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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yes, the Founders Established a Separation of Church and State (Sorry Political Pundits)

Over the past few weeks several notable political figures have engaged in the time-honored tradition of "hijacking" history for their own partisan purposes. Of course this is nothing new. Every generation of Americans has attempted to lay claim to certain historical figures in an effort to add legitimacy to their respective claim/agenda. And of all the coveted historical figures, the legacy of America's founding fathers has taken center stage in America's current culture wars. Liberals and conservatives alike have engaged in a virtual tug-o-war over the question, "what would our founding fathers think of x, y, and z?". Now, it's not my intention to engage in a political debate today. With that said, I do want to set a few issues straight; issues that I believe are clear-cut and cannot be doubted (even though many have tried).

Some of you might recall the following comments made by Senatorial Candidate Christine O'Donnell on the topic of separation of church and state:

And then there's the dynamic duo of pseudo history, Glenn Beck and David Barton, whose false history I have exposed on many occasions (click here, here, here and here):

Yes, the desire to twist history (irrefutable history) knows no bounds. Despite that reality, pundits like Rush Limbaugh have defended Ms. O'Donnell by stated that, "The myth of a separation of church and state is so obvious to anyone who reads the Constitution. If you actually read the Constitution you will never find the phrase, 'Separation of church and state.'"

Well, technically Mr. Limbaugh is right. You won't find that phrase anywhere in the Constitution. If we are to take the Constitution LITERALLY then he has a great case. However, what Mr. Limbaugh neglects to realize is that you won't find "separation of powers" either. So does that mean the separation of powers is a myth? In addition, the Constitution does not make mention of the Air Force or the Marines. It only states that the government should, "provide for the common defense" by creating an army and a navy. Anyone for getting rid of our Air Force and Marines? Semper Fi, Mr. Limbaugh! Bottom line: we must look at the ENTIRE picture. The founders were clear on this issue...so clear that they essentially saw it as a no-brainer; an obvious given reality that didn't need to be spelled out in the final draft of the Constitution.

In his book, Common Sense, Glenn Beck stated, "The separation of church and state is more akin to communist Russia than the United States...I challenge any liberal to find just one example of where our founders advocated a separation of church and state."

Well, I'm no liberal but hey, I'm up for the challenge. Here's just a few, Mr. Beck:
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
~Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States.

"The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
~Treaty of Tripoli, between the United States and the subjects of Tripoli, 1797. Signed by President John Adams and ratified by the U.S. Senate.

"Our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities."
~Thomas Jefferson, "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia," 1779.

"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799.

"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 prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
~Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803.

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?"
~James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance," addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785.

"The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion."
~James Madison, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 1, 1794.

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813.

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."
~James Madison, "Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments."

"If Religion be not within the cognizance of Civil Government how can its legal establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another."
~James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785.

"The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both."
~James Madison, letter to Edward Everett, March 18, 1823.

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
~James Madison, 1803, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches.

"Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."
~George Washington, Letter, United Baptist Chamber of Virginia May 1789

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.”
~George Washington, letter to Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792.

"[N]o one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of...every species of religious persecution."
~George Washington
There are a TON more but I think you get the picture.

Ok, I realize that maybe I'm just a part of some evil communist, fascist, Marxist, socialist, Maoist, Obamaist plot to destoy America by lying about history (like all those fellow comrade professors of the evil American universities) but oh well. Mr. Beck also stated, "Don't read what historians have told you. Read the words of our founders. They are crystal clear."

Touche, Mr. Beck. Very touche!

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