Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Footnote on Separation of Church and State

To be fair, Jefferson DID mention the words "Separation between Church and State" when addressing a Baptist Congregation once, to reassure them that the state would not try to dictate what they could say.

I contemplate with solemn 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.

Christian Antagonists love to quote the first part of that "no law respecting an establishment of..." but ingnore the "or prohibiting the free exercise of" part. It was meant to protect religious freedom, not to remove religion from society. The intent was to protect churches from the meddlings of the state.

1 comment:

Tom Leith said...

> The intent was to protect churches
> from the meddlings of the state.

Well..... MAYBE that was one intent.

In the main it was to prevent the state making mandatory a particular religion, or supressing one, as you said in the sentence before this. The protection of Churches from meddling in Church affairs is traditional, and not really addressed by the Constitution. There simply was no need. This is why even today the state is loathe to get involved even when there seems to be a very good reason to: the recent scandals of gay priests & adolescents buggering come to mind.