Editorial note: This writing began with another topic in mind. But the concept of the separation of church and state recurred so relentlessly that it could not be ignored. Perhaps it was the Lord’s prompting. You decide. Initially, I resisted, confident that I had a good understanding of the matter and it had already been talked to death by many others. Nevertheless, an abundance of fresh new material emerged during the writing. It became increasingly clear that the secular distortion of the separation of church and state has had profound and tragic consequence on America and even worse consequence on the body of believers. Read on. You’ll see why.
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Who said it? If you thought, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda, not quite. The quote was first spoken by Vladimir Lenin, Father of Communism. But Goebbels developed it into a highly specialized art form:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
We tend to associate such thinking with totalitarianism. But does it happen in the United States? You bet it does! Often! Consider, for example, a perverted interpretation of the “separation of church and state.” Throughout recent generations, the lie has been repeated endlessly in court proceedings, by politicians, the media, and throughout the entire educational system.. Believers routinely parrot the secular politically correct interpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s metaphor
The separation of church and state lie has weakened America’s faith and opened the door for all manner of evil. Private immorality is possible only after compromising God’s Word. Private immorality leads to public immorality a breakdown of trust, and an erosion of integrity, which incite all other forms of wrongdoing. Civilization first decays then collapses, slowly at first, then becoming a virtual free fall. The free fall America is currently experiencing cannot last long. Unless there is direct action by believers accompanied by a spiritual awakening, oblivion is at America’s doorstep.
What happened? It is generally well known that the phrase, “wall of separation between church and state,” is not in the U. S. Constitution. President Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut. To establish context, the full letter provides:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man& his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & 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 & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association assurances of my high respect & esteem.”
Thomas Jefferson Jan.1.1802
The faith held by the Founders, including Thomas Jefferson, has been widely documented and is beyond any serious dispute. Collectively, the Founders feared the European religious persecution, from which the early settlers fled.
The persecution emerged each time a European government adopted an official religion for a country and named the king as the head of that religion. It was a recipe for the abuse of anyone differing from the king’s interpretation of any religious matter. In Biblical times, kings often deferred to the prophet of the day, a kind of separation of church and state. But in 17-19th Century Europe, kings had no accountability. There was no check on the worst of human nature.
The Founders were determined to prevent a recurrence of the European abuses. They wanted a written guarantee that all citizens would be free to worship God in the manner of their choice, without any government interference or restrictions. It was never anticipated that the government would abandon any form of religious expression or recognition or aggressively prevent such recognition in public places.
The Founders fully and clearly intended that the government would routinely participate in non-denominational religious observances. To that end, they adopted the First Amendment to the Constitution, declaring that their legislature (U.S. Congress only) should “make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The amendment was clearly intended to protect individual freedom. It was never intended to ban religion from the public square.
Secular groups, particularly atheistic organizations have attempted to paint Thomas Jefferson as an atheist. Such claims are clearly antagonistic to the readily available public record. He was part of a three-man committee assigned to create a seal for the fledgling nation. Jefferson proposed an image of the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.
Generally, it’s best to let historical figures, such as Jefferson speak for themselves. Consider this selection of quotes:
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1781
Query XVIII, Notes on the State of Virginia.
“No power over the freedom of religion…[is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1798
“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Thomas Jefferson, September 23, 1800
Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush
“And let us reflect that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions…”
Thomas Jefferson, 1801
First Inaugural Address
“The Christian Religion, when divested of the rags in which the [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.”
Thomas Jefferson, March 23, 1801
Letter to Moses Robinson
“The Northwest Ordinance—Article III Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.”
Thomas Jefferson, signer, April 30, 1802
“My views…are the result of a life on inquiry and reflection and very different from the anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others…”
Thomas Jefferson, April 21, 1803
Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush
“I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invented…”
Thomas Jefferson, June 17, 1804
Letter to Henry Fry
The inescapable conclusion is that Thomas Jefferson’s life was driven by his faith in God and his persistent efforts to grow in godly character as expressed in the life of Jesus.
In 1840, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story clarified the roll of the Constitution’s First Amendment:
“We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religion establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution)…at the time of adoption of the Constitution, the [prevailing] sentiment was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.”
Joseph Story, Justice-U.S. Supreme Court
Abstracted from “A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States”
In 1892, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Josiah Brewer bolstered the argument:
“No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.”
Josiah Brewer, Justice-U.S. Supreme Court
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States,
143 US 457-458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226
However, a major symbolic and substantive change occurred, when the U.S. Supreme court rendered a decision in Everson v. Board of Education (1947). According to Dr. Scott Lively, (attorney, pastor and human-rights consultant) “That was the case that adopted Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” metaphor as a justification for declaring all religions to be equal with Christianity in America, and equally subservient to secular humanist authority… It intentionally and officially dethroned the God of the Bible after more than 300 years of His being acknowledged as Lord over this nation.” The clear understanding of the separation of church and state concept was consistently reinforced by the U. S. Supreme Court and many others for 147 years. With the stroke of a pen in 1947, The Supreme Court stood the concept on its head.
A new secular concept of separation of church and state was established that was exactly the opposite of the original. The government’s unbiased participation in and support of religious observances and an ironclad guarantee of freedom of religion has been replaced by a virtual ban on public religious expression, especially by government employees, anyone using government property for private functions, or any group receiving government funds.
Since the 1947 decision, the secular version of separation of church and state has become embedded in the public school systems, proclaimed by the media, and repeatedly reinforced by the Supreme Court. The government has increasingly run roughshod over religious institutions. Religion, especially, Judeo-Christian tradition has become increasingly ridiculed and denied access to the public square. The government has made every conceivable effort to isolate believers, as well as their spiritual thoughts and actions to within the four walls of their homes and places of worship.
However, some Supreme Court justices did not agree with their 1947 colleagues. In 1962, Justice Potter Stewart lamented that jurisprudence was not “aided by the uncritical invocation of metaphors like the ‘wall of separation,’ a phrase nowhere to be found in the Constitution.”
In 1985, Chief Justice Warren Burger declared:
“The Constitution does not require a complete separation of church and state. It affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility towards any.”
Warren Burger, Chief Justice-U.S. Supreme Court,
Lynch v Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 669-670 (1985)
That same year, Chief Justice William Rehnquist observed:
“The establishment clause had been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly forty years…There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation [between church and state]…the recent court decisions are in no way based on either the language or intent of the framers.”
William Rehnquist, Chief Justice-U.S. Supreme Court
Wallace v. Jafree, 472 US 38, 99
By far, the most serious threat to freedom of religion is the body of believers. They have largely bought the big lie. From casual conversations to the university classroom, believers are routinely heard advocating and proclaiming the secular concept of separation of church and state. Most are unaware of what they are doing, because the lie sounds so plausible and has been endlessly repeated since their earliest childhood, while the clergy has been virtually silent and often mislead themselves.
Believers are called by Scripture to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and ambassadors for Jesus. They can be none of these, when they have become so intimidated by political correctness that they are terrified of saying “Merry Christmas,” during the holiday season—a phrase that roughly means “I love you,” regardless of anyone’s personal religious views.
What does it take to wake up the body of believers?
What does it take to wake up the clergy?