The Left are dishonest about religion in America. One of the biggest lies and intentional revisions that has been repeated for decades is that relating to the relationship of institutions of church and state. Attempts to downplay the significance of religion to our nation’s founding is stunning. Many have used Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” as a bludgeoning tool in order to suppress the role church institutions play in the political arena. This attempt to seclude religion from government comes from a secular world-view that seeks to take credit for the work the Christian faith has done in establishing the freest, most enlightened country in history. Secularism and atheism are bankrupt ideologies that constantly steal values and ideas from the Christian world-view; Jefferson’s statements are no different. In order to define the appropriate relationship between institutions of Church and State, we must first reclaim “the wall of separation”.
Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists is where where the famous “wall of separation between church and state” was articulated. It is important to notice that Jefferson states in the letter that he agrees with the recipients that a man’s religion is between him and his God, and that government ought not to be in the business of governing the consciences of men. It is this idea that the Constitution seeks to protect and preserve in the establishment of religion clause in the first amendment. Namely, that government power extends to the actions of men only and the governance of conscience is to be left to God, thus ensuring the free exercise of religion.
There is a distinction to be made between a “wall of separation between church and state” and the separation of God from government. Unfortunately, these two issues are conflated in today’s political rhetoric when discussing the establishment of religion clause in the first amendment. The founders believed exactly what Jefferson stated in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. They viewed government as a means of restraint on the passions of men, instituted by God and thus, existing as a means by which men are judged for wrong doing here on earth; while God is the God of the conscience and will judge every men according to what he has done in the life to come. The separation of church and state was therefore, a means to protect a man’s religious conscience from the government, not the other way around. By no means was this to be understood as somehow keeping God out of government.
The application of this is that institutions of Church ought to be protected by the State in both religous exercise and political affiliation. The Constitution affords protection against government imposed consequences for particular political views, it affords the same for religious practice. The appropriate relationship between Church and State is one where church institutions are free to advocate, influence, and assemble for any political view they desire without the government interfering. The Bill of Rights recognizes the rights of individuals to have their religion wholeheartedly expressed throughout all areas of their lives. Just as government shouldn’t favor one business over another, the government shouldn’t favor one religion over another. The hand of the government should stay off the scale. This means that the religion of humanism has no precedent over any other form of religion.
Jefferson’s Letter to The Danbury Baprists
Metaxas, Eric. If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.