I’ve heard that phrase “separation of church and state” all my life. I generally accepted it until about twenty years ago, when I did some research on the founders.
In the early 20th century, the progressives took that phrase as a means to attack non-denominational school prayer. They and their legal colleagues were successful in striking down school prayer state by state.
But what is the origin of that much-abused and lied about phrase? Of course, it is not in the Constitution.
The progressives obtained that phrase from a letter written from Thomas Jefferson who was replying to a group of New England ministers in answer to their concern about a rumor they had heard regarding the federal government adopting a State-supported Christian denomination. These ministers did not want to go back to the early colonial period where certain colonies supported specific denominations, as you may remember in your early American history.
Jefferson reassured the ministers that the rumor was false. Because of who these ministers were, in his letter, Jefferson quoted one of their own, a famous minister and scholar of the 17th century, Roger Williams. Williams wrote beautiful sermons and religious tracts, and his work was no doubt much studied by students of Jefferson’s time.
Williams, in his Old World eloquence, in the actual sermon that Jefferson quoted from, spoke of God building a wall to protect the garden of the church from the wilderness of the world.
Yet, the early 20th century progressives and atheists deliberately took Jefferson’s quote of Williams clearly out of context and disingenuously claimed that the definition was the opposite of what Williams and Jefferson intended. And the cowardly and ignorant legislators, the judiciary, and educators let these distorters and liars get away with this outrage.
What a contradiction! What a deliberate lie!
And still the progressives and haters of what’s left of our founding culture misuse, abuse, and distort that phrase in their ugly attempts to intimidate and deny Christians any right to be heard also.
If you cut the people off from their history, then they can be easily persuaded. — Karl Marx
Thank for your attention.
Madeline K. Carter