Black People : Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Jehovah's Witness Case

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by dnommo, Oct 16, 2001.

  1. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to confront a particularly tough separation of church and state issue by deciding whether a town can require permits from Jehovah's Witnesses or others who want to solicit door-to-door.
    Jehovah's Witnesses routinely go door-to-door to distribute literature and recruit members.

    A village ordinance in Stratton, Ohio, requires members of the faith - and others, from door-to-door salesmen to politicians rounding up votes - to get the mayor's permission before soliciting and to display the permit for homeowners who ask to see it.

    Jehovah's Witnesses sued the village in a church-state case with broad free-speech implications, and the justices agreed yesterday to hear their appeal of a lower court's decision for Stratton.

    "Permission to preach comes from God and not man," said Paul Polidoro, attorney for Jehovah's Witnesses, who have not solicited door-to-door in Stratton during the three years the permits have been required.

    Village leaders said permits are free and nobody has ever been denied one. The ordinance is reasonable in "weighing the First Amendment rights of canvassers against the right of homeowners to security, privacy and peacefulness in their homes," they told the Supreme Court.

    The Constitution's First Amendment guarantees both free speech and the free exercise of religion. An appellate court ruled the ordinance does not discriminate against Jehovah's Witnesses because it demands the same permit of everybody.

    The Supreme Court probably will hear the case early next year, with a ruling expected by summer. The justices restricted the issue to the First Amendment ramifications of requiring approval for all door-to-door advocacy, including political pamphleteering.

    Stratton requires people planning solicitations to divulge to the mayor names, addresses for the past five years and names and addresses of their affiliations. A homeowner can demand to see the permit, and violators can be charged with misdemeanors.

    Lawyers for the Jehovah's Witnesses said if church members were to complete permit requests, they would lose the right of citizens to practice their religion anonymously.

    The court handled a related issue in 1995. Justices ruled that Ohio could not fine a woman for distributing unsigned leaflets opposing a proposed local school tax.

    "Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority in the court's 7-2 ruling.

    The Supreme Court handled door-to-door solicitation cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1930s and 1940s. This case is broader, applying to all solicitors including candidates for office.

    "This is a tricky one," said Gregory Magarian, who teaches constitutional law at Villanova University. "The x factor is how far is the court going to go in saying it's OK for the city to protect privacy in the home this way."

    Church lawyers said similar permit requirements have popped up in other jurisdictions over the years. Neither the church nor First Amendment scholars keep track of how many localities have such requirements.

    U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. ruled in 1999 that Stratton could not limit activity from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as it initially tried to do. He ordered that stipulation to be changed to reasonable hours, but upheld the permitting process.

    The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this year that the ordinance does not discriminate because it put the same requirements on all people, regardless of their message or purpose.

    Stratton should not be stopped from "protecting its residents from fraud and undue annoyance in their homes," the court said.

    Any of the fewer than 300 residents of Stratton can notify the village that they do not want to be solicited.

    QUESTIONS:

    1. Should there be a law stipulating a separation between church and state?

    2. Should religious groups be required to carry permits to preach the gospel?

    3. Has the Constitution's ability to protect people's rights been so abused that it has been removed from its initial purpose? To give ultimate freedom in decision making?
     
  2. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    and not on my doorstep at six o'clock on a saturday morning. :D I agree with you. The right to preach is a God-ordained concept but not the abuse of it. Their practices can be, at times, quite challenging. I experienced a couple who blurted out that i was running from God because i didn't stop to hear what they had to say. Assumptions like that is not warranted nor needed. I watch as more and more Kingdom Hall's are being built in this area. Their beleif is theirs and i respect it but their tactics could change.

    Here's the deeper question: Should there be a law seperating church and state?
     
