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Common misconceptions about the doctrine of "church-state separation"
WallBuilders web site ^ | 2003 | David Barton

Posted on 12/28/2005 12:11:30 PM PST by seanmerc

The Separation of Church and State

by David Barton

In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

The election of Jefferson-America’s first Anti-Federalist President-elated many Baptists since that denomination, by-and-large, was also strongly Anti-Federalist. This political disposition of the Baptists was understandable, for from the early settlement of Rhode Island in the 1630s to the time of the federal Constitution in the 1780s, the Baptists had often found themselves suffering from the centralization of power.

Consequently, now having a President who not only had championed the rights of Baptists in Virginia but who also had advocated clear limits on the centralization of government powers, the Danbury Baptists wrote Jefferson a letter of praise on October 7, 1801, telling him:

Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity . . . to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States. . . . [W]e have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which He bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you. . . . And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.1

However, in that same letter of congratulations, the Baptists also expressed to Jefferson their grave concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment, including of its guarantee for “the free exercise of religion”:

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. . . . [T]herefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. 2

In short, the inclusion of protection for the “free exercise of religion” in the constitution suggested to the Danbury Baptists that the right of religious expression was government-given (thus alienable) rather than God-given (hence inalienable), and that therefore the government might someday attempt to regulate religious expression. This was a possibility to which they strenuously objected-unless, as they had explained, someone’s religious practice caused him to “work ill to his neighbor.”

Jefferson understood their concern; it was also his own. In fact, he made numerous declarations about the constitutional inability of the federal government to regulate, restrict, or interfere with religious expression. For example:

[N]o power over the freedom of religion . . . [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution.Kentucky Resolution, 1798 3

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. Second Inaugural Address, 1805 4

[O]ur excellent Constitution . . . has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1808 5

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions . . . or exercises. Letter to Samuel Millar, 1808 6

Jefferson believed that the government was to be powerless to interfere with religious expressions for a very simple reason: he had long witnessed the unhealthy tendency of government to encroach upon the free exercise of religion. As he explained to Noah Webster:

It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . . . and which experience has nevertheless proved they [the government] will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion. 7

Thomas Jefferson had no intention of allowing the government to limit, restrict, regulate, or interfere with public religious practices. He believed, along with the other Founders, that the First Amendment had been enacted only to prevent the federal establishment of a national denomination-a fact he made clear in a letter to fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Rush:

[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly. 8

Jefferson had committed himself as President to pursuing the purpose of the First Amendment: preventing the “establishment of a particular form of Christianity” by the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, or any other denomination.

Since this was Jefferson’s view concerning religious expression, in his short and polite reply to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, he assured them that they need not fear; that the free exercise of religion would never be interfered with by the federal government. As he explained:

Gentlemen,-The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction. . . . Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, 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 and State. 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, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem. 9

Jefferson’s reference to “natural rights” invoked an important legal phrase which was part of the rhetoric of that day and which reaffirmed his belief that religious liberties were inalienable rights. While the phrase “natural rights” communicated much to people then, to most citizens today those words mean little.

By definition, “natural rights” included “that which the Books of the Law and the Gospel do contain.” 10 That is, “natural rights” incorporated what God Himself had guaranteed to man in the Scriptures. Thus, when Jefferson assured the Baptists that by following their “natural rights” they would violate no social duty, he was affirming to them that the free exercise of religion was their inalienable God-given right and therefore was protected from federal regulation or interference.

So clearly did Jefferson understand the Source of America’s inalienable rights that he even doubted whether America could survive if we ever lost that knowledge. He queried:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? 11

Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the Author and Source of our rights and that the government, therefore, was to be prevented from interference with those rights. Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.

