One Third of Americans…

…have absolutely no idea what the First Amendment means.

And these are the Christians.  Add them to the anti-Christians who want to use the HHS mandate to smash religious liberty and that probably amounts to a majority of Americans who would like to dispense with the First Amendment for one reason or other.

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  • Irksome1

    This is because Parliament’s beareaucratic oversight of the Church of England turned out to be such a smashing success, right?

    • Beadgirl

      My favorite internet comment ever — the progressive who swore that if Bush II moved any closer to establishing Christianity as a state religion, he would move to England.

  • Will J

    Conservatives or liberals want Christianity as the official state religion?

  • Brian Gerwels

    So what’s actually wrong with this? On what basis should we as Christians oppose the US officially recognizing Christ’s authority? It does no good to appeal to the Constitution, because the Constitution provides for amendments to the Constitution. One cannot appeal to an amendment to oppose amendments.

    • TMLutas

      The problem is that christianity is fragmented and this is a huge temptation, an apple of discord. Who, exactly, gets control of the monetary and power goodies that derive from state recognition?

  • Rebekka

    What’s wrong with it?

    Which version of Christianity is going to be the state version? Baptists? Catholics? Methodists? Episcopalians?

    What about everyone else? The wrong kinds of Christians? Are they acknowledged as “an approved Christian denomination” or is it a tolerated sect, or is it a dangerous cult? What about other religions entirely?

    What about taxes? Who will run the Dept of Church? Is creationism going to be an official policy?

    Your taxes will pay for the salaries of priests, bishops, other church workers, because they will be state employees. Even if it’s not your church. There will be no discrimination in hiring, and they’ll get paid extra to work weekends.

    • Seamus

      Having “Christianity” declared to be the “national religion” does *not* mean that there will be a “Dept of Church”. Nor does it mean that clergy will be state employees. Look at the Church of Scotland.

      • TMLutas

        There will be a DoC the first president who wants to tame the criticism and independence of the Church. That should happen about 5 minutes after such legislation would pass.

    • Theodore Seeber

      That would quickly triple the salary of any Catholic priest, most of which live in poverty.

  • Will J

    Some of the European countries have moved to eliminate state religions. For example, in 2000, Sweden changed their state church, the Church of Sweden, to a national church.

  • Seamus

    I think the fact that they want to amend the constitution to make Christianity the national religion shows that they have a pretty good “idea what the First Amendment means. ” Otherwise, they wouldn’t be seeking to amend it; they’d just be trying to get an act of Congress passed.

  • Alexander Anderson

    I think that most Americans have no clue what it would mean to have an established church. If they had asked about the government owning churches, or churches being funded with tax money, or congress appointing church leaders, they would have gotten a different reaction.

    • Beccolina

      I think you’re right. Most Christians I know don’t want any government involvement in their churches at all (government money=government oversight). I suppose there are a few with romanticized notions that declaring us an “official Christian country” would automatically solve all these problems (ie make anything against Christian moral illegal or something).

    • Seamus

      The article didn’t say they wanted an “established church”. It said they wanted Christianity declared the “national religion.” That is the status of, for example, the Church of Scotland, which doesn’t have “the government owning churches, or churches being funded with tax money, or [the legislature] appointing church leaders.”

      • Alexander Anderson

        Fair enough. But I still maintain that most respondents wanted simply some statement declaring Christianity to be “official” and would honestly be baffled by attempts to go any further than that. I’m not saying that they’re right (they aren’t), I’m just saying that it’s probably far more innocuous than we suppose, and there’s most likely hardly anyone advocating any big institutional church-state mixing, mostly because the concept is so alien.

  • The True Will

    The question is hopelessly vague. Maybe the people surveyed think there should be an “official religion” just like states have “official” flowers,birds,animals and pastimes.

  • Caroline

    If a pollster wants an answer reflecting what a person really thinks he needs to briefly review what the amendment says and what it means, in other words, a short civics lesson. Give the poor slob who is probably trying to do household chores after work when the pollster grabs him, a chance to gather his thoughts and express himself beyond a one to ten scale or with degrees of agreement or disagreement at rapidly fired and often half baked statements. So often one suspects that the pollsters themselves have no comprehension of the questions they are reading at one. I handle pollsters by telling them that I am a prime example of the Bradley effect and that anything I say will invalidate their polls. That’s when I’m in a good mood.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Here’s my problem with this:

    I find the first Amendment to have been in error in several ways. But I also think the separation of Church and State is a good idea- IF it is a one-way door. And a strict reading of the First Amendment provides us with one; I’m just not sure I’d want to live in a society that actually does it.

    Here’s what it would look like to me:
    The Roman Pontiff, being the head of all Christianity (see Lumen Gentium!) ratifies any democratic vote in a “Christian Country” before the person elected can take office. This ratification cannot prevent the person from taking office, but can contain warnings about the moral status of political platforms.

    The legislature of a “Christian Country” cannot make any law about any subject that already exists in Canon Law except to provide punishments for those Canon Laws deemed serious enough to warrant society protecting itself from individuals breaking those Canons.

    No secular law shall be allowed to contradict Canon Law.

    In fact, Fr. Robert Benson wrote a science fiction novel on this subject. He’s old enough that it is out of copyright:

    The biggest problem in that novel with this system was the Church trying to convince England and Germany that the Death Penalty was a bad idea- and what to do with the atheists (ended up giving them a colony in Pittsburg and allowing them to vote Communism in as an economic system- hey, he was writing *before* the Russian Revolution, they didn’t know how bad it would get back then).

  • Cantorboy

    Might be a boon for priests if they could start waterboarding to get really good confessions.

  • Will J

    Could this be anti-Muslim?

  • hunter_gatherer_for_a_million_years

    I don’t think that a thoroughgoing establishment in which the state pays clergy salaries out of tax revenues is establishment of religion, as your overrated constitution says. Look for proof at Romania where salaries of priests, muftis, imams, bishops, etc. of recognized cults are paid from state budget and yet there is no state religion. Surely other countries can be found doing the same. You Americans have been brainwashed by your own Supreme Court in this respect (of course not all and not in the same measure, behold the previous commentaries).

  • The True Will

    Virginia, under the leadership of Jefferson, thought otherwise.

  • Nicholas Escalona

    Pope Leo XIII criticized the American form of separation of Church and state (“dissevered and divorced”) in the encyclical letter Longinqua in 1898. “The Church… would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”