Friday, May 21, 2010

The Backward Nation

My cousin posted this on Facebook today. I'm not sure who the author is, but I think it's too good not to post.


NEW School prayer:
Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.
If scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene..
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.
For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all..
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.
We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks...
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's 'inappropriate' to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such 'judgments' do not belong..
We can get our condoms and birth controls, Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles..
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.
It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!

31 comments:

ExPatMatt said...

Hey Boss,

It was my understanding that prayer and mention of God are allowed in schools (as they always have been) but that teachers are not allowed to 'lead the class in prayer' as that would constitute the state promoting one religion (Christianity) over all others despite there being provisions in the founding documents that the state should not do this (in order to allow religious freedom).

Please let me know if my understanding is incorrect.

Cheers,

Matt

bossmanham said...

Did you hear of the National Day of Prayer thing? There's this case as one example.

How would a generic prayer be promoting a certain religion? Do you think people's rights are infringed upon if there is a public prayer? How? Are people being forced to participate in that prayer? Are Christians forcing conversion down the throats of little atheists if a prayer is said over the loudspeaker? Is a state religion being instituted by allowing prayer in schools?

Or does it just make them uncomfortable? Do we have a right to non-uncomfortableness in America now? I'm uncomfortable when I hear people cuss in public. Has that been banned?

Or are people misusing the first amendment to actually limit free speech, not grant it.

David said...

Are Christians forcing conversion down the throats of little atheists if a prayer is said over the loudspeaker?

Here's what I consider a useful test. Imagine that your kid is sitting in a classroom when a Mullah comes over the loudspeaker chanting a prayer in praise of Allah and Mohammed. You're ok with that?


Or if this doesn't count because it's not a "generic prayer", then how would you define "generic prayer"?

bossmanham said...

1) Most people wouldn't be offended by any prayer. Remember, you all only make up about 10%, if that, of the population.

2) If you are offended, don't participate. No one is going to burn anyone at the stake.

3) Saying a public prayer is not instituting a state religion.

My dad relays to me the time when he was in school in the late 50's through the 60's and the principle came on every morning and said a prayer. No one was hurt. No one was offended. No one shut their ears. No one shot up the schools. It was an *gasp* encouraging way to start the day.

David said...

So, you're ok with the mullah? That's cool. Can we also get a Buddhist monk, Hindu priest, Wiccan priestess and Satan worshiper to pray over the loudspeaker, too?

Personally, I find public prayer relatively innocuous because iit's usually quite bland and of little consequence. Kids are pretty quick to tune out generic, bland, repetitious activities, regardless of what they are. Day of Prayer, no Day of Prayer, who cares?

David said...

For the constitutional record, the size of the minority protected by a given constitutional right is irrelevant. If the rights of a given minority are violated, it doesn't matter if the group is 10% or 0.00000001% of the population.

bossmanham said...

David, my Dad, who remember was in school when there was prayer, also said that it was a non-sectarian prayer. Would, "Dear Lord, please be with us today and help us learn and keep us safe...Amen," really get under your skin so much? Remember, I have to listen to people curse in school, but I'm not seeking a cuss ban.

For the constitutional record, the size of the minority protected by a given constitutional right is irrelevant. If the rights of a given minority are violated, it doesn't matter if the group is 10% or 0.00000001% of the population.

I am simply amazed at your ability to miss the point.

David said...

"David, my Dad, who remember was in school when there was prayer, also said that it was a non-sectarian prayer."

Ok, so you would have a problem with a sectarian prayer? Just trying to understand what you do and do not approve of. Any confusion could have been avoided if you'd just given me a straight answer to my mullah question. I realize that this may not apply to you, but I've heard Christians say that if you don't pray specifically to Jesus, then your prayer is sinful.

What's the point of a non-sectarian prayer anyway? As I've said, I don't really case either way, and I'm not particularly offended, but what's the point of a bland, generic prayer to an entity-not-to-be-named?


"I am simply amazed at your ability to miss the point."

