The Truth about “Separation of Church and State”
“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” – Jesus, preparing His disciples for their upcoming mission to spread His gospel, John 15:20 (NIV).
“To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian” – General George Washington, August 27, 1776, in his address to the Continental Army before his defeat at the Battle of Long Island.
An August 1, 2023 article posted by Michigan Lighthouse Ministries briefly describes the origin and true meaning of the often maligned mantra known as “separation of church and state.” I give full credit to the author for sparking renewed interest in understanding this topic that so divides our culture. Portions of the referenced article are used by permission.
This 5-word statement, “separation of church and state,” has been used as an offensive weapon by those who oppose Judeo-Christian values prescribed in the founding of this nation of America. Those of us who ascribe to these values and who, as a result, are the target of this opposition, have allowed our rights associated with these values to be trampled with virtually no fight…primarily because we DO NOT understand what these words meant in their original context, nor how to apply them in today’s depraved culture.
The “issue” of state endorsed, mandated, or sponsored church did not originate with the founding of the United States of America. A review of the plight and flight of the European Pilgrims and Separatists will give greater understanding that religious liberty has long been sought by Divinely-created man. This is simply one historical example. Another example, for instance, is the exodus of the nation of Israel under the leadership of Moses highlighted in the book of Exodus in the Christian Bible.
To effectively stand on truth, we must each, individually, grasp a true understanding of the word “church” in this context. The word “religion” is yet another weaponized word we need to understand.
The words “church” and “religion” have long been used to categorize a uniquely “offensive” group known as “Christian.” I use the word “offensive” sarcastically because those offended are those who do not practice Christianity. It seems strange other religions they don’t believe in don’t offend them…Hmmmm.
Is it strange other religions don’t “offend?” Nearly all other “religious” groups claim their own “church.” These other groups, such as Unitarians, Muslims, Abortionists, Human Traffickers, for example, are simply not bullied and separated out for harassment and persecution like Christians are.
We Christians are ignorant victims of the improper use of the words “church” and “religion” by a culture bent on eradicating Christians from existence on this planet. We are victims because of our own history of lethargy and apathy. We sit back and “take it,” believing God will come to the rescue because, GOD WINS!
OF COURSE GOD WINS, but that doesn’t mean He wants us to lay crying and sucking our thumbs, allowing evil and its by-product, corruption, to run rampant over us. I’ve got to believe God is shaking His head in disgust and sadness at the majority of His followers. YES He wins, but we are to tend His Garden in the mean time. His Garden is the Church (Ekklesia) of Jesus Christ.
In this installment, we will attempt to clarify the true intention and meaning of the words, “separation of church and state,” and equip modern-day patriots with ammunition and inspiration to effectively stand on our God-given and Constitutional rights, namely civil and religious liberty. If we don’t fight to keep them, they will be taken away…guaranteed!
DANBURY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION’S PETITION TO PRESIDENT THOMAS JEFFERSON
Understanding the core of the issue of “separation of church and state” requires an understanding of the Revolutionary times in America and the pulse of the new nation of America surrounding the drafting of the Constitution.
Today’s twisted notion of “separation of church and state” began with a short, clear discourse between a group of Baptist ministers and then-President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson (sworn into office of President March 4, 1801). The concern of the Baptists was expressed in the form of a letter (dated October 7, 1801) to Jefferson from the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association.
The “Danbury Baptist” letter stated their fervent position that, “…religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals…that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors; But, sir, our constitution is not specific…” They ended their letter with the sentence, “And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.” A full transcript of the Danbury letter can be found at the following link: https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/danburybaptists#:~:text=The%20address%20of,Stephen%20S.%20Nelson
The entire letter is worth reading.
It is important to understand the concerns of the Danbury Baptist Association. Their primary concern was that the newly formed Federal government may use its undefined authority to legislate religious liberty from the individual state…a liberty each state enjoyed as “inalienable.” The Baptists were concerned that there would be no protection of state and individual rights to religious freedom theretofore enjoyed. The Danbury letter points out an obvious belief and understanding that they were allowed, by their God-given rights, to practice their religion “…at all times and places a matter between God and the individual.”
This states the obvious and accepted fact that free men (Colonists as members of sovereign states) could practice religion of their individual choosing, wherever and whenever they decided. This included in business, in politics, at work, on the street, at the legislature, etc, etc. In other words, they believed, and desired to affirm that Jefferson also affirmed that this exercise of religious freedom was accepted and understood as a required condition of each state’s acceptance of the new federal authority.
