This information was offered over a year ago, but it is important enough to share with more recent readers.
Because of the current worship of the expression, “wall of separation between church and state”, some folks believe it is found in the US Constitution. It is not. The only mention of religion in that document is that no religious test can be required to hold federal office. Subsequent to ratification of the original constitution, Amendment I specifically denied Congress the power to establish a national religion.
Forty four years of experience as a public school educator, plus the requisite years of preparation, followed by fourteen years of personal inquiry have not provided a textbook containing the following information, nor a conversation with a teacher who has so informed any student.
That “separation” thing actually came from a letter Pres. Jefferson wrote in response to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. The Baptists, who were under religious oppression by their state legislature, had written to Jefferson (emphases added):
“Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States…”
To which Jefferson replied (parenthetical expressions added):
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act (Amendment I) of the whole American people which declared that their legislature (Congress) would ‘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 federal government). Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights… I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man…”
It must be emphasized that the Baptists did not appeal for constitutional enforcement by the president, the attorney general or the Supreme Court. Neither did any of those entities consider it their constitutional responsibility to do so. At that time, everyone knew the First Amendment restriction applied, as plain English clearly states, only to acts of Congress.
About a decade later, as intended by the framers of the US Constitution, the people of Connecticut were able to correct the matter through their state legislature.
For further confirmation of Jefferson’s opinion that any form of religious expression is beyond federal control, we note his second inaugural address (emphasis added):
“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state or church authorities.”
Over 150 years were required for the SCOTUS to invent the current “separation” interpretation. If we are to meekly acquiesce to that view as the “law of the land”, we have a problem. We are forced to accuse Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, as well as the Congresses and Supreme Courts of their day, of being incapable of understanding the document they had ratified and exercised.
If this information had been made available to history students over the last two hundred years, our current understanding of the relationship between church and state would probably be quite different. Unfortunately, the long train of obfuscations and omissions have caused many who hear the truth to fearfully cover their eyes, ears and mouths.
Two prescient statements:
“A long habit of not knowing a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” Thomas Paine
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of society, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson