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Almost all Americans have heard the phrase “separation of church and state.” However, fewer realize the phrase is not in the Constitution.
Almost all Americans have heard the phrase “separation of church and state.” It has been used as something of a club to “beat down” and eliminate Christianity from public places, including symbols (like crosses), Bible reading and prayer in public schools, and the teaching of creation in science classes.
Now, where does the phrase “separation of church and state” come from? It is not a part of the original U.S. Constitution of 1787, as most people falsely believe, or in any of its amendments. In reality, the idea of a “wall of separation” between church and state came from a private letter from President Thomas Jefferson, and it has sadly been misused to slowly, but surely, eliminate Christianity from the public sector—and replace it with an anti-God religion.
The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment was intended to protect the church from the (federal) government, not the government from the church. Therefore, no “national” church or religion is allowed to be established by the federal government.
I will highlight key words of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .
Today, secular scholars have turned the so-called “wall” metaphor completely on its head.
You can see that the “separation of church and state” phrase is nowhere in the Amendment (or the rest of the Constitution). The 1802 letter from Jefferson was sent to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut in response to the group’s letter to him. Jefferson was trying to assure the Baptists that the federal government would never be permitted to interfere with the church. In fact, in his letter, Jefferson states:
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, and 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 and state.1
Today, secular scholars have lifted the Danbury letter out of its entire historical context and have turned the so-called “wall” metaphor completely on its head.
This would have been an entirely foreign and unintended concept to the Founding Fathers.
“Separation of church and state” is now used to protect the government from the influence of the church—establishing a policy of freedom “from” religion, which in reality has become “separation of Christianity and state.” This would have been an entirely foreign and unintended concept to the Founding Fathers.
Sadly, most Americans (Christians included) have also been duped into believing that the so-called “separation of church and state” requires eliminating the Christian God and creating a neutral situation. But there is no such position as neutrality. Indeed, one is either for Christ or against Him (Matthew 12:30)!
The religion of naturalism (atheism) has been imposed on the public education system, and on the culture as a whole. For instance, science textbooks in the public schools now typically define science as naturalism (atheism):
Science requires repeatable observations and testable hypotheses. These standards restrict science to a search for natural causes for natural phenomena . . . . Supernatural explanations of natural events are simply outside the bounds of science.2
In keeping with this pronouncement, these books teach molecules-to-man evolution, based only on unproven natural processes, as fact! In other words, they have eliminated the supernatural and replaced it with naturalism. In reality, they have eliminated the Christian worldview and replaced it with a secular, atheistic one!
Sadly, because many Christians have falsely believed that there can be a neutral position, and have also been duped regarding the so-called “separation of church and state,” they are not prepared to boldly and unashamedly stand on the Word of God as they confront issues like abortion, “gay” marriage, racism, etc. By shrinking back, believers have allowed the secularists to impose their anti-God atheistic religion on the public schools—and the culture as a whole.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.