Their appeal to Jefferson was for him, in some way, to affirm and defend their position that the new federal authority had no right to impose on these inalienable (God-given) religious liberties. The entire purpose of their letter was for Jefferson to acknowledge the validity of their position and to officially respond favorably on their behalf.
A few observations from the letter are highlighted as follows:
- The Baptists expressed pleasure that Jefferson is President,
- The Baptists coalesced on religious liberty,
- They believe religion, at the behest of the individual, could pervade all times and places in a man’s daily life,
- They understood Jefferson, as President, has not the power to legislate,
- They appeal to Jefferson’s sense of fairness based upon past behavior.
The Michigan Lighthouse Ministry article previously referenced, points out some other important issues of the day that the Danbury Baptist Association were concerned about. Specifically, the article states the Association was, “…worried that they would be forced to pay taxes that would support religious denominations they did not agree with.”
The Danbury Baptists were afraid of government overreach into the church, not the church’s overreach into the government. Let me repeat. The Danbury Baptists were afraid of government overreach into the church, not the church’s overreach into the government. They wanted Jefferson to understand they wanted him to do all he could to preserve religious liberties of their state. As can be clearly seen by the statements in the Danbury letter, the Baptists were concerned by potential government overreach in the form of legislation and taxing the right to religious liberty.
Religious and civil liberty (self-government) were the two primary reasons the Colonists colonized North America, and the two primary underpinnings of the crafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. English emigrants were trying to escape that very tyrannical oppression by the English monarchy. The King persecuted those who opposed the Church of England.
Before the American Revolution, the State of Virginia had an official church – the Church of England – and dissenters from that church, (Presbyterians and Baptists primarily) were discriminated against and persecuted. Jefferson was passionately against such dictations of religion, believing religious freedom was essential for a properly functioning republic. The Danbury Baptists wanted to remind Jefferson of this so he could rally to their cause.
JEFFERSON’S REPLY TO DANBURY AND THE INTENT OF THAT REPLY
The link listed above includes the final published draft of Jefferson’s reply to the Danbury Baptist Association letter. Jefferson’s response is not confusing or cryptic, as some try to make it. After agreeing with the Danbury Baptists that “…religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God…,” Jefferson went on to say, “…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.’”
This statement seems perfectly clear. Jefferson’s intentions are clear. Several observations can be made from this portion of Jefferson’s letter:
- Jefferson believed a man’s religion is solely between man and his God (note: Jefferson capitalized the word, “God,” referring to the one Creator God).
- Jefferson held the American people’s desire not to have the federal legislature dictate a “official state” religion in high regard.
- Jefferson re-stated this desire publically, with the intended meaning that, 1) legislature should make no law establishing a government endorsed religion, and, 2) additionally, no law restricting or prohibiting the free exercise of religious liberty should be made.
- Thus, the “wall of separation” Jefferson referred to was obviously meant to keep government out of church.
- Nowhere in Jefferson’s reply to the Danbury Baptist Association nor in any of his writings does he implicitly or explicitly forbid a man’s religion in civics or in the government.
Many will argue for Jefferson’s Atheism based upon this “wall of separation” comment as well as other writings where he demanded and plied for this separation. One instance, in particular, was Jefferson’s refusal to issue a prayer proclamation during a national crisis, when his two predecessors had done so. A more mature Jefferson, however, so reverently held to separation of religion and government, that he explained his refusal, “…results from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise of religion.”
Obviously, Jefferson’s reverence of the Constitution superceded his personal desire to use the power of the office of the President of the United States to push national fasting and prayer on the nation via a national proclamation. It is not that Jefferson was irreligious. It was that Jefferson respected and fought for the intent of the Constitution and the laws of the land, thereby placing his personal religious beliefs in abeyance. If a citizen wanted to fast and pray in a public place or at their workplace, or in the town square, Jefferson had no issue with that.
One final thought on the “Atheism” of Jefferson. He closed out his reply to the Danbury Baptist Association with the sentence, “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man…”
With this closing sentence, Jefferson reveals, once again, his clear belief in God and that he is, indeed, a praying man. Atheists do not pray for protection of the common father (referring clearly to God). Examination of Jefferson’s writings all through the Revolutionary War period and beyond to his Presidency, shows us all we need to know about his relationship with a divine creator.
