Friday, September 26, 2008

The Sikh's faith prevails again in Dallas!!

Dallas County changes policy to settle turban case
WSN Network

DALLAS: Dallas County has revised its security screening procedures to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Sikh man who was ordered out of a courtroom for refusing to remove his turban, a civil rights group said Wednesday.

The new policy revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas calls for security personnel at all county buildings to allow people wearing religious head coverings or other religious garments to walk through a metal detector without removing the item. If the detector beeps, security personnel will use a hand-held detector or conduct a private search.

The policy was developed by the county based on models provided by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. It led to the dismissal last week of a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Amardeep Singh.

According to the suit filed last year, Singh was ordered out of a Justice of the Peace courtroom under threat of arrest in June 2006. Singh had gone to defend himself from a traffic ticket when he was told by court personnel and Judge Albert Bernard Cercone to remove his "hat." When Singh tried to explain that wearing a turban is a required religious practice for members of the Sikh faith, the judge and court officials refused to hear his explanation.

"The Constitution protects the right of Mr. Singh and every citizen to access their government without compromising their religious beliefs," said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Texas. "By applying this new policy, the county and Judge Cercone will help ensure that right is respected in Dallas County."

Last year, officials in Lawrenceville, Ga. revised their policy after a Sikh man was kept from entering the court because of his turban, according to documents in the lawsuit.

A federal guideline also revised last year allows air passengers to keep on headwear such as turbans at screening checkpoints. It gives airport screeners the option to pat down headwear at the metal detector if a passenger does not want to remove it for personal reasons.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Definition of Human will be surprised!

Definition of Human Being

Are you a 'person', an 'individual', or a 'human being'? These words, at law, define you as being spiritually 'dead.' This is how the world makes its attachment to you.

The terms, 'person', 'individual', 'human being', etc., are not in Christ.

Words like "individual," and "human being" do not even appear in Scripture! These are 'created' terms by the natural man (1 Cor 2:14). These words describe the 'old man', but not the 'new man' in Christ (Col 3:9-10).

In Balantine's Self Pronouncing Law Dictionary, 1948, page 389, Human Being is defined as "See Monster." On page 540 of this same Law Dictionary, Monster is defined as "a human being by birth, but in some part resembling a lower animal."

In Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1988, pages 879-880, a Monster is defined as "a person so cruel, wicked, depraved, etc., as to horrify others."

From the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Edition, page 901, Human Being is defined as a "Natural man: unenlightened or unregenerate," and on page 1461, Unregenerate means "not regenerate; unrepentant; an unregenerate sinner; not convinced by or unconverted to a particular religion; wicked, sinful, dissolute."

In Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1988, page 657, Humanitarianism is defined as "the doctrine that humankind may become perfect without divine aid."

In Colliers New Dictionary of the English Language, 1928, Humanitarian is defined as "a philanthropist; an anti-Trinitarian who rejects the doctrine of Christ's divinity; a perfectionist."

And in the Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 1990, page 653, Humanism is defined as "any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values and dignity predominate, especially an ethical theory that often rejects the importance of a belief in God."

Therefore, when anyone calls himself or herself a 'human being', or a 'humanitarian,' they are saying (according to every definition of these words, and according to the law), "I'm an animal; I'm a monster; I'm not saved; I'm unrepentant; I'm an unregenerate sinner; I'm not converted; I'm wicked, sinful, and dissolute; I'm cruel, depraved, unenlightened; and I reject Christ's divinity and the importance of a belief in God."

"Individuals [Bondman] rely for protection of their right on God's law, and not upon regulations and proclamations of departments of government, or officers who have been designated to carry laws into effect." Baty v. Sale, 43 Ill. 351.” [Codes, edicts, proclamations, and decisions are not Law, which define or regulate the Good and Lawful Bondman. Therefore, title 42 "law" suits are ungodly, and are the redress for and of human beings, i.e., non-believers.]

The Septuagint uses the term "human beings" only one time, and its meaning is identical to the above definitions. Let's look at the last verse of the book of Jonah, where Nineva was full of men who were unrepentant, unregenerate, unconverted, wicked, sinful, dissolute, cruel, depraved, unenlightened, rejected the importance of a belief in God. Or, in other words, "human beings."
"and shall not I spare Nineve, the great city, in which dwell more than twelve myriads of human beings, who do not know their right hand or their left hand...?" [Jonah 4:11 (Septuagint)]
The "human beings" of Nineve did not know their right hand from their left because they did not know the Truth and were lost. They did not know God, they were separated from God. However, those human beings were willing to turn from their ways and learn the things of God, so He spared that city from destruction.
The term "human being" is also synonymous with the term 'natural man.'
"The natural man is a spiritual monster. His heart is where his feet should be, fixed upon the earth; his heels are lifted up against heaven, which his heart should be set on. His face is towards hell; his back towards heaven. He loves what he should hate, and hates what he should love; joys in what he ought to mourn for, and mourns for what he ought to rejoice in; glories in his shame, and is ashamed of his glory; abhors what he should desire, and desires what he should abhor." [Thomas Boston, quoted in Augustus Toplady, Complete Works (1794, reprinted by Sprinkle Publications 1987), page 584].
And the Word confirms:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." [1 Corinthians 2:14,]
The above verse witnesses to us that the natural man is spiritually dead. The ‘natural man’ in Scripture is synonymous with the ‘natural person’ as defined in man’s laws.
"Natural Person means human being, and not an artificial or juristic person." Shawmut Bank, N.A. v. Valley Farms, 610 A. 2d. 652, 654; 222 Conn. 361.
"Natural Person: Any human being who as such is a legal entity as distinguished from an artificial person, like a corporation, which derives its status as a legal entity from being recognized so in law. Natural Child: The ordinary euphemism for ‘bastard’ or illegitimate." [Amon v. Moreschi, 296 N.Y. 395, 73 N.E.2d 716." Max Radin, Radin’s Law Dictionary (1955), p. 216.]
Those that are spiritually dead belong to the prince of this world because he's dead himself. Satan has dominion over the natural man, for he is the prince of this world [John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11]; and, as a consequence of this, he has dominion over those of the world, i.e., human beings, the natural man – those who receive not the things of the Spirit of God and reject Christ. Because the bondman in Christ is sanctified from the world, he is separated from the adversary's dominion over him–sin [John 8:34]. This is the cause for Christ having sanctified Himself in the Truth of the Word of God – to provide the entrance to the refuge in and through Himself for us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

God's ministers do not need a licence to ride in their cars.

Certificate validating the authority of the Sovereign’s Right of Way.
Declaration of the Right of Travel
My date of natural birth and address is irrelevant, as I can not remember the date or time I was born of the Spirit, nor
have I been given authority from my Masters to supply you with an address. I am presently sojourning in my right of
Since being born of the Spirit, my name is new, as it was prophecied, “Isaiah 62:2 And the Gentiles shall see thy
righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall
name.”,. Similarly, Revelation 2:17 “…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him
a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” So it is
You do not know my new name? If not please pray for wisdom that it may come to you, for spiritual things are
spiritually discerned.
I have forsaken my old name and was renamed at my spiritual re-birth with a new name which only my Father may
reveal to you. Have you received it?
As it is written, “I have surnamed thee” (Isa. 45:4); Similarly, “I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine” (Isa.
43:1), so it is.
My sacred name is greater than the price of pearls; as it is written, (Proverbs 22:1) “A good name is rather to be
chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold”, so it is
I have been commanded not to give that which is holy or precious to certain kinds of people for the very reason given
in Matthew 7:6; “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample
them under their feet, and turn again and rend you”.
I have been pre-warned that certain identities shall seek to convert my name into a commercial entity. 2 Peter 2:3
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you….”
I am an Ambassador and bondservant for King YHWH, and belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, under the reign of
King YHWH, the Creator and under His mono genes Son, Prince Yehowshua, our Saviour, the Messiah. As it is
written, “2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray
you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God”, so it is.
Ambassadors and bondservants of YHWH and Yehowshua are not of this world, even though we are living in it, and
therefore if you are claiming authority over me, you must prove this authority from the Bible. As it is written, “(John
15:19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen
you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Similarly, John 17:11-16 “And now I am no more in the world, but
these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me,
that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest
me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I
to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy
word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that
thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world”. As it is written, so it is.
Any attempt to coerce or persuade me from my allegiance to my Masters’ Theocratic laws and commandments may be
taken as a national threat against their kingdom. My inactions, actions, words and reaction may be seen as an act of
willful failure to comply with your own perception of your authority. This is not my intention. Your claims of authority
likewise are not seen to be authentic by this ambassador and bond servant of our Saviour. Your words, acts, requests
Page 2
and claims of requirements under threats, force, coercion are perceived to be alien to the Kingdom of Heaven
rendering you as an enemy of my Masters’ kingdom and authority.
It is not my intention to provoke aggression, anger, violence, adversity or animosity in your carnal person. I must not
however, allow my conscience to be trammeled. Please respect and honour my sacred rights.
Failure to do so will culminate in the risk of eternal loss to your person unless forgiveness and repentance is sought
and secured only through my Governor, our Saviour.
As it is written, “Our warfare is not carnal.” ( 2 Cor. 2:4.) “We fight not against flesh and blood”, ( Eph 6:12) ; so it is.
The word “registration”
( GIST, pleading. Gist of the action is the essential ground or object of it, in point of law, and without which there is no cause of action. Gould on Pl. c. 4, §12. But it is observable that the substance or gist of the action is not always the principal cause of the plaintiff Is complaint in point of fact, nor that on which he recovers all or the greatest part of his damages.

2. It frequently happens that upon that part of his declaration which contains the substance or gist of the, action, he only recovers nominal damages, and he gets his principal satisfaction on account of matter altogether collateral thereto. A familiar instance of this is the case where a father sues the defendant for a trespass for the seduction of his daughter. The gist of the action is the trespass, and the loss of his daughter's services, but the collateral cause is the injury done to his feelings, for which the principal damages are given. In stating the substance or gist of the action, every thing must be averred which is necessary to be proved at the trial. Vide 1 Vin. Ab. 598; 2 Phil. Ev. 1, note. See Bac. Abr. Pleas, B; Doct. P. 85. See Damages, special, in pleading; 1 Vin. At. 598; 2 Phil. Ev. 1, n.