Earlier courts long understood Jefferson’s intent. In fact, when Jefferson’s letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947 Everson case-the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today’s Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson’s entire letter and then concluded:

Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson’s letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. (emphasis added) 12

That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson’s intent for “separation of church and state”:

[T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State. 13

With this even the Baptists had agreed; for while wanting to see the government prohibited from interfering with or limiting religious activities, they also had declared it a legitimate function of government “to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

That Court, therefore, and others (for example, Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People ), identified actions into which-if perpetrated in the name of religion-the government did have legitimate reason to intrude. Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc.

Such acts, even if perpetrated in the name of religion, would be stopped by the government since, as the Court had explained, they were “subversive of good order” and were “overt acts against peace.” However, the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in “the Books of the Law and the Gospel”-whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, public acknowledgements of God, etc.

Therefore, if Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, let its context be clearly given-as in previous years. Furthermore, earlier Courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter-words clearly divorced from their context-have become the sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.

For example, in addition to his other statements previously noted, Jefferson also declared that the “power to prescribe any religious exercise. . . . must rest with the States” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, the federal courts ignore this succinct declaration and choose rather to misuse his separation phrase to strike down scores of State laws which encourage or facilitate public religious expressions. Such rulings against State laws are a direct violation of the words and intent of the very one from whom the courts claim to derive their policy.

One further note should be made about the now infamous “separation” dogma. The Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, record the months of discussions and debates of the ninety Founding Fathers who framed the First Amendment. Significantly, not only was Thomas Jefferson not one of those ninety who framed the First Amendment, but also, during those debates not one of those ninety Framers ever mentioned the phrase “separation of church and state.” It seems logical that if this had been the intent for the First Amendment-as is so frequently asserted-then at least one of those ninety who framed the Amendment would have mentioned that phrase; none did.

In summary, the “separation” phrase so frequently invoked today was rarely mentioned by any of the Founders; and even Jefferson’s explanation of his phrase is diametrically opposed to the manner in which courts apply it today. “Separation of church and state” currently means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant.

Endnotes:

1. Letter of October 7, 1801, from Danbury (CT) Baptist Association to Thomas Jefferson, from the Thomas Jefferson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

2. Id.

3. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, John P. Foley, editor (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), p. 977; see also Documents of American History, Henry S. Cummager, editor (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948), p. 179.

4. Annals of the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1852, Eighth Congress, Second Session, p. 78, March 4, 1805; see also James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805.

5. Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805.

6. Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830), Vol. IV, pp. 103-104, to the Rev. Samuel Millar on January 23, 1808.

7. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 112-113, to Noah Webster on December 4, 1790.

8. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. III, p. 441, to Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800.

9. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802.

10. Richard Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker (Oxford: University Press, 1845), Vol. I, p. 207.

11. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), Query XVIII, p. 237.

12. Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U. S. 145, 164 (1878).

13. Reynolds at 163.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; americanhistory; davidbarton; establishmentclause; moralabsolutes; pseudohistory; religiousliberty; ruling; wallbuilders
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Many people don't have an accurate understanding of how the idea of "church-state separation" originated and what that idea really means. This is a great article!

The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

While we're on this subject, how come school kids in California [and probably elsewhere] can be forced to recite Muslim prayers that contradict what they and their parents believe? They won't even let Christians voluntarily pray to the One who created us, but it's OK to force Islamic beliefs on them...how far we have fallen!

1 posted on 12/28/2005 12:11:31 PM PST by seanmerc
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To: seanmerc
While we're on this subject, how come school kids in California [and probably elsewhere] can be forced to recite Muslim prayers that contradict what they and their parents believe?

Do you have a link to this story?

2 posted on 12/28/2005 12:17:42 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: frogjerk

It came from an earlier post. You can find the article at http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/12/282005a.asp and the original post is at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1548239/posts

Hope that helps!


