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News Discrimination in Texas Constitution?

  1. May 30, 2012 #1

    Drakkith

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    According to the Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4: http://www.constitution.legis.state.tx.us/

    Am I reading this correctly?
     
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  3. May 30, 2012 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Futher on
    Whilst the constitution is written in a tone that suggests freedom it clearly is written with the absolute conviction in mind that there is a god. The idea that one has to acknowledge god to work in public office is disgusting.
     
  4. May 30, 2012 #3

    russ_watters

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    I think "disgusting" is a little harsh: "anachronism" is the word I would choose.

    I can't imagine this isn't ignored today, especially since it violates the federal Constitution.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  5. May 30, 2012 #4

    BobG

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    That section has to be ignored, because as soon as it ever becomes an issue, it would eventually wind its way up to the US Supreme Court and be struck down for violating the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

    I don't know that it was ever applied to anyone (one would think they at least intended to apply it when their constitution was ratified in 1876, which was 4 years before the first 14th Amendment case reached the US Supreme Court), but it hasn't been applied in modern times.
     
  6. May 30, 2012 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    The two are not mutually exclusive.
     
  7. May 30, 2012 #6

    Office_Shredder

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    Texas is not only state with a clause like that in their constitution
     
  8. May 30, 2012 #7

    russ_watters

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    Perhaps... but I just get concerned that when we use-up our harsh language on minor wrongs, we don't save any to use on major ones.

    Just an opinion.
     
  9. May 30, 2012 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    I agree but I don't see this as a minor wrong, rather another symptom of a major one.
     
  10. May 30, 2012 #9
    IMO, you are dead wrong. You have totally ignored the fact this document was written long before the modern purges of religion from public life. Additionally, if you read the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the US, it states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". The Congress refers to the federal congress and not the state. At the time of the constitution was written, approximately 6 states had "state religions". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_religion Note from the reference the following: [The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids the federal government from enacting any law respecting a religious establishment, and thus forbids either designating an official church for the United States, or interfering with State and local official churches — which were common when the First Amendment was enacted. It did not prevent state governments from establishing official churches. Connecticut continued to do so until it replaced its colonial Charter with the Connecticut Constitution of 1818; Massachusetts retained an establishment of religion in general until 1833.[4] As of 2010[update], Article III of the Massachusetts constitution still provided, "... the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily."] Additionally, "The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 disestablished the Anglican Church, but until 1835 the NC Constitution allowed only Protestants to hold public office. From 1835–1876 it allowed only Christians (including Catholics) to hold public office. Article VI, Section 8 of the current NC Constitution forbids only atheists from holding public office.[52] Such clauses were held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, when the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with First and Fourteenth Amendment protections." e.g The ruling was made in 1961, so to rail at the Texas legislature for something that was lawful at the time and only ruled unenforceable in 1961 is ridiculous, IMO.
     
  11. May 30, 2012 #10
    There's still a blasphemy law in Massachusetts, among other places.
    Why they don't just have these removed, I have no idea.

    Are there any laws against blacks on the books still? Like "No colored man shall ever drink from the whites only water fountain, lest he be smote by the belt of the nearest white man."
     
  12. May 30, 2012 #11

    Ryan_m_b

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    Your premise is flawed and thus the rest of your comment defunct. My statement was mainly regarding requiring religion for public office in general but aside from that my line of thinking was cultural rather than legal. When things like this are still enshrined in your culture and there hasn't been a concerted effort in recent history to move on from them then something isn't right.

    When your document, even if it is no longer legally valid, says such things it indicates that the matter is not considered enough of an issue to pursue and that is not good.
     
  13. May 30, 2012 #12
    My guess is that it might be because politicians are concerned about the possible political consequences of pushing for the removal of religion based laws.
     
  14. May 30, 2012 #13

    D H

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    It became an issue with Torcaso v. Watkins, which was about a clause very similar to the cited one in Maryland's state constitution. Seven states have such clauses. They are all unconstitutional.

    While the courts can declare a law or a part of a state constitution unconstitutional per the US constitution, the courts cannot rewrite laws or rewrite the constitution. That's the job of the legislature. I suspect that all seven of these states still have that clause in their constitutions. Put yourself in a legislator's shoes. Propose to remove that clause and you have just lost your seat. Your opponent in the next election will use that proposed amendment to prove that you are a godless commie and need to be tossed. The voters will comply. The end effect: Clauses such as this stay in the constitution but aren't applied or used.
     
