Learn The Constitution

Monday, August 25, 2014

Does the U. S. Constitution really say “Separation of Church and State”?

NO where in the U. S. Constitution does it say “Separation of Church and State. In the First Amendment of the Constitution it reads, Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  

Because of the injustice the Founding Fathers saw in other countries who established a religious denomination as the state church, they did not want any particular denomination established in the United States over another, such as the Church of England in Britain.  

“ This provision in the Constitution guaranteed to all Americans the RIGHT to enjoy the free exercise of tht religion of their choice without the government giving any preference to one “establishment” or denomination over another.  

There was some concern among the Founders lest this prohibition give the impression that the government was hostile to religion. They wanted it clearly understood that the universal, self-evident truths of religion were fundamental to the whole structure of the American system. This is such an important aspect of the nation’s original culture that a comprehensive discussion of religion from the Founders’ perspective might prove helpful.  

Americans of the twentieth century often fail to realize the supreme importance which the Founding Fathers originally attached to the role of religion in the unique experiment which they hoped would emerge as the first civilization of a free people in modern times. Many Americans also fail to realize that the Founders felt the role of religion would be as important in our own day as it was in theirs.  

In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written by the Convention and approved by Congress, that same body of Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance. In it they outlawed slavery in the Northwest Territory. They also enunciated the basic rights of citizens in language similar to that which was later incorporated in the Bill of Rights. And they emphasized the essential need to teach religion and morality in the schools. Her is the way they said it: 
“Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” (Making of America p 675-676).  

If the Founding Fathers believed there should be a separation of church and state or as the courts would have you to believe, religion (Christianity) and state, then why was nothing done about it until 1962? In 1962 the court cases of Engle v. Vitale, in 1963 Abington v. Schempp, in 1971 Commissioner of Ed. V. School Committee of Leyden, states that a verbal prayer offered in a school is unconstitutional, even if it is both voluntary and denominationally neutral.  

Don’t you find it strange that the Founders would want a separation of (church) religion and state and yet do nothing about removing such acts from the government in their time. Don’t you even find it stranger that they had “in God we trust” put on our money and they insisted on having prayer before they started a session in Congress? 
Benjamin Franklin’s Plea for Prayer
“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need (His) assistance?

“I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men, And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.  

“I, therefore, beg leave to move: “That hereafter prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.( Making of America p 160).  

Where did the statement “Separation of Church and State” come from?  

On January 1, 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter in response to a letter he had received from the Danbury Baptists , who had heard a rumor that a particular denomination was soon to be recognized as the national denomination and was concerned about it. To calm their fears, President Jefferson wrote:  

“I contemplate with solemn 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 there,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.  

When Jefferson was talking about Church, he meant a particular denomination, in which the federal government has no right to establish.  

In 1808, Jefferson wrote the following in a letter to Samuel Miller: I consider that government of the United States as interdicted (prohibited) by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States (10th Amendment). Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority.  

Contrary to Jefferson’s explanation of the intent, such power no longer rests with the states. In 1947, in Everson v. Board of Education, the Court reversed 150 years of established legal practice under the Constitution and decided that it did have the right to rule on an individual state’s decisions regarding religious practice. Prior to that reversal, the Courts had left the decisions as Jefferson and all other Founders had planned it–“rest(ing) with the states.” State legislatures had been passing laws since the 1600's allowing the free exercise of religious practices in schools and public affairs: voluntary prayer, Bible reading, the use of the Ten Commandments, etc. These laws had been enacted “with the consent of the governed” and through representatives elected” of the people, by the people, and for the people.” (The Myth Of Separation p 41-) 

More information can be obtained by reading the book, “The 5,000 Year Leap” by W. Cleon Skousen.

This book explains 28 principles of Liberty and how the Founding Fathers incorporated them into our Republican form of government which changed the world dramatically.  More great information can also be obtained by reading the book, “The Making of America” by the same author.  Get your copy today.
Linda N. Hackett

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