The First Amendment
The assault on America's religious underpinnings is based on a distorted interpretation of the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."
Only a lawyer could claim not to understand the plain meaning of those words.
The term "separation of church and state" was first used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to theDanbury Baptists in 1801, when he responded to their concerns about state involvement in religion.His letter made the claim that the Constitution had erected "A wall of seperation between church and state". Jefferson's letter had nothing to sayabout limiting public religious expression, but dealt with government’s interference in the public expression of faith.
The Supreme Court has taken Jefferson's
"separation" clause (divorced from Jefferson's own explanation of
the phrase) and used it to create a new, and completely arbitrary,
interpretation of the First Amendment.
In 1947, with the United States Supreme Court's decision in Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Hugo Black construed the First Amendment in a more restrictive fashion, giving an absolute definition of the First Amendment Establishment Clause which went well beyond the original intent of the framers of the United States Constitution and paved the way for future cases that would further restrict religious expression in American public life. This ruling declares that any aid or benefit to religion from governmental actions is unconstitutional. As Justice Black said: "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."
Hardly what Thomas
Jefferson meant or what the constitution guaranteed!
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" had always meant that Congress was prohibited from establishing a national religious denomination, that Congress could not require that all Americans become Catholics, Anglicans, or members of any other denomination.
This understanding of "separation of church and state" was applied not only during the time of the Founders, but for 170 years afterwards. James Madison (1751-1836) clearly articulated this concept of separation when explaining the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty. He said that the First Amendment to the Constitution was prompted because "The people feared one sect might obtain a preeminence, or two combine together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform."
The complete and radical disassociation between Christianity and the State that is sometimes advocated now is not what they had in mind. It's clear that they had seen entirely too many religious wars and religious tyrannies in Europe, and thus that they did want to make sure that no specific church or creed had authority over the State.
Recognizing their failure to win their arguments on fact, the lastest tactic among liberals is simply to deny the very documents that contain the facts.
When the First Amendment was passed it only had two purposes.