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Separation of Church and State?
By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, September 21, 2011
One of the most misused and misunderstood terms in our political lexicon today is the “separation of church and state.”
Most people who advocate for said separation are unaware that term does not exist as a clause anywhere in the U.S. Constitution and has no mention anywhere in the Declaration of Independence. It is not a part of our body of law and is enforced unwittingly by judges as a philosophy, rather than a legislative mandate.
The origin of the phrase “separation of church and state” is in a letter from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, in the state of Connecticut on January 1, 1802.
President Jefferson was responding to concerns that the newly formed U.S. government was going to begin dictating matters of religious worship- an act prohibited by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In his letter of reassurance, Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association; “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
President Jefferson, who was not a Christian, but a Deist—believing only in God but not the divinity of Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ— ended his letter to the Baptist Association with; “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.”
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as Article I of the Bill of Rights, prohibits Congress from establishing a national religion and forcing people to attend it. It also prohibits Congress from passing a law that prohibits one from exercising his/her religious beliefs—regardless of what they may be. That was the “wall of separation between church and state” Jefferson was talking about.
Today, that phrase has been misconstrued to the point of not allowing prayer in public places, schools, legislative assemblies and even the removal of the Biblical Ten Commandments from courthouses across the country; even though our court system was ironically modeled after that designed by Moses under Divine leadership as recounted in the book of Exodus in the Bible. (see Exodus 18:21-26)
Saying a prayer before a public meeting or ball game does not fall into the category of “establishing” a national religion, but the prohibiting of prayer under those circumstances does prohibit its free exercise. Also, the teaching of Creationism in public school as a possibility for the origin of the Universe and all life is not a government-mandated religion, it’s merely providing students with information to make informed decisions. After all, Darwin’s theory of evolution is still just a theory and has never been scientifically proven, but is taught with such religious zeal in public schools as if it were fact, it could qualify as a government-endorsed “religion.”
The “separation of church and state” is a restriction on government actions, not a restriction on religious actions. When understood in its proper context, one readily sees how agendas and skewed philosophies have conspired to destroy the rights of the people and Supremacy of the Creator in the U.S. today.