Church Separation Myth and Reality

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

Church Separation Myth and Reality


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I recently exchanged e-mails with a person disagreeing rather strongly with some of my public policy positions. This disagreement was neither unusual nor noteworthy, in and of itself. But it especially irked me when the discussion turned to the standard liberal fallback position: an outraged accusation I had violated the Constitution's ironclad "separation of church and state" proviso.

But the Constitution doesn't include the phrase "separation of church and state." That phrase actually comes from an 1802 letter from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, which was concerned that Anglicanism might become the official (or established) denomination of the new government. Jefferson tried to reassure the worried Baptists no such "establishment" skullduggery was afoot.

The First Amendment's widely misunderstood Establishment Clause simply means the state will not set up any official state religion, nor prohibit any person from freely exercising his or her own religion. However, this restriction on the government's intrusion into the private religious convictions of its citizens does not mean all aspects of religion should be kept completely out of state affairs. That secular ideology is entirely foreign to the original intent of the Founding Fathers - who drafted the Constitution, including its Bill of Rights, as a clearly defined limitation on the power of the government to interfere with the freedoms of the people but not as a limit on the people's power to control the government according to their beliefs.

President John Quincy Adams, the son of the great Founding statesman from Massachusetts who did so much to inspire the Declaration of Independence, stated the truth succinctly on July 4, 1821: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."

How many Americans today even remember it was the Great Awakening and the fiery sermons of the Patriot pastors that sparked the American Revolution, or that the rallying cry of the Colonial rebels was "No King but Jesus"? No, sadly, most Americans today have been spoon-fed a poison porridge of revisionist lies that claim George Washington and Company were all rationalistic deists seeking to advance the secular ideals of the French Enlightenment. …

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