We met for our first episode of the American Heritage series last Sunday at church. It was fantastic! There are 26 episodes, so I am really looking forward to seeing more and really driving home, in my mind, the truths of our history. If you are in Borrego, please come by the Christian Center on Sunday mornings at 8am to check out this series. ~~After the first episode, one of the men in our church inquired about why the "separation of church and state" is in our Constitution when, clearly, the majority of our founders were Godly Christian men. There was a great response from someone (thanks Kelly!) who had just written a paper on this very subject. (Thanks, God!) I thought I would go ahead and post here the original intent of the "separation of church and state" which the liberals among us ram down the throats of the uninformed. Their spin on the phrase is an absolute contradiction of the original intent. I will also add that it is not a phrase found in the Constitution.
The Federal "Wall" Between Church and State
When Thomas Jefferson was serving in the Virginia legislature he helped initiate a bill to have a day of fasting and prayer, but when he became President, Jefferson said there was no authority in the federal government to proclaim religious holidays. In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association dated January 1, 1802, he explained his position and said the Constitution had created "a wall of separation between church and state."
In recent years the Supreme Court has undertaken to use this metaphor as an excuse for meddling in the religious issues arising within the various states. It has not only presumed to take jurisdiction in these disputes, but has actually forced the states to take the same hands-off position toward religious matters even though this restriction originally applied only to the federal government. This obvious distortion of the original intent of Jefferson (when he used the metaphor of a "wall" separating church and state) becomes entirely apparent when the statements and actions of Jefferson are examined in their historical context.
It will be recalled that Jefferson and Madison were anxious that the states intervene in religious matters so as to provide for equality among all religions, and that all churches or religions assigned preferential treatment should be disestablished from such preferment. They further joined with the other Founders in expressing an anxiety that ALL religions be encouraged in order to promote the moral fiber and religious tone of the people. This, of course, would be impossible if there were an impenetrable "wall" between church and state on the state level. Jefferson's "wall" was obviously intended only for the federal government, and the Supreme Court application of this metaphor to the states has come under severe criticism. (The 5000 Year Leap via source: U.S. Constitution Coach)
You may read the correspondence between Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Assoc. below:
Letter from the Danbury Baptists:
The address of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut, assembled October 7, 1801.
To Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America
Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity , since your inauguration, to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States. And though the mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe, that none is more sincere.
Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter, together with the laws made coincident therewith, were adapted as the basis of our government at the time of our revolution. And such has been our laws and usages, and such still are, [so] that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious priveleges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those who seek after power and gain, under the pretense of government and Religion, would reproach their fellow men, [or] should reproach their Chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dares not, assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.
Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States--and all the world--until hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and goodwill shining forth in a course of more than thirty years, we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you--to sustain and support you and your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.
Signed in behalf of the Association,
Neh'h Dodge, Eph'm Robbins, Stephen S. Nelson - The Committee
President Jefferson's Reply:
Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, and Stephen S. Nelson
A Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut.
Washington, January 1, 1802
Gentlemen, --The affectionate sentiment of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
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 would "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
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.
Jan. 1. 1802