First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting AN establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States.

The little indefinite article “an”, capitalized above, is crucial to interpretation of the first clause of the First Amendment. Use of a wrong article here gives disastrous results from the original intent. Our nation has experienced those disastrous results! This erroneous interpretation, and other reasons, have actually led to the complete deletion of the first religious clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights as debated and ratified by the forefathers into a present collage of US Supreme Court cases, as they rewrite the clause, into a new meaning that no one now can comprehend or understand of the actual religious issues that the first clause identifies. This unconstitutional rewrite by the Supreme Court has led to the suppression of the Word of God concerning the Good News of God in the Cross of Jesus Christ. The innocent youth of the nation have suffered the most!

Somehow the Supreme Court of the United States now interprets what is called the “first religious clause” or the “an establishment clause” in the First Amendment as if the definite article “the” appears before the noun “establishment”. So, what’s the big deal? Well, first and primarily, the definite article “the” does NOT appear before the noun “establishment and that makes a world of difference between what the “clause” actually says as written and what the United States Supreme Court “changed” it to say in 1947, when they basically officially added “the”; after, usurping exclusive jurisdiction of religion from the states!  Everson v Board of Education, 330 US 1, (1947).

The country began on the right foot in 1791 with ratification of the Bill of Rights and through 1811 with the first correct interpretation when President James Madison explained the “an establishment clause” in an actual factual setting in two (2) veto messages to Congress. He correctly used an “indefinite article” before the noun “establishment.” After 1811 and culminating in 1947 the country has been on a path of wrong but not controlling interpretations in the federal system that put us on the wrong left foot now. I can only find three (3) cases in federal jurisprudence that have even discussed the clause since 1811 until 1947-Beason (1890), Roberts (1899) and Everson (1947). Each case, hereinafter discussed, interpreted the clause as though it read “the establishment” of religion. Beason and Roberts only discussed the clause. Everson made their clause law with the use of “the.”

Why this approach by the Everson Court? Their new interpretation makes it easier for them to justify other unconstitutional changes in the Amendment which actually wholly destroy the first religious clause of the First Amendment. Extant letters and speeches of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison prove that, in that era, they knew what the clause said; and beyond 1811, the nation knew, in practical practice, what it said for nearly one hundred and sixty (160) years after its ratification.

In order to orientate ourselves to chronological history we need to remember that when ratified in 1791 none of the Bill of Rights applied to the states at all and that fact remained so for one hundred and forty (140) years for the whole Bill of Rights. But in 1925 the court began engrafting a new policy called the “selective incorporation doctrine”-under this doctrine the court selected their version of “fundamental rights” in a piecemeal manner out of the Bill of Rights and arbitrarily applied them to the states one by one. In 1947 they basically applied the policy to the “an establishment” clause. During that interval there was not one dispute I could find in the national federal administrative government that even required an interpretation of the “an establishment” first religious “clause” of the First Amendment except one (1) in the District of Columbia in (1899). Bradford v Roberts, 175 US 291 (1899). That case involved federal tax money to a hospital that was run by the Catholic Church. The District of Columbia Court decided it was not an unconstitutional outlay of tax money by federal authorities under the “an establishment” clause, but they acknowledged in that case that they were confused about how President James Madison, in 1811, had apparently “misinterpreted” and “apparently” misapplied the “an establishment” clause” in his veto message as it directly contradicted their reasoning when approving the outlay to a Catholic Hospital in the Bradford case. Madison’s vetoes occurred less than twenty-five (25) years after the Bill of Rights was ratified. If anyone knew the correct interpretation President Madison did!! He had debated the clause involved in and before 1791 as a member of Congress and helped approve it! In fact, he was the motivating and guiding force in Congress for the Bill of Rights. In 1811 then President Madison applied the clause he had helped to be approved in an actual factual situation and vetoed two (2) separate congressional bills. Each involved an “individual” and existing Protestant Christian Denominational “Church”-not “the” establishment of a national religion, denomination or church.

Beside Bradford, the “an establishment” clause had not even been mentioned but one other time in federal case law since ratification in 1791 and that was in Davis v Beason, 133 US 133 (1890); but it was not the basis of a controlling decision.

The issue then arose again in the Everson decision by the US Supreme Court in 1947-near one hundred and sixty (160) years.

But in Bradford in 1899 the “an establishment” clause was the basis for a court decision but not a US Supreme Court decision establishing a federal precedent; but, James Madison in 1811, when president, fully explained the “an establishment” clause in a veto message to the federal Congress as recorded in Bradford.  

“The authorities relied upon as directly supporting the opposite view (Note: from the court’s view) are two messages of President Madison to the Congress of the United States. In the first of these, February 21, 1811, he vetoed an “Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia.”

The reasons given for refusing to approve the act are thus stated: “The bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinctions between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.’ … This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law (my emphasis), a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration.” The concluding paragraph of this message touches the very question presented here, upon the assumption that Providence Hospital is a religious establishment: “Because the bill vests in the said incorporated church (my emphasis) an authority to provide for the support of the poor and the education of poor children of the same, an authority which, being altogether superfluous if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies, as such, a legal agency *466 in carrying into effect a public and civil duty.” Messages of the Presidents, Richardson, Vol. 1, 489, 490.

A few days later he vetoed an act for the relief of certain persons “and the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, in the Mississippi Territory;” “Because the bill in reserving a certain parcel of land of the United States for the use of said Baptist church (my emphasis) comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies (my emphasis), contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.’ ” Idem, 490.

This second veto message is based on an objection, namely, a gift of lands to a religious establishment (my emphasis), that does not exist in this case at all, and therefore is not relevant to the question as presented here.

“It seems strange, however, that, in both messages, President Madison should have made the mistake of quoting the words of the amendment as prohibiting laws “respecting a religious establishment” instead of “respecting an establishment of religion.” (My note: my emphasis. This is fascination to me because the indefinite articles “a” or “an” before a noun creates a noun phrase and each means the same thing. If the definite article “the” had been used it would be interpreted as this court erroneously actually did interpret it (at least Madison would so argue)-as “the” is not in the clause)

In the light of previous English and colonial history, and of the circumstances which led directly to the adoption of the amendment, we venture to suggest that “establishment of religion,” (my note: their view of the phrase) as used therein, can hardly be regarded as altogether synonymous with “religious establishment” (my note: Madison’s view of the phrase; but that is exactly what the amendment phrase referred to did mean!)

Again, in usage, what difference does it make if “a” or “an” is used as opposed to “the”. Answer: a world of difference!! Briefly explained, if you use “the” or interpret “an” as “the” then it means the clause is a prohibition against the federal government from establishing and exclusively supporting one national religion, denomination or church or religion and resisting and penalizing others. You would base your reasoning for following decisions on this assumption in other cases.

If you use “a” or “an” then the clause has absolutely nothing to do with the federal government “establishing” a national religion or church at all; and importantly, turns the clause into a collateral issue clause about collateral laws that congress might pass and those laws might only aid one particular individual church (an establishment of religion)-and not religion or Christian Denominations as a whole. It would not be an attempt to establish that church or the church’s denomination as a national church. This completely changes how you use the clause in future cases. The assumption in this interpretation is that the federal government has no subject matter religious jurisdiction in the constitution itself and there is therefore no authority to establish a national church, denomination or religion without the first clause anyhow! The granting clauses of Jurisdiction for the new federal government in Articles I, II and III contain no subject matter jurisdiction over religion. To say that again in the new First Amendment would be superfluous. This is the approach of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that the Constitution gave no subject matter jurisdiction to the federal government in the original constitution over religion at all.

(My observation: it seems that the Court felt they were better able to interpret the clause under discussion one hundred and ten (110) years after ratification of the Bill of Rights than the man who was there and offered several amendments for it, debated all offerings with the Congress and finally approved, with others, the final form of the Amendment. It would actually seem to me he was best equipped to interpret it.)

