The First Amendment Only Applies to Christians?

Oh this is rich.

Image courtesy
Image courtesy

This week on Focal Point (an American Family Association radio show), host Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) showed his lack of Constitutional understanding by conveying to his audience that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion provision only applies to Christians.  In his explanation, he asserted that the Founding Fathers meant “Christianity” when referring to religion, just like the kids in his schoolyard did when he was little, because apparently the framers of the US Constitution were no wiser than a 7-year-old.

By that theory, the only thing protected by the “free exercise of religion” is the free exercise of Christianity.  No other religions are protected.  So, despite some of the Founding Fathers being Deists, theistic rationalists, and even anti-Christian, all of them somehow came to a consensus over the idea that religion meant Christianity.  Right, got it.  But what about the Establishment Clause?  Using his own definition of religion, then the First Amendment says that the government cannot make any laws regarding the establishment of Christianity.  So Mr. Fischer, if everyone was already Christian, why the hell would they care?  If everyone was Christian, why would they prohibit the government from pushing Christianity on its people?  I think we’re done here.

Fischer’s claim is obviously absurd and self-serving, as he then catapults into the recent story about the Satanist group in Oklahoma that has requested equal representation by being able to erect a monument on government property next to the Ten Commandments.  He uses his false assertion to claim that the Satanist monument is not protected by the First Amendment.  He also claims that the First Amendment is so perfect that it has never needed to be be “tampered with” or amended.  I suppose he’s never heard of the judicial branch of the federal government, which has been weighing in on First Amendment issues since the Bill of Rights was introduced.  You see, Mr. Fischer, the Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the laws, because they’re, well, not perfect.  In 1984, SCOTUS introduced the Endorsement Test, a guide we use to determine whether or not a government’s action amounts to an endorsement of religion.  The test was brought about because government endorsement of religion is considered unconstitutional via the Establishment Clause, a concept that has been reinforced several times by federal courts.

Fischer’s lack of knowledge of Constitutional law is further illustrated by his tweet yesterday:

You can watch his full smattering of verbal diahhrea here:

The question that remains for me is whether or not he really believes this stuff, or if he’s just pandering to his audience.  I really hope it’s the latter.  I wouldn’t want to believe that someone who films a radio show with an image of the Constitution in the background has never turned around to read it.

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

View all posts by Kevin Davis →

9 thoughts on “The First Amendment Only Applies to Christians?

  1. the Supreme court disagrees with you. The freedom of religion clause has been rule as meaning explicitly what Thomas Jefferson wrote in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, reference the 1st amendment: “legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” And In 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court decision Everson v. Board of Education incorporated the Establishment Clause (i.e., made it apply against the states). In the majority decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote,
    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another … in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State’ … That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”
    You really need to understand the material you are misrepresenting…

      1. Sorry my reply was meant to be to Bryan Fisher. If I could edit the post I would change where I said “you” to Bryan. I realized after I posted that I had not gone to his page…..apologies!

  2. Just found your blog via Peacock Panache. Wanted to mention I’ve worked for attorneys who honestly believe exactly what Fischer says. While Fischer may be a panderbear, attorneys who interpret the First Amendment as freedom only for Christians are very scary.

    1. Thanks for you comment. I agree that type of mentality is scary. When we allow people like Fischer and David Barton to manipulate facts and rewrite history, we allow a new Christian version of US history to be taught to our kids and the cycle of misinterpretation of the intentions of our forefathers continues.

  3. ” In his explanation, he asserted that the Founding Fathers meant “Christianity” when referring to religion, just like the kids in his schoolyard did when he was little, because apparently the framers of the US Constitution were no wiser than a 7-year-old.”

    I suppose next you will claim that the non-Christians were the majority so COULD override those who supported Christianity?? All you have to do is take a head count to prove your point. Otherwise you lose.

    I would also point out a few deists supported Christianity anyway.

  4. “Joseph Story, the longest serving associate justice of the Supreme Court and author of the first definitive history of the Constitution, wrote this about the First Amendment (emphasis mine):

    “The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment…””

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