Justice John Paul Stevens Quote

“The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.”

~ Justice John Paul Stevens


Ratings and Comments

don dalgleish, london uk

yes how can we live in peace with our neighbours otherwise

  • Reply
Anonymous    9/11/06

The United States was founded on Christian principles. When complete neutrality toward religion exists we will be a police state.

me again
  • Reply
me again    9/11/06


Someone, GA

Anonymous, you show a striking lack of historical knowledge. No matter how often you repeat your first statement, it will continue to be false. The founding fathers deliberately kept religion to a bare, virtually non-existant minimum, referring only to a non-specific, religiously neutral "creator". Nowhere in the constitution or elsewhere is Christianity compelled or encouraged. While there are a few Commandments which have found there way to becomming law, these have long been so in many non-Christian countries as well, even before the Bible was ever written. Chrisianity did not invent them. They came about because they are necessary for the survival of civilisation. Regarding a "police state", if we ever are under one, it will be due to religion taking over, not neutrality towards and freedom of religion. Your statement makes absolutely no logical sense. How in the world can you equate neutrality with a police state? A police state is hardly neutral! They are diametrically opposed ideas. A truly laughable statement.

Mike, Norwalk

Someone from GA has forgotten history or at least never read any of the founders statements on the subject and/or any early Supreme Court dicisions declaring Constitutional intent. It is true that a police state is hardly neutral. Socialism, fascism, atheism, etc. are all religions that support/require a police state. The statement is nothing more than the history/language revisionists propoganda telling a lie often enough that it will be believed.

E Archer, NYC

One of these days, someone will state what the 'Christian principles' are that so many claim America was founded on. It was founded on the principles of Liberty, not Christ. And the so-called Christians hardly represent Christ himself who was a renunciate of materialism, without property, recognized the separation of religion and state (i.e. 'render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's'), challenged the state/church authorities, and was executed for his non-violent and heroic stand against corruption and damnable lies. No Christian 'church' has EVER come close to represeting those 'Christian' principles -- quite the opposite as a matter of fact. Mostly what we hear today out of the Christians mouths is 'bomb the unbelievers' while the unbelievers yell, 'kill the infidels'. That's the number one reason for keeping religion and nuclear bombs in separate hands.

Robert, Sarasota

The decision is obvious – It's amazing that America which has the highest rate of church goers also has the highest crime rates.

Mike, Norwalk

Robert also believes that because most fat people drink diet sodas, diet sodas make you fat. If you understand church is for the sinner not the perfect you start to understand Christianity. And E Archer is partly right with a spin. Although those war and hate mongers call themselves Christians to justify their actions and elicit followers, they in fact are not Christians because they do not follow the teachings of the Master.

David L Rosenthal

Archer would like what he wrote to be true, but it simply is not possible. You cannot separate a society into those who believe, and therefore have no access to weaponry, and those who do not believe in God, and have access to bombs. It cannot happen. In addition. There are Chritians who support war and others who do not. Archer's comments are unsupportable. The 50 state constitutions all acknowledge God as the giver of blessings to whom they look for approval. All 50 of them. You cannot erase facts so easily.

E Archer, NYC

David, show me the word 'God' in ANY American constitution. The word Creator is used -- a native American term (not used in the Bible). Put 10 'christians' in a room from different churches -- they will be fighting with each other in about 10 minutes. The compassion espoused in Buddhist teachings far exceeds that in Judeo-Christian dogma. Jesus' only 'commandment' was to "love one another." I suppose then that Christianity has a monopoly on love? If so, why is it not practiced? The only 'Christian' was Christ -- remember that.

Mike, Norwalk

E Archer :"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) AND "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: ..." (Matt 7:12) these are 2 'Christian principles' that America was founded on. Executive, legislative, and judical separation was also biblical in origin. More than that the editors here would state that I protest to much.

David L Rosenthal

Archer: Creator = God. Christ has many followers. The Bible itself reveals that many would be the ones calling Jesus Lord who would be rejected by him due to their failure to obey him. That does not mean that Christ does not have followers. You twist meanings so readily that I doubt the worth of engaging you in conversation. You are a typical scoffer, long on wit, short on information.

