It’s sad that Democrats and the media can get away with these distortions. Their agenda is to portray Delaware US Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell as unfit for office. So, when she said, in a debate with her opponent, Chris Coons, that “separation of church and state” is not in the US Constitution, they ridicule her.
But, as serious students of the Constitution all know, she is right. The first amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The term “separation of church and state” has its origin in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in the first year of his presidency, defending himself against political opponents. The phrase became a part of constitutional law in a 1947 decision of the Supreme Court. Thus it is not in the Constitution, but is an interpretation of the Constitution. (See the article on the Heritage Foundation website on separation of church and state.)
Separation of Church and State is not Separation of Religion and State
But here I have a pet peeve. I accept Jefferson’s statement that there should be a wall of separation between Church and State. But that notion has been twisted to separation of religion and State. The concepts are very different. Church is organized religion. A manger scene is not Church, it is religion. Mass is Church. Priests and Pastors are Church. Liturgy is Church. Prayer isn’t Church, it is religion. The ten commandments aren’t Church. The government should not endorse one Church over another.
The foundation of our laws and morality are in judeo-christian ethics. You can’t separate religion and government, because government has to recognize some morality or other, and morality is religion. Whether that religion is Christianity, Islam, Secularism, or any other body of belief, it is still a religion. From Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary: “Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.”
Hey, Environmentalism is Religion!
If you say that religion and state must be separated, then I would contend that environmentalism, or the worship of the earth, is religion. Heck, liberalism is religion. I remember clearly a caller several months ago to the Mark Levin show, a Jew who was an atheist who said that liberalism was his religion.
If Liberals continue to insist that we separate religion and government, then let’s say okay – we can agree to keep your religion of Liberalism out of government. Yeah, I could go for that!
See my web page on Separation of Church and State.