What Separation of Church and State?
February 7, 2002
South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon recently said that America's National Motto, "In God We Trust," may be legally placed in public schools in South Carolina. He said that the phrase is a symbol of patriotism and of the religious heritage of our country.
The ACLU has threatened to sue based on the so-called "separation of church and state." However, the modern concept of "separation of church and state" has no basis in constitutional law and would not be supported by the Founding Fathers of the United States.
In fact, the men who shaped America believed so strongly in the importance of Christian principles that many of our nationís public buildings and historical documents contain references to God and the Bible.
Here are just a few examples:
- The Ten Commandments hang on the wall in the Supreme Court
- "In God We Trust" is inscribed on the walls of the U.S. House and Senate chambers
- The figure of the crucified Christ is found in the Capitol rotunda building
- The carving "The New Testament according to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" is located on the capital dome
- "Annuit Coeptis," the Great Seal of the United States, literally means, "God has smiled on our undertaking"
- "This nation under God" is inscribed under the seal from Lincolnís Gettysburg Address
- Psalm 19:1 and Micah 6:8 adorn the walls of the Library of Congress
- "Praise be to God" is engraved on the metal cap and numerous Scripture verses that apply the Christian faith to government link the stairwell of the Washington Monument
- The Declaration of Independence says that human rights come from our "Creator," refers to God as the "Supreme Judge of the world" and speaks of the "protection of Divine providence"
- "In God We Trust" is engraved on U.S. currency
It is undeniable that the men who founded this country relied on their personal faith in God as the philosophical foundation for this country. Although the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof," that does not mean that there is a constitutionally required "separation of church and state." That phrase is not in the U.S. Constitution nor is it in any other founding document. Look it up! You won't find it.
In 1799, the courts ruled in Runkel v. Winemiller that the intent of the First Amendment was to prevent one denomination from ruling America. One of the primary reasons why the colonists fled Great Britain was to obtain religious freedom. A young America allowed its citizens to choose their own religion and did not want to dictate any specific religion to rule America. However, there were certain denominations that were concerned that one denomination would be chosen over all others. This led Thomas Jefferson to respond to their concerns.
Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut on January 1, 1802. Jeffersonís letter stated that "the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state." Jefferson further expressed in his letter that the government would not interfere with the wall that protects the church from government control and that churches would always have free religious expression.
This non-legal letter of clarification on the meaning of the First Amendment remained in obscurity for nearly 150 years!
In modern society, though, all we hear about is the "separation of church and state" without any regard for the context that Jefferson meant with his words. How did we get to this point?
After several unsuccessful attempts by anti-religion zealots to introduce Jefferson's letter into the court system, the Supreme Court heard the landmark precedent case, Emerson v. Board of Education (1947). Rather than using Jefferson's entire letter, the Court only used 8 words from it in their decision: "a wall of separation between church and state."
As a result of this decision in 1947, the phrase "separation of church and state" became a regular part of the Supreme Court's lexicon of describing areas of constitutionality. In Baer v. Kohmorgan (1958), a dissenting justice warned that continuing to talk about the "separation of church and state" would make people think it was part of the U.S. Constitution. By not heeding this warning, the Supreme Court would make some decisions that would adversely effect many future generations.
Pandora's box had been opened!
In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court used the phrase "separation of church and state" to rid prayer from public schools. One year later, the Court ruled that Bible reading was unconstitutional. This was the first time in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court that not one single precedent court case was used to justify their decision. The reason they did not use precedent was because there was none. After 200 years of acknowledging the Christian heritage that America was founded on, the Christian faith was forcibly removed from public schools for the first time in the history of the United States.
Statistics undeniably prove that since God was taken out of schools in 1963, there has been a dramatic increase in teen sexual activity, teen pregnancy, teen venereal disease, juvenile delinquency, illegal drug use and violent crimes. Furthermore, SAT scores dropped and continue to do so to this day. Is this a coincidence? Our Founding Fathers warned us of certain destruction if we ever turned our back on the providential hand of God.
Getting back to the issue of putting our National Motto in public schools, what harm will it cause our kids to have "In God We Trust" hanging on the walls of their schools?
Even the ACLU has backed off of fighting this in recent years. After the Michigan legislature voted nearly unanimously to put the National Motto in public schools, ACLU Michigan Executive Director Carrie Moss told The Kalamazoo Gazette that "('In God we trust') is language that has been upheld by the Supreme Court for our money ó they decided it didn't necessarily promote any religion, so I think it would be difficult to make an issue about it."
Without any legal backbone, the ACLU has now resorted to threatening local school districts behind the scenes to try to scare them away from posting "In God We Trust" in their schools.
The "In God We Trust" initiative is one that is rapidly spreading all across America. South Carolina should take the lead on this issue and immediately plaster posters with our National Motto on it in every school in South Carolina.
I dare the ACLU to threaten a lawsuit. Bring it on! This is an issue of giving credence to the historical groundwork of our country. It is also an acknowledgement of the faith of our Founding Fathers. Most importantly, it recognizes that America still trusts in God. If Americans really trust God to bless and protect our country, then we need to start acting like it!
God doesn't believe in the separation of church and state!