El Cajon mixing religion into government
Union Tribune (2007-10-18) Karen Marie Otter
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More Info: Church State Separation
, El Cajon City Council
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Regarding El Cajon City Council's advocation of religion in government:
The United States Constitution with its Bill of Rights outlines the rights and protections of citizens from the government. The Constitution protects the citizens against the abuse of power of the government. The government is restricted by the Constitution on how it can exercise power of citizens.
Those of us who care to can argue all day long about the separation of church and state. Each of us can pull out our lists of quotes from long dead people about the intentions of our country's founders. Fortunately, for each of us, the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and how imposed laws conflict with it. With the collective experience and education, the Supreme Court has concluded time and time again that the government cannot aid one or any religions or make a preference over another. In addition, the court clearly defines the restrictions of the government on its attempts to enforce a belief or disbelief in any religion.
The Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In its interpretation of the Constitution, the court has found that there is a separation of church and state. That doesn't mean we can't have God in our hearts when performing our duties as government officials. No one is taking your God away from you. It means that the government cannot discriminate against those who don't believe in a specific religion. It simply means the government is restricted in its dealings with citizens when it pertains to religion.
The individual members of the El Cajon City Council are citizens when they are not sitting as the council. Citizen Bob McClellan
has the right to speak about religion. Of course, citizen McClellan
has the absolute protected right to be ignorant of history and to advocate Christianity in government and to proselytize until Jesus returns. Absolutely, no one is trying to take those rights from him.
While in a meeting of the council, however, he is part of the government. Contrary to the assertions McClellan
made from his council seat on the dais at the Oct. 9 meeting, he does not have the right to speak about religion from his seat. When McClellan
does so, he is speaking as the El Cajon City Council (the government) that the separation of church and state is a myth and that our founding fathers intended religion to be in the government. Unfortunately for him, by doing these things from his council seat or speaking to the press as a council member, McClellan
is violating his oath of office by not protecting and defending the Constitution. The others on the council are just as guilty for allowing it.
While I'm not happy with the current leanings of the Supreme Court, I certainly wouldn't unilaterally decide that it is wrong and just do what I pleased. Per our United States Constitution, the government has restrictions that our El Cajon City Council doesn't honor.
Karen Marie Otter