Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
- President Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists (1808)
Manufacturers, who listening to the powerful invitations of a better price for their fabrics, or their labor, of greater cheapness of provisions and raw materials, of an exemption from the chief part of the taxes burdens and restraints, which they endure in the old world, of greater personal independence and consequence, under the operation of a more equal government, and of what is far more precious than mere religious toleration--a perfect equality of religious privileges; would probably flock from Europe to the United States to pursue their own trades or professions, if they were once made sensible of the advantages they would enjoy, and were inspired with an assurance of encouragement and employment, will, with difficulty, be induced to transplant themselves, with a view to becoming cultivators of the land.
- Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton: Report on the Subject of Manufacturers December 5, 1791
If Religion be not within the cognizance of Civil Government how can its legal establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another.
- James Madison; Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785The mixing of State and religion that has taken place in America over the past 50 years is exactly what the founding fathers warned against. The separation of Church and State is not meant to hinder religion, nor to deny the role of religion in society or in our history. Many of the founders were Christians, even James Madison was a Christian, but what they established was a government that was non-religious - a secular government.
1st Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & 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 & 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, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
It is true that the majority of our Founders were indeed Christian. Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were Deists. Thomas Jefferson actual rewrote the bible, removing all super natural event from the New Testament. He declared himself a true Christian, but later declared that he was an Epicurean.
You have to understand that while some of our most famous founders were Christian, they wrote in "Natures God" And the Creator, not as a Christian God reference, but as a deistic reference which was popular at the time. The Popular Christian reference to God at the time was In the name of The Lord God Jesus Christ. This was done because they wanted Freedom to practice whatever religion they wanted and also due to the fact that Benjamin Franklin was the editor of the final draft of the Constitution, and he was a deists.
Today is National Prayer Day. And thanks to our Founding Fathers, we are able to be in public and Pray to whomever or whatever we see fit, or have faith in. It wasn't until recently however that there have been attacks on Public Prayer. I say in an act of Civil Disobedience, and a grand show of your personal faith, Pray today.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
National Prayer Day, E Pluribus Unum
For your enlightenment, please read each statement carefully.