"The 'wall of separation between church and state' phrase as understood by Jefferson was never meant to exclude people of faith from influencing and shaping government. Jefferson would be shocked to learn that his letter has been used as a weapon against religion."
This is one part of the "anti-separation of church and state" argument that I have always found not just unconvincing, but misleading. People of faith, as evidenced by the recent election, influence politics and government all the time, and this is as it should be. The President can quote scripture in speeches, include homilies, etc. Congress can start each day with a prayer. Religious people can elect religious legislators who shape law based on religious principle. Happens all the time.
Some of us who still advocate this "separation" of church and state do so based on the idea that government should not be in the business of advancing a specific religion in its official acts. Christians are free to shape and influence government, but government has no business in shaping or influencing the religious faith, Christian or otherwise, of the people. More plainly put, government should not be in the religion business.
One of the arguments I've rarely seen well addressed over such issues as school prayer is on what religion should such prayers be based. The answer is usually either "we're a Christian nation, so prayers should be non-sectarian Christian prayers" or "prayers should reflect the faith of the community." The problem is that like it or not, America is a pluralistic nation, and while most Americans profess to be Christian, nearly every "community" will contain people of different faiths or different brands of Christianity. Whose faith prevails? This is one area where "majority rules" doesn't hold. Just as Christians would be understandably outraged if schools required the reading of Mulsim prayers or perhaps Dyanetics, others may be outraged by similar treatment of Christian prayers.
Federalist arguments that the states are or should be free to regulate these matters have a better provenance but the history is still complex. But the so-called "wall of separation of church and state," to my mind, in no way inhibits Christians or other people of faith from influencing government.
Of course, I've never quite gotten the apparent need of some Christians for government to legitimize their faith by supporting Christian prayer or religious displays.
They even banned a state license plate in Louisiana that said "Choose Life" because they said it violated Separation of Church and State. What part of "Choose Life" is a religious message? Can't the irreligious choose life too? Including the word "choose" did not faze the baby murderers one bit, because they don't really want choice. It's not really about choice, it's about killing off the babies of sections of the populace they don't like.