Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.
Addressing a Christian audience at Colorado University on October 1st, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia put forward the case that secularists are misguided in their on-going contention that the U.S Constitution requires religious quotations to be expatriated from the public domain.
According to the Washington Times, Scalia preached that any mention of God by government officials has already been prohibited in various European countries, due to widespread secularism. “There are those who would have us adopt that rule for America and if they want us to adopt that rule let us put it to a vote.” Scalia continued “But they want us to do it through the Supreme Court. And that is simply not what our constitution has ever meant.” In essence, Scalia is implying that the Supreme Court would in fact refuse a vote to extract religious expression from governmental politics. This implication demonstrates evidence rather than speculation that the Supreme Court is in fact guilty of favouring religion over separation. In Scalia`s judgement, biblical monotheism is currently the preferred religion of the U.S Constitution and will continue to be.
The First Amendment explicitly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Yet, adhering to a theological reading of the constitution`s patent text, Scalia charged its principle role is bound to protect religious freedom, not to diminish its influence in the public square. Protestant theologian Roger Williams (c1603-1683) originated a seventeenth century principle that remains antagonistic to this day `the separation of church and state.` Williams believed that preventing fault in religion was intolerable, for it required individual interpretation of God`s law, in which people would inevitably get it wrong. It was essential for government to distance itself from any direct involvement between citizens` relationship with God. The Massachusetts Bay Colony advocated principles which would result in insincerity, because forced worship according to Williams “stinks in God`s nostrils.” A society of this description would ultimately lead to profane exploitation of the church. After re-establishment of the crown, colonies were directly shaped by Williams, King Charles II established Rhode Island`s contract, clearly affirming no person was to be “molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion, in matter of religion.” Debates were influenced and shaped by Williams; his theory was particularly influential to John Locke whose work Jefferson, James Madison and other engineers of the U.S Constitution faithfully studied. Prominent scholar W.K Jordan expressed Williams`s theory as a “carefully reasoned argument for the complete dissociation of church and state…the most important contribution made during the century in this significant area of political thought.” Scalia is really probing a question here `is there a necessity to rethink the constitutional relationship between church and state?
According to the Huffington Post, Scalia lamented “We do him (God) honour in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies. There`s nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don`t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.”
Scalia`s intent to weaken the Establishment Clause in order to enforce Christianity as government stratagem is a direct contradiction to the original purpose of the U.S Constitution. Prior to such outspokenness, the Justice had been aligning himself with the majority opinion of the Supreme Court on the Town of Greece vs. Galloway case. The Supreme Court permitted the New York town to continue incorporating sectarian prayers at the commencement of legislative assemblies. Scalia has since used the ruling dishonorably for his convenience in seeking the authorization of public prayers in public schools, courtrooms and state and federal legislatures.
Digesting such assertions proves strenuous when attempting to understand Scalia`s interpretation of the U.S Constitution. In a second appearance at Colorado Boulder University, he compared his efforts to restore constitutional originality to obstacles which leading character of The Lord of The Rings, Frodo Baggins endured. He jested “It is a long uphill fight to get back to orthodoxy. We have two `originalists` on the Supreme Court. That`s something. But I feel like Frodo (in The Lord of the Rings)…we`ll get clobbered in the end, but it`s worth it ” according to the Denver Biz Journal.
Scalia`s position on the Supreme Court is questionable. As a self-professed constitutional scholar and `originalist` one would assume that the U.S Constitution’s premise would have been grasped by now. Scalia is muckraking with an alarming frequency to openly establish religion in the public sphere.