Clenard Childress
The First Amendment -- its importance -- and possible demise
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By Clenard Childress
April 27, 2011

On July 13th, 1787, the Congress of the Confederation passed, "An ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States, north west of the River Ohio," which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It was later shortened to the Northwest Ordinance and passed again by the Founding Fathers, and on August 7th, 1789, President George Washington signed it into law at the same time Congress was formulating the First Amendment.

    Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

    Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

At the core of the fledgling beginnings of the United States, was the understanding that in order to have a successful nation, the pursuit of God, the pursuit of morality as enumerated in the scriptures, the revealed Nature of God, the revealed Knowledge of God, and how to apply this wisdom, would lead to the happiness of mankind. The Founding Fathers understood these keys to "a more perfect union" as an essential component for the execution of their vision. The way to ensure this vision was that our schools maintain those Judeo-Christian ideals through a good public school education.

But if the visionaries of the Constitution were alive today, they would be astonished at our public school systems and the deliberate censoring of Christianity, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." via Secular Humanism. The Founding Fathers saw religion and morality as necessary in order to have "good government" for this would also ensure the "tranquility" of "our more perfect union." Tragically, Edmond Burke's warning went unheeded and evil was able to prevail especially when good men and women of conscience remained silent while those who would subvert the Constitution incrementally stripped any and all references to the Judeo-Christian ethic, which patently is the fundamental building block of the country. "In God We Trust" has become, "In Self We Lust."

The drive to deploy Secular Humanistic thought and practice within our society can never be successful as long as the First Amendment's right to freedom of speech is in force and not abridged. Thus there is an unprecedented push to censor the true voices of change via omission, or outright censorship, confining speech to what is deemed by Secular Humanists to be Politically Correct. The Sacred Scriptures, from which the basic tenants of the Constitution were derived, are increasingly diminished and declared archaic and irrelevant by the status quo and particularly by a media, who, with few exception, are as Secular Humanist as the Secular Humanists handlers themselves. These effete groups of self-professed Intellectual Aristocrats know intuitively that if left in the hands of those who herald the message contained within the Bible — because it brings liberty and will eventually prevail — they must therefore be silenced and their influence stymied. Dr. Martin Luther King said it best when he wrote,

    "More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right." My italics.

One of the many lies perpetrated in their efforts is the myth of separation of Church and State. William Orville Douglass was a justice of the United States Supreme Court. In the 1952 case of Zorach v. Clauson, Justice Douglass asserted,

    "The First Amendment however does not say that in every respect there shall be a separation of church and state. Rather, It studiously define the manner, the specific ways in which there shall be no concert or union or dependency one on the other. That is the common sense of the matter. Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other-hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly. Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups. Policemen who helped parishioners into their places of worship would violate the Constitution. Prayers in our legislative halls, the appeals to the almighty god in the messages of the Chief Executive, the proclamation for making Thanksgiving Day a holiday, "so help me God" in our courtroom oaths, these and all references to the Almighty that run through our laws, our public rituals, our ceremonies, would be flouting the First Amendment. We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. No Constitutional requirement makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against the efforts to widen the scope of religious influence."

Justice Douglass unknowingly predicts the current condition of the Church and State solely due to the continuance in the trend begun decades before by Secular Humanists whose perseverance removed prayer, scripture reading, and public displays such as Nativity Scenes even on private property. Today these individuals and groups scour the country looking for faith in the public square and seek to destroy it wherever it is found. Government has become hostile to religion and suspicion is an understatement, especially when peaceful Pro-Life Advocates seeking to end the killing of innocent children, wind up on the Homeland Security watch list! It is time to recognize we have allowed Secular Humanists to pervert the Constitution, and through deceit and manipulation, they have created legislation which violates the Constitution and the core vision and intent of this historic document. It is up to the silent church to rise up and be held accountable and demand the inalienable rights afforded us in the First Amendment! These rights were not given us by man, but by God Himself and are aptly described in our foundational document, the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Martin Luther King also made his appeal to the sleeping church of his day in his historic missive, "Letter From Birmingham Jail," written on April 16th, 1963. In his letter he challenged the church to repent and reflect upon the heroics of the early church at its inception, recognize its failures, and to cry out against injustice. In his own words,

    "There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators." But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

    "Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

    "But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

He was right. It is time for America and the church to live out it's calling in the highest fashion. It's time for us not to drop our heads in shame when we read the words, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness..." but to raise them up. It's time for the church to remember, "We are our brother's keeper!" We need to lift up our heads and declare, "We are the salt of the earth!" Evil knows change will only come when men and women called by His Name go and speak in the valley of dry bones preaching life and restoration. America, as Dr. Martin Luther King so aptly stated, must live out its creed and become the America it declares itself to be in the Declaration of Independence.

With over 54 million voices denied access to the American Dream; with millions of our inner-city children being denied their civil right to a decent education as promulgated in the Northwest Ordinance, further enumerated in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America; called into remembrance by Dr. Martin Luther King; America has still yet to live out her creed and only the voices for true change — change we can actually live with — need listening to, like the famous African-American poet, Langston Hughes, wrote toward the end of his poem, "Let America be America Again The land that never has been yet,"

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay —
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again —
The land that never has been yet —
And yet must be — the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine — the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME —
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose —
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath —
America will be!

© Clenard Childress

 

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Clenard Childress

Rev. Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., is the senior pastor of The New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ. He is the founder of the website Blackgenocide.org and president of Life Education And Resource Network, Northeast. LEARN is the largest African-American pro-life group in the US... (more)

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