Congressman Al Green, who represents the 9th district in Texas, succeeded in getting a resolution of his to pass the House of Representatives. The legislation was H. Res. 784, honoring the 2,560 anniversary of the birth of Confucius, a Chinese political advisor and philosopher.
Did this resolution violate the separation of church and state? That depends on how you define the term “religion”. The First Amendment forbids Congress from taking any action to establish “religion”, and some people identify a religion that they call “Confucianism”. Others, however, refer to the Confucian body of thought as a kind of philosophy. Yet others point out that “religion” and “philosophy” are both non-Chinese terms, and neither adequately describes the ideas that are said to have been fostered by Confucius.
Wherever one stands on the question of just how the ideas of Confucius should be categorized, it’s clear that some of the opposition to H. Res. 784 was not at all based in a loyalty to the separation of church and state. 47 members of the House voted against the resolution when it came up for a vote on Wednesday, but 8 of those who voted against the resolution also have cosponsored H. CON. RES. 121, a resolution attempting to make all of next year an official government holy year in worship of the Christian Bible.
It seems likely that these members of Congress support the government establishment of religion, but only want their own creed, Christianity, to gain recognition.