The nation, states, federal and state courts so well understood the Federal Constitution and First Amendment concerning religion to the degree that no one needed to litigate nor any official government federal government administrative tribunals needed to comment on the First Amendment (except Bradford in the District of Columbia) for near one hundred sixty (160) years. The United States Supreme Court, however, usurped jurisdiction and tried to interpret the “an establishment” clause beginning in 1947 and totally mutilated and rewrote the “an establishment” clause of the First Amendment in Everson. There have been literally hundreds upon hundreds of court decisions, state and federal, on all levels of appeals, Administrative Tribunal Decisions, Law Review and other Scholastic Journal articles since 1947 trying to explain the new quagmire of the first religious clause of the First Amendment with conflicting theories and applications. Before 1947 only two (cases) discussed the clause, but after 1947 literally many, many hundreds have struggled with it!

Mind you, mountains of court decisions, law review articles, scholastic journal articles; and, speeches and discussions at legal seminars, lectures and continuing legal education classes have been active and are now growing, trying to explain and apply on a national level: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”. To make it worse, the understanding of that clause originally rested on what does “an establishment” (two words!!!) mean? How is it that before 1947 millions understood the phrase and application of the first religious clause and nobody was confused in applying it except the difference between James Madison and the Bradford Court?  Millions understood before 1947 what the Constitution and Bill of Rights about religion but now there is no consensus and no one understands since 1947 what the Supreme Court said it said-even themselves, as they struggle to wisely stay “supreme” in the middle of a gordian knot they have tied! Everson is a tragic mess to this nation to this day! Till 1947 there was serenity in only having one non precedent setting lower court case on the point, after 1947 there is expanding chaos with many growing hundreds of confused decisions across the nation!

Why the confusion? Simply stated the United States Supreme court muffed it! How? (a) The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written for the general administrative federal government alone and not for the states. None of it! That was the mind set and point of reference for debate and the finished product of hundreds of representatives and delegates! There was no eye to the future that “direct” and “collateral” jurisdiction of religion might be usurped by the federal government without a constitutional convention and fully debated amendments; and, then turn the Bill of Rights on the states. The staes had their own constitutions about religion and “fundamental rights.”  (b) Subject matter jurisdiction was specifically denied the federal government over subject matter jurisdiction of religion, but in 1947 the Everson court just usurped concurrent jurisdiction over religion, without real justification, allegedly through the Fourteenth (14th) Amendment (c) there is no religious subject matter jurisdiction mentioned or granted the federal government in the 14th amendment over subject matter religion. Jurisdiction is a narrow issue and its existence, when in doubt, should be shown by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. (c) The first religious clause of the First Amendment was a COLLATERAL issue to “direct” jurisdiction intended to block  congressional laws that might assist or restrain a single denominational Christian protestant church without establishing them as the national church-the Supreme Court in 1947 did not interpret it that way in their analysis of the “an establishment” of religion clause (d) The Supreme Court simply ignored the meaning of “Congress” and “laws” that were debated and ratified by the Congress and states; and, then with a simple pen stroke expanded them as they pleased “to all legislative bodies in the country” and “laws” to “any binding government ruling anywhere”.  You can’t base an argument on First Amendment language now, you have to look for court decisions and they change with new opinions. (e) the underlying philosophy for the court in 1947 was Thomas Jefferson’s famous metaphor “A wall of separation between church and state.” But Jefferson’s metaphor is directed to jurisdiction based on interpreting the effect of the existing Constitution and first religious clause of the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court then with the stroke of a pen changed it to “merits” metaphor. Equally important, the metaphor did not even exist in either form when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified and it formed no basis for debates or reasoning for the amendment. It came from a letter and not debates and ten (10) years after ratification. (f) The Supreme Court assumed that the religious opinions of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson formed the basis for debates on the first religious clause and basically controlling in interpretation They did not! Thomas Jefferson was not even present in debates for the Constitution or Bill of Rights. He was not even in the country as he was in France. James Madison was in debates for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But all his offered amendments for the religious clause in the Bill of Rights were defeated!! And his attempt to have the Bill of Rights applied to the states was defeated. The rest of the country did not like Madison’s and Jefferson religious opinions and ignored them even to the point of scorn or sarcasm as is shown by remarks recorded of Governor Johnston of North Carolina in the North Carolina Ratification convention for the Constitution (before the Bill of Rights existed). Gov. Johnston was naming all the states and their religions (my note: all the “religions” named here were Christian Protestant Denominational “Churches”) in each state. When he got to Virginia he sarcastically remarked: “In Virginia there are many sects; you all know what their religious sentiments are.”  It is not likely they would frame the Constitution and Bill of Rights after the religious sentiments of Virginia. These are some of the reasons why there is absolute confusion about the First Amendment. The practical effect is the Supreme Court has on its own motion absolutely DELETED “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” and replaced it with a multitude of cases to be figured out as best you can-and one may change everything  next week!!!!!