You're the one who brought up the "only 10% are offended" issue. Why does "only 10% offended matter in this argument? What difference does the percent offended matter when the question of prayer in school is a constitutional one?

bossmanham said...

Why does "only 10% offended matter in this argument?

The point was the amount of people who would be offended, not the amount that deserve to be protected by the US Constitution. No one but you is promoting the silencing of certain forms of speech. That's why the comment was prefaced with "Most people wouldn't be offended by any prayer." I'm not going to make a silly appeal to pity argument here.

David said...

Still don't see the relevence of the "amount of people who would be offended, not the amount that deserve to be protected by the US Constitution". If there's to be any "silencing" of government authority-led prayer, it will be as a result of constitutional issues. So, any silencing will be as a result of something that is independent of the numbers offended. The constitution is specifically designed to protect small groups from large groups, so why mention "only 10%" at all?

By the way, I used to work at a Catholic college. Lots of things started with a prayer. It was their school, they paid the bills, they could do as they pleased. I never care either way.

Sectarian prayer. For or against?

bossmanham said...

Still don't see the relevence of the "amount of people who would be offended, not the amount that deserve to be protected by the US Constitution".

I'm focusing on the practical implications of certain people selecting to no participate in the school prayer by whatever method. My contention is it wouldn't be a huge problem because most people would appreciate it, and those who don't wouldn't be that offended by it. I would say the apathetic atheists far outweigh the atheist apologists.

So, any silencing will be as a result of something that is independent of the numbers offended.

That's pretty obvious. But I'm speaking of practical implications, not the implications of law.

By the way, I used to work at a Catholic college. Lots of things started with a prayer. It was their school, they paid the bills, they could do as they pleased. I never care either way.

Then why care at all?

Sectarian prayer. For or against?

In what setting?

David said...

"My contention is it wouldn't be a huge problem because most people would appreciate it, and those who don't wouldn't be that offended by it. I would say the apathetic atheists far outweigh the atheist apologists."

So, the prayer is ok by argumentum ad populum principle. I thought that this was type of argument was supposed to be a logical fallacy.


"But I'm speaking of practical implications, not the implications of law."

Ok, but when it comes to silencing or permitting prayer, it's awfully hard to avoid the legal questions.


"Then why care at all?"

Mostly I'm curious about how well you understand that issue.

>Sectarian prayer. For or against?

"In what setting?"

Same setting I've been referring to all along. Public school, over the loudspeaker, Wiccan priestess at the mike.

bossmanham said...

So, the prayer is ok by argumentum ad populum principle. I thought that this was type of argument was supposed to be a logical fallacy.

Just earlier I pointed out why this isn't an appeal to popularity. Please, learn to keep up, David. I am not saying prayer in school is right because most people would like it, I'm saying there would be no practical problems with allowing it.

Prayer in schools would be okay according to the constitution.

but when it comes to silencing or permitting prayer, it's awfully hard to avoid the legal questions

Which is why I pointed out there are no constitutional legal questions with regard to the issue, since this is not instituting a state church.

Mostly I'm curious about how well you understand that issue.

Then it'd be nice if you understood the issue yourself.

David said...

"I am not saying prayer in school is right because most people would like it, I'm saying there would be no practical problems with allowing it"

Right, the reason why there is "no practical problem" is that the majority of the people agree with you. You're right by virtue of majority support. Ad populum.


"Which is why I pointed out there are no constitutional legal questions with regard to the issue, since this is not instituting a state church."

I think that we need to be clear here about type of prayer are we talking about. Over the loudspeaker prayers? Teacher-led prayer? Or just some kid praying to himself in the hopes of passing a test?

Clearly, the courts have ruled that many types of prayer DO violate the establishment clause, that is, clearly there ARE constitutional questions with respect to school in prayer. In those cases where prayers are not permitted, the prohibition is usually based on Supreme Court rulings, yes? And in those cases where prayers were prohibited without an explict ruling, in almost every case, it's fear of a constitution-based lawsuit that persuaded the school in question to prohibit the particular type of prayer in question. "Prayer in schools" is almost always going to get tangled up in constitutional law.