3 posted on 12/28/2005 12:22:27 PM PST by seanmerc
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To: frogjerk

Court Asked to Rehear Case Over Calif. Schools' "Becoming Muslim" Exercise
Agape Press ^ | 12/28/05 | Jim Brown and Jenni Parker

Posted on 12/28/2005 10:54:52 AM PST by wagglebee

(AgapePress) - A federal appeals court is being asked to reconsider its ruling that allows public schools to teach junior high students how to "become Muslims." The Thomas More Law Center, a national public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is asking the entire Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on what can be done in public schools with regard to teaching Islam and other religions.



http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1548239/posts


4 posted on 12/28/2005 12:22:56 PM PST by kcvl
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To: seanmerc
The Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, record the months of discussions and debates of the ninety Founding Fathers who framed the First Amendment. Significantly, not only was Thomas Jefferson not one of those ninety who framed the First Amendment, but also, during those debates not one of those ninety Framers ever mentioned the phrase "separation of church and state." It seems logical that if this had been the intent for the First Amendment-as is so frequently asserted-then at least one of those ninety who framed the Amendment would have mentioned that phrase; none did.

SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

5 posted on 12/28/2005 12:23:07 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: seanmerc
The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Aye. My Second Ammendment Rights are what give me freedom from religion.

6 posted on 12/28/2005 12:26:36 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: seanmerc

Thanks...The "Becoming Muslim" story is simply incredible!


7 posted on 12/28/2005 12:30:21 PM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: Prodigal Son

I might be wrong, but I don't think you need a gun to be "free" from faith. Even God will respect your wishes if you choose to reject Him.


8 posted on 12/28/2005 12:36:12 PM PST by seanmerc
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To: seanmerc
There is NO such wording in the Constitution as separation of Church and State. This was used by a KKK (Catholic Hating racist) member from Alabama who was appointed to the Supreme court in a ruling about letting school children ride state or county buses to the Catholic school. The T. Jefferson letter is a cover up by the anti-American left. The Supreme court justice who wrote this was a left-wing racist member of the KKK.
9 posted on 12/28/2005 12:38:57 PM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: YOUGOTIT

You are correct in saying that the doctrine of church-state separation is not in the Constitution. Hadn't heard about any KKK ties to that doctrine. Do you have a link to an article that will support your statement?


10 posted on 12/28/2005 12:44:40 PM PST by seanmerc
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To: seanmerc

ping


11 posted on 12/28/2005 12:56:57 PM PST by JessieHelmsJr
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To: seanmerc

bump. good ananlysis.


12 posted on 12/28/2005 1:18:56 PM PST by groanup (Shred for Ian)
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To: seanmerc
I might be wrong, but I don't think you need a gun to be "free" from faith.

Osama bin Laden doesn't agree.

13 posted on 12/28/2005 1:45:07 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: YOUGOTIT
Do you know which decision that was? I'm guessing Everson v. Board of Education (330 US 1; 1947).

This was used by a KKK (Catholic Hating racist) member from Alabama who was appointed to the Supreme court in a ruling about letting school children ride state or county buses to the Catholic school.

It is known that Justice Black was a KKK member in the 1920's. Keep in mind though that in the South in the 1920's and 1930's, it was not uncommon for lawyers, judges, doctors, etc. to be associated with the Klan.

I'm not defending Black's involvement with the Klan. Though at the same time you cannot just outright label him as a Catholic Hating racist, particularly with references to his time on the Supreme Court.

He wrote or joined in several key opinions during the peak of the Civil Rights era, most notably in Brown v. Board of Education (347 US 483; 1954).

Therefore, I have to advise here that if you do indeed make such an allegation, you really should show us the evidence that supports your claim.

14 posted on 12/28/2005 2:41:42 PM PST by rzeznikj at stout (Denial is a river in Egypt...)
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To: seanmerc

later read/pingout.


15 posted on 12/28/2005 3:41:08 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: rzeznikj at stout

"Therefore, I have to advise here that if you do indeed make such an allegation, you really should show us the evidence that supports your claim."

Advise me about WHAT??????? I would advise you to read your history.


16 posted on 12/28/2005 7:42:31 PM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: YOUGOTIT
I would advise you to read your history.

Don't lecture me about reading history. Don't even get me started...

