Please read the Constitution

December 10, 2021

In the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 edition of the Cape Gazette, I read the letter submitted by Mr. Ron Nicholls and I am appalled at his undereducated opinion concerning the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

First, he makes some blatantly prejudicial statements concerning Catholics and Christians. I’m going to assume that he doesn’t have a Coexist bumper sticker on his car! But my real point is his misinformed statement that allowing people to set up what is commonly referred to as a nativity scene is a violation of the First Amendment. Has he ever read the full text of the First Amendment? It is obvious from his misinterpretation of it that he most likely has not, or that he doesn’t understand it.

For the edification of the reader, let me provide the entire text: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

There is a lot packed in there, but my concern specifically is the first clause concerning religion. There are two things stated in that first clause: 1. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” What does that mean? It is generally accepted to mean that the founders did not want the Congress to establish a “state religion,” like the Church of England. Immigrants came to the Colonies (at the time) looking for a place to practice the religion of their choice. The founders were aware of this fact, and so, wanted this nation to be a place where there was no “state-required” religion. If you go online and research this item in the First Amendment, that is what you will find.

2. The second part of the clause states: “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What does that mean? It was intended to mean that you were free to practice whatever religious belief you have, even if that is no religious belief. The government was not allowed to tell you what to believe.

So, let me ask, where in that do you find any statement, even in the vaguest sense, that there was to be a separation of church and state? Scour the Constitution and the amendments, and you will find no such statement or wording.

Several of our presidents have even called for National Days of Prayer over the years. They believed in God, but they didn’t care if you didn’t!! I must wonder why people continue to perpetuate this misrepresentation of the text. The text can clearly be seen to provide for a freedom of religion when it says the government shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof, and not in any way provide for a freedom from religion. It clearly states just the opposite!  It is time to put this misinterpretation of the language of the First Amendment to rest! Read the Constitution for yourself. Research the reasons behind the things that were purposely included. Know American history and stop parroting cliches. It makes you look uneducated!

Ralph E. DeFazio
  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

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