Moore’s Ahistorical View of the First Amendment

Moore’s Ahistorical View of the First Amendment October 2, 2017

One of the bizarre views that Christian fascist Roy Moore holds about the Constitution is identical to the one held by Bryan Fischer, that the religion clauses of the First Amendment apply only to Christianity. He thinks when it says religion, it means Christianity.


“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship, the Mayflower” Chief Justice Roy Moore announced at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, an event hosted in January by Pro-Life Mississippi. In a video obtained and released by Raw Story last Friday, Moore told his audience that religion in the First Amendment only applied to the God in the Bible.

“Let’s get real. Let’s learn our history. Let’s stop playing games,” said Moore at the Jackson, Miss. event.

“Everybody, to include the U.S. Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called ‘religion.’ They can’t define it,” the state’s chief justice said. “They can’t define it the way Mason, Madison and even the United State Supreme Court defined it, ‘the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.’ They don’t want to do that, because that acknowledges a creator god.”

“Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the god of the Holy Scriptures,” said Moore.

But this is absolutely not the way Madison defined it, or anyone else. During the process of creating the Bill of Rights, they considered and explicitly rejected several wordings that would have applied only to Christianity, that would have forbid only the establishment of specific sects or denominations, but they rejected them all in favor of the much broader wording that was ultimately ratified.

Madison specifically prepared for this while passing the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, a law written by Jefferson but passed by Madison while the former was in France. That was the model he used for the First Amendment religion clauses. And it went through the same process, rejecting wordings that would have applied only to Christianity in favor of the much broader wording, which Jefferson said was proof that it applied to all religions:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, 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 its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.

Roy Moore comes from the David Barton school of historical lies. So does Bryan Fischer, who takes the same position. Both want to turn America into a Christian theocracy and both make highly dishonest arguments to pretend that doing so would return it to some former reality that was never actually the case.

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