Comment: Frequently letters to the editor claim the US Supreme Court in Church of the Holy Trinity said "Our law and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian." This statement appears on a web site known as jeremiahproject.com.
The case is found at 143 U.S. 457 (1892). The quote an nothing close to it appears in the case.
Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000
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A reviewer at Amazon.com, on David Barton's The Myth of Separation, says "The actual source of the quote? The 1883 opinion of the Supreme Court of Illinois in the case of Richmond v. Moore." source He goes on to say that the quote is taken out of context & that when you get the full quote, "it is actually a clear call for separation of Church and State."
I can't find the Illinois case on line, nor can I find any other source that links the quote to the case. A US Supreme Court case called McGOWAN v. MARYLAND, 366 U.S. 420 (1961) does cite the Illinois case.
David Barton finally issued a statement in which he admitted that many of the quotes in his book were, shall we say, inaccurate. Barton's official statement on the Redeemer quote can be found here Unconfirmed Quotations
quote:This appears to be a classic example of a cut-and-paste typographical error. These words are not found in the Holy Trinity case. However, these same thoughts are found throughout the case and in other state and federal court rulings, primarily in the early years.
He then goes on to justify the sentiment, but does end with
quote:One thing is clear: the quote in question, while not characteristic of late twentieth century judicial expressions, is consistent with those of the eighteenth and nineteenth century state and federal courts. However, this quote is obviously not in the [Trinity] case, and should not be used.
Barton claims that in his book he used "popular and widely-used quotes by historians and others " but that when he tried to find the quotes in primary sources, he discovered problems. "...some of those quotes had come from works nearly a century-and-a-half old and therefore would seem to have been credible; yet David could not find those quotes in original documents."
-------------------- The plural of "anecdote" is not "data." Posts: 4255 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 2000
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A lengthy quote from the Illinois case, Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 (Ill.), 47 Am.Rep. 445:
quote: Our government is unlike the British government, as that government combines the ecclesiastical and secular powers. Its constitution is based upon the union of church and State, and it claims and exercises the power to enforce the faith and doctrines of the established church, by statutes imposing penalties for failing to perform religious duties and requirements, and compelling all to contribute support to the State church; on the contrary, however, a total severance of church and State is one of the great controlling foundation principles of our system of government. The spiritual welfare of our people is left entirely to the hierarchy of the various churches. The government protects all alike in their religious beliefs and unbeliefs. It is no part of the function of our government to prescribe and enforce religious tenets. The great purpose of the formation of our system of government is to protect the people in the enjoyment of their temporal and spiritual rights, and to prohibit crime, vice and wrong to any portion of the community, and to pass and enforce laws for the promotion of the temporal interests of the people, and, as far as possible, secure their temporal welfare and happiness. Although it is no part of the functions of our system of government to propagate religion, and to enforce its tenets, when the great body of the people are Christians, in fact or sentiment, our laws and institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. And in this sense, and to this extent, our civilization and institutions are emphatically Christian, but not for the purpose of compelling men to embrace particular doctrines or creeds of any church, or to support one or another denomination by public burthens, but simply to afford protection to all in the enjoyment of their belief or unbelief. But the State has the unquestioned power to suppress crime, vice and immorality, even if such acts are claimed to be the exercise of religious belief.
The court, by the way, was addressing whether entering into a contract on a Sunday violated the then-existing blue laws. (The answer was no.)
As suspected, in context it means the exact opposite of what it is often quoted to mean.
-------------------- Patrick Posts: 576 | From: Illinois | Registered: Dec 2002
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