“U.S. Constitution mentions religion just twice, and both times the word ‘no’ attached.” — Ellery Schempp
Ellery Schempp, plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark case that held that state-mandated Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional, made these introductory remarks at a program presented by our Houston chapter on February 9, 2015:
Let me tell you there is nothing in the Constitution about the Bible and there is nothing in the Bible about democracy or our Constitution.
Many people assume there is some connection between the Bible and our Constitution.
But our Constitution never once mentions God or Christianity or any Commandments. It is a purely humanistic document. The preamble begins, “We the people do ordain and establish…”
It mentions religion just twice, and both times the word “no” attached. The first mention is in Art. VI “no religious test shall ever be required…” The second time is in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Constitution is a purely humanistic, religiously neutral, secular, and political document. No delegate thought the idea of free voting by common people came from divine revelation. [That is free voting by white, propertied men; maybe it was divine that women and blacks were not allowed to vote?]
It is significant that the Constitution does not call for any worship or ask for any divine blessing by Providence. The Constitution’s oath for taking office in Art VI does NOT contain the phrase “so help me God”. That has been added by various oath-takers, probably for political “spin”.
The writers of the Constitution were very careful to distinguish between an oath vs affirmation, or, “I do swear or affirm” swearing to an oath, because oath/swearing had religious connotations. Affirm was to assure freedom from religion.
And the Bible never once mentions democracy. The Bible never once mentions freedom of speech or freedom of religion. It does not mention checks and balances and limitations on the power of the executive; nor an independent judicial branch; it does not mention elections or voting.
The Bible provides no model for ‘good’ government or for personal freedoms. The Bible is a purely religious/theological document for some believers. The Commandments—10 or all 613 of them—do not represent American society.
We are not a Christian nation, nor a Judeo-Christian nation. We are a Constitutional nation.
To see the entire program, go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWKFqattw-FQFPOLKB0BEkg