Advise me about WHAT???????

About trying to project your personal opinions of a figure, much less one from fifty plus years ago, as fact.

If you believe that Black was an anti-Catholic racist, then where's the factual proof? What elements in history show that he had a racist attitude on the Court,

I've provided evidence that while he was involved with the KKK while working as a lawyer in Alabama in the 1920's, he subsequently did not partake in the organization while on the Court. Quite the contrary and as I've said, some of his decisions are still regarded today as being key to the civil rights movement--namely Brown v. Board.

Nay, in Post #9, you spew out how he's this racist Nutt who was appointed to the court so he could rule on this case. You've (rather conveniently, I might add) left out how he resigned from the KKK and the 10 years that passed between his appointment from the Court and Everson, and his subsequent judicial philosophy--i.e. Brown v. Board.

17 posted on 12/28/2005 8:26:40 PM PST by rzeznikj at stout (Denial is a river in Egypt...)
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To: rzeznikj at stout

For your information:

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28567


The truth about Jefferson's 'wall' By Jon Dougherty

"What we have today is not really Jefferson's wall, but Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black's wall," said American University professor Daniel Dreisbach, whose forthcoming book explores how Jefferson coined the "wall" metaphor.
Justice Black was avidly anti-Catholic – views "learned in the Ku Klux Klan" and which, no doubt, "influenced his 1947 ruling that the First Amendment created a 'high and impregnable' wall between religion and government," said the Times. Black first cited the "wall of separation" in the high court's Everson decision, which forbade New Jersey from spending state education funds on religious education.


18 posted on 12/29/2005 4:23:05 AM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: frogjerk

David Barton is published; I have one of his books. He does speaking engagements and they are well worth the time.

Happy New Year!


19 posted on 12/29/2005 4:29:15 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberals want civil liberties, except for the unborn, the smokers and the constitutionalists.)
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To: Prodigal Son

Prodigal,

I was thinking of the United States when I expressed the fact that you don't need a gun to be "free" from faith. What I was trying to say is that in this country you are free to have faith or reject faith. The choice is yours. Whether I agree with your choice or not, I will respect it. See, no guns involved. Isn't this a wonderful country?


20 posted on 12/29/2005 5:14:41 AM PST by seanmerc
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To: YOUGOTIT
First, what did I say about posting opinion as fact. You did it again--the article you posted is "Commentary," in other words, an Opinion-Editorial piece.

Second, Everson didn't forbid New Jersey from spending state educational funds for religious instruction; it stopped just short of it. The usage of funds was held to be Constitutional, but walking on shaky ground. And while the case involved a Catholic school, it very well could have been a Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim school, or even a private academy, and in fact, the decision was binding to almost all private schools.

Third, Justice Frank Murphy, a Catholic, joined in Black's decision. For some reason, if Black was outwardly anti-Catholic and wrote the majority opinion in that manner (as you allege), I don't see another Justice outwardly seeking to join in it, especialliy if said another Justice is Catholic.

While I won't deny that Black was KKK and he was in the Twenties and Thirties anti-Catholic, the article doesn't prove beyond any doubt he was anti-Catholic on the bench.

21 posted on 12/29/2005 9:15:57 AM PST by rzeznikj at stout (Denial is a river in Egypt...)
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To: seanmerc

Still. A gun makes me feel better when there are religious people around.


22 posted on 12/30/2005 1:29:37 AM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state.

My opinion is that:

It was actually in the 1878 case of Reynolds v. United States that the U. S. Supreme Court first declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state.”

Slice


23 posted on 01/09/2006 3:28:53 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

My opinion is that:

Who cares? The Reynolds Court in 1878 established the Memorial and Remonstrance of James Madison and the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom as the two primary sources of the principles of religious liberty. The Everson Court in 1947 acknowledged Madison’s authority and drew upon the Memorial and Remonstrance for the legal principles it applied to the issue of government support of religion.

