Posted by Godefroi on April 6, 2010
Hypothetically speaking, what if those crazy “Christianists” took over the government of the Unites States.
And again hypothetically, what if the new So-Far-Right-They’re-Behind-the-Sunrise Congress appropriated government money (that’s taxes, for any uninformed) and granted – say, $38 Million* – to build a new church somewhere?
And what if, based on that success, they proceeded to grant a $30-Million-per-year-for-seven-years* boon to a Catholic Priest, SPECIFICALLY to assist him in evangelizing, and threw in another $89 Million* to build a church?
And then what if, getting even crazier, the Congress started GRANTING LAND to religious institutions, again specifically for evangelism or church-building?
Yeah…what if Congress did all those things? Those would all be violations of the First Amendment ‘Establishment Clause’ (wall of separation, and all that) right?
And you might be wondering why I would even posit such ridiculous ideas.
And if you asked me, I’d tell you: Because it’s already been done.
- In 1795, President Washington approved a grant of $1000 to build a church for the Oneida Indians.
- In 1796, an act was passed by Congress under President Washington regulating the land given to the Society of United Brethren for “propagating the gospel among the heathen…” The act was extended under Presidents Adams and Jefferson [what…Jefferson? The base of the Wall of Separation? Yes, THAT Jefferson]
- In 1803, Congress and President Jefferson approved a grant of $100 for seven years to a Roman Catholic priest to evangelize the Kaskaskia Indians, and $300 to help build them a church. Jefferson also approved similar treaties with the Wyindotte Indians in 1806 and the Cherokee Indians in 1807.
- In 1819, President Monroe, along with Congress, approved the grant of 640 acres to the rector of a Roman Catholic church in Detroit.
- In 1825, President John Quincy Adams, in a treaty with the Osage Indians, dedicated federal lands to a “missionary establishment” engaged in “teaching, civilizing, and improving said Indians.”
- In 1833, Congress and President Jackson approved a grant of $3700 to build a church and a mill for the Kickapoo Indians.
- In 1838, President Van Buren, along with Congress, approved funds to help build a church for the Oneida Indians.
Keep in mind that these Congressional appropriations all occurred within living memory of the ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, yet there was no hue and cry about them being unconstitutional…because they WERE NOT, and still would not be today, irrespective of the “opinions” of various Supreme Courts in the 20th century (beginning in 1947 with Everson) which ignore historical evidence and precedent.
*The numbers I used in the hypotheticals above are current equivalents, based on percent of GDP calculations from here – since we’re talking about tax dollars, it seemed the most appropriate comparison.