The Divorced Truth of “Church and State”

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”   ~United States Congress 1782

This country was established upon the espoused belief religion was essential to good government. On July 13, 1787, the Continental Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which stated: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.”

On October 7, 1802 – roughly 13 years after the final ratification of the Constitution – the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote to President Thomas Jefferson to decry the infringement of their religious liberty. In his response, the President expounded…”Almighty God, the father and creator of man, hath created the mind free. I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, {rather than} convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” … “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 {an official} religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

In the 1947 case Everson v. Board of Education, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black put forth the novel interpretation that the First Amendment’s establishment clause applied to the states and that any government support or preference for religion amounts to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. In support of his argument for a “radical” separation of religion and politics, he cited Jefferson’s metaphor: “The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between Church and State. That wall must be kept high and impregnable.”

By taking the Jefferson metaphor out of its proper context, strict separatists have often used the phrase to silence Christians and this limit Christian influence -the theological basis for our societal norms and Constitutional rights -from further influencing the political system. Jefferson’s actual aim was quite to the contrary. To understand his “wall of separation” verbiage, we must return to the original context in which it was written. Jefferson himself wrote:

“On every question of construction, [we must] 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 test, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was a part.”

So what did Jefferson really mean when he used the infamous “wall” metaphor? If Congress had no legal authority in matters of religion, then neither did the President. Religion was clearly within the jurisdiction of the church and states. As a state legislator, Jefferson saw no conflict with proclaiming days of thanksgiving and prayer, and even on one occasion prescribed a penalty to the clergy for failure to abide by these state proclamations. Jefferson emphatically believed the Constitution created a limited government and that the states retained the authority over matters of religion; not only through the First Amendment but also through the Tenth Amendment. The ‘wall of separation’ existed to affirm natural rights, including those of faith and religious worship. The “wall” does not imprison the free exercise of religion in which Jefferson sought to prevent the domination of particular sects, not ostracize any and all reference to God and our faith, thus protecting the religious practices of all.

Our Forefathers never intended for an unconditional separation of Church & State; they supported religious freedom to protect against forced subjugation by the federal government, while ensuring “state” rights and their intended jurisdiction over the matters of religion. Thus the term…”Church and State”. Merely acknowledging God on a national level – the recognized source of our natural born rights as prescribed by the Declaration of Independence – and giving credence to his inherent wisdom as the ideological basis for our laws and norms, didn’t force anyone to be Christian or to even believe a God. It’s but a living testament to who we innately are as a people; our nation’s founding creed. Liberals forged the absolutism of “Separation of Church of State” – hijacking our framers’ original intent to claim domain over all and essentially divorce religion – as part of a political ruse to undermine our Judeo-Christian values and fundamentally transform America to their liking. Well, consider it mission accomplished. Prisons are now the only public institution deemed universally appropriate for the usage of Bibles. How apropos being the truth shall once again set us free!

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About The Conservative Depot

The Conservative Depot, the official literary artillery of Xavier Keough, is dedicated to defending & promoting the timeless conservative ideals America was founded upon: individual liberty, limited government, God, hard work, accountability and duty. In the growing fog of progressive propaganda - class, race, gender & religious warfare - we're arming America with the truth because common sense never killed anyone!
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