Slice


24 posted on 01/09/2006 3:30:50 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: frogjerk


I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

My opinion is that:

Who cares? The Reynolds Court in 1878 established the Memorial and Remonstrance of James Madison and the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom as the two primary sources of the principles of religious liberty. The Everson Court in 1947 acknowledged Madison’s authority and drew upon the Memorial and Remonstrance for the legal principles it applied to the issue of government support of religion.

Slice


25 posted on 01/09/2006 3:32:06 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

My opinion is that:

Who cares? The Reynolds Court in 1878 established the Memorial and Remonstrance of James Madison and the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom as the two primary sources of the principles of religious liberty. The Everson Court in 1947 acknowledged Madison’s authority and drew upon the Memorial and Remonstrance for the legal principles it applied to the issue of government support of religion.

Slice


26 posted on 01/09/2006 3:32:39 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: frogjerk

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

My opinion is that:

Who cares? The Reynolds Court in 1878 established the Memorial and Remonstrance of James Madison and the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom as the two primary sources of the principles of religious liberty. The Everson Court in 1947 acknowledged Madison’s authority and drew upon the Memorial and Remonstrance for the legal principles it applied to the issue of government support of religion.

Slice


27 posted on 01/09/2006 3:33:18 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The election of Jefferson-America’s first Anti-Federalist President-elated many Baptists since that denomination, by-and-large, was also strongly Anti-Federalist.

My opinion is that:

Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1800 as a Republican-Democrat. Previously, he was a Federalist. Thomas Jefferson was never an Anti-Federalist.

Slice


28 posted on 01/09/2006 3:38:04 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton's claim that:

The political disposition of the Baptists was understandable, for from the early settlement of Rhode Island in the 1630s to the time of the federal Constitution in the 1780s, the Baptists had often found themselves suffering from the centralization of power.

My opinion is that:

I love the politically correct ways Barton finds to avoid saying government authority over our duties to the Creator. The Baptists had been persecuted since the 1500's for their refusal to acknowledge any government authority over their duties to God.

The Baptists in Connecticut, in 1802, were free to profess and worship the Baptist religion. However, the Baptists were not free to contribute to the financial support of the Baptist faith without approval from the government.

Counterfeit Christians controlled Connecticut. It was the only State that actually narrowed religious liberty after the Constitution was ratified. Baptists were required to file certificates of dissent and membership in a Baptist Church, in order to be exempt from the state tithe.

By 1801, the conflict was exceedingly bitter. The Federalists confounded Jefferson-ism with infidelity and all the horrors of the French Revolution, which they believed would be repeated in Connecticut, if the Church were overthrown.

In 1817, the conservatives fell from power and the noble Oliver Wolcott was chosen governor by a coalition of the opponents of the State-Church. The dissenters made common cause with the Republicans against the conservative dynasty and the legislature called a Convention to frame a Constitution.

The Convention met in 1818, framed a constitution to take the place of the old colonial charter, and incorporated provisions that destroyed all religious establishment. The change seemed to many of the conservatives as the beginning of the day of doom. The venerable Timothy Dwight, the president of Yale, deprecated it until his death. It involved readjustments but in a few years the wisdom and righteousness of the new system justified itself to even those who had been staunchest in defense of the establishment.

Slice


29 posted on 01/09/2006 4:26:55 PM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I have examined David Barton’s claim that:

The Baptists expressed to Jefferson grave concern over protection for the “free exercise of religion” in the U. S. Constitution. It suggested to the Danbury Baptists that the right of religious expression was government-given rather than God-given.

My view is:

The Danbury Baptists said nothing whatsoever in their 1801 letter to President Jefferson regarding a grave concern over protection for the free exercise of religion in the U. S. Constitution. In their letter, the Baptist expressed their religious liberty concerns as follows:

Our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our laws and usages, and such still are; that religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.

The “constitution of government” the Baptists were referring to was the Connecticut Colonial Charter of 1626. It was not, as David Barton claims, the U. S. Constitution.

