As Associate Justice Joseph Story wrote in his monumental work on the Constitution, “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment.” In other words, the First Amendment was not written to establish policy for any faith tradition other than Christianity.
The Founders were simply not dealing with Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or any other religion. This is why the Supreme Court in the 19th century could deny Mormon claims to polygamy, even though they argued for it on First Amendment grounds.
The purpose of the First Amendment then, is clear, according to Story. Its purpose is to prevent Congress from picking one Christian denomination and making it the official church of the United States, and to prevent the federal government from interfering in any way with the right of states to regulate religious expression as they see fit.
Thus, writes Story, “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.” In other words, according to Story, if we apply the Constitution as given by the Founders and not as mangled by the courts, states may prohibit the building of mosques if they choose to do so.
While this clearly does not represent the current understanding of the courts, according to the longest service associate justice in Supreme Court history, it is the correct one. And of course it is far from the only issue on which the courts have strayed far from the meaning of the Constitution as given by the Founders.
And while we may be years away from returning to an originalist standard of applying the First Amendment, the longest journey still begins with the smallest step and Story’s words may be that first step.
It’s worth noting in summary that, while I am speaking just for myself, these ideas are not my own. They come from noted prosecutor Andy McCarthy, prominent lawmaker Geert Wilders and eminent constitutional historian Joseph Story. While of course there are many who disagree vigorously with these thoughts, perhaps it’s time for a vigorous debate since so much is at stake.
While these steps will not protect us from the Muslims already among us who wish to do us harm in the name of Allah, these practical steps would stem the tide and create two large moats - the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - to protect the castle of American freedom from the very real threat of Islam.
There is no time to lose.
Bryan Fischer, Rightly Concerned 66 Comments
[9/17/2012 3:24:21 ]
Fundie Index: 56