“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” (excerpt from Amendment I, U. S. Constitution)
If our United States Constitution actually commands Congress to protect the “free exercise [of religion]” and explicitly protects freedom of speech, how on earth did this phrase “separation of church and state” get such common usage? The phrase is not in the Constitution nor, according to the Congressional Record, was it ever even mentioned during the framing of that document in 1789.
The phrase is not Constitutional at all! It has been wrenched out of context from a private letter written in 1802, 11 years after the First Amendment was ratified. There was a widespread rumor going around at the time that one particular denomination was to become the official national religion. This concerned the other denominations a great deal since some had fled religious persecution by the official church of England. President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the concerned Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut assuring them that under the Constitution the federal government would not, and indeed could not, establish a national Christian denomination. In other words, the United States Congress could not legislate that all Americans had to be Lutherans, or Episcopalians, or Baptists, or whatever.
It is clear from Thomas Jefferson’s letter that the “wall of separation” he spoke of was to be one-directional. This wall was to keep government interference out of the church and out of believers’ lives. It was never meant to keep the church, or believers in Jesus Christ, out of the federal government, states, municipalities or schools. It certainly was never intended to mean that believers could not speak of their faith openly, or pray openly in Jesus’ Name at public events.
The historical record clearly shows the Founding Fathers of our country truly had freedom of religion in mind when they framed our Constitution. The courts, media and special interest groups have convinced the American people that we must have freedom from religion in the public square. Nothing is further from the truth.
As a nation, we have been increasing the judicial and public approval and practice of shedding innocent blood of the littlest human beings, flaunting all sorts of abominations and sexual sins, forsaking our marriage covenants, calling good evil and evil good, and now pushing even the mention of God’s Holy Name out of public life under the false guise of “separation of church and state.” Are we still arrogant enough to think that the Lord will rescue us from our enemies time and time again? Perhaps we are that arrogant. But, maybe we’ll be surprised some day to find that His patience has run out.
The prophet Isaiah says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Are we willing to repent of our national sins and be forgiven and be spared God’s judgment?
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord…” (Isaiah 55: 6, 7a)