In 1801, the U. S. Constitution was not “ancient”, it was only twelve years old. Nor was it adopted at “the time of our revolution.” (The period from 1776 to 1783)

Believe it or not, in 1801, the “ancient charter” of 1626 still served as “the basis of” the Connecticut government. At the time of the American Revolution in 1776, the Colony Charter was quickly adopted by the Standing Order of the State of Connecticut without the approval of the people and was still in effect in 1801.

The whole object of the American Revolution was to get rid of a tyrannical government that claimed authority from God. It is a dirty little historical secret that most of the folks in Connecticut would just as soon have stayed with the English.

The Charter contained no provision for it to be amended and enabled the Standing Order to stay in power for about twenty years after a majority of the people probably would have gotten rid of it, if a constitutional convention had been possible.

Under the ancient charter, the Connecticut government was granted legislative power over religion, or as the Baptist put it in their letter, “religion is considered the first object of legislation.” Therefore, what religious liberty the Baptists enjoyed (as a minority religion) was viewed as favors granted by a tolerant government and not as the inalienable natural right of every man.

The Baptist enjoyed the “privilege” of professing and exercising their faith as dictated by their conscience and convictions. The “privilege” to obey God with respect to the duty to contribute to the financial support of the Baptist religion required the Baptist to obtain a “Certificate of Dissent” under the 1791 the Connecticut Certificate Law.


The Baptists considered it degrading and inconsistent with the rights of freemen to be required, by the Connecticut Certificate Law of 1791, to obtain an acknowledgment from a Baptist minister in order that their compulsory financial contributions would go the Baptist Church instead of the Church chosen by the majority of the local voters

Many Baptist refused to comply with the Certificate Law, gave their tithe directly to a Baptist Church and dared the local tithe collector to do anything about it. The Baptist believed that “God alone ruled a man’s conscience” and they didn’t need no stinking Certificate of Dissent from a government stooge to support the Baptist religion.

The Baptists wrote Jefferson to complain about Connecticut law - Not U. S. Law. I believe their letter shows that the Baptists already knew Jefferson’s beliefs regarding the right of conscience and his take on the First Amendment. Nehemiah Dodge, the leader of the Danbury Association, had traveled Connecticut during 1800 campaigning for Jefferson as his “campaign manager.” Jefferson’s alliance with the Baptists dated from the mid 1770’s when the movement to destroy the Virginia Church-State was organized.

Presented below is the complete letter of the Baptist to Jefferson.

The address of the Danbury Baptists Association in the state of Connecticut, assembled October 7, 1801. To Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America.

Sir,

Among the many million in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief magistracy in the United States: And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe that none are more sincere.

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty--that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals--that no man ought to suffer in name,person, or effects on account of his religious opinions--that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors; But, sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our laws and usages, and such still are; that religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men--should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.

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 sentiments 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 and all the world, till hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of state out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for your arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you to sustain and support you enjoy administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to raise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious
Mediator.

Signed in behalf of the association,

Nehemiah Dodge

Ephraim Robbins

Stephen S. Nelson


30 posted on 01/10/2006 6:06:22 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc
...Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc. Such acts, even if perpetrated in the name of religion, would be stopped by the government since, as the Court had explained, they were “subversive of good order” and were “overt acts against peace.” However, the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in “the Books of the Law and the Gospel”-whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, public acknowledgements of God, etc....

Hmmm... certainly polygamy was deemed as somewhat acceptable in the 'Books of the Law'.

31 posted on 01/10/2006 6:15:06 AM PST by Sloth (They'd call me a pedant, but they don't know that word.)
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To: Loud Mime
David Barton makes a lot of claims that he doesn't prove. One example is his claim that on December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building.

The evidence cited by Barton is: Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1853), p. 797, Sixth Congress, December 4, 1800.

An examination of the evidence cited by Barton reveals the opposite of his claim. The House declined to even consider "that the Chaplains had proposed, if agreeable to the House, to hold divine services every Sunday in their Chamber."

