Post #1 by Toby Quirk
How many times have we heard some social media”influencer” (a new term for me) in their attempt to take the moral high ground and seem intellectually superior to us poor members of the unwashed masses, misuse the terms “Separation of Church and State”?
Let me offer you an example from a recent column in The Hill by David Shultz titled, “The Roberts Court takes aim at the Establishment Clause”:
“The consistent rule for more than half a century was that the Establishment Clause protected the public, including the nonbelieving or non-Christian minority, from religious persecution by the majority. This was the “high wall of separation” (https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/886/wall-of-separation)
that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison described.”
I’m calling bunk, David. The purpose of the Establishment Clause and all the amendments in the Bill of Rights was and still is to protect individual citizens and religious institutions from the government. You and so many anti-religious advocates in the public forum have cried “separation of church and state!” in your attempt to muzzle Christians and their churches. And you have cried this lie so often and so loud that most Americans agree with your perverted definition: “We gotta save the public from those Rascally Christians that are trying to impose moral standards on us free wheeling pagans!”
A bit of history: In the years before and after the ratification of the U.S .Constitution some religious leaders sought to have their denomination be the official government religion of the country, or in some cases of their state. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison opposed that concept, and as a result the disestablishment clause in the first amendment. This is an important point. The crux of the matter was: America will not authorize any state sponsored religious denomination such as Congregational in Connecticut or Anglican in Virginia.
Never in the minds of the framers or the congress or the states that eventually ratified the constitution was there any intent to limit an individual’s right to worship wherever or whenever that individual wanted to worship.
To misuse Jefferson’s words “separation of church and state” to bludgeon Christians and their churches is deceitful and repressive. Yet these words have been maliciously distorted so many times that most Americans believe the deceivers.
As a minor correction to Mr. Shultz’s article, there is no documented evidence that James Madison ever used the words “high wall of separation”, but he did share Jefferson’s adamant position to disallow any government religion. And so do I by the way, and so do most Christians. No American religious leader that I have heard or read desires to impose their faith on all Americans. That is a red herring that some anti-Christians throw out to take a stand against as if that is the actual issue. Well it is not. The issue is the very principle that Jefferson, Madison and the founders advocated, that individuals have the right to chose their religion and practice it.
So what’s the source of the oft misused and abused “separation of church and state”? Here ya go:
In October of 1801 Jefferson received a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut complaining that because the Congregational Church was the “official” church of the State,“ what religious privileges we enjoy, we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. “We are sensible,” they wrote, “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.”
Jefferson replied in a letter dated January 1, 1802. He expressed his agreement with the Baptists’ sentiments, saying:
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. From https://aboutthefirstamendment.com/2014/04/09/jefferson-madison-and-the-wall-of-separation/
Do you get it? Jefferson was defending a religious group from the oppressive government of the state of Connecticut. Protection of a church from the government. That’s the meaning behind separation of church and state. That’s what it says, and so do I, and so do most authentic, mindful Christians.
For intellectuals and politicians to keep harping on the misinterpretation of this phrase and saying that we must protect people from Christians, and prohibit any individual from praying in a government setting is balderdash.
Battle Briefing Blog #1