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Virginia C. Armstrong, Ph.D., National Chairman

The Inevitability of Inseparability: Church and State

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
— United States Constitution, Amendment 1

During the last two years, America's federal courts have rendered a spate of unprecedented, unconstitutional decisions. Courts have rejected the Pledge of Allegiance, the public display of the Ten Commandments, and state sodomy laws. Other courts are already considering challenges to the new federal partial birth abortion ban. And the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will soon hear (on March 2) the first ever serious challenge to the Supreme Court's egregious 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade. At the heart of all these controversies is the clash between the Judeo-Christian and Humanistic world views, each of which rests on a set of religious principles. This fundamental clash has, however, been obscured by the deceptive argument of Humanists that Judeo-Christian values must be excised from public policy in order to avoid violation of the "separation of church and state" requirement. Major truths about this separation myth are summarized here.

  1. The Constitution contains no phrases requiring "a wall of separation between church and state." This phrase was read into the Constitution by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1947 in its decision in Everson v. Board of Education. The Court quoted from a letter written in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, which had experienced persecution for its faith. This letter has no legal force whatsoever and is an invalid source of constitutional law. Furthermore, Jefferson also recognized that the purpose of the "Establishment Clause" was jurisdictional--prohibiting NATIONAL government power over any religious issues and reserving such power to the STATE government "as far as it can be in any human authority." Today's courts, in reading the Establishment Clause to invalidate STATE laws, thus go opposite to both the constitutional document and Jefferson's views.

  2. The Framers of the Constitution (both the original document and the First Amendment) did not intend for religious views and values to be separated from constitutional/political values. "The general principles on which the [Founding] fathers achieved independence werethe general principles of Christianity" (John Adams, 1813). "A Christian world and life view furnished the basis for [the] early political thought which guided the American peopleand whose crowning lay in the writing of the Constitution of 1787" (Phi Beta Kappa historian, Dr. Gregg Singer, 1964).

  3. The U. S. Supreme Court does not require a "total separation" between "church and state." In 1931, the Court declared that "[w]e are a Christian people." (United States v. McIntosh). The Court ruled in 1971 that "Our prior holdings [concerning the Establishment Clause] do not call for total separation between church and state; total separation is not possible in an absolute sense. ...the line of separation far from being a 'wall,' is a blurred, indistinct, and variable barrier." (Lemon v. Kurtzman).

  4. A total separation of church and state is impossible. The Supreme Court recognized this truth in its Lemon decision (see #3. above). Legal scholars agree. "The extreme to which a government can be neutral and equally tolerant of all deeply held values, including religious beliefs, has very definite limits. . Increasingly, government will be compelled to make choices between conflicting values, including religious values" (Law professor Carl Esbeck, 1982).

  5. Any effort to separate totally religious values from political/legal values is extremely dangerous. First, the Constitution would fail. "Our constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the governance of any other" (John Adams, 1789). Second, our precious liberties would have no protection. "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a Gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever" (Thomas Jefferson, 1785).

What Can We Do?

Congress can curb the courts! Read two of the best bills, H.R. 3313 and H.R.3799/S.2082.