The Speaker of the House informed the members of the Chaplain's proposal but did not order it assigned to a committee or to lay on the clerk's table for consideration.
No House member moved for it to be assigned to committee or to lay on the table. It went straigt into the trash basket.

It appears that not even one member of the House was interested in a divine services every Sunday in their Chamber.


Follow this link, see the document and make up your own mind if Congress approved the Chaplain's proposal.
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=010/llac010.db&recNum=396

F. Slice
32 posted on 01/10/2006 6:47:15 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

I would not rely on David Barton for accurate information. Barton makes a lot of claims that he doesn't prove. One example is his claim that on December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building.

The evidence cited by Barton is: Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1853), p. 797, Sixth Congress, December 4, 1800.

An examination of the evidence cited by Barton reveals the opposite of his claim. The House declined to even consider "that the Chaplains had proposed, if agreeable to the House, to hold divine services every Sunday in their Chamber."

The Speaker of the House informed the members of the Chaplain's proposal but did not order it assigned to a committee or to lay on the clerk's table for consideration.
No House member moved for it to be assigned to committee or to lay on the table. It went straigt into the trash basket.

It appears that not even one member of the House was interested in a divine services every Sunday in their Chamber.


Follow this link, see the document and make up your own mind if Congress approved the Chaplain's proposal.
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=010/llac010.db&recNum=396

F. Slice


33 posted on 01/10/2006 6:51:32 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

The phrase "freedom or religion, not freedom from religion" is found nowhere in the Bill of Rights.


34 posted on 01/10/2006 6:53:42 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: frogjerk
No Supreme Court Opinion ever claimed Thomas Jefferson was the premier authority on the First Amendment. James Madison was acknowledge as the premier First Amendment authority as early as 1802 by the great Saint George Tucker, the finest legal mind of the first 40 years of the Republic.

Madison was acknowledged as the premier authority by the House of Representatives in 1811 when Connecticut Congressman Timothy Pitkin challenged President Madison's view of the establishment clause, claiming that it only prevented the establishment of a national religion like the Church of England. The House voted 71 to 29 in favor of Madison's interpretation.

Madison was again acknowledged as the premier authority by the House in the Sunday mail delivery squabble in 1832. The House refused to abolish Sunday mail deliver even though it was a violation of the Sabbath Commandment. See the famous report by Col. Johnson, Chairman of the House Post Office Committee.

The U. S. Supreme Court, in 1878, acknowledged Madison's premier authority in the case of Reynolds v. U. S. So did the Everson Court in 1947 and the Engles Court in 1963.

Only one Supreme Court every made a direct cite to Jefferson's letter. The only purpose was to affix Jefferson's handle to Madison's Doctrine and let him have just a bit of the glory. After all, he was the "Apostle of Religious Freedom" and present in spirit even if he was in France.
35 posted on 01/10/2006 7:27:22 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: frogjerk
"Separation of Church and State" is the absence of civil authority over religion. Where does the Constitution grant the government any authority over religion or establish a Union between Church and State?
36 posted on 01/10/2006 7:34:30 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: YOUGOTIT

"Separation of Church and State" is the absence of civil authority over religion. Where does the Constitution grant the government any authority over religion or establish a Union between Church and State?


37 posted on 01/10/2006 7:37:18 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: YOUGOTIT

If a Catholic hating racist wrote the opinion then why did the Court rule in favor of the Catholics.


38 posted on 01/10/2006 7:40:23 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: seanmerc

Your statment that the doctrine of church-state separation is not in the Constitution, reveals a lack of understanding of the concept of no government authority over our duties to the Creator, that is the fundamental legal principle of the James Madison Doctrine of Separation between Religon and State.

Church/State Separation is the opposite of a Church/State Union. There is nothing in the Great Charter establishing a Church/State Union or granting the government any authority over religion.