GIVER, contracts. He who makes a gift. (q. v.) By his gift, the giver always impliedly agrees with the donee that he will not revoke the gift.)
when employed by the carnal man means that I would transfer my allegance to YHWH and
Yehowshua over to the authority of an earthly potentate, king or alien crown. However, today is the following scripture
fulfilled in your ears.
1 Timothy 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of
All property in my possession, both real and personal belongs to my King’s crown and His Prince’s crown. All property,
both visible and invisible has registration in their Kingdom and I can not without sin and guilt of treason have dual
registration. As it is written, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. (Rom.14:23)
As it is written, “The world is Mine, and the fullness thereof” “But ye are come…to the General Assembly and Church
of the Firstborn which are written in Heaven…”, (Heb. 12:22-23) “No servant can serve two masters”, (Luke 16:13),
so it is.
I shall traverse the world under the license, command and authority of my Masters. As it is written,
“Go ye into all the world”, (1 John 4:4), so it is.
This includes the land of my carnal nativity which is under the ownership of my Masters. As it is written, “The world is
Mine, and the fullness thereof” (Ps.50:12); similarly, “the earth is the lord’s and the fullness thereof” (1 Cor.10’26
& 28) so it is.
All highways therefore belong to YHWH, as it is written, “…My highways shall be exalted” (Isa 49:8 & 11), so it is.
Yehowshua has commanded me, “Go ye therefore into the highways”, Matt 22: 9, as it is written, so it shall be.
I shall travel on the King’s highways and attempts to prevent, hinder, burden or discourage me shall be taken as acts of
disobedience, lawlessness, defiance, faithlessness and treason against the Kingdom of Heaven and an attempt to lead
me into sin. As it is written, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:23)
Do not seek to force me to worship a false god in your government by coercing me to obey man-made laws, or expect
me to follow your directives, as it is written, “there is one Lawgiver” (Js. 4:12), so it is.
When commanded to obey a demonic statute our Commander and Prince answered, (Luke 4:8) “ And Jesus answered
and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only
shalt thou serve”.
I am authorized to follow his example. I am not authorized to go beyond His example
Affirmed by YHWH Himself, as He spake, “Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall ye
diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you”,
(Deut. 4:1 & 2)
All human laws have been formally renounced and made void by my Governor, Prince Yehowshua, as it is written, “In
vain do they worship Me teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men”,(Mk. 7:7)
Affirmed by the Apostle, Paul, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as living in
the world, are ye subject to ordinances, ( dogmatizo, prescribed statutes, dogma, civil law) (touch not, taste not,
handle not: which are all to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men.
Page 3
Affirmed by the Apostle Peter and the other apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
My insurance/assurance policy is Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in
glory by Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance
for ever.
Galatians 6:4-5 ….For every man shall bear his own burden.
Yehowshua is now the only Governor to be obeyed
As it was prophecied, (Isaiah 9:6) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be
upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace”. So it has been fulfilled.
At His resurrection from the dead, Yehowshua came forth as our example, Saviour, Prince and our Theocratic
When Yehowshua pronounced the end of Satan’s kingdom, He then became the Prince of this world under a
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the
kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them
before our God day and night.
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Satan has been judged and dethroned from position in authority over YHWH’s people. As it is written,
(John 16:11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
I do not come under the laws and authority of the dark kingdom you represent, I am under the Theocracy of YHWH
and Yehowshua.
Forgive me if I do not conform to your carnal laws, orders or directives. I am sojourning in
my right of way on the King’s highway, going about the King’s business under strict
commandments and orders.
YHWH has the final word in this matter-
Deuteronomy 5:32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not
turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Your failure to recognize this is irrelevant to me, as it is written, 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned”
So it is.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for
this is the whole duty of man.

Wow both Candidates for President lied about their birth!


Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S.

Private Attorney General, 18 U.S.C. 1964(a)

c/o Forwarding Agent

501 West Broadway #A-332

San Diego 92101


Fax: (619) 232-2011 (use cover sheet)

All Rights Reserved

Without Prejudice



PHILIP J. BERG, ESQUIRE [sic], ) Case No. 2:08-CV-04083 (RBS)


Plaintiff )


v. )




Defendants. )




ex relatione ) TO INTERVENE AND FOR

Paul Andrew Mitchell, ) A WRIT IN THE NATURE


Applicant. ) All Writs Statute,

___________________________________) 28 U.S.C. 1651(a).

COMES NOW the United States (“Applicant”) ex relatione Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S., Citizen of ONE OF the United States of America, Private Attorney General, Criminal Investigator and Federal Witness (hereinafter “Relator”) to apply formally for leave to intervene in the instant case, to petition this honorable Court for a Writ in the nature of a Prohibition if leave is granted, and to provide timely written Notice to all interested Party(s) of same.

It has now come to the attention of Applicant United States (Federal government) that United States Senator John Sidney McCain III (“McCain”) was born on the Coco Solo Naval Air Station situated within the territorial jurisdiction of the Panama Canal Zone. At the time of his birth on that United States military base, Panama was not a State of the Union. Accordingly, the facts currently available to Applicant now appear to call for the conclusion that Mr. McCain was not a natural born Citizen of the United States at the moment of his birth.

Relator has done arguably more research and litigation on the correct construction of the various Qualifications Clauses in the Constitution for the United States of America (“U.S. Constitution”), than any other lawyer currently practicing Law in America at the present time. The Clause at issue in the instant case is the Qualification Clause which defines eligibility for the Office of President of the United States of America. See Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 (“2:1:5”), to wit:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President, neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

[emphasis added]

Please take careful note of the UPPER-CASE “C” in “Citizen”.

See also Article II, Section 1, Clause 1, which identifies that Office as the “President of the United States of America” [sic].

Applicant has previously filed and served a timely NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPLY FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE. In said NOTICE, pertinent cases were cited and quoted by way of introducing the legally and historically correct construction of said Qualification Clause.

In particular, Relator has had frequent occasion to cite the correct holding in Pannill v. Roanoke, in which a Federal court held that federal citizens aka “citizens of the United States” were not even contemplated when the organic Constitution was first drafted, and then ratified on June 21, 1788 A.D. Cf. “Federal citizenship” in Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition. Relator was born on June 21.

Please take careful note of the lower-case “c” in “citizen”.

Applicant hereby notoriously objects to the Seventh and Eighth Editions of Black’s Law Dictionary, because there is no definition of “United States” in either Edition! Applicant assures the entire world that it still exists, all allegations to the contrary notwithstanding.

For similar reasons, it also appears to Applicant now that Named Defendant Barack Hussein Obama is likewise not eligible to serve in the Office of President of the United States of America, because he also was not a natural born Citizen of the United States at the moment of his birth. Relator is eligible to serve in that Office, however!

“United States” in the latter context means “States united”.

In the event that this honorable Court should grant timely leave to Applicant United States to intervene ex rel. in the instant case, the United States ex rel. hereby notifies all interested Party(s) of its intent to seek a prompt Writ in the nature of a Prohibition, forever barring both Messrs. Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain III from ever serving in the Office of President of the United States of America, for reasons summarized succinctly above.

See 28 U.S.C. 1651(a) in pari materia with 28 U.S.C. 132, to wit:

(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law. [emphasis added]


Due chiefly to the far-reaching legal and historical implications of the instant case, Applicant has reason to expect that this case will be appealed, sooner or later, to the Supreme Court of the United States, regardless of any interlocutory or final judgment(s) which this honorable United States District Court may issue on the merits.

Because the questions of Law in the case of Bush v. Palm Beach Canvassing Board are substantially identical, Applicant wishes hereby to incorporate by reference the pleading filed by Relator on behalf of the People of the United States of America in the latter case.

For the convenience of all, their APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE BY RIGHT in Bush v. Palm Beach Canvassing Board is archived here on the Internet, for the benefit of those People:

Applicant hereby requests mandatory judicial notice by this Court of the latter APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE BY RIGHT, pursuant to Rule 201(d) of the Federal Rules of Evidence and also pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause in the U.S. Constitution, and incorporates same by reference as if set forth fully here.

To minimize unnecessary paperwork and postage expenses, Relator now offers to provide any interested Party(s) with a verified hard copy of said APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE and all Exhibits incorporated therein, upon receipt of a written request for same and a blank U.S. Postal Money in the amount of ten ($10.00) United States Dollars. The latter fee is required to cover printing, postage and handling, and to encourage all to access instead the electronic copies archived in the Supreme Law Library on the Internet. (See URL above.)


All premises having been duly considered, the United States now appearing ex rel. Paul Andrew Mitchell, Private Attorney General, hereby petitions this honorable Court for formal leave to intervene in the instant case for the purpose of formally requesting a Writ in the nature of a Prohibition forever barring Messrs. Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain III from ever occupying the Office of President of the United States of America.


I, Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris, hereby verify, under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the United States of America, without the “United States” (Federal government), that the above statement of facts and laws is true and correct, according to the best of My current information, knowledge, and belief, so help me God, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746(1). See Supremacy Clause (Constitution, Laws and Treaties are all the supreme Law of the Land).

Dated: September 15, 2008 A.D.

Signed: /s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell


Printed: Paul Andrew Mitchell, Private Attorney General

All Rights Reserved without Prejudice


I, Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris, hereby certify, under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the United States of America, without the “United States” (Federal government), that I am at least 18 years of age, a Citizen of ONE OF the United States of America, and that I personally served the following document(s):



All Writs Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1651(a)

by placing one true and correct copy of said document(s) in first class United States Mail, with postage prepaid and properly addressed to the following:

Clerk of the Court (3x) Federal Election Commission (1x)

Attn: R. Barclay Surrick 999 “E” Street, N.W.

U.S. Courthouse Washington 20463


Philadelphia 19106-1797


Barack Hussein Obama (1x) John Sidney McCain III (1x)

United States Senate United States Senate

713 Hart Senate Office Building 241 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington 20510 Washington 20510


Democratic National Committee (1x) Republican National Committee (1x)

430 S. Capitol Street, S.E. 310 First Street

Washington 20003 Washington 20003


Philip J. Berg, Esquire [sic] (1x) Clerk of Court (1x)

555 Andorra Glen Court, Suite 12 Supreme Court of the United States

Lafayette Hill 19444-2531 One First Street, N.E.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA Washington 20543-0001


Dated: September 15, 2008 A.D.

Signed: /s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell


Printed: Paul Andrew Mitchell, Private Attorney General
All Rights Reserved without Prejudice

Sunday, September 14, 2008

United States v Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 case law on war and religion

Link to the Case Preview:

Link to the Full Text of Case:
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965)

United States v. Seeger

No. 50

Argued November 16-17, 1964

Decided March 8, 1965*

380 U.S. 163




These three cases involve the exemption claims under § 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of conscientious objectors who did not belong to an orthodox religious sect. Section 6(j) excepts from combatant service in the armed forces those who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war by reason of their "religious training and belief," i.e., belief in an individual's relation to a Supreme Being involving duties beyond a human relationship but not essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code. In all the cases, convictions were obtained in the District Courts for refusal to submit to induction in the armed forces; in Nos. 50 and 51 the Court of Appeals reversed, and in No. 29, the conviction was affirmed.


1. The test of religious belief within the meaning of the exemption in § 6(j) is whether it is a sincere and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualified for the exemption. Pp. 380 U. S. 173-180.

(a) The exemption does not cover those who oppose war from a merely personal moral code, nor those who decide that war is wrong on the basis of essentially political, sociological or economic considerations, rather than religious belief. P. 380 U. S. 173.

(b) There is no issue here of atheistic beliefs, and, accordingly, the decision does not deal with that question. Pp. 380 U. S. 173-174.

(c) This test accords with long established legislative policy of equal treatment for those whose objection to military service is based on religious beliefs. Pp. 380 U. S. 177-180.

2. Local boards and courts are to decide whether the objector's beliefs are sincerely held and whether they are, in his own scheme of things, religious; they are not to require proof of the religious

Page 380 U. S. 164

doctrines, nor are they to reject beliefs because they are not comprehensible. Pp. 380 U. S. 184-185.