  3. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The phrase "separation of church and state" is not found in the Constitution

    As noted below, separationists take this language from Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he argued that the Constitution created a "wall of separation between church and state." But, as noted above, separationists have never taken the phrase as anything more than a handy (if historically significant) summary of the intent of the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Separationist scholar Leo Pfeffer, for example, notes:

    The phrase "Bill of Rights" has become a convenient term to designate the freedoms guaranteed in the first ten amendments; yet it would be the height of captiousness to argue that the phrase does not appear in the Constitution. Similarly, the right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term "fair trial" is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer to home, who would deny that "religious liberty" is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance which all these terms, including "separation of church and state," have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles (pp. 118).

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    Thomas Jefferson on Separation of Church and State

    Here is the letter sent to Thomas Jefferson from the Danbury Baptist and his response to them. This memo is the single most important letter in the battle between sepreation of church and state simply because it is the only evidence that separatist and atheist use to support their views. Once again there is no law or Constituional amanedmant sperating church and state.

    The Danbury Baptist Association, concerned about religious liberty in the new nation wrote to President Thomas Jefferson, Oct. 7, 1801.
    Sir, Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your Election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyd in our collective capacity, since your Inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief Majestracy in the United States; And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompious than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, Sir to believe, that none are more sincere.

    Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty -- That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals -- That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor: But Sir our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are; that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degradingacknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion should reproach their fellow men -- should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dare not assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

    Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States, is not the national legislator, and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial affect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine and prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State out of that good will which he bears to the Millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence & the voice of the people have cald you to sustain and support you in your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth & importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

    And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

    Signed in behalf of the Association.

    Nehh Dodge
    Ephram Robbins The Committee
    Stephen S. Nelson





    Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut were persecuted because they were not part of the Congretationalist establishment in that state.
    On January 1, 1802, in response to the letter from the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson wrote:


    Gentlemen:

    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which are so good to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessings of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

    Thomas Jefferson


    Sources: Robert S. Alley, Professor of Humanites, Emeritus, University of Richmond, from his article, "Public Education and the Public Good," published in William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Summer 1995.
    And Lipscomb, Andrew and Bergh, Albert, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 16, pp. 281-282.

    Information to grow with. Knowledge is power. Bottom line is this. If the Constitution was built on the facets of Christianity, then why would the government assume the position of removing faith based concepts from schools? Not only Christian prayer but Islamic prayer as well as Jewish prayer. Why is it the students are not allowed to pray in schools but will be allowed and ezcused absence for religious holidays? Is this not a double standard?

    Ring in...speak your mind...
     
  4. diva08

    diva08 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    *diggin n the couch to find two cents to put in*
    you all are complete in the argument. i'm just not seeing why so-called people of God just can't chill and let the Supreme Being pave the way for them. they took "knock and the door shall be opened unto you" a bit too far.

    it is unfortunate that characteristics of some religions completely turn people away from God Himself.

    as far as separation of church and state - how are you going to as God to bless America when America can't bless God? they put "in God we trust" but do we really? now that the twin towers are down and all of this drama is going on, God is the only thing we CAN trust.


    :confused: what was the question?


    back into my hole

    diva08:x:
     
  5. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    welcome diva08,

    your words are true. Their style of witnessing is called "Confrontational Evangelism" and most faith systems don't practice it. The Nation of Islam is one of the few faith systems that witness without confrontation. They simply sell products and allow the media to do the work. There are differences such as those you may see standing on the corners with the megaphone or evan those who attempt to stop you and pass out tracks. There are plenty of ways to witness and evangelize, even knocking on doors in the neighborhood if you have just started a church there. The question is...Is there a limit to it?

    As for church and state. The Constitution was written based on Christian values. It was done to allow the Colonist to practice Christianity freely without the Queen of England forcing them to practice Catholicism. The sad truth is that the USA today has gone so far as to abuse the Amendment that now they have the ACLU lobbying for the Atheist (those who do not believe in God or anything else) to instill them a s a religion. We lost prayer in school because of one woman from West Virgina who was an atheist and fought to remove it from the classroom. If they do not beleive in such, then why carry moent with "In God We Trust" on it. Moreso where does it end?

    Thanks for ringing in...
     
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