Mitt Romney: pro-Constitution, anti-secular extremism
Michael Gaynor Michael Gaynor
December 7, 2007
Thanks be to God for Mitt Romney, his faith in God and America and his fidelity to America's Constitution.
America's Founders would be disgusted with the noxious notion that God and religion should be barred from the public square but delighted with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's awesome "Faith in America" speech articulately refuting it.
America's amazing religious heritage is irrefutable.
America's Declaration of Independence humbly appealed to "the Supreme Judge of the world" and proclaimed "a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence," as well as referring to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" and a "Creator" who endowed "all men . . . with certain inalienable Rights."
America's Constitution not only referred to "the Blessings of Liberty" in its preamble, but excluded Sundays in calculating the time in which a presidential veto must be issued. It deliberately integrated religion into public affairs, while not compelling the irreligious to pretend to be religious, by providing for oaths or affirmations. If the Framers had intended to separate church and state completely and to embrace secular extremism, then they would have provided only for affirmations.
"[The Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.
"You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we (may regret) it, which I trust in God we shall not."
John Quincey Adams, July 4, 1837:
"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day.
"Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation?
"Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth?
"That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before."
Mitt Romney, December 6, 2007:
"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the founders — in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"
Thanks be to God for Mitt Romney, his faith in God and America and his fidelity to America's Constitution.
As I wrote in "The U.S. Supreme Court arbitrarily took separation of church and state much too far," posted on July 19, 2005:
"In 1947, in Everson v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court disregarded history and misconstrued the Constitution at the urging of the secular extremist minority and the expense of the overwhelming religious majority in ruling that neither federal nor state governments 'can pass laws which aid...all religions....'
"In so ruling, the Court presumptuously substituted its personal view for the views of those who founded the United States, wrote and ratified the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, and adopted the First Amendment and misused a much-quoted letter in which Thomas Jefferson had described the First Amendment as 'building a wall of separation between church and state.'
"Travesties of justice in the name of separation of church and state that would outrage the people who founded the United States of America, drafted its Constitution and adopted its Bill of Rights have followed, from the banning of voluntary nondenominational prayer in public schools to Ten Commandments displays in courthouses.
"Did the United States Constitution really require complete separation of church and state, prevent the United States government from acknowledging God and supporting religion generally, and compel the United States government and state governments to be strictly neutral as between religion and 'irreligion'?
"The answer is no.
"The contrary claims are secular extremist myths that need to be exposed."
"The First Amendment did not create a wall between church and state. It prohibited Congress from making a law 'respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'
"The kind of separation that was intended is suggested by Pierre L'Enfant's plan for a national cathedral. In 1791, Congress selected the site to be the capital of the United States. George Washington, previously President of the Constitutional Convention and then President of the United States, then commissioned L'Enfant to design an overall plan for the future seat of government. That plan included a church 'intended for national purposes, such as public prayer, thanksgiving, funeral orations, etc., and assigned to the special use of no particular Sect of denomination, but equally open to all.' The Founders and Framers favored governmental neutrality among denominations, but they never expected government to be barred from supporting religion generally to please a tiny Godless minority.
"Traditional nonsectarian acknowledgements of God by federal or state government, including the inclusion of 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance and 'In God We Trust' on United States currency, the recitation of a voluntary nondenominational prayer in a public school, and the display of a Ten Commandments monument in both federal and state courthouses, were intended to be constitutionally permissible, and coercive or sectarian governmental acts that establish a religion or prohibit or penalize the free exercise of religion (or personal choice NOT to be religious) were intended to be unconstitutional."
I also noted:
"The Founding Fathers were Christians, not secular humanists. John Adams wrote in 1813 that '[t]he general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were . . . the general principles of Christianity . . . .' America's greatest chief justice, John Marshall, proclaimed in 1833: 'The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations to it.' Marshall's statement was not literally true, of course; Americans were not even then entirely Christian. But Marshall's point was that Americans were a people of faith and their government should recognize it."
"Justice William Douglas put it well in Zorach v. Clauson (1952), in upholding a public school 'released time' program: 'We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. . . . When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. . . . [W]e find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.'"
"Thomas Cooley, in Constitutional Limitations, stated that recognition of God and general support for religion were governmental prerogatives: '[T]he American constitutions contain no provisions which prohibit the authorities from such solemn recognition of a superintending Providence in public transactions and exercises as the general religious sentiment of mankind inspires. . . . Whatever may be the shades of religious belief, all must acknowledge the fitness of recognizing in important human affairs the superintending care and control of the Great Governor of the Universe, and of acknowledging with thanksgiving his boundless favors, or bowing in contrition when visited with the penalties of his broken laws.'
"Cooley concluded, 'No principle of constitutional law is violated when thanksgiving or fast days are appointed; when chaplains are designated for the army and navy; when legislative sessions are opened with prayer or the reading of the Scriptures; or when religious teaching is encouraged by a general exemption of the houses of religious worship from taxation.'
"Cooley emphasized that government needs to 'foster religious worship and religious institutions, as conservators of the public morals and valuable, if not indispensable, assistants to the preservation of the public order.' 'Public recognition of religious worship,' he wrote, is based on 'the same reasons of state policy which induce the government to aid institutions of charity and seminaries of instruction.'"
"The First Amendment was adopted to afford atheists a right to not recognize God, to be sure, but not to give them a right to preclude government from doing so or from supporting religion generally — as the seminal Commentaries on the Constitution (1833) by Justice Joseph Story shows.