3. Under the broad construction applicable to § 6(j), the applications involved in these cases, none of which was based on merely personal moral codes, qualified for exemption. Pp. 380 U. S. 185-188.

326 F.2d 846 and 325 F.2d 409 affirmed; 324 F.2d 173 reversed.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases involve claims of conscientious objectors under § 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C.App. § 456(j) (1958 ed.), which exempts from combatant training and service in the armed forces of the United States those persons who, by

Page 380 U. S. 165

reason of their religious training and belief, are conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form. The cases were consolidated for argument, and we consider them together although each involves different facts and circumstances. The parties raise the basic question of the constitutionality of the section which defines the term "religious training and belief," as used in the Act, as

"an individual's belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but [not including] essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code."

The constitutional attack is launched under the First Amendment's Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses and is twofold: (1) the section does not exempt nonreligious conscientious objectors; and (2) it discriminates between different forms of religious expression in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Jakobson (No. 51) and Peter (No. 29) also claim that their beliefs come within the meaning of the section. Jakobson claims that he meets the standards of § 6(j) because his opposition to war is based on belief in a Supreme Reality, and is therefore an obligation superior to one resulting from man's relationship to his fellow man. Peter contends that his opposition to war derives from his acceptance of the existence of a universal power beyond that of man, and that this acceptance, in fact, constitutes belief in a Supreme Being, qualifying him for exemption. We granted certiorari in each of the cases because of their importance in the administration of the Act. 377 U.S. 922.

We have concluded that Congress, in using the expression "Supreme Being," rather than the designation "God," was merely clarifying the meaning of religious training and belief so as to embrace all religions and to exclude essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views. We believe that, under this construction, the test of belief

Page 380 U. S. 166

"in a relation to a Supreme Being" is whether a given belief that is sincere and meaningful occupies a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God of one who clearly qualifies for the exemption. Where such beliefs have parallel positions in the lives of their respective holders, we cannot say that one is "in a relation to a Supreme Being" and the other is not. We have concluded that the beliefs of the objectors in these cases meet these criteria, and, accordingly, we affirm the judgments in Nos. 50 and 51 and reverse the judgment in No. 29.


No. 50: Seeger was convicted in the District Court for the Southern District of New York of having refused to submit to induction in the armed forces. He was originally classified 1-A in 1953 by his local board, but this classification was changed in 1955 to 2-S (student), and he remained in this status until 1958, when he was reclassified 1-A. He first claimed exemption as a conscientious objector in 1957, after successive annual renewals of his student classification. Although he did not adopt verbatim the printed Selective Service System form, he declared that he was conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form by reason of his "religious" belief; that he preferred to leave the question as to his belief in a Supreme Being open, "rather than answer yes' or `no'"; that his "skepticism or disbelief in the existence of God" did "not necessarily mean lack of faith in anything whatsoever"; that his was a "belief in and devotion to goodness and virtue for their own sakes, and a religious faith in a purely ethical creed." R. 69-70, 73. He cited such personages as Plato, Aristotle and Spinoza for support of his ethical belief in intellectual and moral integrity "without belief in God, except in the remotest sense." R. 73. His belief was found to be sincere, honest,

Page 380 U. S. 167

and made in good faith, and his conscientious objection to be based upon individual training and belief, both of which included research in religious and cultural fields. Seeger's claim, however, was denied solely because it was not based upon a "belief in a relation to a Supreme Being" as required by § 6(j) of the Act. At trial, Seeger's counsel admitted that Seeger's belief was not in relation to a Supreme Being as commonly understood, but contended that he was entitled to the exemption because, "under the present law, Mr. Seeger's position would also include definitions of religion which have been stated more recently," R. 49, and could be "accommodated" under the definition of religious training and belief in the Act, R. 53. He was convicted, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Supreme Being requirement of the section distinguished "between internally derived and externally compelled beliefs," and was therefore an "impermissible classification" under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. 326 F.2d 846.

No. 51: Jakobson was also convicted in the Southern District of New York on a charge of refusing to submit to induction. On his appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that rejection of his claim may have rested on the factual finding, erroneously made, that he did not believe in a Supreme Being, as required by § 6(j). 325 F.2d 409.

Jakobson was originally classified 1-A in 1953, and intermittently enjoyed a student classification until 1956. It was not until April, 1958, that he made claim to noncombatant classification (1-A-O) as a conscientious objector. He stated on the Selective Service System form that he believed in a "Supreme Being" who was "Creator of Man" in the sense of being "ultimately responsible for the existence of" man, and who was "the Supreme Reality" of which "the existence of man is the result." R. 44. (Emphasis in the original.) He explained that his religious

Page 380 U. S. 168

and social thinking had developed after much meditation and thought. He had concluded that man must be "partly spiritual," and, therefore, "partly akin to the Supreme Reality," and that his "most important religious law" was that "no man ought ever to wilfully sacrifice another man's life as a means to any other end. . . ." R. 45-46. In December, 1958, he requested a 1-O classification, since he felt that participation in any form of military service would involve him in "too many situations and relationships that would be a strain on [his] conscience that [he felt he] must avoid." R. 70. He submitted a long memorandum of "notes on religion" in which he defined religion as the "sum and essence of one's basic attitudes to the fundamental problems of human existence," R. 72 (emphasis in the original); he said that he believed in "Godness," which was "the Ultimate Cause for the fact of the Being of the Universe"; that to deny its existence would but deny the existence of the universe, because "anything that Is, has an Ultimate Cause for its Being." R. 73. There was a relationship to Godness, he stated, in two directions, i.e., "vertically, towards Godness directly," and "horizontally, towards Godness through Mankind and the World." R. 74. He accepted the latter one. The Board classified him 1-A-O, and Jakobson appealed. The hearing officer found that the claim was based upon a personal moral code, and that he was not sincere in his claim. The Appeal Board classified him 1-A. It did not indicate upon what ground it based its decision, i.e., insincerity or a conclusion that his belief was only a personal moral code. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that his claim came within the requirements of § 6(j). Because it could not determine whether the Appeal Board had found that Jakobson's beliefs failed to come within the statutory definition, or whether it had concluded that he lacked sincerity, it directed dismissal of the indictment.

Page 380 U. S. 169

No. 29: Forest Britt Peter was convicted in the Northern District of California on a charge of refusing to submit to induction. In his Selective Service System form, he stated that he was not a member of a religious sect or organization; he failed to execute section VII of the questionnaire, but attached to it a quotation expressing opposition to war, in which he stated that he concurred. In a later form, he hedged the question as to his belief in a Supreme Being by saying that it depended on the definition, and he appended a statement that he felt it a violation of his moral code to take human life, and that he considered this belief superior to his obligation to the state. As to whether his conviction was religious, he quoted with approval Reverend John Haynes Holmes' definition of religion as

"the consciousness of some power manifest in nature which helps man in the ordering of his life in harmony with its demands . . . ; [it] is the supreme expression of human nature; it is man thinking his highest, feeling his deepest, and living his best."

R. 27. The source of his conviction he attributed to reading and meditation "in our democratic American culture, with its values derived from the western religious and philosophical tradition." Ibid. As to his belief in a Supreme Being, Peter stated that he supposed "you could call that a belief in the Supreme Being or God. These just do not happen to be the words I use." R. 11. In 1959, he was classified 1-A, although there was no evidence in the record that he was not sincere in his beliefs. After his conviction for failure to report for induction the Court of Appeals, assuming arguendo that he was sincere, affirmed, 324 F.2d 173.


Chief Justice Hughes, in his opinion in United States v. Macintosh, 283 U. S. 605 (1931), enunciated the rationale behind the long recognition of conscientious objection

Page 380 U. S. 170

to participation in war accorded by Congress in our various conscription laws when he declared that, "in the forum of conscience, duty to a moral power higher than the state has always been maintained." At 283 U. S. 633 (dissenting opinion). In a similar vein, Harlan Fiske Stone, later Chief Justice, drew from the Nation's past when he declared that

"both morals and sound policy require that the state should not violate the conscience of the individual. All our history gives confirmation to the view that liberty of conscience has a moral and social value which makes it worthy of preservation at the hands of the state. So deep in its significance and vital, indeed, is it to the integrity of man's moral and spiritual nature that nothing short of the self-preservation of the state should warrant its violation; and it may well be questioned whether the state which preserves its life by a settled policy of violation of the conscience of the individual will not in fact ultimately lose it by the process."

"Stone, The Conscientious Objector, 21 Col.Univ.Q. 253, 269 (1919)."

Governmental recognition of the moral dilemma posed for persons of certain religious faiths by the call to arms came early in the history of this country. Various methods of ameliorating their difficulty were adopted by the Colonies, and were later perpetuated in state statutes and constitutions. Thus, by the time of the Civil War, there existed a state pattern of exempting conscientious objectors on religious grounds. In the Federal Militia Act of 1862, control of conscription was left primarily in the States. However, General Order No. 99, issued by the Adjutant General pursuant to that Act, provided for striking from the conscription list those who were exempted by the States; it also established a commutation or substitution system fashioned from earlier state enactments. With the Federal Conscription Act of 1863,

Page 380 U. S. 171

which enacted the commutation and substitution provisions of General Order No. 99, the Federal Government occupied the field entirely, and, in the 1864 Draft Act, 13 Stat. 9, it extended exemptions to those conscientious objectors who were members of religious denominations opposed to the bearing of arms and who were prohibited from doing so by the articles of faith of their denominations. Selective Service System Monograph No. 11, Conscientious Objection 40-41 (1950). In that same year, the Confederacy exempted certain pacifist sects from military duty. Id. at 46.

The need for conscription did not again arise until World War I. The Draft Act of 1917, 40 Stat. 76, 78, afforded exemptions to conscientious objectors who were affiliated with a

"well recognized religious sect or organization [then] organized and existing and whose existing creed or principles [forbade] its members to participate in war in any form. . . ."

The Act required that all persons be inducted into the armed services, but allowed the conscientious objectors to perform noncombatant service in capacities designated by the President of the United States. Although the 1917 Act excused religious objectors only, in December, 1917, the Secretary of War instructed that "personal scruples against war" be considered as constituting "conscientious objection." Selective Service System Monograph No. 11, Conscientious Objection at 54-55 (1950). This Act, including its conscientious objector provisions, was upheld against constitutional attack in the Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U. S. 366, 245 U. S. 389-390 (1918).

In adopting the 1940 Selective Training and Service Act, Congress broadened the exemption afforded in the 1917 Act by making it unnecessary to belong to a pacifist religious sect if the claimant's own opposition to war was based on "religious training and belief." 54 Stat. 889. Those found to be within the exemption were

Page 380 U. S. 172

not inducted into the armed services, but were assigned to noncombatant service under the supervision of the Selective Service System. The Congress recognized that one might be religious without belonging to an organized church just as surely as minority members of a faith not opposed to war might, through religious reading, reach a conviction against participation in war. Congress Looks at the Conscientious Objector (National Service Board for Religious Objectors, 1943) 71, 79, 83, 87, 88, 89. Indeed, the consensus of the witnesses appearing before the congressional committees was that individual belief -- rather than membership in a church or sect -- determined the duties that God imposed upon a person in his everyday conduct, and that "there is a higher loyalty than loyalty to this country, loyalty to God." Id. at 29-31. See also the proposals which were made to the House Military Affairs Committee but rejected. Id. at 21-23, 82-83, 85. Thus, while shifting the test from membership in such a church to one's individual belief, the Congress nevertheless continued its historic practice of excusing from armed service those who believed that they owed an obligation, superior to that due the state, of not participating in war in any form.

