On March 20, 2016 at 11:15, roddymcg said...
The term is used frequently and was used by Thomas Jefferson. Even back then the founding fathers were afraid of religion in the government. Something Cruz and many right wing nut jobs like to dismiss.
Or maybe he knows there is more to the story. Sometimes the story is abridged to meet a prescribed viewpoint. "Afraid of religion in the government" is patently untrue. A majority of the signers of the declaration (up to 85%, based only upon their own writings, which we have) were openly religious and some of them pastors/ministers. They saw the need of religion to guide government, so they regularly appointed chaplains. Yes the congress did appoint chaplains, one time on the same day the 1st amendment was ratified. Conflict, or have we lost the original meaning?
The distinction here is important. They did not fear religion in government at all; but seeing religion IN CHARGE of government (a la Great Britain and the Anglican Church) they did not want to repeat that scenario here. That is why the wording is so precise. They insisted government could not *establish* religion, but neither should it *prohibit* or suppress it.
"Separation of church and state" is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Either way, the "separation" phrase has since been repeatedly used by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Jefferson used that phrase in a letter to a particular church group and not in any government document, and was used to indicate his unwillingness to intervene in the exercise of religion in Connecticut. The phrase in that letter was not brought to light until 1947, when the Supreme Court plucked it out and used it to set a new policy that Jefferson himself would have fought against. While he did not approve of states establishing their own religions in these early days of our nation, he also knew the federal government had no right to prohibit it. The 1947 ruling thus has been built on by other courts wishing to eject the *free exercise* of religion in public life. Please note that many current fights erupt over things like prayer that are not government sponsored, just freely exercised. This is not a violation of that clause.
Depending on how old you are, you may or may not remember when prayers were routinely offered (freely that is) in public schools in the United States. Over time, as judges make more and more laws, and interpret cases based on other interpretations, rather than interpreting the original statute, prayers have become forbidden. Jefferson would have fought against this. His own writings bear this out.
Also it is instructive to note Jefferson was by no means a religious nut job, but in fact was more moderate or liberal in his religious observance.