Separation of Church and State

Dear Editor,

When people talk or write about “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE,” they seldom refer to the authority: The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It defines the form of government we have and the powers granted to this government by the people through their representatives and then ratified by the states.

We hear often, “The Separation of Church and State,” however, if we read the Constitution, we find no such phrase! What the Constitution says in the First Amendment is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That is ALL it says about religion!

What our forefathers wanted to guard against was an official tax-supported religion. There is nothing here that can be construed to control whether public meetings or school sessions or football games or any other assembling can be opened or closed by prayer. There is nothing here to say that the “Ten Commandments” or the bible itself cannot be posted in courtrooms, schoolrooms or anywhere else. There is noting to say a Cross or a Star of David or any other religious Symbol cannot be erected in a cornfield, along the highway or in the public square.

The Constitution was not intended to restrict the individual rights of people but to protect these rights by limiting the power of government.

“Separation of Church and State” is not in the Constitution. Where did it come from? It has been taken out of context from a letter written by then President, Thomas Jefferson, to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut calming their fears that Congress was in the process of choosing any single Christian denomination to make it the “state” or “official” denomination.

Jefferson said, “I contemplate with solemn reverence that the act of the whole American people which declared Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

All restrictions of Prayer and Bible Reading have come from the Judiciary by case law; however, the Constitution says: Article I, Section I, “All Legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”

Neither the President, nor the Judges have the authority to pass laws; only to enforce or uphold laws passed by Congress. Patrick Henry, one of the Founding Fathers boldly declared: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here.”


Peter L. Ward

Candor, N.Y.

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