The seperation of church and state has been assured by our constitution so that the right of citizens to freely exercise their right to worship would not be infringed upon by a faith instituted by the government.
Has the interpretation of this basic right transformed over the years and if so how has it impacted our country?
I can't remember ever having a conversation with someone on the subject of seperation of church and state that did not involve that person telling me that religion has no place in government. Not one time.
So it made me wonder. Why are we so different now than we were over 200 years ago? I've done a fair amount of research into our country's history and looked at the data, free of bias, as much as I could.
When I came to the end of my research I was convinced that we were never intended to be a country free "from" religion as desired by the seperation of church and state. This issue has now become extremely divisive, especially when looked at in light of the social mores that are being propagated by minority segments.
Unfortunately, in spite of being the greatest nation on the planet, too many Americans are ignorant of so many things such as the seperation of church and state while sincerely believing that they are pretty darned enlightened.
Immigrants looking to gain citizenship know a great deal more amount this country's history and how the government works than most of us born and raised here. That's a sad state of affairs that should worry any of us.
How can such a large segment of the population be so ignorant about something as important as seperation of church and state and not know it and then be expected to make critical decisions that impact so many of us? Take for example, casting their vote for President of the United States. Or how about issues that are brought before the Supreme Court such as same-sex marriage and abortion?
In my opinion, a large segment of the American public gets its vital information on matters like seperation of church and state from either sound bites or from biased teachers and professors with a personal agenda.
Rather than presenting the facts for discussion and revelation the subject matter is presented in a dim light at best and is never truly studied with accuracy and for clarity.
In order to have a solid footing with regard to our position on the seperation of church and state we need to start at the beginning. What was the basis for this doctrine?
Let me be clear on this subject. As you study this for yourself I recommend you get your own copy of the Constitution rather than read someone else's opinion. Including mine. First of all, the words "separation" and "church" are not found anywhere in the constitution in the same sentence.
That's right! I dare you to find it. If you do come back and then respond here in the comment section below telling us where it is. Of course I know you won't find it. Because I'm right. What you will find is this:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
So where did this phrase come from? You'll need to check the records of the Supreme Court's decision in 1947 involving Everson v. Board of Education. Their decision in this case gives us the first detailed interpretation of the first amendment and the subject of seperation of church and state. Here is part of their rendering:
"The establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance..."
What is intriguing is that the issue of church or the exercise or profession of ones faith being prohibited from any aspect of government is not mentioned or reinforced.
A little known fact is that on Independence Day nine of the original thirteen states recognized an official state church. These churches remained in existence for many years before being abolished by voluntary state legislation.
What prompted them to take such action?
Well, there was a fear that the new national government would either interfere with the state church or establish a national church. As a result they pushed for a Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit such action.
The author of this amendment was James Madison. He communicated to his colleagues that he simply wanted to carry out the wishes of the State Conventions. Their desire was to assure that no religious "sect" would take preeminence over another as a result of a national religion. For example, Protestants would be shown preference over Anglicans.
The Amendment prohibits the establishment of a religion by Congress, not the establishment of religion in general. The government can't recognize any one church as the official church. However, expressing faith in God or the existence of God, regardless of your government position, is in no way violating this amendment.
So, there you have it. You now know what the true intent of the first amendment was.
Quite different from what everyone seems to believe these days regarding the seperation of church and state, huh? And unfortunately, because of this ignorance, inappropriate action has been taking place for a number of years now and and as a result, the freedom of many has been greatly restricted.
The most prominent aspect of our country that has been impacted has been at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Courts. They have taken great liberty at reinterpreting earlier rulings. One of the most glaring examples was their reinterpretation of the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments.
Prior to this violation, the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. By paying close attention to the original language you can easily see that it states,"congress shall make no law..."
In an effort to limit the power of the federal government, the Constitution left authority over religious matters to the state (again, read for yourself). Up until the twentieth century the supreme court stayed the course on this matter.
The supreme court began to ignore its predecessors and precedents in 1925. They somehow reasoned that the Fourteenth Amendment was to extend the Bill of Rights to the states. How this interpretation was possible I can't fathom. No earlier court ruling could support their contention.
A great deal of research has been done on the subject of the seperation of church and state and a great deal has been written. The single most significant impact of the misinterpretation of the seperation of church and state that we need to recognize is that the moral fiber of America today is much different than it was 200 years ago. That difference has not created a positive change on our society.
The bottom line is that God has less access to the public than he has ever had in the history of our nation. I can't see how anyone can say that this has been a benefit to the country.
Since a reverence for God and his laws and a desire to live a life that honored him is what caused many to leave Europe and become part of that early movement which founded this country I can see what despising God would do.
Our national blessings are a direct result of honoring God as a people. There is no other explanation for the rapid ascent of this nations status on the world stage. As we now watch the decline of this nation we can safely conclude it is a result of just the opposite condition.
