Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Comments: “Religious rights reserved for states, citizens” ed 3/17/16

“Religious rights reserved for states, citizens”
By Gerald Lester, software architect, Metairie, The Advocate, October 1, 2014

Mr. Lester grapples with the briar bush I've been in for twenty years, focused for ten and intensely working for two years: What does it mean to be of a civic people in this country? By "a civic people" I mean those who use the preamble to categorize civic governance. I welcome Lester's help.
            Yesterday, at , Ed Smith shared a fantastic list of classical political opinion. First is Aristotle, 350 BCE; he first ponders, "What is a citizen?" After brief study: Not a person who simply lives in the country, but one who continuously contributes to justice and its administration. I don't know where Ed's study will lead me, but so far it seems that registered (not too young or alien or infirm or criminal) people who live in America have a wonderful opportunity to be such citizens, but it takes civic interest: Voting so as to increase justice and its administration. I would like neighbors to study this opportunity together, and collaborate. I can't gain mutual understanding in my mind-tunnel.
Lester's phrase, "rights granted to states and the people," bothers me and might bother Alexander Hamilton, due to the word “granted” instead of “retained” with respect to the people. In Federalist 84, representing the intentions of the signers of the Constitution, Hamilton wrote: 
It is evident, therefore, that, according to their primitive signification, [the English] have no application to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain every thing they have no need of particular reservations. 'WE, THE PEOPLE of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ORDAIN and ESTABLISH this Constitution for the United States of America.' Here is a better recognition of popular rights, than . . . in several of our State bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.

Hamilton’s and apparently the signer’s opinion is that the people govern themselves yet grant both their states some governance and the nation limited governance but reserve the right to change either and both of them. But only 70% of delegates to the convention signed the 1787 Constitution, and among the dissenting minority some wanted governance under the states and others wanted governance under their god. They had all been British subjects and some knew no better than British common law: Blackstone.
Unfortunately, the signers' tacit intention: governance of by and for a people (Abraham Lincoln's opinion) lost the subsequent debates. Today, many people argue that "consent" means either tacitly or intentionally submitting to governance by the President.

By the time the required 70% of states had ratified (in the people’s states conventions), amendments and the general nature of those amendments had been promised, and completion of the Constitution moved from the hands of 59 negotiators to politicians. Grappling with well known injustices, including the imposition of Christianity and its disputed progeny slavery, independent thinkers had created a good organization with means for change; but a political body, the First US Congress would negotiate the bargained amendments. The 1787 Constitution was incomplete until December 15, 1791 when the Bill of Rights was ratified by 75% of 14 states. Only 6% of the population could vote. With a citizenship that was 100% Christian, 99% sectarian Protestant and 1% Catholic, the First Amendment was inevitable. A people has suffered greatly by it for 225 years.
I read and commented on the article, “Religion As An Activity Engaged In By Consenting Adults In Private.” It seems Berger, perhaps a same-sex advocate, wrote a brilliant mimic by replacing the word “sex” with “religion.” My first comment is that the statement neglects children--those vulnerable persons whose dignity and equality are subjugated by adult contracts. A day later, with this writing, I am more impressed with Berger’s idea and see its good in pointing out the ills of imposing religion on children. 

A people might be well served by parents keeping religion private and allowing children to discover religion, depending on whether the child becomes interested in diverse opinions about the unknown or not. (I don't recommend it accept as an art form.) Further to my work, parents and other adults might learn to guide their civic lives according to physics-based ethics (for example, it is unethical to keep trying to fit a square peg in a round hole). Adults should keep religious morality a private affair. A people’s governance requires every religious institution to help cultivate and observe both civic collaboration and civil order (law and its institutions); opinion is insufficient as a basis for either civic safety and security or law.
 Copyright©2014 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised March 17, 2016