Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Phrase Separation of Church and State

Many people think the phrase "Separation of Church and State" is in our Constitution; or maybe our Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments of the Constitution); or maybe the Declaration of Independence. However, it is not found in any of our early government documents.

In 1801 the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association heard that the Congregationalist Church was attempting to become the national denomination. They wrote to Jefferson to object. His response said they needn’t worry because Congress had erected a “wall of separation between church and state.”

Jefferson was speaking of the wall protecting the church from interference by the State (Federal Government) and assuring them that the United States would not sanction one type of religion over another IN AN OFFICIAL AND BINDING WAY.

At the time the Constitution was ratified, several of our states had their own state religion. They did not force people to worship thusly, but the state government did support that particular church. The states later dropped such official standing for churches, but the point was the states would sign the Constitution if they thought the Federal Government would be able to interfere.

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