This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to CBS News, August 16, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was prompted today to state that he thinks the so-called "ground zero mosque" should be built somewhere else.
Republicans have threatened to make the mosque debate a 2010 campaign issue, and a few candidates -- including Reid's challenger Sharron Angle -- are beginning to do so.
"The First Amendment protects freedom of religion," Reid's spokesperson said in a statement today. "Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else. If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 911, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation."
Many conservatives have long decried the decision by New York City officials to allow for the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Obama weighed in on the discussion on Friday, defending Muslims' religious freedom, which includes "the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
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According to CBSNews, August 18, 2010
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is raising questions about who is funding criticism of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." Pelosi told KCBS is San Francisco yesterday that she joins "those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded." She added: "How is this being ginned up?"
In a follow-up statement today on the project - an Islamic cultural center that includes a mosque called the Cordoba House that would be built two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks - Pelosi said the location of the project is a "local decision," though "the freedom of religion is a Constitutional right."
New York State Constitution vs. The US Constitution
US Constitution, First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
New York State Constitution, Article I, Section 3
The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed in this state to all humankind; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness on account of his or her opinions on matters of religious belief; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state.
We the People:
This is not a federal matter. The first amendment of the US Constitution only restricts Congress from forming a national religion and only prohibits Congress from creating law which impinges upon the exercise thereof. By the tenth amendment, the US Constitution yields to the individual states the discretion to form state religions, or to restrict religious activities. State religions are thankfully banned in (presumably) all state constitutions. Likewise, religious restrictions are left to local and state governments. Article 1 of the New York State constitution indeed addresses the issue at hand by prohibiting discrimination or preference.