That’s a shame. The Constitution is our nation’s foundational document. Its Bill of Rights, ratified 10 years after the Constitution was approved, is a charter of liberties that has inspired people around the world for more than 200 years. The Constitution and Bill of Rights stand as bulwarks against tyranny; they should be celebrated. (You can read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the National Archives’ Web site.)
There’s a particular genius behind our Constitution. It can be altered, but the process is not easy. That was done on purpose. The Founders did not want changes made to our governing charter on the basis of passing whims or hysteria.
Nevertheless, there have always been those who treat the Constitution like a first draft. Some have even targeted the First Amendment. Over the years, amendments promoting official school prayer, extending tax aid to religious institutions, banning flag “desecration” and outlawing same-sex marriage have been proposed, and some have even faced votes in Congress. Religious Right groups have enthusiastically backed these misguided proposals.
“Religious Freedom Amendment” that would have gutted the First Amendment’s religious liberty provision. Istook’s amendment would have fostered religious worship in public schools, allowed for tax funding of religious institutions and permitted display of religious symbols at the seat of government.
The House of Representatives voted on Istook’s amendment on June 4, 1998. Much to AU’s distress, this monstrosity actually garnered a simple majority – but thankfully it fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
But the Constitution bashers won’t give up. The most extreme among them seek a near-total rewrite – and aren’t afraid to put our liberties at risk
Recently, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wrote a column for Fox News proposing a new Constitutional Convention. Cornyn says a new convention is necessary to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.
But he must know that once a convention is called, it can’t be limited to just one topic. Article V of the Constitution says that if two-thirds of the state legislatures call for a convention, one must be convened “for proposing amendments.” Note that the word is plural.
A runaway convention should easily go off the rails and begin considering any manner of dangerous ideas. An entire cavalcade of discredited amendments dealing with issues like school prayer, religious school vouchers, same-sex marriage, abortion and others could suddenly be given new life.
There are a lot of good people working in Congress today, but let’s face it, there are also an uncomfortably high number of men and women with extreme views, the kind of lawmakers who cater to the Religious Right. The last thing we want is people like this meddling with the Founders’ handiwork.
On Constitution Day, the best thing we can do is celebrate that document – not call for a rewrite.
P.S. James Madison is considered the “Father of the Constitution.” He was a brilliant thinker, a primary architect of our government and a strong advocate for church-state separation. Madison rarely gets his due. Read about his accomplishments here. The Wall of Separation
NOTE: This article begs the question, will the approaching national Sunday law become law through passage of an amendment to the Constitution? In reading Ellen White's comments on the 1888 national Sunday law, which was a proposed amendment to the Constitution, one can find great relevance and similarities to current developments:
FOR MANY YEARS SUNDAY LEGISLATION HAD BEEN ON THE STATUTE BOOKS OF SEVERAL STATES. EARLY IN 1888, SENATOR H. W. BLAIR, OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, INTRODUCED INTO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS A BILL THAT, IF PASSED, WOULD HAVE ENFORCED IN ALL FEDERAL TERRITORIES THE OBSERVANCE OF SUNDAY AS A DAY OF WORSHIP. AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION TO THAT EFFECT HAD ALSO BEEN PROPOSED. FOR SEVERAL YEARS NATIONAL SUNDAY LEGISLATION THREATENED RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE UNITED STATES. -3BIO 377 APPENDIX.
During this period of Ellen White wrote:
"A great crisis awaits the people of God. A crisis awaits the world. The most momentous struggle of all the ages is just before us. Events which for more than forty years we have upon the authority of the prophetic word declared to be impending are now taking place before our eyes. Already the question of an amendment to the Constitution restricting liberty of conscience has been urged upon the legislators of the nation. The question of enforcing Sunday observance has become one of national interest and importance. We well know what the result of this movement will be." 5T 711.
"The revival services held during the week of prayer and since that time have accomplished a good work in the Battle Creek church. Elds. A. T. Jones, J. O. Corliss, and others took an active part in conducting the meetings. The principal topic dwelt upon was justification by faith, and this truth came as meat in due season to the people of God. The living oracles of God were presented in new and precious light. The Holy Spirit, working through human agencies, revealed the deep significance of long-known truths relating to the new and startling movements in the development of the Religious Amendment to the Constitution. This made the meetings of more than usual interest as the application of prophecy was plainly made to our own time. The Lord worked with the efforts of his servants, and made his work effective." RH, February 12, 1889.
"I have been much burdened in regard to movements that are now in progress for the enforcement of Sunday observance. It has been shown to me that Satan has been working earnestly to carry out his designs to restrict religious liberty. Plans of serious import to the people of God are advancing in an underhand manner among the clergymen of various denominations, and the object of this secret maneuvering is to win popular favor for the enforcement of Sunday sacredness. If the people can be led to favor a Sunday law, then the clergy intend to exert their united influence to obtain a religious amendment to the Constitution, and compel the nation to keep Sunday." RH, December 24, 1889.
Deception and disguise are used by the enemies of the truth to achieve their aims and advance their agenda. For example, ending abortion and preserving marriage are used by the Christian Right as an entering wedge to advance itself politically. Similarly, the enemies of truth could use the cover of balancing the budget as their means to bring about a Constitutional convention in which their real priorities could be achieved, including an amendment to enforce Sunday as a national day of rest.
THE "BEAST [OF REVELATION 13] NOT ONLY COMPELS THE EARTH AND ITS INHABITANTS TO WORSHIP THE FIRST BEAST, BUT IT CAUSES THEM THAT DWELL UPON THE EARTH TO MAKE AN IMAGE TO THE FIRST BEAST. THIS CAN BE DONE ONLY BY A UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE, OR BY SO SUBORDINATING THE CIVIL TO THE ECCLESIASTICAL POWER THAT THE STATE WILL BE COMPELLED TO ENFORCE THE TENETS AND REQUIREMENTS OF THE CHURCH. A RELIGIOUS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES WOULD SPEEDILY INSURE THIS RESULT. -4SP 503 APPENDIX.