|To the Editor: More on 'separation of church and state'|
|Written by Chris Jackson|
|Wednesday, 11 July 2012 09:14|
I write in response to the 7/5/12 letter of Gerry A. Troyer regarding First Amendment rights and the "separation of church and state". He wrote criticizing a letter from Lloyd Jones that asked that elected officials avoid 'National Day of Prayer' activities. His position is based on the view that the actual words "separation of church and state" are not in the First Amendment.
It is true that the literal phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution, but that does not mean that the concept isn't there. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…."
What does that mean? In an 1802 letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson, then president, declared that the American people through the First Amendment had erected a "wall of separation between church and state."
Jefferson, however, was not the only leading figure of the post-revolutionary period to use the term separation.
James Madison, considered to be the Father of the Constitution, said in an 1819 letter, "The number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state."
As church-state scholar Leo Pfeffer notes in his book, Church, State, and Freedom, "It is true, of course, that the phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the Constitution. But it was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so clearly and widely held by the American people. The right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term 'fair trial' is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer to home, who would deny that 'religious liberty' is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance of all these terms, including 'separation of church and state,' have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles."
Thus, it is entirely appropriate to speak of the 'constitutional principle of church and state separation' since that phrase summarizes what the First Amendment's religion clauses do - they separate church and state.
Our local elected officials should respect this separation and not participate in these religious activities.
Front Page Stories
|Photographer finds picture perfect career
05/18/2013 | JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor
Elizabeth Lee. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune) A passion for photography ha [ ... ]
|Pemberville woman fights incurable disease|
05/18/2013 | PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Karen Williams talks about scleroderma with her husband Charles at their home in Pemberv [ ... ]