Jefferson’s writings also speak of a man who never neglected to take his duty as an elected official seriously. He was a man who held sacred the rule of law and the understanding to keep government out of State and individual citizens’ rights.
Jefferson prayed publically in both of his inaugural addresses. However, for Jefferson, there was a clear distinction between a particular official making a public, but personal profession of faith, as opposed to an “official” endorsement or call to prayer. As Jefferson’s communication of 1807 to DeWitt Clinton describes, though Jefferson desired “…government without religion…,” not only did he expect a vibrant religion on the “…private…” side of a wall of separation, but he fully expected that most government officials would be, in their private capacity, religious (Jefferson to DeWitt Clinton, May 24, 1807, available at Founders Online).
Thomas Jefferson’s clear intent of his reply to the Danbury Baptist’s letter was to stand behind the belief that government should stay out of the Church…period. Not the other way around. Let me repeat. Thomas Jefferson’s clear intent of his reply to the Danbury Baptist’s letter was to stand behind the belief that government should stay out of the Church…period. Not the other way around. More than that, he stated that government has the duty to protect religious liberty, using legislation as necessary. There can be no confusion in interpreting Jefferson’s words.
GOD IS WELCOME EVERYWHERE!
Implicit in Jefferson’s writings is the clear belief that a citizen of America has the God-given (inalienable) right to take his religion anywhere and everywhere he sees fit. This is obvious if one only reads the Declaration of Independence, the framing document Jefferson is credited with drafting. Jefferson understood the duty of Christians is to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 2:18-20). He saw this Constitutional Republic we know as America, as the God-ordained structure of limited self-government under which Christians could carry out that assignment from God. Jefferson’s “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” refers to those God-given rights to, 1) live and defend life, 2) live that God-given life in religious and civil freedom, and, 3) pursue a free-enterprise system of economy.
To unyielding, non-Christians, the mere thought that America must maintain its centering on God, the Divine Creator, must seem an un-scalable barrier. To a non-Christian, there is no possible allowance that factual, unredacted history is true. Yet when we refer to original history, which still can be found, we see the irrefutable evidence of Judeo-Christian values driving the colonization of North America and the eventual founding of the United States.
Beginning with the first settlements by the English Separatists along the East Coast of North America, those settlers desired to live lives free to worship God and to do that wherever and however they pleased. There was never the thought of separating God from “everyday” life because they understood God was the Source of everyday blessing and provision.
Perhaps George Washington summed it up best when he, on August 27, 1776, before the Battle of Long Island addressed the Continental Army. He is recorded saying the following; “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian”
This two-sentence stanza packs a knockout blow to those who believe the founders of this nation did not desire a nation whose citizens took God with them everywhere. In the first sentence, Washington, a man no person can argue did not live to the utmost standard of character and morality, clearly expects these citizen-soldiers to pay strict attention to their religious (Christian) duties, viz; living a daily walk with God. This was understood by all. The second sentence reveals Washington’s additional expectation that all who bore the label “Patriot” should strive to attain the added higher glory that came with displaying the character of Christian. Washington does not find it necessary to explain to his troops what he means by the term “Christian.” This is well understood by all because it was the nature of colonial life.
IF THESE GUYS ARE ATHEISTS, WE WANT MORE OF THEM!
‘Out of context’ quotes from the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are often used by those who wish to malign the claim that America was founded by Christians; crafted with a Christ-centered government platform. They point to one or two quotes, (taken out of context, of course) to say these two founders were Atheists, or at the very best, Deists.
Our preceding glimpse at a few of Thomas Jefferson’s unredacted writings crushes the hypothesis of revisionist historians. They want to convince the younger generations Jefferson was an Atheist. As we have seen, nothing could be further from truth.
For instance, Jefferson is quoted as saying, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God,” (from: “Notes on the state of Virginia, 1781 – 1785). To a feeble-minded person, this may seem like a confession by Jefferson that he believes in no god whatsoever, and would not be offended by being ridiculed by those who state their own religious opinions, likely in opposition to his own beliefs. This is by no means what this statement means.
