Today’s History Lesson

Bear in mind, I got just about the best public-school education an American youngster could reasonably hope for. My high school was in the well-to-do end of town, and in fact ours was the only school district which did not include a low-income housing project. (This made for an interesting social dynamic when our quiz-bowl team went to competitions outside of town. In Huntsville, we were the rich kids, but when we played against schools like Vestavia, we became the scrappy champions of the downtrodden.) Therefore, every time I notice something that my education should have covered but didn’t, I get a bad vibe. Wasting the few resources our society devotes to education — that’s not a pretty spectacle.

Despite a year of AP United States History and a semester of AP American Government, I actually didn’t know this:

When the Senate, of the very first Congress, was considering the wording of the religion clauses of what was to become the First Amendment, it rejected, on September 3, 1789, two proposed phrases that, if adopted, could have arguably only prevented government from favoring one religion over another. The first proposed wording, rejected by the Senate, read: “Congress shall make no law establishing one religious sect or society in preference to any other.” The Senate additionally rejected wording that read: “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination or religion in preference to any other.” The Senate finally chose wording that read: “Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”

So, thank you, Eddie Tabash, for writing your brief to the California Supreme Court!