Between 1940 and 1948, two courts of appeals [Footnote 1] held that the phrase "religious training and belief" did not include philosophical, social or political policy. Then, in 1948, the Congress amended the language of the statute and declared that "religious training and belief" was to be defined as

"an individual's belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but [not including] essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code."

The only significant mention of

Page 380 U. S. 173

this change in the provision appears in the report of the Senate Armed Services Committee recommending adoption. It said simply this:

"This section reenacts substantially the same provisions as were found in subsection 5(g) of the 1940 act. Exemption extends to anyone who, because of religious training and belief in his relation to a Supreme Being, is conscientiously opposed to combatant military service or to both combatant and noncombatant military service. (See United States v. Berman (sic), 156 F.2d 377, certiorari denied, 329 U.S. 795)."

S.Rep.No. 1268, 80th Cong., 2d Sess., 14; U.S.Code Cong. Service 1948, p. 2002.


1. The crux of the problem lies in the phrase "religious training and belief," which Congress has defined as "belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation." In assigning meaning to this statutory language, we may narrow the inquiry by noting briefly those scruples expressly excepted from the definition. The section excludes those persons who, disavowing religious belief, decide on the basis of essentially political, sociological or economic considerations that war is wrong and that they will have no part of it. These judgments have historically been reserved for the Government, and, in matters which can be said to fall within these areas, the conviction of the individual has never been permitted to override that of the state. United States v. Macintosh, supra (dissenting opinion). The statute further excludes those whose opposition to war stems from a "merely personal moral code," a phrase to which we shall have occasion to turn later in discussing the application of § 6(j) to these cases. We also pause to take note of what is not involved in this litigation. No party claims to be an atheist, or attacks the statute on this ground. The question is not, therefore, one between theistic and atheistic beliefs. We do not deal with

Page 380 U. S. 174

or intimate any decision on that situation in these cases. Nor do the parties claim the monotheistic belief that there is but one God; what they claim (with the possible exception of Seeger, who bases his position here not on factual, but on purely constitutional, grounds) is that they adhere to theism, which is the "Belief in the existence of a god or gods; . . . Belief in superhuman powers or spiritual agencies in one or many gods," as opposed to atheism. [Footnote 2] Our question, therefore, is the narrow one: does the term "Supreme Being," as used in § 6(j), mean the orthodox God or the broader concept of a power or being, or a faith, "to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent"? Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Edition). In considering this question, we resolve it solely in relation to the language of § 6(j), and not otherwise.

2. Few would quarrel, we think, with the proposition that in no field of human endeavor has the tool of language proved so inadequate in the communication of ideas as it has in dealing with the fundamental questions of man's predicament in life, in death, or in final judgment and retribution. This fact makes the task of discerning the intent of Congress in using the phrase "Supreme Being" a complex one. Nor is it made the easier by the richness and variety of spiritual life in our country. Over 250 sects inhabit our land. Some believe in a purely personal God, some in a supernatural deity; others think of religion as a way of life envisioning, as its ultimate goal, the day when all men can live together in perfect understanding and peace. There are those who think of God as the depth of our being; others, such as the Buddhists, strive for a state of lasting rest through self-denial and inner purification; in Hindu philosophy, the Supreme Being is

Page 380 U. S. 175

the transcendental reality which is truth, knowledge and bliss. Even those religious groups which have traditionally opposed war in every form have splintered into various denominations: from 1940 to 1947, there were four denominations using the name "Friends," Selective Service System Monograph No. 11, Conscientious Objection 13 (1950); the "Church of the Brethren" was the official name of the oldest and largest church body of four denominations composed of those commonly called Brethren, id. at 11; and the "Mennonite Church" was the largest of 17 denominations, including the Amish and Hutterites, grouped as "Mennonite bodies" in the 1936 report on the Census of Religious Bodies, id. at 9. This vast panoply of beliefs reveals the magnitude of the problem which faced the Congress when it set about providing an exemption from armed service. It also emphasizes the care that Congress realized was necessary in the fashioning of an exemption which would be in keeping with its long established policy of not picking and choosing among religious beliefs.

In spite of the elusive nature of the inquiry, we are not without certain guidelines. In amending the 1940 Act, Congress adopted almost intact the language of Chief Justice Hughes in United States v. Macintosh, supra:

"The essence of religion is belief in a relation to God involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation."

At 283 U. S. 633-634. (Emphasis supplied.)

By comparing the statutory definition with those words, however, it becomes readily apparent that the Congress deliberately broaden them by substituting the phrase "Supreme Being" for the appellation "God." And, in so doing, it is also significant that Congress did not elaborate on the form or nature of this higher authority which it chose to designate as "Supreme Being." By so refraining, it must have had in mind the admonitions of the Chief

Page 380 U. S. 176

Justice when he said in the same opinion that even the word "God" had myriad meanings for men of faith:

"[P]utting aside dogmas with their particular conceptions of deity, freedom of conscience itself implies respect for an innate conviction of paramount duty. The battle for religious liberty has been fought and won with respect to religious beliefs and practices, which are not in conflict with good order, upon the very ground of the supremacy of conscience within its proper field."

At 283 U. S. 634.

Moreover, the Senate Report on the bill specifically states that § 6(j) was intended to reenact "substantially the same provisions as were found" in the 1940 Act. That statute, of course, refers to "religious training and belief," without more. Admittedly, all of the parties here purport to base their objection on religious belief. It appears, therefore, that we need only look to this clear statement of congressional intent as set out in the report. Under the 1940 Act, it was necessary only to have a conviction based upon religious training and belief; we believe that is all that is required here. Within that phrase would come all sincere religious beliefs which are based upon a power or being, or upon a faith, to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent. The test might be stated in these words: a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition. This construction avoids imputing to Congress an intent to classify different religious beliefs, exempting some and excluding others, and is in accord with the well established congressional policy of equal treatment for those whose opposition to service is grounded in their religious tenets.

Page 380 U. S. 177

3. The Government takes the position that, since Berman v. United States, supra, was cited in the Senate Report on the 1948 Act, Congress must have desired to adopt the Berman interpretation of what constitutes "religious belief." Such a claim, however, will not bear scrutiny. First, we think it clear that an explicit statement of congressional intent deserves more weight than the parenthetical citation of a case which might stand for a number of things. Congress specifically stated that it intended to reenact substantially the same provisions as were found in the 1940 Act. Moreover, the history of that Act reveals no evidence of a desire to restrict the concept of religious belief. On the contrary, the Chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, which reported out the 1940 exemption provisions, stated:

"We heard the conscientious objectors and all of their representatives that we could possible hear, and, summing it all up, their whole objection to the bill, aside from their objection to compulsory military training, was based upon the right of conscientious objection and, in most instances, to the right of the ministerial students to continue in their studies, and we have provided ample protection for those classes and those groups."

86 Cong.Rec. 11368 (1940). During the House debate on the bill, Mr. Faddis of Pennsylvania made the following statement:

"We have made provision to take care of conscientious objectors. I am sure the committee has had all the sympathy in the world with those who appeared claiming to have religious scruples against rendering military service in its various degrees. Some appeared who had conscientious scruples against handling lethal weapons, but who had no

Page 380 U. S. 178

scruples against performing other duties which did not actually bring them into combat. Others appeared who claimed to have conscientious scruples against participating in any of the activities that would go along with the Army. The committee took all of these into consideration, and has written a bill which, I believe, will take care of all the reasonable objections of this class of people."

86 Cong.Rec. 11418 (1940). Thus, the history of the Act belies the notion that it was to be restrictive in application and available only to those believing in a traditional God.

As for the citation to Berman, it might mean a number of things. But we think that Congress' action in citing it must be construed in such a way as to make it consistent with its express statement that it meant substantially to reenact the 1940 provision. As far as we can find, there is not one word to indicate congressional concern over any conflict between Kauten and Berman. Surely, if it thought that two clashing interpretations as to what amounted to "religious belief" had to be resolved, it would have said so somewhere in its deliberations. Thus, we think that, rather than citing Berman for what it said "religious belief" was, Congress cited it for what it said "religious belief" was not. For both Kauten and Berman hold in common the conclusion that exemption must be denied to those whose beliefs are political, social or philosophical in nature, rather than religious. Both, in fact, denied exemption on that very ground. It seems more likely, therefore, that it was this point which led Congress to cite Berman. The first part of the § 6(j) definition -- belief in a relation to a Supreme Being -- was indeed set out in Berman, with the exception that the court used the word "God," rather than "Supreme Being." However, as the Government recognizes, Berman took that language word for word from Macintosh. Far from

Page 380 U. S. 179

requiring a conclusion contrary to the one we reach here, Chief Justice Hughes' opinion, as we have pointed out, supports our interpretation.

Admittedly, the second half of the statutory definition -- the rejection of sociological and moral views -- was taken directly from Berman. But, as we have noted, this same view was adhered to in United States v. Kauten, supra. Indeed, the Selective Service System has stated its view of the cases' significance in these terms:

"The United States v. Kauten and Herman Berman v. United States cases ruled that a valid conscientious objector claim to exemption must be based solely on 'religious training and belief,' and not on philosophical, political, social, or other grounds. . . ."

Selective Service System Monograph No. 11, Conscientious Objection 337 (1950). See id. at 278. That the conclusions of the Selective Service System are not to be taken lightly is evidenced in this statement by Senator Gurney, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and sponsor of the Senate bill containing the present version of § 6(j):

"The bill which is now pending follows the 1940 act, with very few technical amendments, worked out by those in Selective Service who had charge of the conscientious objector problem during the war."

94 Cong.Rec. 7305 (1948). Thus, we conclude that, in enacting § 6(j), Congress simply made explicit what the courts of appeals had correctly found implicit in the 1940 Act. Moreover, it is perfectly reasonable that Congress should have selected Berman for its citation, since this Court denied certiorari in that case, a circumstance not present in Kauten.

Section 6(j), then, is no more than a clarification of the 1940 provision involving only certain "technical amendments," to use the words of Senator Gurney. As such, it continues the congressional policy of providing exemption from military service for those whose opposition

Page 380 U. S. 180

is based on grounds that can fairly be said to be "religious." [Footnote 3] To hold otherwise would not only fly in the face of Congress' entire action in the past; it would ignore the historic position of our country on this issue since its founding.

4. Moreover, we believe this construction embraces the ever-broadening understanding of the modern religious community. The eminent Protestant theologian, Dr. Paul Tillich, whose views the Government concedes would come within the statute, identifies God not as a projection "out there" or beyond the skies, but as the ground of our very being. The Court of Appeals stated in No. 51 that Jakobson's views "parallel [those of] this eminent theologian rather strikingly." 325 F.2d 415-416. In his book, Systematic Theology, Dr. Tillich says:

"I have written of the God above the God of theism. . . . In such a state [of self-affirmation], the God of both religious and theological language disappears. But something remains, namely, the seriousness of that doubt in which meaning within meaninglessness is affirmed. The source of this affirmation of meaning within meaninglessness, of certitude within doubt, is not the God of traditional theism, but the 'God above God,' the power of being, which works through those who have no name for it, not even the name God."

