“Separation of Church and State”; Is It In The Constitution?
By Matthew Desmond
The separation of church and state is an issue that is widely debated throughout America. I chose this topic for my first post (I’m not sure if I should call it a blog, or article or something else) is because this is something I believe in very strongly. The marriage of religion to politics is something I believe our Founding Fathers were firmly against. Each of my posts on this site will include a quote or two from the Founding Fathers that I think accurately conveys how they felt about religion and politics.
I would like to state first and foremost that the term “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution, but it is clear, from the Constitution, that the Founders wanted to keep religion and politics separate. In Article IV of the Constitution it states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This states clearly that religious beliefs should have no bearing on whether someone is fit to hold public office, or to earn the trust of the public.
In Amendment I of the constitution it states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” Taken out of context it’s very easy for people that don’t believe in a separation of church and state to say that this does not clearly state that there should be a separation of church and state. This is incorrect, while the term “separation of church and state was not specifically used in the Amendment, in 1802 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Church that said, “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.”
It’s pretty clear just from those 2 sentences that the Founding Fathers didn’t want someone’s worth or ability to hold office to be determined by their religious affiliation. It’s also clear that they didn’t want religion and politics to become intertwined, and that no law should dictate whether or not someone has to have a religious affiliation.
The words “separation of church and state” might not be directly in the constitution, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t The Founders intentions. Using their own words at the end of each of my editorials I will show you that they thought religion had no place in politics.
“Strongly guarded is the separation between religion and government in
the Constitution of the United States.” – James Madison
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Thomas cooper 1814