This document consists of notes that I took while watching an informative DVD from WallBuilders.  I hope that you can get something from them.

Separation of Church and State

From: The Foundations Of American Government by David Barton (DVD)

P.O. Box 397
Aledo, TX  76008
(817) 441-6044


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“Separation of church and state” appears in NO founding document

U.S. Congressional Records
June 7-Sept. 25, 1789
Clearly show the intent of the First Amendment:

Sept. 3, 1789 (House of Representatives)

(1st draft) “Congress shall not make any law establishing any religious denomination.”

(2nd draft) “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination.”

(3rd draft) “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination in preference to others.”

(Final) “Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Sept. 20 1789, Fisher Ames offered the final wording for the First Amendment.

January 1801, in an article for a national magazine, Fisher Ames wrote, concerning new textbooks being introduced into the schools:

“Why then, if these books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the bible regain the place it once held as a school book?  Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble.”  “In no book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant; and by teaching all the same book, they will speak alike, and the bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith.  A barbarous provincial jargon will be banished, and taste, corrupted by pompous Johnsonian affection, will be restored.”

Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and served presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  He was a great policy maker and leading educator and one of the first founding fathers to call for free public schools under the Constitution.

In an educational policy paper that he authored in 1791, he wrote:

“In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament, that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them.”

Noah Webster was an educator, founding father, soldier, legislator, judge and was responsible for Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.  In a textbook that he authored for students, he wrote, why serious social problems might befall America:

“All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

Oct. 11. 1798, in an address to the military, President John Adams stated:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” “Our constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

George Washington’s Farewell Address has not been seen in most American history textbooks in nearly four decades.  In this farewell address, he gave two foundations for political prosperity: (1) religion & (2) morality.

Excerpts from George Washington’s Farewell Address:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars.”  “Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”  Where is the security for life, for reputation and for property, if the sense of religious obligation desert?”

Robert Winthrop, an early Speaker of the House of Representatives said:

“Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them, either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association in Danbury, Connecticut, heard a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was going to be made the Nationalist denomination.  They fired off a letter of protest to the President, Thomas Jefferson.  On January the first, 1802, Jefferson wrote them back, explaining there was no basis for their fear for the establishment of any national denomination for, as he said, the First Amendment had built a wall of separation of church and state.

From Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association Jan. 1, 1802:

“The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state.”

This letter was used in Reynolds vs. United States, Oct. 1878, in its entirety:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions,-- 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.  Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

The court said this in the Reynolds vs. United States decision:

“Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinions, but was left free to reach [only those religious] actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.”  The rightful purpose of civil governments is:  “for its officers to interfere [with religion only] when [religious] principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.  In [this is] found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the state.”

However, in 1947, in the case of Everson vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court used only the phrase ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’, completely divorced  from its context and intent, stating:

“The First Amendment has erected a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’  That wall must be kept high and impregnable.”

Then, on June 25, 1962, in the case of Engel v. Vitale, the court redefined the word ‘church’ in the phrase ‘separation of church and state.’ This case for the first time separated Christian principles from education.  It struck down school prayer.  For 170 years before the case, the court defined “church” as being a federally established denomination.  This 1962 case redefined “church” to mean any religious activity performed in public.  The current doctrine defining “separation of church and state” is brand new.  This has led to cases such as Stone v. Graham, 1980 in which the court ruled that:

“If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments… [which] is not a permissible… objective.”

In the last 30 years (as of 1992), 6,000 court cases have challenged religious expression in public.

The negative impact on society predicted by the founding fathers has manifested since the redefinition of the word ‘church’ in 1962.

Now, though, some courts and Congress are returning to the original meaning and intent:

Ø      Westside v. Mergens (1990) reinstates prayer and Bible clubs on public school campuses

Ø      1981 Adolescent Family Life Act: offered federal grant money to any group teaching pre-marital sexual abstinence.

Ø      Kendrick v. Bowen: The Supreme Court reversed the lower court in ruling that abstinence could be taught.  Since then, nearly one dozen major abstinence curriculums have been reintroduced into public schools.

o       Comprehensive Sex Education Curriculums

§         Nearly 65% of students have this material taught to them.

§         Out of every 1,000 girls in these courses, 113 become pregnant.

o       Abstinance Curriculums

·        In some of these, only 4 girls out of 1,000 become pregnant.

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