  15. May 30, 2012 #14

    russ_watters

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    I think you are being overly dramatic, Ryan. If a bad law isn't being used, then no actual harm is resulting from not fixing it. Sure, it is a wrong, but an itty-bitty little one that isn't hurting anyone.

    Now if you'll excuse me I need to go get a thesaurus to try to find a word to describe what I felt when looking at the pictures of dozens of hacked-to-death Syrian children last night. The word I was going to use has lost its punch.
     
  16. May 30, 2012 #15

    Ryan_m_b

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    As I've said, more than being enforced having such things in a political and legal document indicates a broader problem.
    You think there are words enough to describe these atrocities?
     
  17. May 30, 2012 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't know why you are picking on Texas. Look at Tennessee's Constitution. Article 1, Section 4 says there is to be no religion test. Article 9, Section 2 then describes the religion test.

    (And, interestingly, Article 9, Section 1 prohibits Christian ministers from being elected state legislators, but not Rabbis, Imans, Druids, Jujumen....)

    As pointed out, these were written ~130 years ago, and are not enforced because they have been declared unconstitutional. My reaction? "Move along...nothing to see here.."
     
  18. May 30, 2012 #17

    russ_watters

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    What disgusting problem does it indicate?
    No: partly because people overuse words that othetwise would have been appropriate, thereby stripping them of their descriptive value.
     
  19. May 30, 2012 #18

    Ryan_m_b

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    A cultural acceptance of platitudes that do not support the principle of separation of religion and politics.
    I disagree that this applies in this case. Either way disgust is a subjective experience, you may not find something I find disgusting disgusting but me using the word conveys my experience of disgust.

    Either way, this is off topic.
     
  20. May 30, 2012 #19

    D H

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    What is the problem?

    As I've mentioned, it's not just Texas. There are six other states with nearly identical clauses. None of those seven clauses are used or are enforced because they are unconstitutional. There are lots of examples of state constitutional clauses and laws that are still on the books but are never enforced because they have been found unconstitutional.

    There is no practical way to remove these obsolete clauses from these constitutions. A legislator would have to propose amending the constitution, a super-majority would have to pass that proposed amendment, and in Texas at least, the proposed amendment would have to be approved by the voters. There's little chance that a legislator in Texas would make such a proposal (it would be political suicide), even less chance that the legislature as a whole would approve it (this would be mass political suicide), and zero chance that it would pass that final test by the voters (we voters can be downright stupid and very bigoted.) There isn't a law that prohibits voters from being stupid or bigoted. Such a law would in fact be unconstitutional.
     
  21. May 30, 2012 #20
    Umm Prohibition is still in the federal constitution it was an amendment. There is another amendment removing its effects but once somehting is passed you never just delete it. It happened it was the law it may be superceded or countmanded by later bills or amendments but you do not strike it from the books as if it never happened. That is revisionist history and honestly not the way I would want my children taught.

    No matter what you do it will not remove anything from the old books unless you scrap the entire code and start over with a new constitution that is why "all these nonsense laws" are still on the books.

    What do you want to wipe out of history next? How about old voting laws I bet you can find some about land owners or what race you need to be. Should we pretend women and minorities could always vote?

    Like it or not its our history but that is the point its history and as has been pointed out has been resloved at the federal level years ago.
     
  22. May 30, 2012 #21

    russ_watters

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    Ryan, you are of course completely free to feel whatever you want, particularly since feelings are somewhat involuntary. But I am similarly free to disagree with the basis for your feeling and argue against it. There is nothing off topic about that. Moreover, if I can convince you that your understanding of the issue is flawed, thereby removing the basis for your feeling, I may even be able to relieve you of this unpleasant sensation. But at the same time, if there is something truly sinister under the surface in the US, I'd like to know what it is, even if learning it causes me to feel a similar unpleasant feeling.

