From Stephen Mansfield and USAToday.
Religion now rests in a tortured place in society today, thanks largely to unfortunate and misguided rulings of the Supreme Court
“Two days after he wrote the famous words “separation between church and state” in an 1802 letter to Baptists in , Thomas Jefferson began attending church — on the floor of the House of Representatives. He would attend the makeshift church in the national Capitol nearly every Sunday morning for the rest of his presidency. Clearly, his understanding of the connection between religion and government is not the one we endure today.
We should not be surprised. It was Jefferson, after all, who insisted upon the Bible as part of the curriculum at the a Catholic priest to serve the Kaskaski Indians, and Jefferson who once said, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which he (Jesus) wished anyone to be.” True, he was far from theologically orthodox, he expected most of the young men in his day to end their lives as Unitarians and he angrily despised the clergy of his day. Yet, contrary to the secular dreams of an influential few today, Jefferson envisioned a government that would encourage religion while neither submitting to nor erecting a religious tyranny. , Jefferson who approved federal funding for
Even if Jefferson had envisioned a secular state, it would have made little difference in the early history of our nation. It was not his words that carried the force of law — written as they were 14 years after the Constitution was ratified — but rather the 10 words that are undoubtedly the most tortured in our history: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” These words, the first 10 of our Bill of Rights, make the intentions of the Founding Fathers clear. Having just fought a war of independence against England and her state church, they had no intention of allowing the U.S. Congress the authority to erect a new religious tyranny to dominate their young nation. Instead, they denied Congress the power to create a national church. The states and the individual citizens, of course, were free to be as religious as they wanted to be.”
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