Monday, August 5, 2013

The Separation of Church and State

The following is an essay I wrote last year for school about the separation of church and state (with a few minor additions). There's actually a lot more I could say on the subject, but this will have to suffice for now.

Nearly every American has heard of the separation of church and state. We have been taught to believe that this separation of church and state originates in the First Amendment of the Constitution, that it is a call to obliterate all things Christian from every aspect of the government, even and especially down to the public schools. Some even take this to mean that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional, but it is not so. It is a common misconception that the First Amendment of the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.

The First Amendment of the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Many early Americans and their ancestors had journeyed to the New World to escape persecution for their Christianity. This amendment was enacted to protect the people from such religious persecution.

The Founding Fathers never intended for this amendment to be used to obliterate Christianity from all government buildings. In fact, Fisher Ames, the author of the First Amendment, believed that the Bible should be used as a textbook in schools. Most of the Founding Fathers were strong Christians, and it was their Christianity that helped them to shape American government the way they did, based on Biblical principles. The First Amendment was intended to keep the government out of the church, not the church out of the government.

"The separation of church and state," a phrase commonly used today to support the obliteration of Christianity, is not used once in the entire Constitution of the United States. The phrase originates from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. However, his intention was not, as numerous Supreme Court rulings have asserted, to create an impregnable wall between the church and all civil government.

During Jefferson's campaign for president, John Adams' supporters painted Jefferson as an atheist and an enemy of all religion. The Danbury Baptist Association wrote Jefferson worried about his supposed opposition to religion. Jefferson answered their letter, assuring them that he was in favor of Christianity, citing the First Amendment and using the phrase "a wall of separation between church and state" as proof that he would do nothing to restrict their religious freedom.

Unfortunately, enemies of Christianity have used this phrase to prove that the government is justified in prohibiting prayer in schools, removing the Ten Commandments from government buildings, etc. They say this is what Jefferson meant by "a wall of separation between church and state." If he truly meant for there to be such a severe wall of separation, he would not have approved of the use of federal funds for evangelism.

Keeping such facts in mind, it is easy to see that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance do not violate the Constitution in any way. It is simply an acknowledgement that America is under the authority of God. The fact that people wish to deny this, are willing to use whatever means necessary to deny it, whether legitimate or not, is an indication of how far we have fallen as a nation.

America has fallen a long way since its founding, as the widespread denial of Christianity indicates. It is long past time to return to our founding principles. Once we return to the Biblical principles our Founding Fathers set forth, America will be a blessed nation once more.

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