This is boring reading but important!

The word “establishment” in the First Amendment is a “noun” and not a “verb” and does not refer to any possible “action” in the future like “establishing” a national religion, a national protestant Christian denomination  or national religion-to the exclusion of all others.  That issue of “establishing” was already covered and not allowed in the original body of the Constitution as Madison and Jefferson have repeatedly explained-there was just no subject matter religious jurisdiction given to the federal government in articles I, II, or III. Religious jurisdiction remained with the states exclusively. The federal government was to wholly stay out of the issue of subject matter “religion” through lack of direct jurisdiction and not interfere with state regulation of religion at all. There was however, after the Constitution was ratified, an issue of possible COLLATERAL interference by Congress in collateral type Congressional legislation touching on religion. This gave rise to the first two religious clauses of the First Amendment.

As an analogy, it might also be noted that no subject matter jurisdiction was given to the Federal Government over subject matter slavery by the sovereign states. It was specifically withheld. That jurisdiction remained totally in the states until the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. There was, however, a “collateral” issue granted the federal government “respecting” slavery when the Constitution provided in Article I, Section 9, that Congress could not prohibit the importation of persons into the United States before 1808. Subject matter jurisdiction over slavery was finally resolved in the Thirteenth (13th), Fourteenth (14th) and Fifteenth (15th) Amendments against that exclusive jurisdiction in the states. But those were proper Constitutional Amendments and not the bootstrapping arbitrary action by the Supreme Court as occurred in direct and collateral religious subject matter jurisdiction in Everson.

“Establishment” is the noun form of the verb “establish.” It becomes a noun form by the adding of “ment.” The noun then acts as any “noun” would. If you put a modifier in front of the noun “establishment” such as an “article” “the”, “a”, “an”) it then becomes a “noun phrase” but the phrase still acts as a noun and not a verb. In good grammar you never place an “article” before a verb! The first and second religious references are usually referred to as the first and second religious clauses in the First Amendment. Some have argued they are not technically “clauses.” But we will use the term in this article.

We are here only discussing interpretation of: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

Webster’s American Dictionary of the English language, 1828, offers this definitionamong others:  Establishment, noun, that which is “fixed” or “established” (my quotes added); as a permanent military force, a fixed garrison, a local government, an agency, a factory, The King has establishments to support, in the four quarters of the globe. (My comment: we could easily add any single Christian Denominational Church as “an establishment of religion”. The establishment already exists it does not need establishing) The same dictionary defines “Respecting, participle of the present tense” as: Regarding; having regard to; relating to. My explanation: it is a present participle preposition (ends in “ing”) and introduces the topic. It would control until the end of a clause or the sentence.

