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  • Pastor Paul Davis

THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE What it really means

Nine months after President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration, “on New Year’s Day, 1802, the Baptist evangelist John Leland delivered a prodigious gift to Jefferson: a 1,235-pound block of cheese. What newspapers rightfully declared to be a ‘mammoth cheese’ came from the preacher’s own farming community in Cheshire, Massachusetts, which seems to have voted unanimously for the deist Jefferson in the 1800 presidential election. The cheese’s red crust was adorned with the motto ‘Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.’” (This motto Jefferson affixed to his personal seal.) In an address accompanying the cheese, a committee of Cheshire citizens wrote: “The Cheese was produced by the personal labor of Freeborn Farmers, with the voluntary and cheerful aid of their wives and daughters, without the assistance of a single slave.” Two days later on Sunday, Jan. 3, “at the president’s invitation [Leland] preached before both houses of Congress.”

Incidentally, on the same New Year’s Day that Jefferson received “the mammoth cheese”, he penned a letter in response to correspondence he received from the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. They feared religious liberty in Connecticut might be in jeopardy. Their concerns were legitimate due to the fact that Baptists in New England had long suffered persecution under the Congregational theocracy. Jefferson assured them “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.” Furthermore, he said religious liberty is protected by the first amendment, “thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Jefferson was no enemy to Christianity. As Governor of Virginia he issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in which he stated: “I do therefore by authority from the General Assembly issue this my proclamation, hereby appointing Thursday the 9th day of December next, a day of publick [sic] and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God, earnestly recommending to all the good people of this commonwealth, to set apart the said day for those purposes, and to the several Ministers of religion to meet their respective societies thereon, to assist them in their prayers, edify them with their discourses, and generally to perform the sacred duties of their function, proper for the occasion.”

In his second inaugural address President Jefferson expressed his need for “the favour [sic] of that being in whose hands we are: who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land; and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries & comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, & our riper years with his wisdom & power.” In 1776, Jefferson had suggested the Great Seal of the United States depict “the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” Benjamin Franklin wanted it engraved with an image of the Red Sea crossing and inscribed with the motto: “REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD.”

In 1947, almost 150 years after Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists, the Supreme Court, in Everson v. Board of Education, citing Jefferson’s letter, invented “the separation of church and state doctrine”. This was one of many steps America took in turning its back on God. Ever since, this erroneous doctrine has been used to wage war against God and drive Him from public life. Such an interpretation of Jefferson’s words is patently false and utter nonsense - he held no such notion.

“How ironic that the author of the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the proposition that human beings have inalienable rights from their ‘Creator,’ and not from government, was now being used to separate religion from the public square.

“For Jefferson and the other Founders, religion was central to the entire American project. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are just two of countless examples where the government acknowledges its debt to God. As the famously liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in the case of Zorach v. Clausen just five years after the Everson decision, ‘We are a religious people, whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.’ “The Founders would certainly have agreed. Following Everson, the nation’s moral infrastructure began to crack—at first slowly, and then more rapidly. In 1962, the Supreme Court struck another blow. It ruled in Engel v. Vitale that a generic school prayer violated the Court’s new definition of the First Amendment.

“Listen to the words of that school prayer: ‘Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.’

“The prayer was not specific to Christianity—or any religion. Since then, the ‘separation of Church and State’ metaphor has been used to remove God and religion, piece by piece, from American public life.”

This begs the question: “Are we better off?” America now wallows in moral filth: immorality, corruption, pornography, sodomy, pride, sexual anarchy, the collapse of law and order, drunkenness, apostasy, divorce, abortion, etc. The family unit - the backbone of a strong society, has been shattered. “Sex education” and entertainment have stolen the purity of America’s youth. Praised are the profane - crime has skyrocketed - school shootings plague the government’s education system - the womb and the classroom are killing fields.

In his farewell address to the nation, George Washington declared, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity ... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

According to Washington, undermining religion and morality is tantamount to treason; yet that is exactly what the educational, entertainment, and political institutions have been doing for decades. They have consciously sought to destroy America by subverting “these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” We have become our greatest enemy - our most formidable threat. British historian Thomas Macaulay presciently wrote in 1857, “Your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman empire was in the fifth, with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the Roman empire came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your own country by your own institutions.”


 

1 God of Liberty, Thomas S. Kid, 2010, p. 4

2. From the Committee of Cheshire, Dec, 30, 1801, founders.archives.gov

3. The Democratization of American Christianity, Nathan Hatch, 1989, p. 96.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. President Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1805.

8. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams, during the Revolution; John Adams and Abigail Adams, 1875, p. 211.

9. Ibid, p. 211

10. What Does Separation of Church and State Mean?, John Eastman.

12. Democracy and France, F. M’Donogh Mahony, 1884, p. 53




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