Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Friday, April 12, 2013

We Are the 32%

If I read him correctly, Patrick is somewhat put out by the fact that '[t]he Framers knew what they were doing, alas, when they sought to make it virtually impossible to amend their godless Constitution.'  For it turns out that '[t]hirty-two percent of Americans want a Christian constitutional amendment, according to a Huffington Post/You Gov poll.' 

There is a fellow I sometimes see in my current DC neighborhood, where I have been residing while back at old IMF stomping grounds during sabbatic, who is similarly displeased.  He is pretty sure that he alone knows the identity of the One True God, and that all of the rest of us are walking in darkness.  He would accordingly like to amend our Constitution, in order that he might then adapt the apparatus of state to his evangelical purposes.  But it seems that the Framers have left it even more difficult for him to commandeer our shared government for purposes of pushing the other 99.999967% of the citizenry toward his faith, than they did for the 'Christian constitutional amendment wanters' to do so for purposes of pushing the other 68% of the population toward theirs. 

As for me, I feel for these people, but I must also confess that I thank God for 'our godless Constitution.'  And I'm pretty confident that people and institutions who have real, meritorious claims to the Truth will generally be able to convince us without coercive assistance from instrumentalities that properly belong to us all.   


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But it's not possible to have a godless constitution, rather like it's not possible to have a political community not founded on a substantive conception of the good. The question is always which God, and which good, determines the actions of the government and people taken as a whole. I worship at the altar of Mammon everyday, don't you?

Posted by: Wj | Apr 12, 2013 9:09:56 PM

More or less agree, Wj, though I take it that Patrick has a different sense of the word 'godless' in mind here than we have.

As for Mammon, alas, I'm none too fond of the overfed sucker. Insofar as I'm monotheist in re small 'g' gods, I suppose mine would be named 'Equal Agency.'


Posted by: Robert Hockett | Apr 12, 2013 9:45:14 PM

32% is a minority. State constitutions are much more easy to amend. Religious establishments were out of there most places long before MA ended theirs in 1833.

I think is correct (especially if one defines "God" broadly) and if anything the Constitution is not really "godless." It has a few nods in favor of religion, including allowing those conscientiously opposed (sometimes believing they are following Jesus' lead) to swearing, not having religious tests that would have in part likely to be used against Catholics (as they were in the UK) and of course specifically protection religion (then seen as deistic) in the 1A.

Anyway, not sure how all of this "enshrines social atheism," particularly given how few then and now are actually atheists. For me, Jesus' render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God which is God's is a good path to follow, so I appreciate the path the Constitution took.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 13, 2013 12:28:02 PM

eta: I think the first comment is correct. I thought I put the initials of the person in my comment, but they are not showing up.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 13, 2013 12:29:03 PM