Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wall of Separation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wall of Separation

Article excerpt

In the letter "The Bishop Is Wrong About Obamacare" (Jan. 5), the author wrote, "Our Constitution clearly calls for a separation of church and state" to help justify her argument for the contraception mandate to be imposed on religious institutions. Today it's common to hear people quote or paraphrase Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he coined the term "wall of separation," but it's also equally uncommon that people understand its context. Here is some of what the Danbury Baptists first wrote to Jefferson: " . no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions . what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights."

The "wall of separation" that Jefferson built in his response was meant to be a reassuring bulwark against federal encroachment for the Danbury Baptists, who feared that the federal government would use its power to run roughshod over their religious liberties. …

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