would probably be easy to shred on my blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002583021911 jamesgoswick

    Ed wrote:

    “Fischer would condemn him as a heretic and an infidel and claim that he himself was not protected by the First Amendment.”

    You are correct Jefferson was a heretic, but are wrong that TJ would not be protected by the 1A. The establishment clause is just that; like establishment of a church, the Anglican Church, which they were all too familiar with. A pagan church or any other non Christian church had no chance of becoming the established church. The free exercise clause is for everyone, as long as that worship does not subvert public order established by the State, which they reside. The Father of the Bill of Rights made this perfectly clear:

    “[A]ll men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”

    -Col. George Mason. Kate Mason Rowland, The Life of George Mason (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892, Vol. I, p.28.

    It was TJ that stopped by Mason’s house when he could to pick his brain and called him “of the first order of greatness.”