We hear so often the term ‘Separation of Church and State’ as being in the 1st Amendment. But nowhere in our Constitution or in any of the Amendments is this phrase to be found. NOWHERE. In fact, the 1st Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s all it says concerning religion. It does not even hint at a so-called separation of church and state.
Take it line by line: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion – in other words, Congress cannot mandate a state religion, i.e., forcing everyone to practice the Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, etc., faith.
…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof – meaning that the government cannot prevent anyone from practicing his or her religion freely.
I repeat: this amendment does not even hint at a separation of church and state.
So where did the separation myth come from? In doing a little research we find it came from a letter written in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson in response to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut when they were concerned that the government might, one day, try to regulate religious expression (sounds like the American Civil Liberties Union – a non-government entity that was started by and for communists so they could practice communism in our republic). Jefferson responded with an assurance that there was a “wall of separation between church and state” to ensure that the government would never interfere with religious activities.
So! This so-called government “law” comes from an unofficial letter!
For the majority of our country’s existence the 1st Amendment has been understood to mean that our government was prohibited to mandate a single religion over another. Even so, our government is a government of faith - the national policies and rulings during the first century and a half prove this to be true, as religious doctrine has been injected in nearly every American government document composed.
Allowing schools to put up pictures of a Christmas Tree or a Menorah during the respective holiday, for an example, or to be taught ‘Intelligent Design’ along side of the theory of evolution does, in no way, interfere or support one religious belief over another. Nor does it hinder the non-beliefs of atheists who, just like the rest of us, must learn to accept diversity. The 1st Amendment in no way supports the theory that would outlaw religion just because it may offend those of differing beliefs.
As for the continuing arguments of the separation myth, Thomas Jefferson himself, in a letter written to William Johnson in 1823 (taken from the book Thomas Jefferson: Writings Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters) stated: “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
It was George Washington who in 1789 issued the first presidential proclamation for prayer as he proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving: "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor...”
Also, in his 1796 Farewell Address, Washington pointed out that the two foundations for political prosperity in America were religion and morality, and that no one could be called an American patriot who attempted to separate politics from its two foundations. In that address our first president stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Thomas Jefferson declared, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis, that basis is a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God, that they are not to be violated but with His wrath?"
Benjamin Franklin reminded the delegates to the Constitutional Convention that, "We need God to be our friend, not our enemy; we need Him to be our ally, not our adversary; we need to make sure that we keep His concurring aid.”
Does this sound like our Founding Fathers wanted to separate religion from government on all levels?
The myth of the so-called separation of church and state is just that – a myth. Unfortunately, this phrase has been drilled so deeply into the consciousness of Americans that most believe these actual words are in the Constitution itself!
By the way, In my discussions concerning the separation myth, I have been told that many of our founding fathers were deists. The un-informed tend to believe that a deist is comparable to atheist. Poor souls. With all of the information readily at our fingertips and they cannot find (or are afraid to find) the truth for themselves.
Deism (Deist):Belief in God based on reason rather than revelation or the teaching of any specific religion. Deists asserted that reason could find evidence of God in nature and that God had created the world and then left it to operate under the natural laws he had devised. Deism was championed by some of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are among the most well-known of the American founding deists. There is debate as to whether George Washington was a deist or not, although he was known to attend church services with his wife regularly.
I invite those who disagree with this blog to please look up the quotes written and put them in their original context.