|Separation of church & state
| In 1801 President Jefferson received a letter from the Association of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in which the pastors expressed concern that their state had an official church. They feared that a state-sanctioned church could endanger the freedom of other denominations. Jefferson replied in his famous letter, agreeing with their concern and assuring them that things were secure at the national level, because the writers of the Constitution had erected a “wall of separation between church and state.” In this context we see that the “wall” was erected to protect churches from state interference.
Jefferson did not originate the term, separation of church and state, but it is his letter to which lawyers point when speaking of a constitutional separation of church and state. He used this phrase to reassure these pastors that all was well. He took the “wall” imagery from Roger Williams who spoke of a wall of protection built around the garden of the Church.
Today the ACLU promotes another definition of “separation,” a concept popularized by Karl Marx in the 1800s. They take the phrase out of its original context and use it to secularize the state. Rather than protecting churches from the power of the state, they want to protect the state from Christian influence.
Thomas Jefferson is not a friend to the A.C.L.U.
As President of the United States Jefferson supported:
|Athiests want to separate God and state.
They want to confine God to the church as merely a religious concept.
The founders did not.
|The Founders' view:
|- legislative and military chaplaincies
- establishing a national seal using a religious symbol
- including the word “God” in our national motto
- official days of fasting and prayer – at the state level
- requiring oaths saying “So help me God,” taken on the Bible
- using government property and facilities for church services
- using the Bible and religious instruction in public schools
- encouraging clergymen to hold political office
- exempting churches from taxation
- establishing professional schools of theology
- including religious speeches and prayers in official ceremonies
|The ACLU's view:
|Our founding fathers did not see the church as sacred and the state as secular. They did not believe in the modern sacred/secular dichotomy. They saw both institutions ordained by God for his purposes. Their idea of separating church and state came from a biblical concept that God gave certain duties to the church that he did not give to the state, and vise versa.
|List taken from larger list in essay, “Jefferson’s Religious Life,” by Mark Beliles. Other info taken from D. James Kennedy’s booklet, “What They Believed.”