Well, hell-freakin'-o, Kleinians. After an amicable split between Ezra and myself over at Pandagon, I've seen his success over here, and decided that I miss him too much. As such, I'm kicking him off this site and taking over...again. Soon, I will invite a feminist blogger on, institute a Sad Panda policy, and the cycle shall begin anew.
In an otherwise unremarkable "liberals hate public prayer" piece, Mark Alexander manages to discombobulate and disorient history in a despicable and disgusting way...dude.
He reminded us that in our nation's supreme founding document, the Declaration of Independence, "...our Founders ... declared it a self-evident truth that our right to liberty comes from God."
Let's play Spot The Inaccuracy. First prize is a digital 4-by-6 image of something in Los Angeles. (Hey, we work with what we got.)
Can the Declaration of Independence be our "nation's supreme founding document"? Particularly since the nation wasn't founded until 11 years after it was written? (Petty, I know, but there's a point here.)
How can he, and other elected leaders, get away with such a blatant breach of the "wall of separation" between church and state? Because, in short, there is no such doctrine supported in our Constitution or its superior guidance, our Declaration of Independence. In fact, the First Continental Congress called for national prayer.
Is the Declaration really "superior guidance" for the Constitution? And if so, why is no reference to "Nature's God" or the "Creator" involved in the Constitution?
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
That's the DoI, which, in according with most of the "secularity" bit, derives powers from the governed rather than the Almighty (which is a key distinction - the natural and inalienable rights of men are, according to them, from a - likely Deist - Creator, but the powers and abilities which the government enjoys are in service to and given by the governed, not their creator). Even then, the Constitution itself would, at least in my eyes, be the document superior to the Declaration, as it sets into law principles laid down as grievances ten years earlier, as well as the fact that Constitution obviously skips any mention of a Creator or God. It revolves around some of the same principles, yes, but it also enumerates them in a way that is distinctly removed from Declarational language. The document which had no legal standing cannot be considered the "true form" of the document which purposefully left out all of the stuff that seems oh-so-convenient.
Oh, and the First Continental Congress thing is a red herring that would take Arthur Conan Doyle aback - it was convened in 1774, two years before there was even a Declaration of Independence to hold up as not-law. Whether or not their first official act was prayer is subsequently immaterial, as there was no government of the United States to set a precedent for.
Oh, and Marsh v. Chambers, the case that Alexander brought up? A case decided entirely on the fact that since the practice had existed, it should continue to exist. Essentially, it set up a standard by which you could simply exempt certain practices from Constitutional applicability - Burger skipped the Lemon Test, never even addressing findings that it violated all three portions of it. It's a perfectly conservative decision, ahistorically historical in a manner that privileges tradition over principle.