July 24, 2020
Salutations! Ready for the day? Good. Then pour yourself a
cup of that good dark brew and let's pick up where we left off last week where
we were talking about the initial rulings in the Good News Club case.
the Federal Judge hearing the case granted a preliminary injunction which
allowed the Club to hold weekly after-school meetings in school facilities for
a year, while awaiting trial. But trial never happened. Instead, in
August 1998, the federal trial judge vacated the injunction and summarily ruled
in favor the school district. The Club's subject matter was ruled "decidedly religious in nature, and not merely a
discussion of secular matters from a religious perspective."As
a result, the Club was kicked out of the building.
two judges of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit agreed with the trial judge. The panel ruled that because the
subject matter of the Club was "quintessentially religious" and fell
"outside the bounds of pure moral and character development," the
Club could not be allowed to hold meetings in the government building. In
short, there was just too much bible study and praise for the Second Circuit's
liking. The dissenting judge, to no avail, reminded his brethren that the
Supreme Court's earlier ruling in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union
Free School Districtremained binding precedent, and thus demanded the
appellate court rule for the Club. Judges, too, are bound by the law.
dissenting judge was absolutely correct. The issue of how courts should address
religious speech that takes place in a limited public forum had already been
firmly and finally settled not only by the 1993 decision in Lamb's Chapel,
but also by the 1995 ruling in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of
Univ. of Virginia. Taken separately, or as a pair, the two
rulings were — and are — crystal clear that that religious speech, even in a
limited public forum, is fully protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First
not only the Second Circuit panel's majority, but also other lower federal
judges across the nation chose to flout these two high court rulings. The
Eighth and Tenth Circuits followed the high court's precedent. But the Second,
Fifth, and Ninth Circuits either ignored it or found creative ways to
distinguish it — twisting logic so as to authorize blatant discrimination
against religious speech. That gave rise to the need for the Supreme Court to
intervene, and lay down the law in Good News.
reading the Good News Clubrecord, it is tempting to ask whether
some lower court judges were purposely resisting the Rehnquist Court's approach
— just as, in the past generation, some Southern federal judges once purposely
delayed and circumvented the implementation of the high court's racial
desegregation mandate in Brown v. Board of Education.
News, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, reminded lower federal
courts that they were not, in fact, God. Clarence Thomas wrote a very
direct opinion for the majority of six justices, which not only resolved the
Circuit split but also sent a clear message.
Thomas focused his analysis on the discrete question of whether the school
district could engage in viewpoint discrimination, simply because the speech
was religious. He quickly applied the Court's 1993 Lamb's Chapel
precedent, and rebuked the Second Circuit for not doing the same: "We find it remarkable that the Court of Appeals
majority did not cite Lamb's Chapel, despite its obvious relevance to the
case….This oversight is particularly incredible because the majority's
attention was directed to it at every turn."
could see no logical Free Speech Clause difference between the invocation of
Christianity by the Club and"the
invocation of teamwork, loyalty, or patriotism" by
other after school groups. Thus, he rejected the Second Circuit's
determination that reliance on Christian principles uniquely "taints"moral and character
and similarly, rejected the argument that the K-12 public school would be "endorsing
religion" by subjecting its young children to coercive peer pressures:
"We decline to employ Establishment Clause
jurisprudence using a modified heckler's veto, in which a group's religious
activity can be proscribed on the basis of what the youngest members of the
audience might misperceive."
me express my appreciation to Victor Williams, a FindLaw guest columnist, for
his wording and phraseology in some of the immediately foregoing paragraphs.)
Let me wrap
up this Coffee Break, and this series with a quick look at a case which came
before the Supreme Court in 1892. This case, titled Holy Trinity Church
v. U.S., actually began in 1887 when The Church of the Holy Trinity in
New York employed the services of an English pastor, E. W. Warren, who left
England to take the pastorate. Federal immigration officials attempted to
block the hiring of the pastor based on a federal statute which prohibited
importing foreign laborers. The U.S. Supreme Court held that this statute could
not be applied to pastors because this is a Christian nation.
ruling, the Court stated (and this gets pretty long, but is definitely worth
the read), "But,
beyond all these matters, no purpose of action against religion can be imputed
to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.(accent added) This
is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour,
there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to
Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from "Ferdinand and
Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile," etc., and
recites that "it is hoped that by God's assistance some of the continents
and islands in the [143 U.S. 457, 466] ocean will be discovered,"
etc. The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584,
was from "Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce and Ireland,
queene, defender of the faith," etc.; and the grant authorizing him to
enact statutes of the government of the proposed colony provided that
"they be not against the true Christian faith nowe professed in the Church of England."