Still haven't answered my question about the praying Wiccan.

David said...

No, wait. I know the answer. If the majority of the people have no problem with a witch leading prayers in school, then you're for it.

bossmanham said...

Right, the reason why there is "no practical problem" is that the majority of the people agree with you. You're right by virtue of majority support. Ad populum.

Again David, know what you're talking about before you post it.

I think that we need to be clear here about type of prayer are we talking about. Over the loudspeaker prayers? Teacher-led prayer? Or just some kid praying to himself in the hopes of passing a test?

Any and all.

Clearly, the courts have ruled that many types of prayer DO violate the establishment clause, that is, clearly there ARE constitutional questions with respect to school in prayer

Sure the courts did. The courts also ruled that one man had the right to own another at one point. The courts can misinterpret the constitution. Unless they can show that prayer in school is somehow establishing a state religion, then I remain unconvinced.

No, wait. I know the answer. If the majority of the people have no problem with a witch leading prayers in school, then you're for it.

Since I never used this sort of an argument, you again display your propensity for lying.

David said...

"Sure the courts did."

Stop right there. Enough said.

Whether or not YOU believe that "there are no constitutional legal questions with regard to the issue" is irrelevant. You've just acknowledged that constitutional legal questions DO exist. Obviously they exist, and there have been numerous legal battles over these questions. Obviously, the questions exist whether you agree with the court’s interpretation or not. If the questions didn't exist, you'd have no complaints about the prohibitions against certain types of school prayer.

"Any and all."

Ok, so answer the question you refuse to answer. If this is not a "constitutional legal question", then I can assume that you're ok with mullahs, witches and devil worships leading prayers, yes? Over the loudspeaker. In Satan we trust.

>No, wait. I know the answer. If the majority of the people have no problem with a witch leading prayers in school, then you're for it.

"Since I never used this sort of an argument, you again display your propensity for lying."

You’re really quick with the false accusations, aren’t you? Actually, you did use this argument.

You said, “most people wouldn't be offended by any prayer. Remember, you all only make up about 10%, if that, of the population”.

Therefore, by your position, if “most people” wouldn’t be offended by or have any problem with the witch’s prayer, you’re for it.


I don’t mean that “you’re for it” in the sense that you accept the witch’s religion. I mean that you’re for it in that you think it should be allowed, because, if you’re offended, you don’t have to participate, no one is going to burn anyone at the stake and saying a public prayer is not instituting a state religion.

Perhaps you misinterpreted my “for it” comment. Perhaps you should seek clarification before accusation.


Why are you so quick to accuse?

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I'll let Judge Crabb answer the point in her own words:

"[The National Day of Prayer] goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual's decision about whether and how to worship."

"The Supreme Court has noted often that the establishment clause is the result of the lesson learned from history that, when the government takes sides on questions of religious belief, a dangerous situation may be created, both for the favored and the disfavored groups.
"To those whose beliefs comport with the message sent by the government, it is difficult to understand why anyone would object to the message.

"However, religious expression by the government that is inspirational and comforting to a believer may seem exclusionary or even threatening to someone who does not share those beliefs. This is not simply a matter of being “too sensitive” or wanting to suppress the religious expression of others. Rather...it is a consequence of the unique danger that religious conduct by the government poses for creating 'in' groups and 'out' groups."


(Emphasis mine.) Put simply, having this law on the books, having faculty-led prayer in public schools, says I'm less American because I do not pray, and my choice in the matter is not free due to the inherent government pressure on me to do so in order to fit in.

"Unless they can show that prayer in school is somehow establishing a state religion" is not the point.

Compare and contrast these two sentences:

"Congress shall make no law establishing a religion"

"Congress shall make no law with respect to the establishment of religion."

It's the second sentence that's actually in the Constitution. Not "a religion," but "religion" in general. Not just "establishing," but in any way related--"respecting"--the establishment of religion, at all. Religion is a matter solely between a person and his or her god, the government is uninvolved.

bossmanham said...

