The separation of church and state, one of the most famously misquoted rights of the people. During a recent poll, people were asked whether “the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.” 67 percent responded yes.
Interesting to note is the quote “separation of church and state” is nowhere in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. So where did this heavily referenced term originate?
During Thomas Jefferson’s term as president he received a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut regarding religion. In this letter they address the issue of government infringing on religion.
As they interpreted the Constitution's Amendment 1, “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise there of”, as the right of worship was given by the federal government and not God.
Their chief concern was that if an elected leader under the pretense of government were to be an enemy of religion, they could infringe on their rights because the right was given to them by the government in the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter back stating: “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”, assuring them that the government was not the power to give the right of worship but that power be between him and God.
He went on to requote to them the First Amendment and afterward wrote: “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 to man all his natural rights”.
He spoke here of believing that he as Chief Magistrate will oversee the progress of the Constitution that was made to restore natural rights to the people. We have to remember that at this time there had been no country in the world that gave the citizens so much freedom.
As we move forward it will bring to light many quotes and convictions of our Founding Fathers to prove they were filled with faith and had a firm reliance on divine providence.