In our First Amendment we have the indefinite article (“an”) before the noun “establishment” and it modifies “establishment.” The two (2) words then becomes a “noun phrase”.  A noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun, which is called the head, and any dependent words before or after the head. Dependent words give specific information about the head. Noun phrases can refer to a “particular” example of something (Note: in our case “a” or “an”) or to a “whole class” of people or things (Note: in our case if “the” had been used). In our Bill of Rights, the noun phrase, “an establishment”, “establishment” is the head and “an” is the dependent word preceding the noun. A noun phrase can modify a following noun and in our case that following noun is “religion.”

In discussing the strategic importance of articles “the” is a “definite” article. “A” and “an” are “indefinite” articles but these two mean the same thing. To determine which indefinite article is grammatically correct to be used before a noun the rule is that if the noun to be modified begins with a consonant in “pronunciation”, then “a”, but if the noun it modifies begins in “pronunciation” with a vowel “sound”, then “an” is used-but importantly, it does not change the meaning if “a” is used- “an” is just better grammar! “A” establishment of religion and “an establishment” of religion mean the same thing! In our case a single existing, on the ground, church. But neither means what “the” means.

But if “the” as a definite article modifies the noun “establishment” there is an astounding and dramatic difference in meaning from “a” and “an”. The idea and meaning to be conveyed is a world apart from the meaning of “a” and “an”.  “Establishment” in the First Amendment not only begins with the vowel “e” but it is, importantly, pronounced also as a vowel. There are some nouns that begin with vowels but are not so “pronounced” and can grammatically use “a”. 

This is boring stuff but essential to proper interpretation!!!

The “article” used in the first religious clause is then crucial to the meaning of the noun phrase. If you use the definite article “the” it means the object within the noun “establishment” is definitely known and identifiable to the reader, such as generic religion.  If “the” was used then it would give credence to an interpretation that it referred to the “establishing” of a federal national religion or denomination.  But, (1) that interpretation is superfluous and not warranted as that issue is already addressed in the constitution itself with no direct religious subject matter jurisdiction. And, (2) “the” is not used!

But, crucially for the First Amendment, if you instead use the indefinite articles “a” or “an” before “establishment” as modifiers it means any particular single establishment within the noun “establishment” but not  “definitely” known and identified at the time the clause is issued but may be known now or in the future; and, refers instead to “any” individual entity among many individual entities within the noun “establishment” now or in the future of individual establishments of “religion.” Another way “Any single physical location where a religion is conducted and where religious activities are performed.  James Madison knew this when he issued his veto messages. Thomas Jefferson knew it in order to frame his metaphor.

If we reduce Christianity to a “faith system” within religion it could be any individual existing “establishment” in Christianity, in Islam or in Judaism or in any other world faith system. But in America Christianity was not so identified-Christianity was the only Truth. In America the only individual religious’ “entities” were, as a practical matter, individual Protestant Denominational Christian “CHURCHES” within various Christian denominations of Biblical Christianity. There were many such individual churches, but each denomination differing among themselves in doctrine and theology of Bible Christianity. In America, according to Webster’s Dictionary of 1808, true religion was “only” Biblical Christianity based on God as represented by Christian denominational theology based on the Bible. If a “faith system” was not based on the God of the New or Old Testament it simply was not religion!!! There were other “faith systems” and Christianity can be listed as a “faith system”. But Bible based Christianity would then be “true” faith and other systems “false” faiths.

James Madison was involved in all debates and drafts in the House of Representatives and on the Conference Committee between versions of the First Amendment and for the amendment from the Senate.

