This is taken from The 1789 Project’s Myths and Truths:
Myth: The Constitution states that there must be a wall of separation between the Church and State.
Truth: The Constitution reflects the founders respect for the importance of the morality of people and the need to keep the state, which is another word for government, out of the area of religion. The modern concept of a Wall of Separation, reverses the intended meaning of the Establishment Clause and seeks instead to keep religion out of schools and public places. This is completely the opposite of what the clear wording of the Constitution states.
Below is an excerpt from an article by Bill Flax published in Forbes magazine July 7, 2011. It contains a clear overview of a very misunderstood Constitutional concept, “The Separation of Church and State.”
Two key points from the article are good to remember. Bill Flax says: “Separation of Church and State” applies to the establishment and not to the free exercise of religion.” and
“The phrase, “separation between church and state” was reintroduced by former Klansman Hugo Black”.
Schools, courts and the public square were often overtly Christian and had been since their colonial beginnings. Few Americans would have tolerated a coercive central government infringing on their rights to post religious symbols on local schools, courts or anywhere else.
Americans built society from the ground up. Many had fled oppression. The colonies instituted local self-government indigenously to confirm the rights resident in their persons and property. Few would have willingly been dispossessed by Washington of the very freedoms that they had just secured from London.
Here men could and did rise as their efforts merited. Commoners were unshackled from feudal paralysis and freed to find God individually. Both the economy and church thrived. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans intertwined individual liberty with vibrant faith. “It is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”
Even non-Christian founders thought religion essential. None would have wished to upend the very basis for education, law or culture. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 states: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Americans understood freedom without morality quickly devolves into debauchery. Whether from sincere faith, or, prudence instilling an honest, law-abiding, responsible and hardworking populace, all esteemed biblical morality as the bedrock of self government. George Washington believed, “Religion and morality are indispensable supports” for “it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
The phrase “separation between church and state” was reintroduced by former Klansman Hugo Black, historically one of our most liberal Supreme Court judges. In the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Black invoked Thomas Jefferson stating, “The First Amendment has erected ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’ . . . that wall must be kept high and impregnable.”
Thomas Jefferson thought differently. The Danbury Baptists wrote to him congratulating his election and objecting to the First Amendment. They thought it implied government dispensed what was not government’s to give. Jefferson agreed.
His reply clearly applied “Separation of Church and State” to the establishment and not to the free exercise of religion. As he expressed, what communities did and how they worshipped were not federal affairs.
Jefferson later said the central government was “interdicted from intermeddling with religious institutions.” Such were state matters.
Thus the Constitution decreed that Washington had no occasion or authority to interject itself into matters as obviously local as doctrines of faith. Congress was not empowered to establish a church because the framers feared that concentrated power, whether favored religions, standing armies, banking monopolies, or an overarching federal government, invited tyranny.
Establishment has been redefined. Limitations on government have been altered into restrictions on religious expression, which clearly violates the amendment’s next clause: “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and third clause “abridging the freedom of speech.” Meanwhile, Washington publicly imposes politically correct secular religions like worshiping diversity or the environment.
Are our rights inalienable or contrivances from courts? Is government still limited or its power undefined? Is the state answerable to the people or are we but subjects? Do our rights descend from God or derive from man?
America must decide.
Read the rest of Mr. Flax’ article here.