The NDP is a day to engage any citizen who wants to pray.

Now, I'd like to see judge Crabb discuss a public and nationally recognized time of prayer with Abe Lincoln or John Adams, since both, and many other presidents, called for national attention to pray.

Put simply, having this law on the books, having faculty-led prayer in public schools, says I'm less American because I do not pray, and my choice in the matter is not free due to the inherent government pressure on me to do so in order to fit in.

Oh boo hoo. Then you end up offending believers and making them feel less American than otherwise. This is special pleading. The question isn't whether it offends some ultra sensitive people, it's whether it's allowable under the constitution.

"Congress shall make no law with respect to the establishment of religion."

You've misquoted the first amendment. It actually says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

It doesn't say "with respect to the establishment" it says "respecting AN establishment of religion" (not to mention the prohibition on prohibiting any free exercise of religion).

Misquoting the constitution doesn't fly here. The first Amendment is about establishing a state religion, not about recognizing God in the governmental sphere. The first president under the constitution immediately attended a *gasp* religious service afterwards. Don't give me this baloney.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I apologize for misquoting the constitution; I was going from memory. However, you harped on the wording and missed the point. If the constitution means what you say it means, then it would say "Congress shall make no law establishing a religion."

But it doesn't. It says "an establishment of" not "a religion," but "religion." An not just establishing, but "respecting an establishment." Meaning "referring to or concerning."

It's not a misquote to end a quote before every clause, but nobody is talking about prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Have a day of prayer if you want. Maybe one day out of the week, even, that might work.

As far as what the founders did or didn't do, anything you quote or cite from them is an Argument from Authority--they also didn't see fit to give women the vote or free the slaves. Any Argument from Authority basically boils down to "this is an opinion I agree with," and you need to convince me why I should.

But thankfully, we don't need either of our opinions. If you want school-led prayer or a National Day of Prayer, all you have to do is show three things:
1. The government's action must have a secular purpose
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
(Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971)

Here's a hint: the National Day of Prayer violates all three in either intent, letter, or practice. You lose.

bossmanham said...

If the constitution means what you say it means, then it would say "Congress shall make no law establishing a religion."

I disagree. I think the wording is pretty clear. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Congress is not allowed to make a law concerning any establishment of religion. Any law congress makes cannot establish a religion. The phrase "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" seems to clarify the context. The reason they are not to make a law establishing religion is because that would interfere with the free exercise of religion.

Instituting a national day of prayer, which suggest to anyone who wants to pray to join in the national effort, is not interfering with anyone's worship habits. Those who wish to pray can, those who wish to abstain also can.

anything you quote or cite from them is an Argument from Authority

An argument from authority isn't necessarily fallacious, especially when you're considering who wrote a particular document. If the people who wrote the document we are interpreting say or do certain things associated with that document, we should certainly look at that to assist our interpretation; don't you agree?

1. The government's action must have a secular purpose

Why should I accept that secularism is the default position? What if I think Christianity is the default position?

2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion

I can agree with that.

3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

I also agree.

The first point seems to be slanted unjustifiably. This is why I disagree with this court interpretation.

Here's a hint: the National Day of Prayer violates all three in either intent, letter, or practice. You lose.

Not according to me and the framers and the many many presidents and people who participate.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Well, if you agree that 2 and 3 are reasonable, then you will agree that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

Its primary--arguably only--purpose is the advancement of religion. It has been excessively entangled from the beginning--it was written at the request of Rev. Billy Graham, it was submitted by a Senator who was the father of Pat Robertson, it was amended in 1982 at the specific request of Christian groups so that they could plan activities to their advantage, and observances of the NDOP from the White House on down have been both less ecumenical than one might desire, and planned and celebrated in close coordination with evangelical groups.

As for thinking that Christianity is the default position, I'm sure you do. If you can find that in the Constitution, more power to you.