"Justice Story explained that the First Amendment's object was 'to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment....' '[T]he duty of supporting religion,' Story emphasized, was 'very different from the right to force the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshipping God in the manner which, they believe, their accountability to him requires.'
"Story conceived of governmental support for religion as a responsibility, rather than a prerogative, and not less important than respect for private religious beliefs. In his words, 'it is the especial duty of government to foster' religion, and this duty is 'wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one's conscience.'
"The current notion that public recognition of God and support for religion generally must yield to 'the right of private judgment' surely would have been absurd to Justice Story. In his view, 'the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice.'
"According to Justice Story, 'Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it . . . , the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship,' and that 'an attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.'"
Mitt Romney recognized that the absolute separation of church and state eagerly embraced as politically helpful by then Senator John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential race is NOT what the Founders intended.
Not even Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, often treated as secular extremist "saints."
In misinterpreting the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, the United States Supreme Court misused a statement by Jefferson in an 1802 letter to a Baptist group that "the whole American people...declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
Jefferson's much quoted statement has been misinterpreted as a prohibition against government acknowledging God and supporting religion generally instead of only a protection of churches from governmental interference.
The "wall of separation" that Jefferson contemplated was a wall that keeps government from interfering with religious freedom, not a wall that keeps any religious expression out of schools, courthouses and other public places. Jefferson's own preamble to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom explicitly acknowledged"Almighty God" as "the Holy Author of our religion" and "Lord both of body and mind."
Jefferson did not envision that the institutional separation he had in mind would ever be expanded to prohibit the United States from making reasonable accommodations to religion and recognizing God on its currency, in its courts or in its classrooms.
Jefferson's own actions as President demonstrate that his words were misinterpreted. As President, Jefferson attended voluntary and nondiscriminatory religious services held at the Capitol (as did President Madison). In 1803, Jefferson called on Congress to approve a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that provided for the United States to pay a Catholic missionary priest $100 a year. It was not an oversight. Jefferson later recommended two other Indian treaties with similar provisions. Jefferson also extended three times a pre-Constitution act that had designated lands "[f]or the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Brethen missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity."
If the United States Supreme Court correctly interpreting the First Amendment in Everson v. Board of Education, then Jefferson himself repeatedly violated the Establishment Clause.
But, as a pre-Civil War House Judiciary Committee report set forth in detail, "an establishment of religion" is a term of art with a specific meaning: "What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed, defining what a man must believe; it must have rights and ordinances, which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications, to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive, and penalties for the nonconformist. There never was an establishment of religion without all these."
The secular extremists of the time had challenged the constitutionality of the military chaplaincy and both the Senate and the House of Representatives had rejected their challenge as revisionist history.
The Senate Judiciary Committee report is particularly instructive: "The clause speaks of 'an establishment of religion.' What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to the establishment which existed in the mother country, its meaning is to be ascertained by ascertaining what that establishment was. It was the connection with the state of a particular religious society, by its endowment, at public expense, in exclusion of, or in preference to, any other, by giving to its members exclusive political rights, and by compelling the attendance of those who rejected its communion upon its worship, or religious observances. These three particulars constituted that union of church and state of which our ancestors were so justly jealous, and against which they so wisely and carefully provided...."
The report noted that the Founders were "utterly opposed to any constraint upon the rights of conscience" and therefore they opposed the establishment of a religion in the same manner that the church of England was established, but clarified that the Founders "had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people....They did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of 'atheistic apathy.' Not so had the battles of the revolution been fought, and the deliberations of the revolutionary Congress conducted."
Mitt Romney is a person of faith supporting America's "symphony of faith," pledging constitutional fidelity and promising "judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests."
That's what a President of the United States should be!
Michael J. Gaynor, born in New York in 1949, has been practicing law in New York for more than thirty years. A member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, he is now a solo practitioner and admitted to practice in the New York State courts, the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In 1969 Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's innovative New College, then a three-year program supported by the Ford Foundation.
In 1972 Gaynor received his doctorate of jurisprudence degree from St. John's University School of Law, where he was in the top 10% of his class. He won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote an article on the Pentagon Papers case for the Law Review and two articles on obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer, in addition to overseeing the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law, then called "The Quarterly Survey of New York Practice."
The day after graduating from St. John's Law School, Gaynor joined Fulton, Walter & Duncombe, a Manhattan law firm with offices at Rockefeller Center. Gaynor worked with that firm, first as an associate and then as a partner, through 1996. He engaged in general practice, involving corporate law, federal and state litigation, mergers and acquisitions, trusts and estates law, tax law, and other areas of law, on behalf of the firm's clients, including International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., Carvel Corporation, Tenneco Inc., UniWorld Group, Inc., and Palisades Geophysical Institute, Inc., as well as substantial charitable organizations, other corporations and individuals.
In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed the law firm of Gaynor & Bass. For more than five years, Gaynor & Bass conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed upon appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The United States Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation. Bass, as a solo practioner, had filed the case on behalf of a group of freelance writers, and the United States District Court had granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on liability.
Gaynor has written articles and letters on political, legal and religious issues for The National Law Journal, Legal Times, The New York Law Journal, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, Newsday, The Washington Times, Long Island Catholic, National Journal, and Time. He is a regular columnist at http://www.MichNews.com
and has contributed to http://www.catholiconline.com
In 2005, Gaynor appeared as a guest on "Your World With Cavuto" (FOX Cable) to promote the eBay boycott that he initiated (see http://www.boycottebay.org/reports.html
) and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the tragic Terri Schiavo case. He can be contacted at GaynorMike@aol.com
© Copyright 2007 by Michael Gaynor