"The first charter of Virginia,
granted by King James I. in 1606, after reciting the application of certain
parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words: "We, greatly
commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of
so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine
Majesty, in propagating of Christian
Religion to such People, as yet live
in Darknessand miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God,
and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and
to a settled and quiet
Government; DO, by these our Letters-Patents, graciously accept
of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires."
"Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent
charters of that colony, from the same king, in 1609 and 1611; and the same is
true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or
less emphatic is the
establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of
the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the pilgrims in
the Mayflower, 1620, recites: "Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and
Advancement of the
Christian Faith, and the Honour of our
King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of
Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God
and one another, covenant
and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better
Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid."
"The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a
provisional government was instituted in 1638-39, commence with this
declaration: "Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise
disposition of his diuynepruidence [143 U.S. 457, 467] so to Order and dispose
of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford, and
Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and vppon the River of
Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are
gathered togather the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and
vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment
established according to God, to order and dispose of the
affayres of the people at all seasons as occation shall require; doe therefore
assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State or Comonwelth; and
doe, for our selues and our Successors and such as shall be adioyned to vs att
any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation togather, to mayntayne and presearue the
liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus wch we now prfesse,
as also the disciplyne of the Churches, wchaccording
to the truth of the said gospellis now practised amongst
"In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to
the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited: "Because no People
can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if
abridged of the Freedom
of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship; And
Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits;
and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith, and Worship, who only doth
enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I
do hereby grant and declare,"etc.
"Coming nearer to the present time, the declaration of
independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these
- "We hold
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General
Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the
rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by Authority of the good
People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare," etc.;
- "And forFortunes,
and our sacred Honor."
- "If we
examine the constitutions of the various states,
we find in them a constant recognition ofthe [143 U.S. 457, 468] support
of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of
the 44 states(the number of states in the union in 1892
-- RAC) contains language which, either directly
or by clear implication, recognizes a profound reverence forreligion, and an assumption that its influence in all human
affairsis essential to
the well-being of the community.
"This recognition may be in the preamble, such as is found
in the constitution of Illinois, 1870: "We, the people of the state of
Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political, and religious
liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a
blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to
succeeding generations," etc.
"It may be only in the familiar requisition that all
officers shall take an oath closing with the declaration, "so help me
"It may be in clauses like that of the constitution of
Indiana, 1816, art. 11, § 4: "The manner of administering an oath or
affirmation shall be such as is most consistent with the conscience of the
deponent, and shall be esteemed the most solemn appeal to God."
"Or in provisions such as are found in articles 36 and 37
of the declaration of rights of the constitution of Maryland, (1867:)
"That, as it is the
duty of every man to worship God in
such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally
entitled to protection in their religious liberty: wherefore, no person ought,
by any law, to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious
persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he
shall disturb the good order, peace, or safety of the state, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or
injure others in their natural, civil, or religious rights; nor ought any
person to be compelled to frequent or maintain or contribute, unless on
contract, to maintain any place of worship or any ministry; nor shall any
person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness or juror on
account of his religious belief: provided, he believes in the existence of God, and
that, under His dispensation, such person will be held morally accountable for
his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor, either in this world or the
world to come. That no
religious test ought ever to be required as
a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this state, other than a
declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the legislature
prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this
"These and many other matters which might be noticed,
add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that
this is a Christian nation."
foregoing is just a portion – just over one-half – of the entire narrative of
the Supreme Court's decision.)
declared the Supreme Court of the United States in 1892. Have we suffered
from revisionist history? You bet! We are, and have always been, a
Christian nation providing the freedom of others to worship -- or not worship
-- as they see fit.
grace of God and the prayers and involvement of believers today, we will see
this nation return to its Christian roots and negate the activism of unGodly
courts and judges during the past 50 years.
up this series on Our Forefather’s Covenants.
Next week we will start afresh with a new series.
In case you
are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday
worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM
Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the
access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings
available on video usingZOOM. If you wish
to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-onlycall, you can
dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded –
not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76502
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
All Coffee Break articles are copyright by Regner A.
Capener, but authorization for reprinting, reposting, copying or re-use, in
whole or in part, is granted –provided proper attribution and this notice are
included intact. Older Coffee Break archives are available . Coffee Break articles are normally published
If you would like to have these articles arrive each morning in your email, please send a blank email to: AnotherCoffeeBreak@protonmail.com with the word, “Subscribe” in the subject line. To remove yourself from the mailing list, please send a blank email to AnotherCoffeeBreak@protonmail.com with the word “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.
CAPENER MINISTRIES is
a tax-exempt church ministry. Should you desire to participate and covenant
with us as partners in this ministry, please contact us at either of the above
email or physical addresses, or visit: http://www.RiverWorshipCenter.org.