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article imageUniversity president applauds Supreme Court's decision

By Cadie Carroll     Jun 2, 2014 in Politics
The U. S. Supreme Court should be applauded for its ruling on May 5, which reinforces the concept of freedom of religion in public meetings, Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper has told the Digital Journal.
A majority of the nation's highest court ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that clergy may give an invocation in public meetings.
“The words of the First Amendment in the United States Constitution are very instructive on this point,” said Dr. Piper. “‘Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise of religion.’
“Whether you are Catholic or Jewish, or Mormon, Methodist, Mennonite or Muslim you should be, and are free in this country, to practice your religion both privately and publicly.”
Dr. Piper, an adjunct scholar for the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs and a member of the Council for National Policy, added that his beliefs are rooted in history.
“In 1802, the Danbury Baptist Association was becoming increasingly concerned that the federal government might succumb to the temptation of intruding upon their religious freedom,” he said. “Therefore, members of the association wrote a letter to the newly elected President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Their letter read as follows. ‘Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions.'
“President Jefferson responded to the Danbury authors by assuring them that the First Amendment provided them with full and unmitigated protection against any imposition upon their Church by the State. In his letter, Jefferson said he agreed with the Danbury Baptists that their ‘religion [was] a matter which lie[d] solely between man and his God.’ He went further to say that ‘man owes account to none other [than God] for his faith or his worship...’ He concluded by saying, ‘I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people, which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’
“Jefferson then closed his letter by promising the Baptists (and all others by inference) that the State could not and would never be permitted to intrude into the religious lives of its citizens. He said a ‘wall of separation between Church and State’ protected the Danbury Baptists. He went further and indicated that even he, the President of the United States, was bound constitutionally to adhere ‘to this expression of the supreme will of the nation on behalf of the rights of conscience.’ And, finally, he affirmed that he would ‘see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights...'"
Dr. Piper, who has penned the book, Why I Am a “Liberal” and Other Conservative Ideas, added that “Jefferson believed that the government should have no power to interfere with religion for a very simple reason. He had long witnessed the unhealthy tendency of government to encroach upon the free exercise of the faith of its citizens. He explained to Noah Webster, ‘it [has] become a universal and almost uncontroverted position…that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors.’ He then warned that ‘experience has nevertheless proved [government] will be constantly encroaching on [these rights]’ and ‘that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against [such] wrong.'"
More about First amendment, Everett Piper, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, OWU
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