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      Khushwant Singh reading his Train to Pakistan

       
      Presented at Union Square "Bill of Rights Day" speechfest , 2002 12 15 . BEFORE THE FIRST SEMICOLON

        When the War of Independence from England had been won , and
       representatives of the 13 colonies gathered to draft rules to
         " form a More Perfect Union ,  Establish Justice
           and insure Domestic Tranquility " ,
       What was the first rule , the very first clause --
        before the first semicolon , defining the limits of the State ;
       What was the very first clause of the first amendment demanded
       before the Colonies would agree to become United States ?
      
       
      " Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion , or prohibiting the free exercise thereof "
      Why Freedom of Religion the very first ? This freedom is , of course the basic right to seek one's personal understanding of the reality we find ourselves in . But why was this the very first consideration ? It's because they knew what theocracy and religious war were all about -- horrors we are relearning now 220 years later . Many had left Europe as oppressed minorities in theocracies like England itself . Religious wars like the 30 years war were much closer in their history . But more immediately , the various colonies were founded and populated by a variety of sects : episcopalians , presbyterians congregationalists , quakers , Catholics - to name a few . [ from Justice Story : ] It was essential that : " the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship. " President Jefferson wrote in a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, that the purpose of the first clause was to build ''a wall of separation between Church and State.'' The State , of course , defines , most profoundly , rights to property and representation . This cornerstone of domestic tranquility and its accompaning prosperity , was forgotten by the mid 20th century when the British Empire was disintegrating . Like so many of our current woes , our entanglement in these modern religious wars has its roots in movements beginning in the late 19th century . In India a Moslem Nationalist movement emerged , and in Europe a Jewish Zionist movement . While the paths differed , both came to a head with the ending of World War 2 , and the impossibility of continued British control in both Palestine and the Indian SubContinent . Britain itself , had , of course , long since adopted the wisdom of the First Clause as any global trading nation must . In India , While Hindu extremists did , and do , exist , their leaders were British educated enough , to agree as Jawaharlal Nehru did that the religious state was an anachronistism and a denial of democracy . The Nationalist Moslem League itself may never have had a majority in any of the dominantly Moslem areas . In any case , two Theocracies were born , and with them immediate and continuing bloodbaths . Of the two , Pakistan and Israel , Pakistan , like Turkey and Iraq and Afganistan before the Taliban , has become more secularly governed . Palestine has become a disaster area in which a new Berlin/Cyprus Wall spliting the populations by religions is being built where crops could be growing or chips being manufactured . And our own lack of recognition of the deep wisdom of the First Clause , has brought the global metastization of this religious war home to us here in NYC . The First Clause says no establishment of religion . That means no expenditure of Taken money , Tax Money , to support any religion -- any church . What does it matter if the church is on this continent or another ? Use of Taken money in support of any theocracy is a violation of the first clause of the first amendment of the US Constitution . The greatest , quickest way to bring peace back to this world is to stop any use of our tax money in support of any theocracy . Let them support their own wars ; [ Let each citizen decide for themselves whether or how much to tithe their particular religion's activities . ]

       
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