No civl authority over religion = The exemption of our duties to the Creator from the authority of Ceasar = Separation of Church (our duty to the Creator) and State (the government)


39 posted on 01/10/2006 7:55:52 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: YOUGOTIT
"What we have today is not really Jefferson's wall, but Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black's wall"

Absolutely correct. Jefferson's letter to Danbury talks only of a seperation of Church and State, a reference to the first amendments prohibitions on establishing a State church, as the Brittish had done with the Church of England. Hugo Black took this phrase and reinterpeted it to mean a seperation of religion or faith and State. This was never contemplated by those who ratified the first amendment and completely different from what Jefferson was refering to in his letter.

40 posted on 01/10/2006 8:06:01 AM PST by joebuck
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To: FredFlash; Admin Moderator

You should read up on the proper way to post to a thread. You are duplicating quite a few posts to everyone on the thread and it is getting annoying...


41 posted on 01/10/2006 8:27:34 AM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: YOUGOTIT
Would you please point out to me the part of Justice Black's opinion in Everson that you believe was influenced by his anti-Catholic views? It appears to me that Black's views were heavily influenced by James Madison. Black mentioned Madison seventy-nine times in his opinion.

P.S. Thomas Jefferson was only mentioned thirty-three times.
42 posted on 01/10/2006 8:52:14 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: Sloth

Which one the framers ever said that the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in the Books of the Law and the Gospel?


43 posted on 01/10/2006 8:55:44 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: Sloth

Are we talking public prayer or government recommended prayer?

I take my religious advice from God - not some government stooge "reeking from the anus of his trull."

P.S. James Burgh probably inspired the "wall of separation" with his 1776 work "Crito." Any body happen to know what Burgh meant by "reeking from the anus of his trull?"


44 posted on 01/10/2006 9:01:48 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: FredFlash
What is a public acknowledgment of God?

When John Calvin burned people alive in the name of defending the faith, for the crime of not believing what he did about religion, was that a public acknowledgment of God?
45 posted on 01/10/2006 9:05:38 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: FredFlash
Black wrote the dissent when he used the church state separation wording.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28567

"Justice Black was avidly anti-Catholic – views "learned in the Ku Klux Klan" and which, no doubt, "influenced his 1947 ruling that the First Amendment created a 'high and impregnable' wall between religion and government," said the Times."
46 posted on 01/10/2006 9:14:25 AM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: FredFlash

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28567


47 posted on 01/10/2006 9:15:55 AM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: joebuck
It does not really matter what Jefferson said in his 1802 letter to the Baptists, because Justice Hugo Black did not obtain any legal principles or rules from Jefferson. Justice Black was simply stuck with the label that the Reynolds Court had affixed, in 1878, to the Madison Doctrine of Separation.

Read the opinion. The legal principles all come from the works of James Madison.
48 posted on 01/10/2006 9:19:46 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: joebuck
Please show me where Justice Hugo Black said the First Amendment meant a "separation of religion or faith and State."

Black made it clear that "a wall of separation between Church and State" was just another way of saying the following:

The Government cannot set up a church.

The Government cannot aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another.

The Government cannot use force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.

The Government cannot punish anyone for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance.

The Government cannot tax an individual to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

The Government cannot participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa.

Justice Hugo Black never even said the First Amendment meant a "separation of religion or faith and State." Your statement is nothing but a useless misinterpretation of his alleged misinterpretation.
49 posted on 01/10/2006 9:41:05 AM PST by FredFlash
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To: YOUGOTIT
Black wrote the dissent when he used the church state separation wording.
Justice Black was avidly anti-Catholic – views...which, no doubt, "influenced his 1947 ruling that the First Amendment created a 'high and impregnable' wall between religion and government,"

This is nonsense. Black wrote the majority opinion in Everson, and there was nothing anti-Catholic about it. You may want to read the actual decision. The WND article is garbage.

50 posted on 01/10/2006 11:01:58 AM PST by Sandy
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