Dubunking the Seperation of Church and State Myth
While making my daily rounds through the Blogsphere this afternoon I came across an article over at ScienceBlogs.com regarding the idea of separation of church and state. Apparently the author Ed Brayton and another gentleman John Rowe have been going back and forth as to the true intentions of our founding fathers when the First Amendment was drafted.
My intentions of this article were to show that the Constitutions goal was not to remove religion from the States, but only from Congress. Ironically, in a prior article, Ed Brayton (who is a seperationist) makes the case for me.
Actually, Madison wanted the entire first amendment applied to the states initially, but that was voted down; they knew it would never be ratified that way by the states. Indeed, the states were so concerned about maintaining state authority over such matters at that point that the ultimate wording of the establishment clause was written to assuage those fears (it not only prevented the establishment of a national religion, it also prevented the Federal government from interfering with any state religious establishment.
James Madison was very outspoken in his desire to keep Government and Religion separated, however he was only one man and the States did not share his beliefs. The fact that he was the primary author of the Bill of Rights does not in and of itself make his beliefs law. The First Amendment was worded in such a way that only the powers of Congress were affected and not those of the States. This is the real issue of the establishment clause.
The Supreme Court made an error in judgment when entering the term 'separation of church and state' in the Everson decision. There is no need for me to point at that those words do not appear in our Constitution, everyone knows that. Most are also aware that in the Everson decision, the Supreme Court was quoting a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists. What never is mentioned however is exactly what "State" Jefferson was referring to. The letter which was used to invent a separation between church and individual states was written by Jefferson in 1802 while he was President (1801-1809). Therefore the State Jefferson was referring to was not one of the States in the Union, it was the Federal Government he was referring to.
This is evidenced by the religious discrimination which took place throughout the States, even while Jefferson served as President. In many States at that time, Jews were not allowed to vote. As a matter of fact, Jews were not allowed to vote in North Carolina until 1860!
Now why would a President who firmly believed in a 'wall of separation' between church and state allow religious discrimination to occur? The answer is simple, neither Jefferson, nor Congress had the authority to stop it.
The Tenth Amendment gave authority to the States to decide for themselves what was best for their people, as long as it was not in contradiction with what the Constitution said. The 1st Amendment only applied to Congress; therefore the States were not in violation of it by making these laws.
I do not believe at the time the 14th Amendment was ratified, in effect nullifying the Tenth, anyone had any idea at just how intrusive in the the States the Government would become. Due to recent lawsuits involving the Ten Commandments, the Mt Soledad Cross, the words "Under God", religion has all but disappeared from public view. This is by no means what the framers of our Constitution had intended.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently agreed with me:
First, the ACLU makes repeated reference to “the separation of church and state.” This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state. Our Nation’s history is replete with governmental acknowledgment and in some cases, accommodation of religion. ACLU v. Mercer County December 20, 2005
If only all Judges realized this.