E Archer, NYC

Mike, good words to live by; however, they must be lived by choice not by 'law' -- that is the principle of Liberty. The 2nd Christian reference you posted is not exclusive to Christ -- it is the Golden Rule older than the Bible itself. In the Hindu epic 'poem' The Mahabharata (c. 500 BC) it is said,
"This is the sum of all true righteousness:
deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by.
Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou
wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter."
Face it, love and mutual respect are religion-free and are indispensible supports for a peaceful and prosperous world.

Mike, Norwalk

Truth is not unique to any one religion or belief system. Written religion comes mostly from human experiences, Marxism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. The founders saw the principles and laws in biblical history to be absolute and sought different experiences (Greek, Roman, other religions, etc) as to how best apply such. The written biblical experience may not be as complete as the Buddha experience in administering or expressing eternal truths but that does not alter in anyway the Divine position of the Christ. If as a society of individuals we can accept history and its teachings (not as propaganda to further any one destructive prejudice) the human specie will advance in liberty and love.

David L Rosenthal

NEW YORK STATE CONSTITUTION (AS AMENDED AND IN FORCE JAN. 1, 1985) Archer: The state constitutionss say GOD, not creator. PREAMBLE WE, THE PEOPLE of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, DO ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION.

Mike, Norwalk

E Archer, You are right, that which I stated was principle, not law, but that was your request. I do have to disagree some what, I believe that the existence or nonexistence of love and mutual respect are empirical segments of religion. They are indispensable supports for a peaceful and prosperous world.

David L Rosenthal

The Hebrew Book of the Law, put in written form about 1500 BC, also shows the same principles to be primary. Maybe we could find them in even older writings. It is immaterial as to when they were first expressed. There is, after all, one God.

E Archer, NYC

While I do so very much enjoy these conversations, there is no end to them. Those that have decided to end their search for Truth call what they 'believe' 'the truth' while those still on the search say ' I don't know but look at this interesting thing that puts your theory on its head.' With respect to the use of the word God in declarations of the People, it is irrespective of religion per se since the concept and word 'God' means different things to different people. To some it means Jesus, to others it means Divine Providence -- big difference. It is does not mean 'we are a Christian people establishing a christian nation with Christ the king.' Yes, the Founders were all believers of God, but not all were Christians -- some were Catholics! ;-) But above all, the message that rings the clearest is that they honored and preserved the right of the individual to make up his/her own mind and act accordingly with mutual respect for others. Religions lay claim to morals as kings lay claim to subjects -- they are 'mine'. The truth has always been, whatever it is, whether we know it or not. If the argument be that christian means moral, then what we are talking about is a code of ethics and integrity -- in other words, honor. Hence, truth and honor and compassion intertwined with a respect for the grace that has brought us here nurtures gratefulness and humility within us. Naturally the next step is to share that. My complaint isn't against religions, it is against the claim of a religion to be 'the truth, the end.' Interesting when you substitute the word 'religion' with the word 'truth'...

"The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward truth."

Life is indeed a grand mystery, why spoil it with answers. ;-)

Editor, Liberty Quotes

OK, guys, can we let this one go 'til the next time? Thanks.

David L Rosenthal

But we can also save the integrity of this space by publishing contradictions to slanders that others publish here: Although many people, including Christians, claim to know "the truth", the truth is, at present, unknowable, which is also revealed in writings found in the Bible. While the truth, as defined as the way of Jesus, is something true, the truth is a very extensive subject, unknowable to men. In the First Letter to the Corinthians 13, we are told that we do not presently see the whole truth. And in 1 John (I think it's in 1 John, but it could be 2 John), we are told that we do not yet know what we will be; hence, there is much we do not know and cannot now know. There is so much more that we do not know than what we do know. We do know, however, that the truth is not twisting reality or facts to suit us as we jump around defending one or another facet of reality or group of facts (true facts or erroneous ones.) I feel so much better now. And now I will drop the subject.


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