“SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE”
CURTIS JONES III
September 28, 2014
There has been a lasting debate on the concept of what we call “Separation of Church and State”. Many are compelled to believe that the concept of “Separation of Church and State” was merely a phrase that was coined to segregate solidified religious, particularly Christian principles from the business of government and economics. This moreover constitutes an ongoing debate and some of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States employed various polices and drafted legislations based on founding principles of religion. As the country has progressively diversified itself into a nation that is compiled of numerous cultural beliefs, values and ideologies, we are now in the war of what the real intent for “Separation of Church and State” was and are for this country and how does it fit into modern culture today. We will discuss the history of the particular concept and debate and gain a better understanding of what it may mean for the future.
If we refer to historical documents and speeches that were delivered from the office of our Founding Fathers to the public, we would see the reference of “God” those documents and speeches. For instance, the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson contains the introduction that states:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation” (Thomas Jefferson 1776).
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were noted as being Baptist in their religious affiliations. This is believed to be the historical foundation as the basis for religion in moral and ethical reference of the United States Constitution. The phrase “separation of church and state” was initially coined by Baptists striving for religious toleration in Virginia, whose official state religion was then Anglican (Flax 2011)1.
It was later noted that James Madison in the 1700’s conveyed that religious opinion and beliefs not being the object of civil government or hold any jurisdiction. Also in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, Jefferson states that “I contemplate with sovereign 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 & State” . This was seen as means of protection of religion from the state and the state from religion (Amundson 2008)2.
In Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he did not see the need for a national denomination as he referenced, “A man and his God” was an individual right that was given to all men. His letter explained that the government would interfere with a religious activity was a direct