As far as the Argument from Authority question goes, I'm more sympathetic to your position than you might think. I've had other conversations about the separation of church and state, and quotes from the Founders invariably start flying back and forth. Is the Argument necessarily fallacious, if the person cited truly does possess some actual authority in the matter?

I ultimately decided that the Founders don't get a pass. We have thrown other ideas that they supported--sexism, racism, etc--on the ash heap of history, so any position they might have held still has to justify its modern-day validity.

I look to the words of the constitution itself, knowing them to be explicitly secular, and knowing that when religious language was proposed to be inserted into the Constitution during its crafting, those measures were defeated.

You said "Any law congress makes cannot establish a religion," and I'm saying no, you're not reading the words. Any law congress makes cannot establish religion. Any law congress makes cannot respect--refer to, concern--the establishment of religion. The removal of the indefinite article and the inclusion of that specific verb greatly broadens the zone of exclusion.

bossmanham said...

Well, if you agree that 2 and 3 are reasonable, then you will agree that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

Why point 2 (The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion) doesn't conflict with the NDP: How is the government advancing or inhibiting a religion in setting up a national day of prayer? It's not proselytizing anyone and it's not keeping anyone from worshiping how they choose. It's only setting up a day to encourage those who wish to pray to, in fact, pray.

Why point 3 (The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.) doesn't conflict with the NDP: I don't consider this an excessive entanglement with religion. Since I interpret the first amendment to be referring to the favoring, or establishing, of a particular religion by the state, I don't see the NDP as endorsing any religion. Therefore, I don't see the NDP as being excessively entangled with any particular religion.

Now, I also disagree that the government has some requirement to remain completely secular. Why should the government have the responsibility to only advance a secular agenda? Why shouldn't it reference God whenever it chooses, as long as a specific religion isn't advanced and as long as no one's liberty in exercising their religion is stifled? The first amendment isn't about atheist-izing the government, but rather about protecting the free exercise of religion.

By arguing that the day of prayer is wrong because the legislation was requested by religious people is employing the genetic fallacy. Whether the legislation is constitutional or not is completely unrelated to who requested it. If the government is not bound to be some godless entity, as the founders clearly wrote/practiced, then promoting a time of prayer that does not infringe on any specific religion is not in violation; nor would school prayer be.

I ultimately decided that the Founders don't get a pass. We have thrown other ideas that they supported--sexism, racism, etc--on the ash heap of history, so any position they might have held still has to justify its modern-day validity.

I think their views in other areas wouldn't have any relevance in this area.

I look to the words of the constitution itself, knowing them to be explicitly secular, and knowing that when religious language was proposed to be inserted into the Constitution during its crafting, those measures were defeated.

This was to prohibit any sort of infringement of religious rights. The constitution is not "secular" (if we're meaning this word to mean totally indifferent to God) since the Lord is mentioned in the Constitution.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

How is the government advancing or inhibiting a religion in setting up a national day of prayer?

I'm going to say it a third time in hopes it sinks in. I did not say that the government is advancing a religion.

Establishing a national day of prayer advances religion. Congress shall make no law RESPECTING the establishment OF RELIGION. Stop sticking the "a" in there to make it say "advancing a religion." That's not what it says, that's not what it means. It means neither for nor against and you've yet to present any argument to the contrary other than your own assertions.

I don't see the NDP as being excessively entangled with any particular religion.

At evidence in the court case is how the NDP in inception, intent and practice is by Evangelical Christians, of Evangelical Christians, and for Evangelical Christians. When discussing the entanglement issue, its origin is relevant and the genetic fallacy does not apply, particularly in that its current application is exactly what its originators desired. For you to indicate that it's a non-sectarian, ecumenical, passive recognition indicates you are not in possession of the facts on the ground.

This was to prohibit any sort of infringement of religious rights. The constitution is not "secular" (if we're meaning this word to mean totally indifferent to God) since the Lord is mentioned in the Constitution.

Not having a government sponsored day of prayer is not an infringement, any more than someone stopping giving you a backrub is assault, or Dairy Queen not giving you a free ice cream cone is theft. Nobody is preventing you from having a day of prayer anytime you please, just leave the government out of it. It baffles me why you should desire government involvement in the first place.

