What did Jefferson mean by a “wall between Church and State”?
He certainly didn’t mean to bar the Christian Religion from influencing the American Government, because Christianity, as John Adams, George Washington and even Jefferson, (more of a theist) clearly stated again and again, was the basis for it’s foundation. Their forefathers, the Puritans, had come to America to establish “The City of God”. And like their brethren in England such as Oliver Cromwell, they believed all law and morality had it’s beginning in Judeo/Christian Bible.
As Jefferson himself, probably the least orthodox of the founders clearly stated;
“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath.” . (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), Query XVIII, p. 237)
This Constitution, this government of the American people, was not made by or for Atheists, though they are free to live here if they so choose. If they don’t like the traditions or values of a nation based on the religion of Judeo/Christianity, they are free to travel to Russia, China (peoples republic) or any other marxist, atheist country they desire. But they are not free to, as they have done, twist the constitution on it’s head and violate the first amendment, denying Christians their religious rights while inserting atheism as the default national religion.
The “wall” Mr. Jefferson was talking about, was to keep the government from passing any law as to religious practice in America, it was to be a fence to keep the government from exercising any control over the practice of religion, not vice-versa. See below, and judge for yourself what the purpose of the fence was;
“…the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . … experience has nevertheless proved they will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them;.. there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion.”
Jefferson, Thomas, Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 112-113, to Noah Webster on December 4, 1790.
So the government had no right to abrogate the right to pray, or not pray, in the American school system, as the first amendment clearly states;
“That their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”
No law, no law, prohibiting the free exercise there of. Which is exactly what they did in 1963 when the passed a law prohibiting the freedom to excersise prayer in the public school room.
But what about the establishment clause? Did Jefferson understand it meant that the government couldn’t acknowledgy the Christian foundation of the Government of the United States? Hardly. Listen to Jefferson again on what the establishment clause meant;
“[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists…”( Jefferson, Writings, Vol. III, p. 441, to Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800)
This is what the founders feared, a nationalization of one sect, “of a particular form of Christianity” like the Anglican Church in England, or the Greek Orthodox in Greece, or the Roman Catholic Church in Italy or France. It was from that kind of state church situation they had fled from in England.
Now indeed, we not only have one sect in a favored position, we have one religion in that place, sanctioned by default, the religion of atheism. A religion which in all respects is a anathema to everything our founders believed about government and human rights.
Only it’s creation story can be taught in the school sytem, it tenets are the guiding light for how history is taught, and it followers force all the other believers into silence. The atheists have put their imagined right not to pray, or tolerate hearing the prayers of others as the one and only religious right the schools must bow their knees to. And in this, the present American government has illegally and wantonly assisted them by taking rights to themselves that they do not have.
They have abrogated rights to themselves which the founders clearly stated belong to God alone.
And we look the other way.
However, having weakened and removed this fence, the one protecting religious liberty, and perhaps more fearfully, having abrogated to themselves the “right to life”, they have shown themselves to be out of control of the Constitution, both its spirit and letter.
We still have a vote, let’s use it wisely.