There’s a Wall Between Church and State, Not a One-Way Street


“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” – Thomas Jefferson (in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists explaining the intent of the First Amendment)

The founding fathers built a wall between Church and State, not a one-way street in which the religious and their ideology can influence the government.  In order to know why the fundamentalist Christians who believe the latter are wrong, it is important to have a basic understanding of Virginia history.  In 1786, one year before the Constitution was written, Patrick Henry, one of the more radical founders that also happened to be opposed to replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, submitted a proposal to the Virginia legislature to have the colony publicly fund the teaching of Christianity in public schools.  Patrick Henry’s proposal was dismissed and instead Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was passed and signed into Virginia law.  The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom barred tax support for religious institutions, prohibited religious tests for public office, and was the foundation for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

If you happen to be one of the fundamentalist Christians I mentioned earlier, let this sink in.  Patrick Henry proposed to have the state endorse Christianity by having it used as a tool of indoctrination within public schools and Thomas Jefferson instead wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was then adopted into the Constitution as the basis for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This situation right here perfectly describes how some of the founding fathers felt about religious interference with government.  They did not want it!

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