The Fallacy of the Separation of Church and State
Does the United States Constitution require separation of Church and State, a wall between the public and private sectors which cannot be breached?
Most people seem to think so.
What does the Constitution actually say? The first amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
The phrase within this amendment consists of three parts:
1) Prohibits Congress from making any laws regarding a specific jurisdiction,
2) Defines the jurisdiction as the establishment of a religion,
3) Additionally defines the jurisdiction as prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
The amendment states the exact opposite of what most people have been conditioned to believe. Its purpose is very specific – to protect the people of the United States from becoming subject to federal laws interfering with the free exercise of their religion. It restricts CONGRESS, not the people or place. The amendment does not strip individuals of this right if you happen to be a government employee, nor does it lapse when people freely choose to honor God in a public setting. It protects people from federal interference.
Supporters of the complete “separation of church and state” have interrupted the amendment narrowly, and out of context, allowing it to support the exact action it was supposed to prohibit.
First: They’ve replace the word “Congress” with “State, Local, or Federal Governments; or other organizations in a public setting”.
Second: They’ve replaced the words “shall make no law” with the words “shall not”. Within the US constitution, congress is granted the authority to make all laws “necessary and proper” to implement their assigned powers. This amendment seeks to assure the people that congress will not abuse their power by making a law affecting the people’s freedom to practice religion as they deem proper.
Third: They’ve replaced the concept of establishing a religion, with the act of mentioning our Christian God.
Forth: They’ve completely removed all reference to “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Instead of reading the first amendment as written, supporters of the complete separation of church and state read it as: “State, Local, or Federal Governments; or any other organization in a public setting, shall not mention God”.
This gross misinterpretation of the first amendment manifests itself through the complete eradication of any reference to religion within any public forum. For example:
… A class valedictorian is prohibited from expressing gratitude to God at a high school graduation.
… Manger scenes are prohibited from Christmas displays in public parks.
… A sculpture of the Ten Commandments is forcibly removed from the lobby of a state court house.
… Schools have been dissuaded from having their students recite the Pledge of Allegiance, due to the phrase “Under God”, or even studying the Declaration of Independence due to the self-evident assertion that our unalienable rights come from our Creator, God.
All these actions are in direct contradiction or our constitutional right to freely exercise religion. The first amendment codifies our unalienable right to practice religion freely, without any limitation or restriction from the federal government. Freedom of religion goes hand in hand with freedom of speech.
According to the 1st amendment, a class valedictorian should be able to express heartfelt gratitude to God at a high school graduation. It’s simply their “free exercise of religion” as well as their freedom of speech to express ideas important to them. They are constitutionally protected when expressing their thoughts. Freedom of independent thought must be encouraged in a free society.
The community should decide if manger scenes are to be placed in public parks at Christmas, or if religious carols may be sung in schools, – not the government or the courts. The fact is that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, universally depicted within a manger. If a community wants to erect a manger scene or sing religious carols, so be it, if they don’t so be that decision also.
All law within the United States is based on Judeo-Christian law emanating from the Ten Commandments. If a community, state, or federal courthouse chooses to honor the Ten Commandments by prominently displaying them, it is again a free exercise of speech and religion. According to the first amendment, congress can make no law forcing the sculpture’s removal. It falls under the province of the community, state, or people.
This nation is founded on religious freedom, from the founding of its initial settlements, reinforced through our Declaration of Independence, and protected by our Constitution. Secularizing history is a disservice to all and belittles the moral character which allowed this country to excel.
November 3, 2010
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