Trump and the First Amendment Establishment Clause

Trump and the First Amendment Establishment Clause

Although this blog is not about religion, we do cover conflicts with the Constitution, and this week has been all about President Trump and his conflicts with the constitution’s and governments’ religious restrictions.

These conflicts cover the Immigration Ban from mostly Muslim countries, the cancellation of the Johnson Act on taxation of Churches if they become involved in politics, Trump’s establishment of an Evangelical Council, Trump’s choice of Jerry Falwell Jr. To head a Higher Education Reform advisory board, Trump’s address at the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and his continued pushing for religious school funding under “choice” by backing Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education. We had recently addressed Trump’s getting involved in all ancient Middle East religious wars. These are an amazing set of conflicts for just two weeks into Trump’s presidency.

I don’t have concerns about the practice of religion, or of their lobbying for their moral concerns. Most of the clergy, and most religious people, do not want politics thrown into their churches. The public has a very low respect for politics and politicians, and a very high respect for God and religion. Mixing politics with religion can only bring religion down. Trump mixing his anti-Muslim suspicions, and his associates’ racism and homophobia with religions will only bring down the moral respect for religions and their believers. Polls of clergy and the public strongly oppose this mixture.

There are currently many religious sects, even of Christianity itself. Bringing in politics, each sect would split into three: Democratic supporters, Republican supporters, and those that reject the mixture with politics. On the other hand, if there is a mixture, the moral condemnation of Trump and his acts will only increase. This would be good, except he doesn’t care.

The first amendment prohibits the government from favoring a sole religion. This is because many US settlers were fleeing countries where they were being prejudiced against. Trump’s favoring evangelicals uniquely in these councils, since they are crucial to his reelection, looks just like what this part of the first amendment was meant to avoid.

Betsy DeVos favors religious schools, or religion in regular or charter schools. The government has always avoided public funding of religious schools. Jerry Falwell Jr. Leads the largest Christian College, which teaches creationism along with evolution. He wants the government to stay out of accreditation, and how universities are run, meaning Title IX. I wonder if he is going to complain to Trump about his threat of cutting off all federal funding to UC Berkeley?

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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