Separation of Church and State
The 1st amendment of the US Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What does “congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion” mean? Quite literally this means there will be no Church of the United States in the vein of The Church of England. During the colonial era the Church of England was established as the church or religious institution of England. In other words the federal government cannot set up a federal church or tell you what to believe or how to worship, if at all.
As mentioned the fact that congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of a religion simply means the federal government cannot dictate your religious beliefs or that way you say or show them. Interestingly the next item in this amendment tells congress they cannot abridge our freedom of speech.
We have all heard presidents call the nation to pray or remember in our prayers someone or something that is going on. President Obama asked us to keep congresswoman Giffords in our prayers. President Lincoln decided to “designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion. “The founding fathers did not intend to preclude a person’s religious ideals from their service to the country. As a matter of fact John Adams and John Hancock stated: “We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” [April 18, 1775] John Adams also stated “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
Benjamin Franklin said “God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 |
Patrick Henry stated that “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]
Thomas Jefferson himself stated "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
Does this sound like people who wanted to have us hide our beliefs while in a government run building or institution? As Patrick Henry stated in his speech noted above “For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” They were not afraid to declare their beliefs or to deny others, even those with differing views, the right to adhere to the principles of their personal beliefs. Indeed you have the right to not believe in a god, to worship yourself, others, animals or the earth itself. And I have the right to worship Jesus Christ and show this by reading a bible in a public or government building including schools!