A key clue to Jefferson’s true belief is evident by his intentional capitalization of the word “God.” As a Christian myself, when I speak of, or even think of my Creator Father, I capitalize the word to show exactly the reverence I place in God. I presume I do not corner the market on this practice. You have, undoubtedly, noticed my liberal practice of capitalizing the words, “God,” “Jesus,” “Creator,” “Father,” throughout my writings. I hold no license on this practice and I assume Jefferson, a much more apt scholar than myself, practiced similarly. What’s more, no Atheist would intentionally capitalize the word and, therefore, assign it the proper name it represents; the very name of the Creator God of the Christian Bible.
A similar look at the totality of unredacted writings of Benjamin Franklin would yield the same result, even to the staunchest skeptic. Refer to Installment 3, Part 2 of this series to see some quotes from Franklin professing his faith in God. If these two guys are the “best” evidence they have, then WE WANT MORE JEFFERSONS AND FRANKLINS!
THE BIBLE HAS THE LAST WORD
Every Christian, who truly believes, is promised, by Christ Jesus Himself, that, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20 NIV). We Christians, unlike those who ascribe to other religions such as Muslim, Hindu, Atheism, Humanism, Antifa, BLM, are unmercifully scorned, ridiculed, and persecuted for our beliefs in private and in public. We expect that treatment. Persecution and harassment, even to the point of death is part of what we sign up for. We are instructed in Scripture to expect this sort of treatment and to accept it as proof the gospel of Jesus is convicting those who God intends to convict. Other religions are not subject to this persecution, perhaps, because their religions carry no consequence for non-adherence to its tenets.
Ask a Humanist, for example, “What is the consequence for non-compliance to your stated standard of behavior?” They have no answer to that question. Nothing. For a Humanist, there is no consequence because there is no loving authority to enforce the “standard” of behavior or “righteousness.” The only “law” in Humanism is the “law of the jungle” which dictates that the strong control the weak, the rich control the poor, and those in power exist to perpetuate their power at the expense of those over which they rule. That is simply the example of Humanism, which happens to be the religion enshrined by the globalists that are running this country. Other mainstream religions take potshots at Christianity as well and, like Humanism, they have little to no negative consequences for their non-compliant behavior to whatever tenets of the religion they claim.
Those who take Christians to task for our beliefs show no shame or remorse for doing so. When it comes to treatment of Christians, instead of the “love” and “acceptance” they show for all others, they exhibit hatred and fear of Christians, nowadays labeling them as “terrorists,” and “extremists.” Sadly, this treatment is encouraged and promoted by our “civil” government, even to the point of legislating Christianity out of everyday life. Only Christianity…no other religion.
Because of this, every Christian must understand and be able to, “…contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (Jude 1:3). We, as Christians, must develop a “thick yet flexible armor” which allows us to doggedly defend and adhere to our faith principles, while at the same time, allowing ourselves to forgive and extend grace to those who torment and persecute us. Try that on for size you Humanists or Muslims!
True Christian Patriots are not a weak or wimpy lot. Give me 10 Christians with true resolve for their faith against 1000 Secularists or BLM in a fight and I’ll put my money on the Christians to win EVERY SINGLE TIME! And by “win,” I mean standing fast to our beliefs to the point of death.
CAN WE STEP UP TO THE STANDARD OF “PATRIOT?”
In pre-Revolutionary, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary times, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock, and all the founders understood that the word, “Patriot” came with an implied set of Christian morals and belief in the “…Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” (Paragraph 1 of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, drafted by Thomas Jefferson). These men, along with countless others, relied on their fellow “Americans” to possess and live out these same set of Christian morals on the battlefield, at their place of work, in the marketplace, and at home. This was the original DNA of America.
The same is asked of us today. Truth is truth. It is a choice between the “world” standard of truth, and God’s moral standard of truth. God will only bless one…not the other.
The restoration of this country in this time in history depends upon those who possess this unique, God-given DNA. There does not seem to be many of us, yet even in impossibly small numbers, God will work His plan to His glory…just like He did nearly 250 years ago.
He is assembling His army but He alone will decide when there are enough of us willing to stand for Him. This isn’t even about government or politics or religion. This is about what’s right and true and edifying to God and honoring to the sacrifice He placed on the altar to atone for our sins! His Son Jesus, the Christ!
