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Original Intent and the Constitution
volume 109, Program 24
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The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But it was written almost 250 years ago so how does it apply to life now? Today on Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Farris illustrates how to determine the original intent of the men who wrote this important document.

Constitutional Literacy with Michael Farris

If we’re going to be a free people, we’ve got to remain true to the Constitution. Mike Farris teaches the constitutional history and legal theory that are essential to American self-government in a DVD series, Constitutional Literacy with Michael Farris. Help preserve liberty and get Constitutionally literate. Follow the link to learn more or order.

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Mike Farris:
There are few areas of constitutional law more controversial than the first amendment clause which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The original meaning of the phrase is hotly debated, and conservatives generally believe that the Supreme Court’s interpretations are mostly out of step with the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

I’ve discovered, however, that there are lay people who make folk interpretations of the Constitution that are simply uninformed by history or even by the decisions of the Supreme Court.

So, in order to be constitutionally literate, the first thing we need to look for is the Founders’ original intent. We start with the question: “What did the establishment of religion look like at the time of our founding?” Over the course of English and colonial history, we can observe several attributes of an established church. These range from requiring mandatory church attendance to imposing the death penalty on those who disagreed with official church doctrine.

These were the kind of things that the Founding Fathers were seeking to eliminate when they chose the words of the first amendment. Knowing history is a good first step in understanding original intent of this and any provision of the Constitution, and thereby knowing how the Constitution applies today.

I’m Mike Farris.

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