Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Day - 223 Year Later

Today we celebrate Constitution Day in the United States of America. On September 17, 1787 our Founding Fathers declared “We the People” and signed the document establishing the freedoms we enjoy. On this 223rd anniversary some Americans feel the Constitution is ignored by many elected officials, judges and educators.

Federal law states, “Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.” {36 U.S.C. § 106}

I assume this is happening in Connecticut but is that really enough? Why isn’t the Constitution a core curriculum every year for students?

I remember a lesson in Danbury schools talking about Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. We were taught Jefferson was the “father” of separation of church and state. In fact, the history is far more complicated and even includes a misguided decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1947.

One of the best articles I’ve read on this topic is from David Barton:

The Separation of Church and State

In Barton’s closing comment he states, “In summary, the ‘separation’ phrase so frequently invoked today was rarely mentioned by any of the Founders; and even Jefferson's explanation of his phrase is diametrically opposed to the manner in which courts apply it today. 'Separation of church and state' currently means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant."

When I read the Constitution of the United States today I see many areas our government appears to conflict with the Founding Fathers. This is a fascinating topic for me so I will keep studying.