Teaching Our Children Diligently
If these justices were to interpret the religious precept
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. [Deut 6:6-7],no doubt the justices would rule that the precept does not apply while sitting outside the house or while riding a donkey by the way, or any other time not explicitly enumerated.
Such narrow interpretations attack the essence of free exercise of religion in its broadest context. To those believers who understand the above-quoted scripture as a universal mandate to teach their children a constant awareness of the Divine, the Court's ruling is a direct attack on the free exercise of their religious beliefs.
However, the court really is caught between a rock and a hard spot in trying to balance the "Establishment" and "Free Exercise" clauses of the First Amendment. Times have changed since the First Amendment was written. Yes, our country has become more multi-cultural. But that is not the crux of the problem. The real difficulty that the Court has with the First Amendment is that it was written for a free people, governed by a strictly limited Congress. The Founders never envisioned a Federal Government whose taxation and spending penetrated the daily fabric of life. That is the real issue -- the United States has become a socialist nation, and socialism is totally incompatible with the First Amendment.
Every social program today is a combination of taxation followed by government spending. According to the prevailing interpretation of the "Establishment" clause of the First Amendment, all of that government spending must be areligious. With "Tax Freedom Day" now approaching the middle of the year, this means that nearly half of all the people's money is now being laundered through government, coming out the other end as antiseptically areligious.
Time is money. Taxes paid correspond directly to time that parents (or surrogates of the parents choice) cannot spend with their children, teaching the children the precepts mandated by their religion. Free exercise is unavoidably diminished by this amount. Even worse, the Government-provided surrogate teachers in the government schools at best pass on mixed signals, and at worst flatly contradict the precepts taught by the parents. This is NOT free exercise of religion. The Constitution is NOT being upheld.
It is a fine kettle of fish we find this country in. The court is unlikely to deal with this fundamental conflict within the First Amendment. The only honest solution within the framework of the Constitution would be to declare socialism itself unconstitutional. This drastic step would cause such a great upheaval to the current social fabric that the court is willing to ignore the clear violation of the "Free Exercise" clause rather than confronting the underlying problem.
But the religious in this country largely have themselves to blame for this situation. Every time a Priest, Rabbi, Imam, or Minister urges their flock to seek a political solution to a social problem, they push this country further into socialism and leave the time available for religious freedom with a smaller slice of the pie.
Ultimately, the only solution to this problem is for the religious of this country to eschew the easy way out of urging the government to spend "other peoples money" on social programs.
There is no other way that we will ever regain our time to "teach our children diligently."
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Last updated: August 20, 2000; Version: 1.1