II Systematic Theology 12 (1957).

Page 380 U. S. 181

Another eminent cleric, the Bishop of Woolwich, John A. T. Robinson, in his book, Honest To God (1963), states:

"The Bible speaks of a God 'up there.' No doubt its picture of a three-decker universe, of 'the heaven above, the earth beneath, and the waters under the earth,' was once taken quite literally. . . ."

At 11.

"[Later,] in place of a God who is literally or physically 'up there,' we have accepted, as part of our mental furniture, a God who is spiritually or metaphysically 'out there.' . . . But now it seems there is no room for him, not merely in the inn, but in the entire universe: for there are no vacant places left. In reality, of course, our new view of the universe had made not the slightest difference. . . ."

At 13-14.

"But the idea of a God spiritually or metaphysically 'out there' dies very much harder. Indeed, most people would be seriously disturbed by the thought that it should need to die at all. For it is their God, and they have nothing to put in its place. . . . Every one of us lives with some mental picture of a God 'out there,' a God who 'exists' above and beyond the world he made, a God 'to' whom we pray and to whom we 'go' when we die."

At 14.

"But the signs are that we are reaching the point at which the whole conception of a God 'out there,' which has served us so well since the collapse of the three-decker universe, is itself becoming more of a hindrance than a help."

At 15-16. (Emphasis in original.)

The Schema of the recent Ecumenical Council included a most significant declaration on religion: [Footnote 4]

Page 380 U. S. 182

"The community of all peoples is one. One is their origin, for God made the entire human race live on all the face of the earth. One, too, is their ultimate end, God. Men expect from the various religions answers to the riddles of the human condition: What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of our lives? What is the moral good and what is sin? What are death, judgment, and retribution after death?"

"* * * *"

"Ever since primordial days, numerous peoples have had a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events that make up the lives of men; some have even come to know of a Supreme Being and Father. Religions in an advanced culture have been able to use more refined concepts and a more developed language in their struggle for an answer to man's religious questions."

"* * * *"

"Nothing that is true and holy in these religions is scorned by the Catholic Church. Ceaselessly the Church proclaims Christ, 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life,' in whom God reconciled all things to Himself. The Church regards with sincere reverence those ways of action and of life, precepts and teachings which, although they differ from the ones she sets forth, reflect nonetheless a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men."

Dr. David Saville Muzzey, a leader in the Ethical Culture Movement, states in his book, Ethics As a Religion (1951), that "[e]verybody except the avowed atheists (and they are comparatively few) believes in some kind of God," and that

"The proper question to ask, therefore, is

Page 380 U. S. 183

not the futile one, Do you believe in God? but rather, What kind of God do you believe in?"

Id. at 86-87. Dr. Muzzey attempts to answer that question:

"Instead of positing a personal God, whose existence man can neither prove nor disprove, the ethical concept is founded on human experience. It is anthropocentric, not theocentric. Religion, for all the various definitions that have been given of it, must surely mean the devotion of man to the highest ideal that he can conceive. And that ideal is a community of spirits in which the latent moral potentialities of men shall have been elicited by their reciprocal endeavors to cultivate the best in their fellow men. What ultimate reality is we do not know; but we have the faith that it expresses itself in the human world as the power which inspires in men moral purpose."

At 95.

"Thus, the 'God' that we love is not the figure on the great white throne, but the perfect pattern, envisioned by faith, of humanity as it should be, purged of the evil elements which retard its progress toward 'the knowledge, love and practice of the right.'"

At 98.

These are but a few of the views that comprise the broad spectrum of religious beliefs found among us. But they demonstrate very clearly the diverse manners in which beliefs, equally paramount in the lives of their possessors, may be articulated. They further reveal the difficulties inherent in placing too narrow a construction on the provisions of § 6(j), and thereby lend conclusive support to the construction which we today find that Congress intended.

5. We recognize the difficulties that have always faced the trier of fact in these cases. We hope that the test that we lay down proves less onerous. The examiner is furnished

Page 380 U. S. 184

a standard that permits consideration of criteria with which he has had considerable experience. While the applicant's words may differ, the test is simple of application. It is essentially an objective one, namely, does the claimed belief occupy the same place in the life of the objector as an orthodox belief in God holds in the life of one clearly qualified for exemption?

Moreover, it must be remembered that, in resolving these exemption problems, one deals with the beliefs of different individuals who will articulate them in a multitude of ways. In such an intensely personal area, of course, the claim of the registrant that his belief is an essential part of a religious faith must be given great weight. Recognition of this was implicit in this language, cited by the Berman court from State v. Amana Society, 132 Iowa 304, 109 N.W. 894 (1906):

"Surely a scheme of life designed to obviate [man's inhumanity to man], and, by removing temptations and all the allurements of ambition and avarice, to nurture the virtues of unselfishness, patience, love, and service, ought not to be denounced as not pertaining to religion when its devotees regard it as an essential tenet of their religious faith."

132 Iowa at 315, 109 N.W. at 898, cited in Berman v. United States, 156 F.2d 377, 381. (Emphasis by the Court of Appeals.) The validity of what he believes cannot be questioned. Some theologians, and indeed some examiners, might be tempted to question the existence of the registrant's "Supreme Being" or the truth of his concepts. But these are inquiries foreclosed to Government. As MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS stated in United States v. Ballard, 322 U. S. 78, 322 U. S. 86 (1944):

"Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others."


Page 380 U. S. 185

boards and courts in this sense are not free to reject beliefs because they consider them "incomprehensible." Their task is to decide whether the beliefs professed by a registrant are sincerely held, and whether they are, in his own scheme of things, religious.

But we hasten to emphasize that, while the "truth" of a belief is not open to question, there remains the significant question whether it is "truly held." This is the threshold question of sincerity which must be resolved in every case. It is, of course, a question of fact -- a prime consideration to the validity of every claim for exemption as a conscientious objector. The Act provides a comprehensive scheme for assisting the Appeal Boards in making this determination, placing at their service the facilities of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and hearing officers. Finally, we would point out that, in Estep v. United States, 327 U. S. 114, (1946), this Court held that:

"The provision making the decisions of the local boards 'final' means to us that Congress chose not to give administrative action under this Act the customary scope of judicial review which obtains under other statutes. It means that the courts are not to weigh the evidence to determine whether the classification made by the local boards was justified. The decisions of the local boards made in conformity with the regulations are final, even though they may be erroneous. The question of jurisdiction of the local board is reached only if there is no basis in fact for the classification which it gave the registrant."

At 327 U. S. 122-123.


As we noted earlier, the statutory definition excepts those registrants whose beliefs are based on a "merely personal moral code." The records in these cases, however,

Page 380 U. S. 186

show that at no time did any one of the applicants suggest that his objection was based on a "merely personal moral code." Indeed, at the outset, each of them claimed in his application that his objection was based on a religious belief. We have construed the statutory definition broadly, and it follows that any exception to it must be interpreted narrowly. The use by Congress of the words "merely personal" seems to us to restrict the exception to a moral code which is not only personal, but which is the sole basis for the registrant's belief, and is in no way related to a Supreme Being. It follows, therefore, that, if the claimed religious beliefs of the respective registrants in these cases meet the test that we lay down, then their objections cannot be based on a "merely personal" moral code.

In Seeger, No. 50, the Court of Appeals failed to find sufficient "externally compelled beliefs." However, it did find that

"it would seem impossible to say with assurance that [Seeger] is not bowing to 'external commands' in virtually the same sense as is the objector who defers to the will of a supernatural power."

326 F.2d 853. It found little distinction between Jakobson's devotion to a mystical force of "Godness" and Seeger's compulsion to "goodness." Of course, as we have said, the statute does not distinguish between externally and internally derived beliefs. Such a determination would, as the Court of Appeals observed, prove impossible as a practical matter, and we have found that Congress intended no such distinction.

The Court of Appeals also found that there was no question of the applicant's sincerity. He was a product of a devout Roman Catholic home; he was a close student of Quaker beliefs from which he said "much of [his] thought is derived"; he approved of their opposition to war in any form; he devoted his spare hours to the American

Page 380 U. S. 187

Friends Service Committee, and was assigned to hospital duty.

In summary, Seeger professed "religious belief" and "religious faith." He did not disavow any belief "in a relation to a Supreme Being"; indeed, he stated that "the cosmic order does, perhaps, suggest a creative intelligence." He decried the tremendous "spiritual" price man must pay for his willingness to destroy human life. In light of his beliefs and the unquestioned sincerity with which he held them, we think the Board, had it applied the test we propose today, would have granted him the exemption. We think it clear that the beliefs which prompted his objection occupy the same place in his life as the belief in a traditional deity holds in the lives of his friends, the Quakers. We are reminded once more of Dr. Tillich's thoughts:

"And if that word [God] has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, or your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God. . . ."

Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations. 57 (1948). (Emphasis supplied.) It may be that Seeger did not clearly demonstrate what his beliefs were with regard to the usual understanding of the term "Supreme Being." But, as we have said, Congress did not intend that to be the test. We therefore affirm the judgment in No. 50.

In Jakobson, No. 51, the Court of Appeals found that the registrant demonstrated that his belief as to opposition to war was related to a Supreme Being. We agree, and affirm that judgment.

We reach a like conclusion in No. 29. It will be remembered that Peter acknowledged "some power manifest in

Page 380 U. S. 188

nature . . . the supreme expression" that helps man in ordering his life. As to whether he would call that belief in a Supreme Being, he replied, "you could call that a belief in the Supreme Being or God. These just do not happen to be the words I use." We think that, under the test we establish here, the Board would grant the exemption to Peter, and we therefore reverse the judgment in No. 29.

It is so ordered.

* Together with No. 51, United States v. Jakobson, on certiorari to the same court, and No. 29, Peter v. United States, on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

[Footnote 1]

See United States v. Kauten, 133 F.2d 703 (C.A.2d Cir. 1943); Berman v. United States, 156 F.2d 377 (C.A.9th Cir. 1946).

[Footnote 2]

See Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Edition); Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1949).

[Footnote 3]

A definition of "religious training and belief" identical to that in § 6(j) is found in § 337 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 66 Stat. 258, 8 U.S.C. § 1448(a) (1958 ed.). It is noteworthy that, in connection with this Act, the Senate Special Subcommittee to Investigate Immigration and Naturalization stated:

"The subcommittee realizes and respects the fact that the question of whether or not a person must bear arms in defense of his country may be one which invades the province of religion and personal conscience."

Thus, it recommended that an alien not be required to vow to bear arms when he asserted "his opposition to participation in war in any form because of his personal religious training and belief." S.Rep. No. 1515, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., 742, 746.

[Footnote 4]

Draft declaration on the Church's relations with non-Christians, Council Daybook, Vatican II, 3d Sess., p. 282, N.C.W.C., Washington, D.C., 1965.

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring.