In this installment we looked at factual historical writings of Thomas Jefferson as he responded to the Danbury Baptist Association. This group was concerned the government would overreach their assigned power and legislate persecution of the church. Their letter was an appeal to Jefferson, their newly elected President, to keep a watchful eye on their religious liberty they fought so hard to achieve. Jefferson, familiar with England’s recent persecution of those opposed to the Church of England (the religion mandated by the King of England), agreed that there should be a “wall of separation” between the church and the state to prevent government overreach into the church. This is plain to see from these writings.
Since about 1850, the ideals and principles of Jefferson and his cohorts was gradually, intentionally altered. The meaning of Jefferson’s words, and, no less, his intentions have been changed by Humanists to incorrectly imply he was an Atheist, and, as such, he opposed religion in any area of government or in civics…that religion should only be practiced behind private closed doors so as not to “offend” others. Meanwhile, all religions other than Christianity, have been given a free pass because they pose no threat to the evil that has dominion here on earth (a fact known by all Christians…I hope!).
The obvious truths discovered from our brief exploration of Jefferson’s writings demonstrates quite the opposite is true. Jefferson believed in God personally, he believed in religious freedom individually and corporately, as States, and he publically displayed his personal faith in public office. Though he respected the “separation” that prevented government from dictating a national religion, he endorsed religious activity in all areas of private life and civics.
In the next multi-part installment, we will learn the disturbing truth that our American corporate government has allowed itself to be overtaken by a religion. We will learn that this religion is NOT CHRISTIANITY. We will take a sobering look at the state sponsored religion of today: Humanism. We will see examples of Humanism’s infiltration and dominance in all facets of society, especially our government, but also in the corruption of Christ’s church.
We will learn how the combination of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the industrial revolution sparked the Humanist religion’s explosive growth as they sought to replace God with knowledge through technology and science. That quest continues today, and has morphed into the Trans humanist movement, whose religious doctrine seeks to replace God’s promise of Eternal Life, with man’s promise of immortality through science and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Humanism is the enemy of Christianity and will stop at nothing to crush Christ and God out of this country. Satan is happily driving the Humanist bus!
I warn you in advance, that though obvious, this information will be disturbing to many who have not been paying attention to what’s been going on in their community, state, and around the country. In fact the cancer is global.
I want to make it clear these thoughts are the thoughts of me, their author, and do not intentionally or knowingly represent any person or organization associated with the location of these writings.
That does not preclude me from saying that I pray that these thoughts, in large degree, are shared by many, if not all of those persons and organizations associated with the location of these writings.
I also want to say I do not apologize for expressing these thoughts and I know with absolute certainty there are many more of you, I say a vast majority, who understand things as I do. Whether you commit to stand on those beliefs is your Cross to bear.
Many persons, even of my own religious and political persuasion, are bristled by these truths, and have buried their heads even further into the sand and become totally disengaged with reality. They want to call themselves “patriots,” yet do not want to own the commitment to God’s moral standards that label requires.
I believe those who preceded me in the cause of America shared at least as deep a Christian faith as mine. Their history cannot be eliminated from this earth. The fool who believes history can be eliminated must heed Revelation 20:12, where the Apostle John records his vision, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which was the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” This passage should cause pause in both Christians and non-Christians. Which parts of the Bible do you choose to believe? What will Jesus read from your life record?
It must be all or none!
I believe the Christian faith I live out in my public and private life represents what God desires. Just like all Christians I am not perfect, but I do acknowledge my Creator God who is working in me to attain to His standard of perfection. The hope I rest on is His promise to continue to do so, and then to welcome me into His eternal family!
In this world of chaos and pandemonium I ride in a boat that is seemingly traversing a glass-like calm lake. The wind that pushes against the sails is the breath of the Living God who created all that there ever was, is, and ever will be. He guides me and delivers me through (not out of) all my “…vall(ies) of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4).
I rest on 100% assurance that my personal relationship with the Creator God of the Universe who knows every hair on my head results in a life of peace, joy, and clarity of purpose…something I see in no other religion. This assurance makes me a bold, intentional, warrior in God’s Army, not some weak, mealy-mouthed worm of a person who claims no faith except that of the “herd” they run with.
Hopefully, whatever religion you choose offers the choice of eternal life with God in the New Heaven and Earth as does mine. If not, you are welcome to contact me at the email address below to start a conversation. I’d hate to see any of you doomed to come back as a slug or a worm because you didn’t reach some standard of “good” during your present life on earth!
-Brian Horanoff- Precinct Delegate, Fremont Township, Isabella County, Michigan © 1 June, 2023