Madison personally made several offerings for what became the First Amendment. They reflected his strong personal religious views and his views were widely accepted in Virginia and resulted in a state statute concerning religious freedom originally authored by Thomas Jefferson. Madison also read and debated many other offers for the First Amendment in Congress and finally concurred in what we now have. It is crucial to know that while his religious views were well reasoned, respected and accepted in VIRGINIA they were soundly rejected in the Congress that drafted the First Amendment. The evidence is that ALL his amendments, in different forms representing his personal religious views were “rejected” by the majority of other members voting. They might have been readily accepted in Virginia but not in Congress and the rest of the nation. Remember there were twelve (12) other states represented in Congress numbering many individuals with different views on religion and the majority did not agree with Madison on his religious views.   The opinions of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison do not form the basis for the Constitution or Bill of Rights concerning religion. In other words, all their other writings widely accepted in VIRGINIA have no meaning and can shed no light on how government-church relations should be interpreted in the Constitution and Bill of Rights because all Madison offered on the First Amendment in the federal congress was soundly rejected and Thomas Jefferson was not there to share his views on the Constitution or Bill of Rights. He was not even in the country!

The states intended to keep subject matter jurisdiction over religion (which was defined in Webster’s as being limited to the God revealed in the Old and new Testaments) to themselves and to the exclusion of any subject matter jurisdiction over religion by the new federal government; and, the states would assist “Bible Christianity” but not establish a single Christian Denominational Church as the state established church.  All state constitutions and laws fully reflect that in various ways. All states regulated Christianity as they pleased-but how they did regulate religion was to be of no similar power in the federal government. Using Madison’s religious writings as a guide for the First Amendment is futile as all he offered was rejected.  But he knew what was finally passed and ratified and referred to it in Bradford!

Along the same line Thomas Jefferson had nothing to do with the drafting, debating, or ratifying of the Constitution or Bill of Rights, He was in France! There is no record anywhere that I can find he was even mentioned or anything he wrote mentioned or considered as a basis for either. So, using him as a source to interpret the reasoning behind the First Amendment before its ratification is also futile! Thomas Jefferson’s famous phrase “A wall of separation between Church and State” did not even exist until ten (10) years after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified. And, Jefferson’s metaphor was a “jurisdictional” metaphor not a “merits” metaphor and based on the already ratified Constitution and Bill of Rights. Jefferson and Madison made “merit” arguments on religion in Virginia to keep government out of religion-it involved much debate and voluntary compliance; and, they were successful. But they had no similar success in the Constitution or Bill of Rights but the Supreme Court in Everson and later cases had to treat them and use their historical stature as the basis for everything in order to justify what they were changing!

These were highly educated men in the Congress knowing they needed to be precise in what they meant. Their adventure in a federal government formed from sovereign nations was unequaled in history. What they produced is a marvel! They must be precise in balancing jurisdictional issues!!Many knew other contemporary and ancient languages where grammar must be precise in understanding. They discussed the preciseness of each amendment offered to convey their exact ideas. They would use perfect grammar in the final approved product.

Madison was also active in the debates, drafts and final form of the Constitution of the United States in the Constitutional Convention and an active advocate in the Federalist Papers to explain the Constitution to the people of the states and their representatives in ratifying conventions. While he later advanced the Bill of Rights in Congress it is noteworthy that he originally did not feel a Bill of Rights was necessary; and, he had advocated, after the Constitution was submitted to the states, for ratification arguing that the Federal Government in the original Constitution could not meddle in religion at all. Religion became a leading issue in the ratification process for the Constitution. Madison argued the federal government could not “establish a religion” or “national Church” under the Constitution as originally drafted, but he later, it seems, conceded that Congress might, nonetheless, assist one or more individual Christian Denominational Churches, without establishing them as a national denomination, and suppress one or more individual denominations represented by its individual churches by collateral laws in Congress. If they could not officially establish one Christian denomination over the others in the Constitution, they might assist one or hinder one or another! Therefore, the need of the First Amendment to address this “collateral” issue of laws that touched on religion. It would be superfluous to say the same thing again in the Bill of Rights about not “establishing” a national church (denomination) when the National government was already deprived of that jurisdiction in the Constitution.   

