“Show Me” the Christians!

A recent poll showed that Americans knew more about the “The Simpsons” than they did about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Well the politicians running the “Show Me” state of Missouri might let out a collective “DOH!” after they realize a bill they are considering violates the first of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. From KMOV.com:

Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state’s official “majority” religion.


The resolution would recognize “a Christian god,” and it would not protect minority religions, but “protect the majority’s right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, “a greater power exists,” and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, “justified recognition.”

The summary for House Concurrent Resolution No. 13 reads as follows:

Resolves that voluntary prayer in public schools, religious displays on public property, and the recognition of a Christian God are not a coalition of church and state.

But wait! DOES this bill violate the U.S. Constitution? The First Amendment states that ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (emphasis added), it doesn’t mention the indvidual states and their governments.

But most state Constitutions reiterate the federal limitations in their text. Article I Section 7 of the Missouri Bill of Rights states:

That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship. (emphasis added)

This bill seems to be in violation of the Missouri Constitution. You know this bill is going to get ripped apart as soon as the MSM gets hold of it. And since the SCOTUS has ruled several times against the prayer in school issue and religious displays depicting only one religion, the challenge to this bill shouldn’t make it out of the state.

But the question on my mind is, can a state establish a religion and still be in concordance with the Federal Constitution ?

A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless. — Justice Atonin Scalia

  1. Fourteenth Amendment: no state may deprive any citizen of the United States of those freedoms protected by the rest of the Constitution except by due process of law, i. e. on a case-by-case basis.

    First Amendment says Congress can’t do it; therefore Amendment XIV says no other government can do it, either.

    (Alas, the history of Amendment XIV has been more one of violation than of obedience, but that was the original intent.)

  2. No, even though the First Amendment starts with “CONGRESS shall make no law” it applies, as does the entire Bill of Rights, to all forms of government operating under the Constitution. By virtue of the 14th Amendment, all constitutional protections were extended to all citizens of the United States to be free from any form of governmental tyranny. The Privileges and Immunities Clause extends such concepts as Freedom of Speech and Religion to everyone, and specifically mentions “Due Process” and “Equal Protection” to apply even to the ordinances of your local city councils.

  3. This used to be constitutional, but is no longer since the 14th amendment. 6 of the original 13 states had established churches at the time of the signing of the Constitution.

    Granted, constitutional or not it’s a horrible idea. And with the 14th Amendment and MO’s own constitution against it, this will get shot down by the courts rather easily.

  4. Congress has the power to enforce the constitution.

    Naturally, they make a rule of not doing that.

  5. Goodness. As a Christian, I like to see others who believe strongly, but as a libertarian I just want to smack the MO state legislatures upside the head with a clue-by-four.

  6. if you’re asking about the constitution, and not what some robed power-grabber says about it, the law is very clear. except as done within each amendment, the “bill of rights” is not targeted at the feds. as law, it applied, as written, to all governments in the US since 1791. the 14th amendment does nothing to change that. would be real nice if people would stop drinking up supreme court nonsense, and simply read the law (or better, ignore the constitution entirely). the privilege and immunity the first amendment assured was from congressional (federal) interference in those matters. “incorporating” the P&Is of the first amendment to the states does nothing, since freedom from general government interference isn’t one of the properties of the first amendment. shouldn’t be too hard to notice that the “incorporation” bastardization was simply a power grab.

  7. ran out of space. wanted to thank you mike for even asking the question instead of jumping to a false conclusion as so many do. the acceptance of supreme court BS is one of the more disturbing aspects of the libertarian community. you are right to ask whether the constitution (not the supreme court), including the 14th amendment, prohibits state interference in religion. it does not. and this is not the bad thing many assume. liberty would be enhanced by allowing states to formulate baloney individually instead of the fed monster doing it to us all at once.

  8. Don’t get me wrong, I think this resolution is ridiculous. But it’s not a bill, it’s a resolution. Therefore, it couldn’t be made into a law. An important distinction.

    I have more over at Donklephant.

  9. Ignore the Constitution entirely. How about that. I’m guessing we’re not working with the best and brightest in America on that idea. Hell, liberatarians should recognize that the Constitution grants the federal government all the power it has, no more and no less. Of course, anyone who knows American government and how it works knows that the federal government can’t simply do a “power grab” on the states, given that 2/3’s of the State legislatures have to vote to adopt any Amendment. And indeed, they did in the 14th Amendment, which clearly and unequivocably states that the rights in the first ten amendments are applicable to the states too. But hey, evidently protecting the rights of African-Americans wasn’t worth it, at least according to some of the commentary here.

  10. Let’s protect the rights of the majority! They must be having such a hard time, being persecuted by us hateful Buddhists. (sarcasm!)