We have been gradually preventing God from being present in the public life of Americans as a direct result of the misinterpretation of the concept of seperation of church and state. Let's summarize some of the things that I believe have transpired as a result of this:
I'm not making the claim that the seperation of church and state has caused all this. But rather, it has spawned a movement that has led the public to shun the God that moved on the hearts of a people over 200 years ago to step out in faith and birth this nation and caused it to become the greatest force for good the world has ever seen.
What other nation has provided hope and security for its citizens to the extent that America has? What other country has been admired for so long by so many?
When a nation refuses to depend on God and demands that He not be allowed a place in society the results are always the same. Look around the world at all the socialist and communist societies. Russia and Cuba are perfect examples.Even countries in the Middle East fall into this camp.
There is a spiritual darkness that pierces the heart of the people and casts a shroud over them. There is no hope or aspiration for greatness. The blessings of God are not present in these types of societies.
Statistics as I've listed above are more the norm unfortunately as a result. Yes, I understand that the naysayers will always be able to point to some negative claims regarding Christianity and that I have no leg to stand on. Regardless of what negatives are brought up the fact still remains that Christianity has impacted the world for good like no other faith.
Faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross is what has changed people's lives in a way that no other faith could.
Christianity is about a restored relationship with God. It's not about living a perfect life or performing good deeds. It's about our faith in what the death and resurrection of Jesus has done for us when we believe in Him. He did for us what we could not do. He gave us what we did not deserve and could not earn.
Best of all, as the founder of the Christian faith, he is alive today. No other faith can say that of their founder. We believe in, trust and live for a God who is alive. Jesus is the only founder of any faith that claimed to be the Son of God and predicted his death and resurrection and fulfilled his prediction.
God has given us a free will and as a result of that free will there is unfortunately a lot wrong with this world. As a result of that free will we have seen many in this country choose to turn down his free gift of salvation and a restored relationship with our heavenly Father.
The ills found in this country are not God's fault. We have inflicted these conditions on ourselves. We abort babies, rape women, commit adultery, steal, kill, lie, disrespect law enforcement officers, and dishonor God because we choose to do so. None of this is His fault.
For the most part we have the quality of life that we do because of the choices we make. In some instances our lives have been impacted by the choices others have made. I admit that. But that takes us back to my point that we are free to make our choices without interference from God. As a result we must then accept the consequences.
We are spiritual beings with a soul living in a body. Our spirits were meant to have fellowship with our Creator. A life apart from Him is not in our best interest. In reality it leads to death. The ideal of maintaining the seperation of church and state has not served us well I believe.
One way of having fellowship with God in spite of the seperation of church and state is through daily prayer, a two-way conversation with God. Unfortunately too many Americans don't pray or at least don't see the need to pray. Since the Supreme Court decision in 1962 and 1963 to remove the bible and prayer from public schools we have begun to die spiritually as a nation.
Education expert William Jeynes said since 1963 there have been five negative developments in the nations public schools;
We should also compare the top five complaints of teachers from 1904-1962 and from 1963 to the present. They used to be; talking, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls and getting out of turn in line. To now where its; rape, robbery, assault, burglary and assault.
Skeptics will pronounce that we are better off when "religion" is not forced down our throats. After all, who gets to decide whose religion is the right one they will say? I get that. But I'm not making a case for religion. I 'm making a case for God to be readmitted into the mainstream of the American life. Let's rescind the concept that seperation of church and state was in our best interest.
Fortunately for us God is very patient and forgiving. There are numerous instances in the bible displaying God's mercy towards His people. One such reference can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14;
"If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land"
No other faith other then the Jewish faith will you find such an invitation. If we insist on maintaining the seperation of church and state we will continue down this spiral of spiritual death as a nation that we are currently on.
America came into being as a result of a covenant that was struck between a small group of Christians and God over 200 years ago. God takes that covenant very seriously. He intends and desires to live up to His part. Let us not forsake our part and forfeit the benefits as we are currently doing.
That covenant is known as the Compact Covenant or the Mayflower Compact. The settlers who came to the new world brought with them a great deal of baggage in the form of ideas and beliefs that they held dear in England.
But aside from their religious enthusiasm, the Pilgrims also knew that the English settlement founded a few years earlier at Jamestown in Virginia had practically floundered due to a lack of a strong government and leadership. They vowed not to make that same mistake.
In making this compact, the Pilgrims drew upon two strong traditions. One was the notion of a social contract, which dated back to biblical times and which would receive fuller expression in the works of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke later in the century. The other was the belief in covenants. Puritans believed that covenants existed not only between God and man, but also between man and man.
Here is the summary of that Mayflower Compact;
"We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620."
The primary purpose for establishing a colony was for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith. Folks, stop kidding yourselves and stop believing the lies that are being promoted in our schools, media and government. We are indeed a Christian nation. Not a nation in which we desire the seperation of church and state to the degree that we deny God and his statutes.
Our best recourse is for the church of Jesus Christ to awaken from its slumber, a slumber that began as a result of the seperation of church and state. The church is the representative of Jesus Christ to the world and this identity and purpose must be restored if America is to reclaim the benefits of the covenant that it made with God 200 years ago.
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