If I read the statute differently from the Court, I would have difficulties. For then those who embraced one religious faith, rather than another, would be subject to penalties; and that kind of discrimination, as we held in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398, would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It would also result in a denial of equal protection by preferring some religions over others -- an invidious discrimination that would run afoul of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. See Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U. S. 497.

The legislative history of this Act leaves much in the dark. But it is, in my opinion, not a tour de force if we construe the words "Supreme Being" to include the cosmos, as well as an anthropomorphic entity. If it is a tour de force so to hold, it is no more so than other instances where we have gone to extremes to construe an Act of Congress to save it from demise on constitutional grounds. In a more extreme case than the present one, we said that the words of a statute may be strained "in the candid service of avoiding a serious constitutional doubt." United States v. Rumely, 345 U. S. 41, 345 U. S. 47. [Footnote 2/1]

Page 380 U. S. 189

The words "a Supreme Being" have no narrow technical meaning in the field of religion. Long before the birth of our Judeo-Christian civilization, the idea of God had taken hold in many forms. Mention of only two -- Hinduism and Buddhism -- illustrates the fluidity and evanescent scope of the concept. In the Hindu religion, the Supreme Being is conceived in the forms of several cult Deities. The chief of these, which stand for the Hindu Triad, are Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. Another Deity, and the one most widely worshipped, is Sakti, the Mother Goddess, conceived as power, both destructive and creative. Though Hindu religion encompasses the worship of many Deities, it believes in only one single God, the eternally existent One Being, with his manifold attributes and manifestations. This idea is expressed in Digveda, the earliest sacred text of the Hindus, in verse 46 of a hymn attributed to the mythical seer Dirghatamas (Rigveda, I, 164):

"They call it Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Agni"

"And also heavenly beautiful Garutman:"

"The Real is One, though sages name it variously --"

"They call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan."

See Smart, Reasons and Faiths p. 35, n. 1 (1958); 32 Harvard Oriental Series pp. 434-435. (Lanman, ed. 1925). See generally 31 and 32 id.; Editors of Life Magazine, The World's Great Religions Vol. 1, pp. 17-48 (1963).

Indian philosophy, which comprises several schools of thought, has advanced different theories of the nature of the Supreme Being. According to the Upanisads, Hindu sacred texts, the Supreme Being is described as the power which creates and sustains everything, and to which the created things return upon dissolution. The word which is commonly used in the Upanisads to indicate the Supreme Being is Brahman. Philosophically, the

Page 380 U. S. 190

Supreme Being is the transcendental Reality which is Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss. It is the source of the entire universe. In this aspect, Brahman is Isvara, a personal Lord and Creator of the universe, an object of worship. But, in the view of one school of thought, that of Sankara, even this is an imperfect and limited conception of Brahman which must be transcended: to think of Brahman as the Creator of the material world is necessarily to form a concept infected with illusion, or maya -- which is what the world really is, in highest truth. Ultimately, mystically, Brahman must be understood as without attributes, as neti neti (not this, not that). See Smart, op. cit., supra, p. 133.

Buddhism -- whose advent marked the reform of Hinduism -- continued somewhat the same concept. As stated by Nancy Wilson Ross,

"God -- if I may borrow that word for a moment -- the universe, and man are one indissoluble existence, one total whole. Only THIS-capital THIS -- is. Anything and everything that appears to use as an individual entity or phenomenon, whether it be a planet or an atom, a mouse or a man, is but a temporary manifestation of THIS in form; every activity that takes place, whether it be birth or death, loving or eating breakfast, is but a temporary manifestation of THIS in activity. When we look at things this way, naturally we cannot believe that each individual person has been endowed with a special and individual soul or self. Each one of us is but a cell, as it were, in the body of the Great Self, a cell that comes into being, performs its functions, and passes away, transformed into another manifestation. Though we have temporary individuality, that temporary, limited individuality is not either a true self or our true self. Our true self is the Great Self; our true body is the Body of Reality, or the Dharmakaya, to give it its technical Buddhist name."

The World of Zen, p. 18 (1960).

Page 380 U. S. 191

Does a Buddhist believe in "God" or a "Supreme Being"? That, of course, depends on how one defines "God," as one eminent student of Buddhism has explained:

"It has often been suggested that Buddhism is an atheistic system of thought, and this assumption has given rise to quite a number of discussions. Some have claimed that, since Buddhism knew no God, it could not be a religion; others, that, since Buddhism obviously was a religion which knew no God, the belief in God was not essential to religion. These discussions assume that God is an unambiguous term, which is by no means the case."

Conze, Buddhism, pp. 38-39 (1959). Dr. Conze then says that, if "God" is taken to mean a personal Creator of the universe, then the Buddhist has no interest in the concept. Id., p. 39. But if "God" means something like the state of oneness with God as described by some Christian mystics, then the Buddhist surely believes in "God," since this state is almost indistinguishable from the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, "the supreme Reality; . . . the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible Peace." Id., pp. 39-40. And, finally, if "God" means one of the many Deities in an at least superficially polytheistic religion like Hinduism, then Buddhism tolerates a belief in many Gods:

"the Buddhists believe that a Faith can be kept alive only if it can be adapted to the mental habits of the average person. In consequence, we find that, in the earlier Scriptures, the deities of Brahmanism are taken for granted, and that, later on, the Buddhists adopted the local Gods of any district to which they came."

Id., p. 42.

When the present Act was adopted in 1948, we were a nation of Buddhists, Confucianists, and Taoists, as well as Christians. Hawaii, then a Territory, was indeed filled with Buddhists, Buddhism being "probably the major

Page 380 U. S. 192

faith, if Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are deemed different faiths." Stokes and Pfeffer, Church and State in the United States, p. 560 (1964). Organized Buddhism first came to Hawaii in 1887 when Japanese laborers were brought to work on the plantations. There are now numerous Buddhist sects in Hawaii, and the temple of the Shin sect in Honolulu is said to have the largest congregation of any religious organization in the city. See Mulholland, Religion in Hawaii pp. 44-50 (1961).

In the continental United States, Buddhism is found "in real strength" in Utah, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and California.

"Most of the Buddhists in the United States are Japanese or Japanese-Americans; however, there are 'English' departments in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Tacoma."

Mead, Handbook of Denominations, p. 61 (1961). The Buddhist Churches of North America, organized in 1914 as the Buddhist Mission of North America and incorporated under the present name in 1942, represent the Jodo Shinshu Sect of Buddhism in this country. This sect is the only Buddhist group reporting information to the annual Yearbook of American Churches. In 1961, the latest year for which figures are available, this group alone had 55 churches and an inclusive membership of 60,000; it maintained 89 church schools, with a total enrollment of 11,150. Yearbook of American Churches, p. 30 (1965). According to one source, the total number of Buddhists of all sects in North America is 171,000. See World Almanac, p. 636 (1965).

When the Congress spoke in the vague general terms of a Supreme Being, I cannot, therefore, assume that it was so parochial as to use the words in the narrow sense urged on us. I would attribute tolerance and sophistication to the Congress, commensurate with the religious complexion of our communities. In sum, I agree with the Court that any person opposed to war on the basis of a sincere belief, which, in his life, fills the same place as a belief

Page 380 U. S. 193

in God fills in the life of an orthodox religionist, is entitled to exemption under the statute. None comes to us an avowedly irreligious person or as an atheist; [Footnote 2/2] one as a sincere believer in "goodness and virtue for their own sakes." His questions and doubts on theological issues, and his wonder, are no more alien to the statutory standard than are the awe-inspired questions of a devout Buddhist.

[Footnote 2/1]

And see Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 285 U. S. 62; Ullmann v. United States, 350 U. S. 422, 350 U. S. 433; Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U. S. 288, 297 U. S. 341, 297 U. S. 348 (concurring opinion).

[Footnote 2/2]

If he was an atheist, quite different problems would be presented. Cf. Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U. S. 488.

United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) Decision and why it is so significant

This proves a dead in law court cannot assess beyond the professed sincerity of your belief. All you have to do is exercise your sincere faith and make them aware privately of your sincerity in faith before you get there and you are free from their dead assumptive law courts.

Praise Jah!

U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944)

United States v. Ballard

No. 472

Argued March 3, 6, 1944

Decided April 24, 1944

322 U.S. 78




Upon an indictment charging use of the mails to defraud, and conspiracy so to do, respondents were convicted in the District Court. The indictment charged a scheme to defraud through representations -- involving respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs -- which were alleged to be false and known by the respondents to be false. Holding that the District Court had restricted the jury to the issue of respondents' good faith and that this was error, the Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and granted a new trial.


1. The only issue submitted to the jury by the District Court was whether respondents believed the representations to be true. P. 322 U. S. 84.

2. Respondents did not acquiesce in the withdrawal from the jury of the issue of the truth of their religious doctrines or beliefs, and are not barred by the rule of Johnson v. United States, 318 U. S. 189, from reasserting here that no part of the indictment should have been submitted to the jury. P. 322 U. S. 85.

3. The District Court properly withheld from the jury all questions concerning the truth or falsity of respondents' religious beliefs or doctrines. This course was required by the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. P. 322 U. S. 86.

The preferred position given freedom of religion by the First Amendment is not limited to any particular religious group or to any particular type of religion but applies to all. P. 322 U. S. 87.

4. Respondents may urge in support of the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals points which that court reserved, but, since these were not fully presented here either in the briefs or oral argument, they may more appropriately be considered by that court upon remand. P. 322 U. S. 88.

138 F.2d 540 reversed.

Certiorari, 320 U.S. 733, to review the reversal of convictions for using the mails to defraud and conspiracy.

