The First Amendment Protects All Religions – Including Satanism

First-Amendment-Religious-Freedom-610x400

“You ask, ‘What is our goal?’ To wage war to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage with all of our might and strength that God will give us. You ask, ‘What is our aim?’ One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror.” – David Lane, Religious Right Strategist, in a WND Essay, 2013

Bryan Fischer, who recently said that government is meant to be a minister of God, and that picking a president is choosing a minister of God, is back to his First Amendment tricks, claiming that it only applies to Christians, and that that was all the Founders ever intended it to do.

This time it is not Muslims he is targeting, but Satanists: as he wrote at Renew America the other day, If First Amendment isn’t just about Christianity, we have to allow Satanism.

Obviously, if the government was meant to be a minister of God, the Constitution, which establishes that government, would say so. It does not. Likewise, the Constitution would specify that the President is a minister of God. Again, it does not.

Nor does the First Amendment speak only of Christianity. Rather, it is meant to include all religions under its protection. And this is what has Fischer all riled up:

The Orange County School Board in Florida is getting ready to ban God.

The board had allowed an evangelical group to passively distribute Bibles on its campuses. Passive distribution means simply that nobody is handing them out. They are placed on a table and students can come by and pick one up if they want. If they don’t want one, they don’t have to go get one.

But once members of the Satanic Temple publicly declared their intentions to distribute material on the “philosophy and practice of Satanism,” the board re-evaluated its stand and decided not only to ban Satan from its campuses but God too. No longer will Bible distribution be allowed on its campuses.

This incident serves as a prime example of how the gross distortion of the First Amendment is destroying religious liberty and turning Christian literature into the educational equivalent of pornography, something that is considered so toxic it must be kept from the eyes of inquisitive students.

This is one of the most egregious examples of catastrophically poor reasoning skills I have ever run across. The school board does not have to suppress Bible distributions. It can allow Satanist literature as well. It is the school board’s choice to do what it did. Fischer surely knows this. The only defense he has then is to claim that the First Amendment applies only to Christians, and claiming that thinking otherwise is a “gross distortion”:

I have written on numerous occasions that the purpose of the First Amendment, was only to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith and to prevent the selection and designation of one Christian denomination as the official church of the United States.

Like in March 2011, or in August of this year, when he said, “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam.”

But the First Amendment doesn’t say what Fischer claims it says. Fischer is fond of bringing up Justice Joseph Story, and he does it here, too, writing that,

Story said the purpose of the Founders in crafting the First Amendment was not to “countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, Judaism or infidelity…but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects” (meaning denominations).

Fischer says this quote is checkmate to our liberal dreams of religious freedom, but he doesn’t give you everything Story says. I rectified that lapse in my response to Fischer in August, but here I will limit myself to Story’s final line:

“[T]he Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.”

Fischer says he is merely speaking for the Founding Fathers, but the Founding Fathers disagree with him – quite vehemently in some cases:

Jefferson said in his autobiography about the preamble to his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which is a forerunner, or precursor to the First Amendment,

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 “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

Hmmm. That’s what Story said. So it’s pretty clear the First Amendment applies to Jews, Gentiles, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.

Speaking of Hindus, you might remember when Fischer claimed that the Hindu festival of lights let demons into the Obama White House. Yes, those would be the same “Hindoos” Jefferson was saying have rights of freedom of religion equal to any Christian.

Oh, and let’s take a look at Jefferson’s “infidels of every denomination.”

This last pretty much covers any and all religions that remain, I would say. Fischer is big on the meaning of words, so let us look at the meaning of “every.” According to Oxford, this Old English word is “used with singular nouns to refer to all the members of a group of things or people.”

That means all infidels. An infidel is defined by Oxford as “somebody who does not believe in what the speaker considers to be the true religion.” In Jefferson’s world, by popular usage this would include everybody who isn’t a Christian.

This means religious freedom applies to everybody.

Fischer doesn’t like these people – infidels – either, any of them, attacking ethnic religion, that is, the traditional beliefs of a culture, any more than he likes Satanism. We have seen what behavior the actual practice of Jeffersonian religious freedom provokes in the Bible belt.

Of course, Thomas Jefferson also said,

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Unless Fischer knows of some colonial Christian denomination that worshipped no gods, and another that worshipped 20, Jefferson wasn’t talking about Christianity.

And then there is George Washington’s letter to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island in 1790:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

Unfortunately for Fischer’s argument, the Constitution does not even mention God, or the Bible, or the Ten Commandments, or Christianity. Neither does the First Amendment. As fantasies go, this is a wild one, but one that is frequently repeated despite zero evidence.

We could all just point and laugh if it wasn’t that Republicans keep electing crazies who agree with Fischer, like Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court, who in May, claimed the First Amendment applies only to Christians, on account of, “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures.”

Republicans have long desired to overturn the First Amendment by establishing Christianity as the state religion. They just can’t get over the idea that anyone could have established a secular government to protect us from lunatics like them.

And Fischer claims God gave liberals deranged minds! (You know, we read and stuff.) I warned you after the midterms, remember, not to expect the crazy to end. It clearly hasn’t. And it won’t.

If you’re ready to read more from the unbossed and unbought Politicus team, sign up for our newsletter here!

