Missouri declares Christianity its official religion.
dane at crab.rutgers.edu
Fri Mar 3 13:23:01 PST 2006
A not-very-analytic observation on a Friday afternoon:
I happened to read these posts on the Missouri resolution at about
the same time as I was taking a look at a remarkable document called
the "Flushing Remonstrance," written in 1657, in which the leaders
and citizens of Town of Flushing told Governor Stuyvesant of the
then-Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (later, of course, New York) that
they would not cooperate with his oppressive measures against the
Quakers. The document is often called the first formal statement of
religious liberty in the American colonies, and some treat it as one
of the direct precursors to the First Amendment. Unsurprisingly, its
argument for religious liberty is, in large measure, a religious argument.
It strikes me, for what it's worth, that the Missouri resolution not
only contradicts the Constitution (whether it "violates" it is a more
complicated question having to do with the status of such legislative
expressions of opinion), it also, in the saddest possible way,
violates the "law of love, peace, and liberty" referred to in the
Flushing Remonstrance. Moreover, with all its talk of majority
rights, the Missouri resolution is really more a statement of
identity politics by an angry faction than a genuine defense of
either religious values in general or even Christianity in particular.
I am also reminded here of Bob Cover's discussion of
"commitment." The authors of the Flushing Remonstrance knew that
Stuyvesant would end up arresting them, which he did. I am not
proposing, of course, that anyone actually test the mettle of the
Missouri legislators by arresting them, but I wonder how many of them
would have the courage of their convictions if that were the likely
outcome of their little legal-literary exercise.
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