TH> This was extracted from the Senate records archives of Congress, a
TH> senate report being part of a Congressional investigation on January
TH> 19th, 1853 in debating what the First Amendment really ment:
TH> "The [First Amendment] clause speaks of 'an establishment of
TH> religion.' What is meant by that expression? It refered, without
TH> doubt, to that establishment which existed in the mother- country...
TH> endowment at the public expense, peculiar privileges to its members,
TH> or disadvantages or penalties upon those who should reject its
TH> doctrines or belong to other communions, - such law would be a 'law
TH> respecting an establishment of religion..."
Your quote proves that "blue laws" are indeed unconstitutional.
Any law that enables Christian businessmen to close up shop and refrain from commerce on Sunday so that they can "honor the sabbath, and keep it holy" without fear of competition from non-Christian businessmen who might otherwise do business on Sundays IS a "peculiar privilege". And forcing Jewish and Moslem businessmen who want to observe their religion's sabbaths to endure competition from Christian businessmen who are permitted to do business on the Jewish and Moslem sabbaths, and at the same time deny those Jews and Moslems the opportunity to do business on the Christian sabbath IS a "disadvantage or penalty".
Feel free to regurgitate more quotes and precedents until your fingers tire ot tapping your keys. But I'd be very curious to see how you can refute my assertion above. How could giving Christian businessmen a decided edge over their Jewish and Moslem counterparts be construed as anything but a "peculiar advantage" to the Christians and a "disadvantage or penalty" to the non-Christians? Just don't try to convince me that the restrictions of the Constitution can be suspended by the whim of a majority.
Likewise, using publicly owned spaces for Christians to erect seasonal advertisements for their religion is an "endowment at the public expense". Again, how could such creations of seasonal advertisements for any prticular religion be interpreted as anything BUT an "endowment at public expense". And please note, nothing in your quotes said anything about the restrictions on establishing religion being waived if a majority chooses to do so.
TH> "They intended, by this amendment, to prohibit 'an
TH> establishment of religion' such as the English Church
TH> presented, or any thing like it. But they had no fear
TH> or jealosy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see
TH> us an irreligious people..."
Again, the key phrase is "or any thing like it". A "de jure" establishment of religion is what the Church of England presented. A "de facto" establishment of religion is very much like a "de jure" establishment, therefore "de facto" establishments are just as forbidden. Or do you have some other interpretation for what "any thing like it (establishment)" might refer to. Is there something else that is "like" an establishment of religion, yet not an official creation or recognition of one particular religion being the official established state church?
TH> The above factually and succinctly points up what the founding
TH> fathers have been on record, and overwhelmingly consistent with
TH> Supreme Court cases at least through the first 170 years of Americas
Which is exactly what the rest of us have been saying, both "de jure" and "de facto" establishments of religion are forbidden. The quotes you presented here as evidence conclusively support that contention. Frankly, I doubt if I could have done a better job of prooving that the Blue Laws are unconstitutional than you have with these quotes.
>RC> But the majority of all Christian worship services
>RC> are Sunday AM Tim..
TH> Ross. *How* is this "respecting the establishment
TH> of religion?"
TH> I'm sorry for banging you on this issue. It is central to this
TH> debate, and you guys are dodging it like a hot potato. As I have
TH> said, time is short, so I will hammer on this until you guys *deal*
TH> with it.
We have "dealt" with it, but you have ignored it. You posted your "proof", which was a quotation from a Senate report that was part of a Congressional inquirie. In it, the author stated that no law can give a "peculiar privilege" to the members of any religion, nor a "penalty or disadvantage" to members of any other religion.
Remember YOU are the one who introduced this quote -- not one of us who understands the separation of church and state -- you presented it as evidence. So don't try wiggling out of this by claiming the source of the proof is unreliable, unless you are willing to admit that YOU are un unreliable source.
Banning commerce on Sunday mornings gives Christian merchants and businessmen a "peculiar advantage" over non-Christians, as it allows them to worship as they choose without fear of losing business to non-Christian competitors. It also forces Jews and Moslems either remain open for business on their respective sabbaths, or to lose profits to Christians who do business during the Jewish and Moslem sabbaths. And it forbids Jews and Moslems from recovering any business lost to Christians on the Jewish or Moslem sabbath because the Jews and Moslems must also honor the Christian sabbath. That is a "penalty or disadvantage".
Thank you for intoruducing us to the language of that report. The terms "peculiar advantage" and "penalty or disadvantage" really help to clarify the kind of de facto establishment that the First Amendment prohibits.
>GE> In a society where everyone does not share the same religious
>GE> beliefs, any law that requires everyone to equally honor the
>GE> same religious tradition is unfair to those who do not hold
>GE> with the traditions that the law forces everyone to honor.
MW> I thought you and I had been over this already. Blue laws require NO
MW> ONE to honor any religion or religious tradition. Blue laws do not
MW> prevent ANY ONE from holding with whatever lawful traditions they may
MW> choose, be they religious or not.
You had made that statement before, but you were wrong then, and you are wrong now. Refraining from labor on a "special" day is a form of worship in many religions -- including the three most common in America: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Thanks to Tim Hutlzer's enlightening post of an excerpt from a Congressional report from 1853 that goes into more detail in explaining what the First Amendment is all about, we learned that it banned a "de jure" establishment of a state church, like the Church of England, and also anything "like" it. In other words, the ban also includes any "de facto" establishment of a state church that provides any of three things that accompany a "de jure" establishment of a state church.
1. Endowment at the public expense
2. Peculiar privileges to its members ("it" referring to the de facto established church)
3. Disadvantages or penalties to non-members (of the de facto established church)
If a law brings about any of those three things, it is "like" the official establishment of a state church, and is therefore forbidden.
Blue laws enable Christian businessmen to suspend their operations on the Christian sabbath with no risk of loss of business to competitors, as all competitors must also close. This is certainly a "peculiar privilege".
Blue laws also enable Christian workers to refrain from working on their sabbath without fear of lose of wages or loss of jobs, because their employers are required to be closed on Sunday anyway. This is also a "peculiar privilege".
Blue laws require non-Christian businessmen who choose to suspend operations on their sabbath to face a loss of business to their Christian competitors who are allowed to do business on the non-Christian sabbath, and it forbids the non-Christian from making up the time he lost by working on the Christian sabbath. This is certainly a "disadvantage or penalty".
And Blue laws requires non-Christian workers to lose wages, or possibly even to risk losing their jobs, if they choose to honor their non-Christian sabbath. Yet Christian workers face no such dilemma when deciding to honor the Christian sabbth or not. This is also certainly a "disadvantage or penalty".
There are other arguments that can be made about how the Blue Laws discriminate against non-Christians and discriminate for Christians. But those four arguments alone should be sufficient evidence that the blue laws do indeed violate the First Amendment's declaration of the separation of church and state.