    Now:
    You have an incorrect (but common) view of what "separation of church and state" means in the US and I daresay how the relationship works pretty much everywhere. There is no "separation of religion and politics" I am aware of in Western political thought, with the possible exception of in Marxism and is not what the First Amendment means, nor is it what is wrong with this line in the Texas Constitution. The First Amendment mandates:

    1. Freedom to practice (exercise) your religion (or lack thereof).
    2. Prohibition of establishing a state religion (even implicitly).

    The Texas Constitution violates #2. Your framing of the issue is a violation of #1 -- as well as the speech clause of the First Amendment.

    There can be no more basic/fundamental reasoning in a democracy for choosing an elected leader than picking someone who's belief structure - the concepts on which they will base their decision-making process - is similar to yours. Trying to "separate religion and politics" - as you would have us do - violates the fundamental right to freely decide - based on whatever criteria I wish (free speech), even religious ones (free excercise) - who to vote for.

    The fact that this line in the Texas Constitution remains, at its core, has little to do with religion: it is an issue in how Democracy works that can be seen in other areas, such as the poorly-worded and out of date 2nd Amendment or the lack of reference to the Air Force in the Constitution (only Army and Navy). Broader, I'm sure every country's books are littered with silly or bigoted old laws that haven't been removed because no one in Congress has bothered to interrupt their golf game to do so, even without political capital being on the line.

    But the fact that political capital would be on the line here? Yes, it tells us that Texans want Christian leaders and whether they would oppose removal of this for keen political strategem (no better way to support your side than to prevent the other from even running!) or just due to succeptibility to "godless commie" rhetoric (and chicks in bikinis in Bud Light commercials), this deep/serious flaw you see underlying the issue just plain isn't there.
     
  23. May 30, 2012 #22
    I am sure you would agree the culture is not driven by those between the lines type laws. I totally appreciate the concern regarding religion in the south-states, in particular it mixing with education.

    That law is a reflection of a past culture. Not a reflection of the current culture (however similar). It is a record of the culture, not the driver of culture.

    Lastly, birds of a feather flock together. Take a poll in Texas, it's not that crazy of a "law".

    We're talking purely culture here, so easy on the personal opinion on what you think is "proper" culture...lest the tables turn.
     
  24. May 30, 2012 #23

    jtbell

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    Many states have re-written their constitutions. For example, Georgia is on its ninth constitution, which became effective in 1983 after being drawn up by a committee, approved by the state legislature, and finally ratified by a statewide vote. Only twenty of the fifty states are still using their original constitutions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_constitution_(United_States)
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  25. May 30, 2012 #24

    Danger

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    You are correct that "disgusting" isn't quite the proper term; I'd use "reprehensible".
    You and some others (I can't remember who said what) are missing one important fact. As evidenced by the Texas rewriting of history in textbooks and Tennessee promoting Creationism, neither of those states gives a damn about the US constitution. They are blatantly defying it, and nobody is doing anything to stop them. Just because the state mandate that this thread is about isn't enforced doesn't mean that they won't enforce it if it suits their political agenda. Even if such enforcement is eventually overturned by the federal government, lives will have been ruined in the meantime.
     
  26. May 31, 2012 #25
    Rewriting history eh?? As noted above in my previous post. The 1st Amendment, as originally interpreted, was written to prevent ONLY the Federal Congress from passing a LAW respecting establishment of religion , etc. It was the 14th Amendment that was written to "rewrite" history to change the 1st Amendment such that the Congress can now violate the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". And, take a look at the checkered past of the 14th Amendment, e.g. how it was passed. Even the SCOTUS via Congress created 40 U.S.C. §6135 to make it illegal to pray on the sidewalk outside their building! http://www.wnd.com/2010/07/179585/ How can 40 U.S.C. §6135 not be a law aimed squarely at free speech and free exercise? So much for free exercise. Maybe we should just strike the words "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" from the Constitution, since they have almost no practical application in public anymore.

    That's the true rewriting of history. The rewrite is taking the Constitution and Bill of Rights out of the context in which they were written and applying a "new" interpretation to what the founders, framers, and ratifiers meant.

    Fortunately, the people of the great state of Texas can still choose elected officials based on their personal beliefs…… at least for now. Perhaps someday the government will pass a law that prohibits citizens from voting against someone that doesn’t share their values.

    One final thought, the Constitution still has discrimination in it, or did you forget about the age discrimination for holding some public offices or the discrimination against non-natural born Americans to become President?
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
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