And this is where I call you on misquoting the Constitution. The words "Lord", "God," "Jesus" do not appear in the Constitution. The only place in the constitution that religion is even mentioned is in the First Amendment, which advocates (I think we can agree) at least neutrality, and in Article VI, which prohibits religious tests for office and is also neutral.

Please quote for me any section of the constitution which is non-secular. (And in case you're thinking of quoting the Declaration of Independence, bear in mind Jefferson was not a Christian, he was a Deist.)

bossmanham said...

And this is where I call you on misquoting the Constitution. The words "Lord", "God," "Jesus" do not appear in the Constitution.

O Rly? You want to stand by that? I just read through the constitution the other day.

Article VII

bossmanham said...

Please quote for me any section of the constitution which is non-secular.

"Attest William Jackson Secretary

done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,"

And in case you're thinking of quoting the Declaration of Independence, bear in mind Jefferson was not a Christian, he was a Deist.

So what? Many of the other founders weren't deists. He wrote the thing, but he wasn't the only one who had a say in it.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

The best you can come up with is one instance of the common-parlance phrase "in the year of our Lord?"

Considering how content-free that one exception is, I think you've proved my point.

bossmanham said...

Um, the claim is Jesus is never mentioned in the Constitution. He clearly is. And the saying wasn't used so flippantly as it is today, because the culture was not so secular. The constitution, whether you think it's just a common parlance or no, does mention Jesus Christ.

To press the point, historically, civilizations have accounted time according to the king in power at that point, ie the Xth year of king Y's reign. But, the US constitution reckons time according to 1787 years since the birth of Christ. You may not like it, the revisionists who change it to BCE and CE may not like it, but thems the facts.

You can claim it's just a common parlance, but then you must argue that about every reference to God in that time. But that's ridiculous. The culture was thoroughly Christianized, whether the founders were or not (most were).

Glad to do business with you.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Yes, you're right, the culture was thoroughly Christianized at that time (and still is, or the cause of this conversation wouldn't be controversial).

Therefore, I will concede the point if you can come up with some alternative, formal, period-appropriate way to sign off with "on this date," that they could have used in lieu of "ITYOOL." Otherwise you have no argument.

Simply doing away with Anno Domini entirely as you suggest and instituting a Revolutionary calendar is not out of the question--the French attempted to do so a few years later. However, their Revolution was in many ways against the Church as much as the state, it was heavily antireligious, whereas it was the explicit intent of our Founders to provide a place and respect for religion in society--nobody's disputing that. So the suggestion that they do away with Anno Domini is not in the realm of possibility.

Regardless, the Anno Domini notation is content-free theologically speaking--they were acutely aware of the divisiveness of their respective religious views. It came up when it was proposed that they open debates with a prayer--that got nixed because no prayer would please everyone or offend no one. "In the year of our Lord" is about the most inoffensive, purely ceremonial language one could think of. I stand by my judgment that the Constitution itself is THOROUGHLY secular from start to finish.

bossmanham said...

Well, it appears we view the facts differently. I think, if a document is to be defined as secular, then a diety should not be mentioned. Since a diety is mentioned in the Constitution, it cannot be classified as secular. But I don't think the founders ever meant for government to be godless.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, as they say (to which I offer my hand that you've been a much better person to talk to on the subject than others I've run into.) As long as we are on the same page as to the main facts, I'm fine with disagreement, welcome to democracy.

I call the Constitution a secular document because all the meat of it, the mechanics, the law of it makes no reference to anything other than strict neutrality over religion. Just because they wrote the date as they were all accustomed to writing it doesn't see to me of terrible significance. If they didn't mean for religion and government to be separate, they had plenty of opportunities to be more explicit on the subject.

I don't doubt that some of the founders didn't intend for religion and government to be separate, but I also know that they had opposition. Religious language was proposed for inclusion, prayer was called for in session, but such measures didn't carry.