An Open Letter to Senators Feinstein and Harris
As your constituent, I am deeply concerned that the religious liberty which is our natural as well as national right, is being not merely infringed but wholly violated by the Roberts Court and the Trump Administration. In his decision for the recent Espinoza case, Justice Roberts actually claimed ( in a footnote no less ) that James Madison would agree with his ruling, which effectively raises taxes on American citizens to pay for the upkeep of the clergy. The document Justice Roberts was referring to is Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," in which Madison said:
As the Bill violates equality by subjecting some to peculiar burdens, so it violates the same principle, by granting to others peculiar exemptions.Both Madison and Jefferson understood, and communicated clearly in many ways, that religious liberty depends on the separation of church and state. As Roger Williams and John Locke explained before them, the realms of the Magistrate and Minister must remain separate to ensure the liberty of each, and when - as Madison pointed out - the state forces citizens to pay for the upkeep of religion - even their own - they violate the conscience of all believers and nonbelievers alike. While little can be done at the moment to reign in Justice Roberts' assault on the First Amendment, Congress can and must do much more to address the theocratic tendencies of the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos. Funding of religious education through taxation, whether by exemption or expenditure, is explicitly contrary to the logic of religious liberty and hence not only the Establishment clause, but the Exercise clause as well. As Senators representing the State of California, I urge you to draw attention to the urgent need to defend the religious liberty of all Americans by reminding Americans what the Founders and writers of the First Amendment actually intended. Few people in the world are as influential as you, and the First Amendment needs friends in high places. I'll leave you with Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists, which I'm sure you're familiar with, but which nevertheless renders the recent decisions on religion by the Roberts Court transparently ideological:
...religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions...Thank you sincerely for your time and consideration. PS: please find this posted at https://www.atheism.cafe/2020/07/an-open-letter-to-senators-feinstein.html as an open letter.