The Myth Surrounding “The Separation of Church and State”

“That violates the ‘separation of church and state’!”

How often do you hear this phrase screamed across the airwaves in a news program or a heated debate about the role of religion in our government?

Do you ever give it a second thought?

Do you know where the phrase originated?

If you said, “The Constitution” or “the 1st Amendment”, you’re wrong! This phrase does not appear once in any of our founding documents–even though, the proponents of a “separation of church and state” would have you believe just that, or that it was a founding principle of this nation.

Let’s explore the history of this phrase and look at the words of the Founders and our government documents that will arm you with the true history of Christianity in our government’s history.

The place where most people mistakenly think this phrase originates is from the 1st Amendment, so let’s start there.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (Emphasis added)

Do you see anything missing? That’s right: our mysterious phrase!

So where did it come from?

The first known occurrence of the phrase “separation between Church and State” came from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association on 1 January 1802.

In the letter, President Jefferson was responding to concerns from the association seeking an assurance of their “[r]eligious [l]iberty.” They go on to describe that their state charter was built upon the establishment of religion first and foremost (Puritanism) and that they had been forced to rely on the state to grant them the “privilege” of worshiping rather than enjoying it as an “inalienable right”.

Notice that the concern was not the influence of religion upon government, but the other way around.

President Thomas Jefferson

President Thomas Jefferson

In his response, President Jefferson, replied to this specific concern and assured the Baptists that the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the 1st amendment build a “wall of separation between [c]hurch & [s]tate” so as to protect the Baptists from an intrusive government establishing the official religion for their state as well as interfering with their right to worship as they please.

So, as you can see, history tells a much different story than what we hear in the mainstream media; and for that matter much different than our own Supreme Court has tried to establish through one of their opinions.

This is only one example of the mainstream media propagating a lie often enough that even well-educated Americans have begun to buy into their agenda. Be sure to do your own research before simply accepting what your favorite radio or TV personality tells you—be it from the left or the right!