Separation of Church and State Home Page
Their Claim

Vine & Fig Tree's Anti Separation Page
Our rebuttal

The Hidden Agenda of
The "Separation of Church and State"
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The Separationists begin their site with a modest definition:

"What do we mean by separation of church and state?" We ask, What do they REALLY mean by "separation of church and state?"
"Separation of church and state refers to the limits our Constitution places on the power of the government (both federal and state) to legislate about religion." Nobody disagrees with this. Right-wing eyebrows might be raised about the phrase suggesting that the Constitution limits the states' power (the Constitution did no such thing), but other than that, who would disagree with this?
On the "Is Separationism Anti-Religious?" page we are told:
"On any reckoning of the evidence, separation of church and state has characterized the life of our country. In contrast to other Western nations, Americans have never been expected to adhere to a national religion or support a national clergy." Nobody on the religious right wants the government telling people where to go to church. Nobody wants the government levying taxes in order to pay the salaries of clergy.

Why are they so afraid the religious right is against such a version of "separation?" Why an entire web site in defense of this position?

Because there's really more to "the separation of church and state" than a limitation on the governments power with regard to churches.

  Any examination of American Constitutional history which is not weighed down with anti-Christian hostilities will discover the meaning of the phrase "establishment of religion." It had nothing to do with taking prayer and Bible reading out of schools. It had nothing to do with purging all public references to God and confining Christianity to the private recesses of the individual mind.

In 1963, before the current myth of "separation" had fully evolved, the Institute for Church-State Law of the Georgetown University Law Center published a study entitled Freedom from Federal Establishment: Formation and Early History of the First Amendment Religion Clauses (Antieau, Downey, and Roberts, eds.). Their examination of the laws and controversies of Colonial and Revolutionary America make plain that the First Amendment was designed to prohibit the following:

  1. A state church officially recognized and protected by the sovereign;
  2. A state church whose members alone were eligible to vote, to hold public office, and to practice a profession;
  3. A state church which compelled religious orthodoxy under penalty of fine and imprisonment;
  4. A state church willing to expel dissenters from the commonwealth;
  5. A state church financed by taxes upon all members of the community;
  6. A state church which alone could freely hold public worship and evangelize;
  7. A state church which alone could perform valid marriages, burials, etc.

Nearly all of these had been eliminated by all of the states before the Constitution was even drafted. Most of the changes came about after 1776: The Church of England had been the established religion in many states, and that was clearly no option after the Revolution. The First Amendment did not make radical changes, it protected what had already been achieved by the Revolution.

Nobody in America today wants one denomination to have legal privileges over another denomination. Nobody opposes the Separation of Church and State as the Framers understood it.

So what is the problem?

"Our belief (one shared by the vast majority of legal and historical scholars who have studied the issue) is that the Constitution places religion almost wholly outside the reach of government." This is misleading. If one man's religion says he should build an altar in his front yard and start sacrificing virgins, and his neighbor's religion says he should "rescue those unjustly sentenced to die" (Proverbs 24:11), is this controversy "wholly outside the reach of government?"

In the first century of government under the Constitution, courts routinely declared that this is a Christian nation. Everyone understood that what the Constitution prohibited was laws which gave preference to one religious denomination over another, levied taxes to support the clergy of one denomination over another, or forced people to worship in ways that violated their conscience.

Just because one man's religion says he should have 100 wives does not prevent the government from passing laws against polygamy. Not in a Christian nation.

"In particular, we believe that the Constitution delegates no power to government over religious affairs, and that the First Amendment explicitly prohibits the government from establishing or controlling religion. The effect of this arrangement is to leave Americans free to worship, believe, and support religion as they see fit." If "religious affairs" means the government and worship of particular ecclesiastical organizations, Who denies this?

There isn't a single member of the Religious Right who wants the federal government to levy taxes in support of one or all denominations, or make one form of worship required by law.

"Additionally, we believe that separation deprives government of its ability to coerce adherence to religion, or to compel the support of religion against an individual's will." Who denies this? Who are the Bad Guys that Separationists fear are going to coerce belief or force individuals to support churches they aren't members of? This battle was decided 230 years ago.
  What Separationists really fear is the idea held by our Forefathers, affirmed by the Framers of the Constitution, and repeated numerous times by the U.S. Supreme Court: that America is a Christian nation (with no one Christian denomination receiving legal privileges over any other).

The truth comes out here.

Rebuttal Page Index

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