It is amazing to hear people argue over the separation of ‘Church and State’ when it really isn’t all that difficult to understand. The first thing is to start with the Articles of Confederation, and then go from there. The original 13 colonies [New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia] were autonomous, self-governing bodies with legislative power invested separately in each State instead of through a central (federal) government. The Constitution was a compromise between State’s Rights advocates and those who wanted a national government (“Federalism”); with the States retaining some of their power, but not with the same authority as before. Even the Constitution itself was an imperfect document, and thus, 27 amendments were added to it, which are now called the “Bill of Rights.”
As it pertains to ‘any’ mention of religion contained in specific wording of the Constitution itself as it was adopted by the Founding Fathers, Article VI, states: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and “all” executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification [or disqualification??] to ‘any’ Office or public Trust under the United States. Now, Amendment I of the Constitution, says: Congress (Const. Article I, Section I) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion -OR- prohibiting the free exercise thereof… Usually, this clause is used to prove or even disprove, depending upon your point-of-view, whether America is a Christian nation or not; however, nowhere is the specific theistic religion, “Christianity” mentioned, but rather by the generic term, ‘religion.’ The First Amendment should be read in conjunction with Amendment X, which reads: The powers [Legislative, Judicial, and Executive] not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited [SEE Art. I, Sect. I] by it, are reserved to the States respectively, -OR- to the People.
It would seem from combining the two amendments that the Federal Judiciary has no authority to mandate religious matters among the States, to include banning the teaching of creationism in public schools or determining whether a courthouse can display a copy of the Ten Commandments. Of course, the problem arises when expressions of other belief systems besides Christianity are denied to their devotees. And besides all that, even the Declaration of Independence mentions “Nature’s God,” or “Creator,” to which many religious faiths, both ancient and present, could claim as the object of their worship. In fairness to Delaware Tea Party Senatorial candidate, Christine O’Donnell, Ken Paulson, President of the First Amendment Center, who vindicates her by reminding us that as early as 1640, Rhode Island founder and theologian Roger Williams cited the need for "a hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world." He goes on further to quote the words Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, in which he said that the language of the First Amendment built "a wall of separation between Church and State."
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October 19, 2010
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