20 Replies to “The First Amendment Protects All Religions – Including Satanism”

  1. These so-called Christians are very selective in their reading of the Constitution, and the Bible. They just overlook anything that doesn’t agree with their worldview, and twist the meaning of other passages so wildly that they have no relation to what was written.

    The leaders of these people who do the actual reading know what is actually written, which means they are just con-men, and the people they manipulate will never do any research on their own, thus allowing their “leaders” to manipulate them at will. And Republicans call us sheep.

  2. The fight for religious purity is on. Will the catholic 5 agree with the fundamentalist idiots? Have the catholic 5 read the constitution?

    Bryan Fisher is a laugh a minute.

  3. The Constitution does not mention the word God nor the word Christianity. Our founding fathers were not stupid. They knew that favoring any religious belief system was anathema to a functioning democracy. That is why they wrote a Godless Constitution.

  4. I am so sick of these faux christians.

    Whatever happened to love your neighbor as yourself and God is love and do unto others as you would have done to you and as you do to the least of my people, you do unto me and judge not least you also be judged.

    What I see coming from Fisher and his ilk is hate, divisiveness and a total disregard of their fellow man.

    For myself, I couldn’t care less whether a person is black, white or purple with pink polka dots, I judge a person by their action and words.

    Fisher and cohorts may find out what happens to people like themselves. Hell, if there is such a place, is waiting.

  5. You should check out the documentary, Constantine’s Sword if you haven’t already seen it. It is all about the religious right and the military. I watched it on Netflix.

  6. djchefron, There are no atheists in foxholes and that’s because the foxholes are chock full of praying Christians.

  7. The First Amendment does NOT protect atheists because to do so would be a “war on Christianity” or in other words a war on falsehood. There are 17 states in this nation that have on state charters and local law books laws prohibiting non believers from holding office, employment, housing and health care. There really needs to be freedom FROM religion because ONLY in freedom FROM religion will we have freedom of religion.

  8. That shows you how powerful the religious lobby is. Those laws are blatantly un-Constitutional and yet they are still on the books. If we don’t push back really hard on the Christo-fascists, we will lose the America envisioned by our nation’s founders.

  9. I got a good idea on how to distribute those bibles. It is called a Church. You can’t drive one block in my town without passing one, any denomination you like can be found in about a 1 mile radius. When they had the vote to go moist here it was pure hell. By that I mean door knockers and all local news was against it, Luckily it passed by a very slim margin. They were claiming that people from wet counties and cities moved here long enough to vote on it or were paid by liquor companies. It was hilarious, I laughed the whole time at a table full at Colton’s bitching, while I sipped on a 22 ounce tall glass of cold beer.

  10. If i were God I’d want everybody to worship me, not just Christians. Probably why God blessed America. It has been a place for everyone to practice their faith. Those that don’t believe in God can also practice that. That’s called Freedom. Isn’t that the whole point of the Unites States Of America? Freedom?

  11. Sorry to pop your bubble Bill, but God didn’t “Bless America”. That’s what the author of the song wants God to do (as in “God, please bless this land”) … and since the Invisible Sky Man didn’t answer (and never actually ‘answers’), we have to take it “on faith” that He has, in fact, blessed it. As messed up as America is these days, I’m starting to think God has cursed America, if I believed in any of that “God” nonsense.

  12. Christianity has run its course. It is no longer a “religion of God” but a group of sects that have no central guidance or tenet. Each group has taken a portion of the Bible as its own, and rejected the rest. This is also what is happening in Islam as the radical groups are using the Quran as a tool to foster an agenda that otherwise would be considered totally secular.

  13. “The Founders and Framers were clear.
    On matters of religious faith and practice they were seeking Freedom of, Freedom for and freedom from religion.

    The Anglican Church’s dominance in the Colonies was the direct result of the privileged position that church had as the state religion of the British Empire. The Monarch was (and still is) the Head of the Church in England.
    Further they had the experience of other churches exercising tyrannical control (with Puritan traditions leading the way).

    Only a handful of the Founders/Framers were non-traditional in their religious principles- they all belonged to one of the church traditions in the colonies. But there were those like Franklin and Jefferson whose religious philosophy was deistic.”

  14. Continuing…

    1. 5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

    “***“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the Common Law.” – President Jefferson

    ***Thomas Jefferson (from a letter to Benjamin Rush, May 21, 1803): “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

  15. Texas Approves Textbook Teaching Moses As One Of The Founding Fathers
    On Friday the Republican-controlled Texas State Board of Education voted along party lines 10-5 to approve the biased and inaccurate textbooks. The vote signals a victory for Christian conservatives in Texas, and a disappointing defeat for historical accuracy and the education of innocent children.

    The textbooks were written to align with instructional standards that the Board of Education approved back in 2010 with the explicit intention of forcing social studies teaching to adhere to a conservative Christian agenda.

    In essence, Christian conservatives in Texas have successfully forced a false historical narrative into public school textbooks that portray Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2014/11/texas-approves-textbooks-with-moses-as-founding-father/

  16. “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
    Ay, there’s the rub. Our pockets are picked by megachurch preachers and cults like Scientology all the time: because these organizations pay no taxes, I must pay more tax (and I am a non-believer). President Jefferson, meet Joel Osteen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.