The Separation of Church and State Myth


If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. The technique is often called the “big lie” and was used extensively by the Nazis. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

The phrase “separation of church and state” is thrown around ad nauseam by our secular society, to the point where most people actually believe that it is text from the United States Constitution and must be strictly enforced. If you ask somebody to quote the specific section of the Constitution where this mythical phrase appears, they’ll often exclaim: “the First Amendment of course!” Yet, the words: separation, church and state don’t even appear in the First Amendment.

Hmm, so where did this phrase come from if not the Constitution?

On January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. The congregation heard a widespread rumor that the Congregationalists, another denomination, were to become the national religion. This was very alarming to people who knew about religious persecution in England by the state established church. Jefferson made it clear in his letter to the Danbury Congregation that the separation was to be that government would not establish a national religion or dictate to men how to worship God. Jefferson’s letter from which the phrase “separation of church and state” appears was written to affirm First Amendment writes:

“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 thereof, ‘thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.'”

The phrase is often misattributed to keeping religion out of government. However, it’s true meaning is to keeping government out of religion. People fled England to avoid being persecuted for their religious preference and they weren’t about to create the same problem in this new land.

The reason Jefferson chose the expression “separation of church and state” was because he was addressing a Baptist congregation—a denomination of which he was not a member. Jefferson wanted to remove all fears that the state would intrude on the church. The American people knew what would happen if the State established the Church like in England. Even though it was not recent history to them, they knew that England went so far as forbidding worship in private homes and sponsoring all church activities. They forced their people to go to the state established church and do things that were contrary to their conscience. No other churches were allowed, and mandatory attendance of the established church was compelled under the Conventicle Act of 1665. Failure to comply with this would result in imprisonment and torture.

The people did not want freedom from religion, rather they wanted freed of religion. Our Constitution was founded on biblical principles and it was the intention of the authors for this to be a Christian nation. The Constitution had 55 people work upon it, of which 52 were evangelical Christians. We can go back in history and look at what the founding fathers wrote to know where they were getting their ideas. This is exactly what Professors Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman did by reviewing an estimated 15,000 items with explicit political content printed between 1760 and 1805. From these items they identified 3,154 references to other sources. The source they most often quoted was the Bible, accounting for 34% of all citations. Sixty percent of all quotes came from men who used the Bible to form their conclusions. That means that 94% of all quotes by the founding fathers were based on the Bible. The founding fathers took ideas from the Bible and incorporated them into our government.

If it was their intention to separate the state and church they would never have taken principles from the Bible and put them into our government. An example of an idea taken from the Bible and then incorporated into our government is found in Isaiah 33:22 which says, “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king…” The founding fathers took this scripture and made three major branches in our government: judicial, legislative, and executive. As mentioned earlier, the founding fathers strongly believed that Man was by nature corrupt and therefore it was necessary to separate the powers of the government. For instance, the President has the power to execute laws but not make them, and Congress has the power to make laws but not to judge the people. The simple principle of checks and balances came from the Bible to protect people from tyranny. The President of the United States is free to influence Congress, although he can not exercise authority over it because they are separated.

Leftists will make an argument that having Christian values in government is somehow analogous to persecution people faced with the Church or England. To even attempt to draw this corollary is insulting to America. In this country, people are free to worship however they choose. There is no national religion imposed on people and there is certainly no fear of torture. This country even embraces those religions that teach it’s quite fine to be violent or radical.

What’s funny is that the separation of church and state clause is usually only invoked by liberals for policies that aren’t even bible specific. For instance, Pro Choice supporters will claim that a Christian influenced government is trying to overturn Roe v. Wade without giving any consideration that maybe Pro Life supporters simply believe a viable life exists within the first trimester of pregnancy. The bible didn’t tell me that, high school biology did. The secular Left will talk about gay marriage as if it’s bible-thumpers verse the world without giving regard to those who simply believe that men are to be with women based on anatomy and the ability to procreate. You can secularize any argument but for the Left, it’s much more convenient to beat on Christians. Why is that? Because Christians are the soft-target.

So the next time somebody throws a flag in front of you and attempts to invoke the mythical “separation of church and state” clause, you’re better equipped to inform them of how wrong they are.

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