Page 322 U. S. 79

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents were indicted and convicted for using, and conspiring to use, the mails to defraud. § 215 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 338; § 37 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 88. The indictment was in twelve counts. It charged a scheme to defraud by organizing and promoting the I Am movement through the use of the mails. The charge was that certain designated corporations were formed, literature distributed and sold, funds solicited, and memberships in the I Am movement sought "by means of false and fraudulent representations, pretenses and promises." The false representations charged were eighteen in number. It is sufficient at this point to say that they covered respondents' alleged religious doctrines or beliefs. They were all set forth in the first count. The following are representative:

"that Guy W. Ballard, now deceased, alias Saint Germain, Jesus, George Washington, and Godfre Ray King, had been selected and thereby designated by the alleged 'ascertained masters,' Saint Germain, as a divine messenger, and that the words of 'ascended masters' and the words of the alleged divine entity, Saint Germain, would be transmitted to mankind through the medium of the said Guy W. Ballard;"

"that Guy W. Ballard, during his lifetime, and Edna W. Ballard, and Donald Ballard, by reason of their alleged high spiritual attainments and righteous conduct, had been selected as divine messengers through which the words of the alleged 'ascended masters,' including

Page 322 U. S. 80

the alleged Saint Germain, would be communicated to mankind under the teachings commonly known as the 'I Am' movement;"

"that Guy W. Ballard, during his lifetime, and Edna W. Ballard and Donald Ballard had, by reason of supernatural attainments, the power to heal persons of ailments and diseases and to make well persons afflicted with any diseases, injuries, or ailments, and did falsely represent to persons intended to be defrauded that the three designated persons had the ability and power to cure persons of those diseases normally classified as curable and also of diseases which are ordinarily classified by the medical profession as being incurable diseases, and did further represent that the three designated persons had in fact cured either by the activity of one, either, or all of said persons, hundreds of persons afflicted with diseases and ailments;"

Each of the representations enumerated in the indictment was followed by the charge that respondents "well knew" it was false. After enumerating the eighteen misrepresentations the indictment also alleged:

"At the time of making all of the afore-alleged representations by the defendants, and each of them, the defendants, and each of them, well knew that all of said aforementioned representations were false and untrue and were made with the intention on the part of the defendants, and each of them, to cheat, wrong, and defraud persons intended to be defrauded, and to obtain from persons intended to be defrauded by the defendants, money, property, and other things of value and to convert the same to the use and the benefit of the defendants, and each of them;"

The indictment contained twelve counts, one of which charged a conspiracy to defraud. The first count set forth all of the eighteen representations, as we have said. Each of the other counts incorporated and realleged all of them and added no additional ones. There was a demurrer and a motion to quash each of which asserted, among other things, that the indictment attacked the religious beliefs

Page 322 U. S. 81

of respondents and sought to restrict the free exercise of their religion in violation of the Constitution of the United States. These motions were denied by the District Court. Early in the trial, however, objections were raised to the admission of certain evidence concerning respondents' religious beliefs. The court conferred with counsel in absence of the jury and, with the acquiescence of counsel for the United States and for respondents, confined the issues on this phase of the case to the question of the good faith of respondents. At the request of counsel for both sides, the court advised the jury of that action in the following language:

"Now, gentlemen, here is the issue in this case:"

"First, the defendants in this case made certain representations of belief in a divinity and in a supernatural power. Some of the teachings of the defendants, representations, might seem extremely improbable to a great many people. For instance, the appearance of Jesus to dictate some of the works that we have had introduced in evidence, as testified to here at the opening transcription, or shaking hands with Jesus, to some people that might seem highly improbable. I point that out as one of the many statements."

"Whether that is true or not is not the concern of this Court and is not the concern of the jury -- and they are going to be told so in their instructions. As far as this Court sees the issue, it is immaterial what these defendants preached or wrote or taught in their classes. They are not going to be permitted to speculate on the actuality of the happening of those incidents. Now, I think I have made that as clear as I can. Therefore, the religious beliefs of these defendants cannot be an issue in this court."

"The issue is: did these defendants honestly and in good faith believe those things? If they did, they should be acquitted. I cannot make it any clearer than that."

"If these defendants did not believe those things, they did not believe that Jesus came down and dictated,

Page 322 U. S. 82

or that Saint Germain came down and dictated, did not believe the things that they wrote, the things that they preached, but used the mail for the purpose of getting money, the jury should find them guilty. Therefore, gentlemen, religion cannot come into this case."

The District Court reiterated that admonition in the charge to the jury, and made it abundantly clear. The following portion of the charge is typical:

"The question of the defendants' good faith is the cardinal question in this case. You are not to be concerned with the religious belief of the defendants, or any of them. The jury will be called upon to pass on the question of whether or not the defendants honestly and in good faith believed the representations which are set forth in the indictment, and honestly and in good faith believed that the benefits which they represented would flow from their belief to those who embraced and followed their teachings, or whether these representations were mere pretenses without honest belief on the part of the defendants or any of them, and, were the representations made for the purpose of procuring money, and were the mails used for this purpose."

As we have said, counsel for the defense acquiesced in this treatment of the matter, made no objection to it during the trial, and indeed treated it without protest as the law of the case throughout the proceedings prior to the verdict. Respondents did not change their position before the District Court after verdict and contend that the truth or verity of their religious doctrines or beliefs should have been submitted to the jury. In their motion for new trial, they did contend, however, that the withdrawal of these issues from the jury was error because it was, in effect, an amendment of the indictment. That was also one of their specifications of errors on appeal. And other errors urged on appeal included the overruling of the demurrer to the indictment and the motion to quash, and the

Page 322 U. S. 83

disallowance of proof of the truth of respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs.

The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of conviction and granted a new trial, one judge dissenting. 138 F.2d 540. In its view, the restriction of the issue in question to that of good faith was error. Its reason was that the scheme to defraud alleged in the indictment was that respondents made the eighteen alleged false representations, and that, to prove that defendants devised the scheme described in the indictment,

"it was necessary to prove that they schemed to make some at least, of the [eighteen] representations . . . and that some, at least, of the representations which they schemed to make were false."

138 F.2d 545. One judge thought that the ruling of the District Court was also error because it was "as prejudicial to the issue of honest belief as to the issue of purposeful misrepresentation." Id., p. 546.

The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari which we granted because of the importance of the question presented.

The United States contends that the District Court withdrew from the jury's consideration only the truth or falsity of those representations which related to religious concepts or beliefs, and that there were representations charged in the indictment which fell within a different category. 322 U. S. 639-640, which held that, where an indictment contained "all the necessary averments to constitute an offense created by the statute," a conviction would not be set aside because a "totally immaterial fact" was averred but not proved. We do not stop to ascertain the relevancy of that rule to this case, for we are of the view that all of the representations charged in the indictment which related at least in part to the religious doctrines or beliefs of respondents were withheld from the jury. The trial judge did not differentiate them. He referred in the charge to the "religious beliefs" and "doctrines taught by the defendants" as matters withheld from the jury. And, in stating that the issue of good faith was the "cardinal question" in the case, he charged, as already noted, that

"The jury will be called upon to pass on the question of whether or not the defendants honestly and in good faith believed the representations which are set forth in the indictment."

Nowhere in the charge were any of the separate representations submitted to the jury. A careful reading of the whole charge leads us to agree with the Circuit Court of Appeals on this phase of the case that the only issue submitted to the jury was the question as stated by the District Court, of respondents' "belief in their representations and promises."

The United States contends that respondents acquiesced in the withdrawal from the jury of the truth of their religious

Page 322 U. S. 85

doctrines or beliefs and that their consent bars them from insisting on a different course once that one turned out to be unsuccessful. Reliance for that position is sought in Johnson v. United States, 318 U. S. 189. That case stands for the proposition that, apart from situations involving an unfair trial, an appellate court will not grant a new trial to a defendant on the ground of improper introduction of evidence or improper comment by the prosecutor where the defendant acquiesced in that course and made no objection to it. In fairness to respondents, that principle cannot be applied here. The real objection of respondents is not that the truth of their religious doctrines or beliefs should have been submitted to the jury. Their demurrer and motion to quash made clear their position that that issue should be withheld from the jury on the basis of the First Amendment. Moreover, their position at all times was, and still is, that the court should have gone the whole way and withheld from the jury both that issue and the issue of their good faith. Their demurrer and motion to quash asked for dismissal of the entire indictment. Their argument that the truth of their religious doctrines or beliefs should have gone to the jury when the question of their good faith was submitted was and is merely an alternative argument. They never forsook their position that the indictment should have been dismissed, and that none of it was good. Moreover, respondents' motion for new trial challenged the propriety of the action of the District Court in withdrawing from the jury the issue of the truth of their religious doctrines or beliefs without also withdrawing the question of their good faith. So we conclude that the rule of Johnson v. United States, supra, does not prevent respondents from reasserting now that no part of the indictment should have been submitted to the jury.

As we have noted, the Circuit Court of Appeals held that the question of the truth of the representations concerning

Page 322 U. S. 86

respondent's religious doctrines or beliefs should have been submitted to the jury. And it remanded the case for a new trial. It may be that the Circuit Court of Appeals took that action because it did not think that the indictment could be properly construed as charging a scheme to defraud by means other than misrepresentations of respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs. Or that court may have concluded that the withdrawal of the issue of the truth of those religious doctrines or beliefs was unwarranted because it resulted in a substantial change in the character of the crime charged. But, on whichever basis that court rested its action, we do not agree that the truth or verity of respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs should have been submitted to the jury. Whatever this particular indictment might require, the First Amendment precludes such a course, as the United States seems to concede. "The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, the establishment of no sect." 80 U. S. 728. The First Amendment has a dual aspect. It not only "forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship," but also "safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion." Cantwell v. Connecticut,@ 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 303.

"Thus, the Amendment embraces two concepts -- freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be."

Id., pp. 310 U. S. 303-304. Freedom of thought, which includes freedom of religious belief, is basic in a society of free men. Board of Education by Barnette, 319 U. S. 624. It embraces the right to maintain theories of life and of death and of the hereafter which are rank heresy to followers of the orthodox faiths. Heresy trials are foreign to our Constitution. Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.

Page 322 U. S. 87

Yet the fact that they may be beyond the ken of mortals does not mean that they can be made suspect before the law. Many take their gospel from the New Testament. But it would hardly be supposed that they could be tried before a jury charged with the duty of determining whether those teachings contained false representations. The miracles of the New Testament, the Divinity of Christ, life after death, the power of prayer are deep in the religious convictions of many. If one could be sent to jail because a jury in a hostile environment found those teachings false, little indeed would be left of religious freedom. The Fathers of the Constitution were not unaware of the varied and extreme views of religious sects, of the violence of disagreement among them, and of the lack of any one religious creed on which all men would agree. They fashioned a charter of government which envisaged the widest possible toleration of conflicting views. Man's relation to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he pleased, and to answer to no man for the verity of his religious views. The religious views espoused by respondents might seem incredible, if not preposterous, to most people. But if those doctrines are subject to trial before a jury charged with finding their truth or falsity, then the same can be done with the religious beliefs of any sect. When the triers of fact undertake that task, they enter a forbidden domain. The First Amendment does not select any one group or any one type of religion for preferred treatment. It puts them all in that position. Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U. S. 105. As stated in Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333, 133 U. S. 342:

"With man's relations to his Maker and the obligations he may think they impose, and the manner in which an expression shall be made by him of his belief on those subjects, no interference can be permitted, provided always the laws of society, designed to secure its peace and prosperity, and the morals of its people, are not interfered with."

See Prince

Page 322 U. S. 88

v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158. So we conclude that the District Court ruled properly when it withheld from the jury all questions concerning the truth or falsity of the religious beliefs or doctrines of respondents.

Respondents maintain that the reversal of the judgment of conviction was justified on other distinct grounds. The Circuit Court of Appeals did not reach those questions. Respondents may, of course, urge them here in support of the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals. Langnes v. Green, 282 U. S. 531, 282 U. S. 538-539; Story Parchment Co. v. Paterson Co., 282 U. S. 555, 282 U. S. 560, 282 U. S. 567-568. But since attention was centered on the issues which we have discussed, the remaining questions were not fully presented to this Court either in the briefs or oral argument. In view of these circumstances, we deem it more appropriate to remand the cause to the Circuit Court of Appeals so that it may pass on the questions reserved. Lutcher & Moore Lumber Co. v. Knight, 217 U. S. 257, 217 U. S. 267-268; Brown v. Fletcher, 237 U. S. 583. If any questions of importance survive and are presented here, we will then have the benefit of the views of the Circuit Court of Appeals. Until that additional consideration is had, we cannot be sure that it will be necessary to pass on any of the other constitutional issues which respondents claim to have reserved.

The judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded to the Circuit Court of Appeals for further proceedings in conformity to this opinion.


* Petitioner has placed three representations in this group: (1) A portion of the scheme as to healing which we have already quoted and which alleged that respondents "had in fact cured either by the activity of one, either, or all of said persons, hundreds of persons afflicted with diseases and ailments;" (2) The portion of the scheme relating to certain religious experiences described in certain books (Unveiled Mysteries and The Magic Presence) and concerning which the indictment alleged

"that the defendants represented that Guy W. Ballard, Edna W. Ballard, and Donald Ballard actually encountered the experiences pertaining to each of their said names as related and set forth in said books, whereas in truth and in fact none of said persons did encounter the experiences;"

(3) The part of the scheme concerning phonograph records sold by respondents on representations that they would bestow on purchasers "great blessings and rewards in their aim to achieve salvation," whereas respondents "well knew that said . . . records were man-made, and had no ability to aid in achieving salvation."


I am not prepared to say that the constitutional guaranty of freedom of religion affords immunity from criminal prosecution for the fraudulent procurement of money by false statements as to one's religious experiences

Page 322 U. S. 89

more than it renders polygamy or libel immune from criminal prosecution. Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333; see Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 315 U. S. 572; cf. Patterson v. Colorado, 205 U. S. 454, 205 U. S. 462; Near v. Minnesota, 283 U. S. 697, 283 U. S. 715. I cannot say that freedom of thought and worship includes freedom to procure money by making knowingly false statements about one's religious experiences. To go no further, if it were shown that a defendant in this case had asserted as a part of the alleged fraudulent scheme, that he had physically shaken hands with St. Germain in San Francisco on a day named, or that, as the indictment here alleges, by the exertion of his spiritual power, he "had in fact cured . . . hundreds of persons afflicted with diseases and ailments," I should not doubt that it would be open to the Government to submit to the jury proof that he had never been in San Francisco and that no such cures had ever been effected. In any event, I see no occasion for making any pronouncement on this subject in the present case.

The indictment charges respondents' use of the mails to defraud and a conspiracy to commit that offense by false statements of their religious experiences which had not in fact occurred. But it also charged that the representations were "falsely and fraudulently" made, that respondents "well knew" that these representations were untrue, and that they were made by respondents with the intent to cheat and defraud those to whom they were made. With the assent of the prosecution and the defense, the trial judge withdrew from the consideration of the jury the question whether the alleged religious experiences had in fact occurred, but submitted to the jury the single issue whether petitioners honestly believed that they had occurred, with the instruction that, if the jury did not so find, then it should return a verdict of guilty. On this

Page 322 U. S. 90

issue, the jury, on ample evidence that respondents were without belief in the statements which they had made to their victims, found a verdict of guilty. The state of one's mind is a fact as capable of fraudulent misrepresentation as is one's physical condition or the state of his bodily health. See Seven Cases v. United States, 239 U. S. 510, 239 U. S. 517; cf. Durland v. United States, 161 U. S. 306, 161 U. S. 313. There are no exceptions to the charge, and no contention that the trial court rejected any relevant evidence which petitioners sought to offer. Since the indictment and the evidence support the conviction, it is irrelevant whether the religious experiences alleged did or did not in fact occur or whether that issue could or could not, for constitutional reasons, have been rightly submitted to the jury. Certainly none of respondents' constitutional rights are violated if they are prosecuted for the fraudulent procurement of money by false representations as to their beliefs, religious or otherwise.

Obviously if the question whether the religious experiences in fact occurred could not constitutionally have been submitted to the jury, the court rightly withdrew it. If it could have been submitted, I know of no reason why the parties could not, with the advice of counsel, assent to its withdrawal from the jury. And where, as here, the indictment charges two sets of false statements, each independently sufficient to sustain the conviction, I cannot accept respondents' contention that the withdrawal of one set and the submission of the other to the jury amounted to an amendment of the indictment.

An indictment is amended when it is so altered as to charge a different offense from that found by the grand jury. Ex parte Bain, 121 U. S. 1. But here there was no alteration of the indictment, Salinger v. United States, 272 U. S. 542, 272 U. S. 549, nor did the court's action, in effect, and anything to it by submitting to the jury matters which

Page 322 U. S. 91

it did not charge. United States v. Norris, 281 U. S. 619, 281 U. S. 622. In Salinger v. United States, supra, 272 U. S. 548-549, we explicitly held that, where an indictment charges several offenses, or the commission of one offense in several ways, the withdrawal from the jury's consideration of one offense or one alleged method of committing it does not constitute a forbidden amendment of the indictment. See also Goto v. Lane, 265 U. S. 393, 265 U. S. 402-403; Ford v. United States, 273 U. S. 593, 273 U. S. 602. Were the rule otherwise, the common practice of withdrawing from the jury's consideration one count of an indictment while submitting others for its verdict, sustained in Dealy v. United States, 152 U. S. 539, 152 U. S. 542, would be a fatal error.

We may assume that, under some circumstances, the submission to the jury of part only of the matters alleged in the indictment might result in such surprise to the defendant as to amount to the denial of a fair trial. But, as in the analogous case of a variance between pleading and proof, a conviction can be reversed only upon a showing of injury to the "substantial rights" of the accused. Berger v. United States, 295 U. S. 78, 295 U. S. 82. Here, no claim of surprise has been or could be made. The indictment plainly charged both falsity of, and lack of good faith belief in, the representations made, and it was agreed at the outset of the trial, without objection from the defendants, that only the issue of respondents' good faith belief in the representations of religious experiences would be submitted to the jury. Respondents, who were represented by counsel, at no time in the course of the trial offered any objection to this limitation of the issues, or any contention that it would result in a prohibited amendment of the indictment. So far as appears from the record before us, the point was raised for the first time in the specifications of errors in the Circuit Court of Appeals. It is asserted that it was argued to the District Court on

Page 322 U. S. 92

motions for new trial and in arrest of judgment. If so, there was still no surprise by a ruling to which, as we have said, respondents' counsel assented when it was made.

On the issue submitted to the jury in this case, it properly rendered a verdict of guilty. As no legally sufficient reason for disturbing it appears, I think the judgment below should be reversed, and that of the District Court reinstated.


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, dissenting.

I should say the defendants have done just that for which they are indicted. If I might agree to their conviction without creating a precedent, I cheerfully would do so. I can see in their teachings nothing but humbug, untainted by any trace of truth. But that does not dispose of the constitutional question whether misrepresentation of religious experience or belief is prosecutable; it rather emphasizes the danger of such prosecutions.

The Ballard family claimed miraculous communication with the spirit world and supernatural power to heal the sick. They were brought to trial for mail fraud on an indictment which charged that their representations were false and that they "well knew" they were false. The trial judge, obviously troubled, ruled that the court could not try whether the statements were untrue, but could inquire whether the defendants knew them to be untrue, and, if so, they could be convicted.

I find it difficult to reconcile this conclusion with our traditional religious freedoms.

In the first place, as a matter of either practice or philosophy, I do not see how we can separate an issue as to what is believed from considerations as to what is believable. The most convincing proof that one believes his statements is to show that they have been true in his experience.

Page 322 U. S. 93

Likewise, that one knowingly falsified is best proved by showing that what he said happened never did happen. How can the Government prove these persons knew something to be false which it cannot prove to be false? If we try religious sincerity severed from religious verity, we isolate the dispute from the very considerations which, in common experience, provide its most reliable answer.

In the second place, any inquiry into intellectual honesty in religion raises profound psychological problems. William James, who wrote on these matters as a scientist, reminds us that it is not theology and ceremonies which keep religion going. Its vitality is in the religious experiences of many people.

"If you ask what these experiences are, they are conversations with the unseen, voices and visions, responses to prayer, changes of heart, deliverances from fear, inflowings of help, assurances of support, whenever certain persons set their own internal attitude in certain appropriate ways. [Footnote 1]"

If religious liberty includes, as it must, the right to communicate such experiences to others, it seems to me an impossible task for juries to separate fancied ones from real ones, dreams from happenings, and hallucinations from true clairvoyance. Such experiences, like some tones and colors, have existence for one, but none at all for another. They cannot be verified to the minds of those whose field of consciousness does not include religious insight. When one comes to trial which turns on any aspect of religious belief or representation, unbelievers among his judges are likely not to understand, and are almost certain not to believe, him.

And then I do not know what degree of skepticism or disbelief in a religious representation amounts to actionable fraud. James points out that "Faith means belief

Page 322 U. S. 94

in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible." [Footnote 2] Belief in what one may demonstrate to the senses is not faith. All schools of religious thought make enormous assumptions, generally on the basis of revelations authenticated by some sign or miracle. The appeal in such matters is to a very different plane of credibility than is invoked by representations of secular fact in commerce. Some who profess belief in the Bible read literally what others read as allegory or metaphor, as they read Aesop's fables. Religious symbolism is even used by some with the same mental reservations one has in teaching of Santa Claus or Uncle Sam or Easter bunnies or dispassionate judges. It is hard in matters so mystical to say how literally one is bound to believe the doctrine he teaches, and even more difficult to say how far it is reliance upon a teacher's literal belief which induces followers to give him money.

There appear to be persons -- let us hope not many -- who find refreshment and courage in the teachings of the "I Am" cult. If the members of the sect get comfort from the celestial guidance of their "Saint Germain," however doubtful it seems to me, it is hard to say that they do not get what they pay for. Scores of sects flourish in this country by teaching what, to me, are queer notions. It is plain that there is wide variety in American religious taste. The Ballards are not alone in catering to it with a pretty dubious product.

The chief wrong which false prophets do to their following is not financial. The collections aggregate a tempting total, but individual payments are not ruinous. I doubt if the vigilance of the law is equal to making money stick by over-credulous people. But the real harm is on the mental and spiritual plane. There are those who hunger and thirst after higher values which they feel wanting in

Page 322 U. S. 95

their humdrum lives. They live in mental confusion or moral anarchy, and seek vaguely for truth and beauty and moral support. When they are deluded and then disillusioned, cynicism and confusion follow. The wrong of these things, as I see it, is not in the money the victims part with half so much as in the mental and spiritual poison they get. But that is precisely the thing the Constitution put beyond the reach of the prosecutor, for the price of freedom of religion or of speech or of the press is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.

Prosecutions of this character easily could degenerate into religious persecution. I do not doubt that religious leaders may be convicted of fraud for making false representations on matters other than faith or experience, as, for example, if one represents that funds are being used to construct a church when in fact they are being used for personal purposes. But that is not this case, which reaches into wholly dangerous ground. When does less than full belief in a professed credo become actionable fraud if one is soliciting gifts or legacies? Such inquiries may discomfort orthodox, as well as unconventional, religious teachers, for even the most regular of them are sometimes accused of taking their orthodoxy with a grain of salt.

I would dismiss the indictment and have done with this business of judicially examining other people's faiths.

[Footnote 1]

William James, Collected Essays and Reviews, pp. 427, 428; see generally his Varieties of Religious Experience and The Will to Believe. See also Burton, Heyday of a Wizard.

[Footnote 2]

William James, The Will to Believe, p. 90.

Real criminal invesitgation and professionalism regarding the Medpharmfraud of 2019