How much would you say you know about American history? Would you consider yourself a history buff? I'm suspecting you don't know half of the content in this post. Starting with this: Who first coined the phrase "separation of church and state"?
A) Richard Hooker
B) The Constitution
C) Thomas Jefferson
D) Benjamin Rush
E) Justice Hugo Black
How many of these names do you even recognize? You might find it interesting that each of these historical figures has impacted the way the phrase "separation of church and state" has been interpreted over the centuries. First termed in the late 1500s by Richard Hooker, ordained minister of the Church of England during the Reformation, the intended meaning was to keep the state from interfering in the affairs of men's religious freedom. From then until 1962, this phrase consistently referred to protecting religious liberties from government intervention.
Commonly attributed to the United State Constitution's First Amendment, the first recorded instance of a prominent American using the phrase was none other than the deist Founding Father and president, Thomas Jefferson. While most consider the "separation of church and state" to be a provision of the Constitution, nowhere is it found, nor in any other founding document. Surprising, isn't it? In fact, out of the ninety men present at the discussion of what to include in the First Amendment, not once was the "separation of church and state" even mentioned. Surely, if the Founding Fathers desired to make this a part of American law, they would have at least discussed it.
Nearly everyone today is under the impression that "separation of church and state" implies preventing religious expression from public institutions. It has become a drive and backing to claim that religion must stay out of political matters in order to remain true to the Constitution and original intent of the Founding Fathers. If they know Jefferson wrote it, they believe he did so to affirm such an idea, thus "proving" that our Founding Fathers were opposed to religion being involved in the government. However, few are aware of Jefferson's true context in writing this.
Responding to a group of concerned Baptists who feared the ratification of the Constitution gave the government too much power to control religion, Jefferson assured them this would never happen. He explained that there was a separation between the church and the state so that the government would stay out of religion—NOT the other way around! Yes, one of the few deist Founding Fathers was convinced that the government would not, and should not, interfere with religion. Religious people involved in politics, government institutions, and public organizations were perfectly acceptable. If you wish, you can read Jefferson's letter for yourself by clicking HERE. It's interesting to note that Jefferson wrote this letter on a Friday . . . and attended a church service that Sunday in the United States Capitol building. He also founded a Bible Society and made a Bible translation known as the Jefferson Bible for the express purpose of creating a missionary tool for the Indians.
Today, we are being taught that the Founding Fathers were deists, the church should stay out of government, and that we have a godless Constitution. To the contrary, 95% of the Founding Father's were religious, the "separation of church and state" is in no founding documents, and the Constitution was founded on Biblical principles by Christian men.
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a little known Founding Father yet one of the three most influential, wrote a dozen reasons that the Bible must never be taken out of schools, started the first Bible society in America, and said "I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of
inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the
United States in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine
Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament." In 1806 he also wrote:
How about Fisher Ames, who is largely responsible for the language of the First Amendment? He also insisted that the Bible cannot get pushed to the back of public schools. Does that sound like a deist to you?
James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, teacher of law, and one of the six original Supreme Court justices, helped write the Constitution. In his books on law, he taught that human laws should be based on "Divine" law and that they need to go together. Does that sound like a deist to you?
George Washington's farewell address says that religion and morality were important for our government. John Adams wrote with Benjamin Rush about the Holy Spirit and claimed that the primary people who affected the Constitution were reverends. John Hancock wrote a proclamation to Massachusetts to have a day of prayer and fasting for people to come to know Christ. Do these famous Founding Fathers sound like deists to you?
The United States of America has drifted far from its original roots. No longer is the checks and balances system truly functioning. Courts have neglected to make decisions based on the original intent of the Constitution. The government is currently a far cry from anything the Founding Fathers had desired and planned. How did this occur? People have taken the founders intentions and perverted them to match their own agendas. Such as with the "separation of church and state."
Remember that I mentioned how the "separation of church and state" meant keeping the government out of religion from the 1500s to 1962? What made the meaning change? It was a court case, Engel v. Vitale. The question of the case was "Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the
school day violate the 'establishment of religion' clause of the First
Amendment?" (oyez.org) The prayer in question was a twenty two word prayer that read: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessing upon us, our parent, our teachers, and our Country." Notice only once does it mention "God," the same number of times the Pledge of Allegiance does, and 1/4 the times the Declaration of Independence! Yet Justice Hugo Black delivered the court's 6-1 opinion to suddenly take the "separation of church and state" and turn it 180 degrees without citing any precedents. The court even acknowledged that at the time, only 3% of the nation's population was not religious.
Nevermind the 97% who were.
. . . or the Founding Fathers that were.
. . . or the 1982 court case, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, that cited 80 precedents allowing prayer in public institutions.
. . . or the church services held in the Capitol.
. . . or the chaplains and prayers in the early governing bodies.
. . . or the 800+ court cases that cite the Ten Commandments as their final source of authority.
. . . or the fact that the Bible is the number one source of quotes from the Founding Fathers.
. . . or the numerous verses mentioned in the Constitution as reasons for the laws and provisions.
. . . or the knowledge that ministers wrote the books the nation was founded on.
. . . or that the Bible was the source of the sermons that the founding documents were based on.
. . . or that everything in the Declaration of Independence had been first taught from the pulpit.
No, instead of all the evidence proving that the "separation of church and state" was intended to protect religious institutions from the government, the court suddenly and without any valid reasoning completely altered the intended meaning of the phrase. Now, most all Americans believe that the church should stay out of politics. Little do they realize this is in complete conflict with the original meaning.
I pray that now you are more equipped to share this fascinating information with those who don't understand true American history. I, personally, find these topics and tidbits both intriguing and shocking. If you are interested in learning more about these types of things, I have many sources to recommend. Much of the information for this post was from renown historian, David Barton's American Heritage DVD series. You can visit his website at https://wallbuilders.com/.
Now that your mind is spinning (like mine), go share this with your friends and family! Tell them how history is being altered from the Founding Father's original intent. Let's bring America back to being the Christian nation it once was.