The foundational case (Everson) that destroyed the First Amendment in the United States was a supreme fraud; and, hundreds of courts, state and federal at different levels, along with unknown Administrative Tribunals since then (1947) still struggle with that mess!! There was no problem with interpretation from 1791 until 1947 when the Everson court, on their own motion, assumed concurrent jurisdiction over subject matter religion and eviscerated the first religious clause in the First Amendment. That Court unilaterally changed the interpretation and application of the specific words “Congress” and” laws” in the First Amendment, mutilated Thomas Jefferson’s original jurisdictional metaphor about a “wall” from his political letter into a merits metaphor and argued their reformed metaphor formed the basis of the First Amendment when, in fact, the original form nor their mutilated form did not even exist before debates ever occurred for the Constitution or the Bill of Rights; and, then basically added their mutilated form of Jefferson’s  metaphor to the First Amendment, assumed jurisdiction of religion without Constitutional Jurisdiction over religion and failed to show any grant of religious subject matter jurisdiction in the Fourteenth (14th) Amendment on which they based everything. The First Amendment religious clauses did even extend to the states for near one hundred and sixty (160) years. Madison had attempted to extend the Bill of Rights to the states but he was soundly defeated.

Finally, Everson brazenly emasculated the “an establishment” clause to suit themselves by only quoting what they liked and leaving out “an”. There is no “free standing” “establishment clause” but there is “an establishment” of religion phrase in the First Amendment. The quote from the Court in Everson is:

“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.

There is no “the” Establishment Clause but they reasoned as if there is!

The Supreme Court in Beason also interpreted the first clause of the First Amendment but they also were hung up on and reasoned as if “the” a “definite” article is before “establishment” and not the indefinite article “an” that is actually in the first religious clause of the First Amendment.  World of difference in meaning. Bradford, Beason and Everson ignored the only man who really knew and was there-James Madison but seemingly relied to a great degree on Thomas Jefferson, a man who was not there for his “wall” metaphor that did not exist when the documents were debated, and he actually had to rely on their present existence on which to formulate the metaphor; and, then the Everson court changed the metaphor from jurisdiction to merits. The court ignored the man who knew and put new words into the mouth of Thomas Jefferson to support their position.

The “an establishment” phrase simply means that while the Federal Government had no subject matter jurisdiction over religion in the constitution, Congress (not every legislative body in the Country) was additionally, “collaterally”, prohibited from passing any law that touched on religion and involved any “particular” individual Christian Denominational Church or any other “individual establishment” of religion within any other world religion. It was that simple. In America that would be individual Christian Protestant Denominational Churches with different doctrines wherever they individually existed and met. It caused no confusion for nearly one hundred and sixty (160) years.

Subject matter jurisdiction over religion, direct and collateral, should have been left exclusively within the separate jurisdiction of each individual sovereign state and the country not violently twisted from the harmonious understanding of religious jurisdiction between federal and state governments into a capricious but unified confused national interpretation on religious interaction with government favored by the US Supreme Court. Each state should individually be able to resolve its own internal religious issues as was originally intended by the elected founding fathers; and, the federal government limited to hands off as intended by the founding fathers. Hundreds of elected founding fathers did an excellent job through multitudes of elected people in different states in multitudes of debates, drafts and final forms over years in the deciding. It worked without confusion or conflict between states or states and the federal government for nearly 160 years. But, the majority of nine appointed U S Supreme Court Justices messed it up, became unelected policy makers that suppressed the Word of God in Jesus Christ across the nation, all in conference in a single case in a remarkably short period of time. Their house of cards is imploding and the nation, along with our youth, with it.  The United States Supreme Court has actively suppressed the Good News of God in the cross of Jesus Christ for some sixty (60) years now and the nation is reeling in the results of their actions in explosive, cascading lawlessness affecting almost every individual or family in the country! But the most tragic is suppression of the knowledge from the Bible that in Jesus Christ, alone, is the only means for forgiveness of sins and the gift of true eternal spiritual life with God. Without confession and repentance, the worst is yet to come!

Jim S. Brooks, retired attorney at law, SC Bar 911, 2400 East Blackstock Rd., Roebuck, S.C., 29376-3205, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Final: February 28, 2023)

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