Church and State: The Need For Separation Remains

Church and State: The Need For Sep­a­ra­tion Remains

In light of the recent vicious (and ongo­ing) attack on equal pro­tec­tion under the law by Franklin Gra­ham in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na (my own home state, and, for the rest of the world today (seek­ing rel­e­vance) home of the Car­oli­na Pan­thers), and in light of his asser­tion that civ­il gov­ern­ment should bow to (his) Chris­t­ian beliefs, I thought I would share some of the state­ments our found­ing fathers made con­cern­ing the impor­tance of the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.

Please note that I am not attack­ing Mr. Gra­ham here, although he clear­ly has no prob­lem attack­ing those with whom he does not agree. He has even gone so far as to say that “Where sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­ti­ty laws such as this have passed in oth­er places…” they have been “used to dis­crim­i­nate against Chris­tians.…” (See Thomas Jefferson’s first quote below for an answer to that one.)

But I digress. Here are the quotes from the Founders of our coun­try.…

I, unlike Mr. Gra­ham, am sim­ply pro­vid­ing his­tor­i­cal quotes made by the founders of the Unit­ed States, in the hope that they will serve to remind all of us that many of the folks who came to the New World were doing so in an attempt to escape reli­gious per­se­cu­tion by gov­ern­ments, whether they be monar­chies or republics, and that this coun­try ws formed with the express pur­pose of PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF ITS CITIZENS and avoid­ing the dan­ger­ous path of insti­tut­ing a gov­ern­ment based on reli­gious belief.…

George Wash­ing­ton

We have abun­dant rea­son to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and rea­son has tri­umphed over the pow­er of big­otry and super­sti­tion, and that every per­son may here wor­ship God accord­ing to the dic­tates of his own heart. In this enlight­ened age, & in this land of equal lib­er­ty, it is our boast, that a man’s reli­gious tenets will not for­feit the pro­tec­tion of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attain­ing & hold­ing the high­est offices that are known in the Unit­ed States.” ~~ Let­ter to the mem­bers of The New Church in Bal­ti­more, Jan­u­ary 1793

If I could con­ceive that the gen­er­al gov­ern­ment might ever be so admin­is­tered as to ren­der the lib­er­ty of con­science inse­cure, I beg you will be per­suad­ed, that no one would be more zeal­ous than myself to estab­lish effec­tu­al bar­ri­ers against the hor­rors of spir­i­tu­al tyran­ny, and every species of reli­gious per­se­cu­tion.”
~~ Let­ter to the Unit­ed Bap­tist Cham­ber of Vir­ginia, May 1789

Thomas Jef­fer­son

The legit­i­mate pow­ers of gov­ern­ment extend to such acts only as are inju­ri­ous to oth­ers. But it does me no injury for my neigh­bor to say there are twen­ty gods, or no God. It nei­ther picks my pock­et nor breaks my leg.” ~~ Notes on the State of Vir­ginia , 1781 – 1785

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.” ~~ let­ter to Alexan­der von Hum­boldt, Decem­ber 6, 1813

John Adams

The Gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States is not in any sense found­ed upon the Chris­t­ian Reli­gion.” 1797, The Treaty of Tripoli, ini­ti­at­ed by Pres­i­dent Wash­ing­ton, signed by Pres­i­dent John Adams, and approved by the Sen­ate of the Unit­ed States

Thir­teen gov­ern­ments [of the orig­i­nal states] thus found­ed on the nat­ur­al author­i­ty of the peo­ple alone, with­out a pre­tence of mir­a­cle or mys­tery, and which are des­tined to spread over the north­ern part of that whole quar­ter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. ~~ “A Defence of the Con­sti­tu­tions of Gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca” 1787–1788

Thomas Paine

As to reli­gion, I hold it to be the indis­pens­able duty of gov­ern­ment to pro­tect all con­sci­en­tious pro­test­ers there­of, and I know of no oth­er busi­ness gov­ern­ment has to do there­with. ” ~~ Com­mon Sense, 1776.

Per­se­cu­tion is not an orig­i­nal fea­ture in any reli­gion; but it is always the strong­ly marked fea­ture of all reli­gions estab­lished by law.” ~~ The Rights of Man, 1791–1792

All nation­al insti­tu­tions of church­es, whether Jew­ish, Chris­t­ian or Turk­ish, appear to me no oth­er than human inven­tions, set up to ter­ri­fy and enslave mankind, and monop­o­lize pow­er and prof­it.”

Ben­jamin Franklin

When a reli­gion is good, I con­ceive it will sup­port itself; and when it does not sup­port itself so that its pro­fes­sors are oblig­ed to call for the help of the civ­il pow­er, ’tis a sign, I appre­hend, of its being a bad one.”

James Madi­son

[T]he num­ber, the indus­try, and the moral­i­ty of the Priest­hood, & the devo­tion of the peo­ple have been man­i­fest­ly increased by the total sep­a­ra­tion of the Church from the State.” ~~ -Let­ter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819
“The civ­il gov­ern­ment … func­tions with com­plete suc­cess … by the total sep­a­ra­tion of the Church from the State.”
~ Writ­ings, 1819

Because the Bill [to insti­tute an assess­ment to fund teach­ers of Chris­tian­i­ty] implies either that the Civ­il Mag­is­trate is a com­pe­tent Judge of Reli­gious Truth; or that he may employ Reli­gion as an engine of Civ­il pol­i­cy. The first is an arro­gant pre­ten­sion fal­si­fied by the con­tra­dic­to­ry opin­ions of Rulers in all ages, and through­out the world: the sec­ond an unhal­lowed per­ver­sion of the means of sal­va­tion.” ~~ Memo­r­i­al and Remon­strance Against Reli­gious Assess­ments, 1785

Alexan­der Hamil­ton

[I]n pol­i­tics as in reli­gion, it is equal­ly absurd to aim at mak­ing pros­e­lytes by fire and sword. Here­sies in either can rarely be cured by per­se­cu­tion.”

The [pres­i­dent] has no par­ti­cle of spir­i­tu­al juris­dic­tion.…”

Sad to say that times are not chang­ing fast enough, and humans are not evolv­ing quick­ly enough. We still need laws to pro­tect those mem­bers of soci­ety who need pro­tec­tion, and pro­tect­ing them DOES NOTHING to abridge the rights of oth­ers. Here’s an exam­ple:

You can’t drink out of this foun­tain because you’re ___________”

Fill in that blank and tell me why mak­ing that state­ment is NOT dis­crim­i­na­tion. I’m open. I’m sure there are some state­ments that are not. But the ones Mr. Gra­ham is rav­ing about are ALL dis­crim­i­na­tion.