Separation of Church and State – Revisited

Ok, I’ve thought about it, and here’s what I think: First the Constitution specifically forbids any religious test (Article VI, Section 3). So, Jeff Sessions was wrong on that point. You cannot exclude any candidate for public office or government appointee on the basis of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).
 
HOWEVER, “separation of church and state” is NOT found in the Constitution at all. It was a concept lifted from President Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Church. What mudstream media fails to reveal is that the Danbury’s principle concerns involved governmental intrusion and meddling into the affairs of their church and the free exercise of their religion, hence Jefferson’s response:
 
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & State.”
 
The part of the First Amendment germane to this conversation prohibits the feds from BOTH of the following:
 
(editing)
 
1. Respecting (giving preferential treatment to) an establishment (denomination) of religion. (vernacular of the day translated to modern English)
 
2. Prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
 
Between the First Amendment and Supreme Court decisions expand its scope to cover all jurisdictions throughout the United States, it is unlawful for any elected or appointed government official at the local, county, state, or federal level to either give preferential treatment of one religion over another, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion, INCLUDING RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED ACTIONS BY A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL.
 
The only two remaining exceptions involve preeminent rights and moral decency clauses, meaning that no one, including a religiously-minded government official, can trample on the rights of others.
 
The greatest mistake that people make on this issue involves assuming that this “wall of separation” is two-way. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the “separation of church and state” phrase, routinely opened the doors of the U.S. Treasury to churchgoers during a period of rapid population growth in our nation’s capitol. Our Founding Fathers were men of deep religious conviction. Those who moved into government service let God and God’s word, the Bible, be their guide, the same as do many members within government do today. They opened each session, if not day in prayer, and we still do this today, not only in the federal government but throughout most local, county, and state governments, as well.
 
Remember that the next time you unlawfully propose that courthouses and legislative bodies remove the Ten Commandments from their walls. They do not administer the Ten Commandments. They administer the law, beginning with “the supreme Law of the Land” i.e. the U.S. Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2). The Ten Commandments are there to honor both the ultimate source of the law: The Lord (U.S. Constitution), God/Creator/Supreme Judge of the World (Declaration of Independence).
 
Now, you may not LIKE this, but like it or not, 70.6% of all U.S. citizens remain Christians. That’s down 10% in 30 years, but it’s actually been on a slight rise over the last decade. Freedom OF religion is NOT freedom “from” religion. That is reality, and all the atheistic / agnostic railing against this reality will not change it.
 
By the way, both atheism and agnosticism are on a slight decline per capita in developed countries, including the United States of America. 🙂

Separation of Church and State Primer

“The religious group, which will run the ark’s operations, won a federal court ruling in January that clarified that it can make religious-based hires even as it seeks a Kentucky tourism tax incentive worth millions.”
 
“We are a religious group and we make no apology about that, and (federal law) allows us that,” Ham said Thursday. “We’re requiring them to be Christians, that’s the bottom line.”
 
Those of you who think for one second that “separation of church and state” is a part of U.S. law need a history lesson. Most people, including a lot of anti-religious historians, get this horribly wrong, possibly by intent, as the many letters our Founding Fathers wrote clarifying the matter are readily available in the Library of Congress, if not online. I know this for a fact, personal first-hand knowledge, for I spent an appreciable portion of the summer of 1982 holding them in my white-gloved hands as I read through hundreds of the more than 50,000 documents kept in what was then The American Heritage room of the Library of Congress.
With that in mind…
 
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
 
The first part prevents Congress from allowing the establishment of any official religion or church. It was craft specifically to avoid the problem of the period, whereby England had established the Church of England as the “official” religion while persecuting all others. Some folks in Congress wanted to establish Christianity as the official religion, but most of the authors of our Bill of Rights wisely knew that if they did that, the next step would be to define which denominations were “acceptable” as “Christian,” and the saga of religious persecution that drove millions out of Europe would infect the United States and fester our freedoms forever.
 
The second part is much clearer, and simply means that Congress can NOT interfere with the free practice of religions. Subsequent decisions by various federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have established this applies at all judicial and legislative levels throughout our country.
 
BOTTOM LINE: Those who attempt to use Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” clause found ONLY in his letter to the Danbury Baptists are committing the SAME religious intolerance and persecution our Founding Fathers escaped from Europe and were trying to prevent here in the United States.
 
If you believe otherwise, you’re a Constitutionally illiterate idiot and are in serious need of an objective Civics class taught by someone who is not an anti-Constitutional atheist.