WARNING: ANOTHER INFURIATING ARTICLE. DON’T READ THIS. I’M WARNING YOU! THIS DOESN’T APPLY TO ALL SCHOOLS AND ALL TEACHERS AND CERTAINLY NOT TO YOU.
Dear Rev. Know-it-all,
What is the correct definition of Separation of Church & State?
God bless you & thank you!
It is interesting to note that this phrase doesn’t appear in the constitution. It is a phrase taken from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist church, which I will quote in its entirety
To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.GentlemenThe affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.Th JeffersonJan. 1. 1802.
So, there you have it. The first amendment of our national constitution states that the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” The Constitution does not mandate a separation church and state. Thomas Jefferson does. The constitution forbids the restriction of the free exercise of religion. Now for a little history...
The colonists were in revolt against a country whose king was both head of state and head of the national church. To this day no Catholic may be king of England. The Church of England had recently fought a bloody civil war to keep a Catholic off the throne of England, reasoning that England was a Protestant country. The Anglican Church, a hybrid of Catholic ritual and Protestant theology was the ESTABLISHED religion of England. The colonies weren’t opposed to established religion as such, just to the established religion of the King of England.
The American colonies had their own established religions. The thirteen American colonies all had some form of state-supported religion. There were tax benefits for church and clergy and religious membership in Protestant churches was necessary for voting and for being elected to the state legislatures. These were not finally removed from state constitutions until the second half of the nineteenth century. Allow me to quote the constitution of the great state of New Hampshire as it stood until 1877:
“ No person shall be capable of being elected a senator who is not of the Protestant religion... Every member of the house of representatives... shall be of the Protestant religion...”
The US constitution forbad the establishment of a national religion, but the states continued to establish particular religions as official state religions. Well into the twentieth century a kind of generic Protestantism was taught in the public, (or government) schools. We Catholics established our own school system to protect our children from the “protestantization” that was thought necessary to good American citizenship.
So to answer your question, the American understanding of the separation of church and state is that the US federal government may not establish a national religion and may not impede the free exercise of religion, provided my religion does not hurt another by, for instance, human sacrifice. I could stop here, but of course, will not.
There is, contrary to the constitution, a new attempt to establish a national religion. That religion is the logical outgrowth of the Protestantism which was the religion of the individual states until only recently. The founding principle of Protestantism is not as most people presume, salvation by grace through faith, and a belief in Bible alone. It is the supremacy of the individual.
Martin Luther overthrew the papacy, and thought he would in effect be the temporary pope of a reformed Christianity. When people began to break images, deface churches and kill the aristocracy during Luther’s brief exile in the Wartburg castle, Luther was furious. This was, after all, his revolution. He would dictate its terms. But poor Martin had let the genie out of the bottle, and it was Luther’s successor, John Calvin, who threw away the cork when he declared that the individual inspired by the Holy Spirit was sufficient for the interpretation of Scripture and that the Church was no more than the local congregation.
These were the founding principles of the Untied States. No pope, no bishop, no king, no priest. God alone as I understand him. Every man his own pope! Let me coin a word. I shall call this American religion “autopapism.” America is the first and the greatest autopapist country, leading the world into a kind of sacred anarchy, in which people are free to be spiritual as they define it. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
I have nothing against autopapism, though I think it is a silly religion that will ultimately destroy the country, but that’s just my opinion, which the constitution says I am free to have. The problem is the increasing establishment of autopapism as the national religion. An established religion means $$MONEY$$, government $$MONEY$$. Where does the government get its $$MONEY$$? Out of your pocket and mine. That means if autopapism is the established religion, it is I, a turgid Roman Catholic who believes that the Bavarian in Rome can and should influence my thoughts and conduct, must pay for your religion. That is the nature of established religion. It takes $$MONEY$$ from the government which in turn takes its $$MONEY$$ from me. This has two ramifications. (Ramification; great word, no?)
The first ramification of the establishment of national autopapism is this: I am forced to pay for the dictates of your conscience which means I must provide you with the sacraments of autopapism, such as birth control, abortion, spousal benefits for whatever or whomever you want to marry, your sex change operation if you are so inspired by your own particular deity. I must pay for insurance for any disease that your particular religion requires you to contract. I am not asking you to pay for my candles and altar wine, nor my chanting and stained glass windows. Why should I pay for the autopapist sacraments of human sacrifice and physical mutilation that masquerade as medical necessities to which all should have access?
The second ramification of the establishment of national autopapism this: Heaven forfend that a penny of government $$MONEY$$ go to pay for Catholic schools, but I must pay for the government (most people call them public) schools in which people are taught the only commandment of autopapism, that the only thing which cannot be tolerated is intolerance (which non-autopapists practice by definition. Non-autopapists claim that some people may not go to heaven because they do hideous things to themselves and others. The autopapist church teaches that everyone has a right to everything and that includes heaven. How dare the nasty Bavarian in Rome even think that somebody may be denied the vision of God!!! And God had better watch out, too. God, if she exists, has no right to deny me what I want or condemn me. It is a free country after all!)
There is a kind of clergy for the autopapist church and a kind of Vatican. The National Education Association claims to represent government school teachers in this country. It has a budget of about $350 Million garnered from the dues of its members. The Catholic, old fashioned Vatican has a budget of a little less ($326.4 Million in 2011). However, the dues paying members of the NEA are government employees, and the national religion of tolerance is supervised by a wing of the government, the United States Department of Education, a Cabinet-level department of the United States government. We, the purveyors of the old time religion, are not, at least in America, government employees and don’t thus far have a seat on the president’s cabinet. So you see, the old Protestantism which was the established religion of “the several states” and controlled the state schools has been replaced by its logical descendant, autopapism which still controls the schools and whose liturgy is celebrated on all the morning TV talk shows that masquerade as news. The new religion enjoys the lofty vantage point of an established national religion with its chair in the white house cabinet room and you and I must pay for it through the nose. I am all for the separation of church and state in the present America. I wish the autopapists agreed with me.
the Reverend Know-it-all.