• The Wall

    On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptists Association wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson in which they sought assurance that the Constitution included a provision protecting religious freedoms for all. Their concern was no doubt predicated on memories of the oppressive rule of "the king's religion," and they wanted to make certain that the new charter they were now living under would never permit a state church to again intrude into the sanctity of an individual's personal relationship with God.

    Jefferson responded in a letter written January 1, 1802, that the Constitution did indeed guarantee all Americans protection from any possibility of the government encroaching in any way upon their personal religious liberties. He went on to illustrate that point by using the metaphor of a "wall of separation" built by the first amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting our legislators from ever passing a law that imposed a particular religion on American citizens, or that would in any way, hinder their liberty to freely practice their own faith.

    Note carefully the context in which Jefferson's "wall of separation" is used: He is assuring the Association that the wall was there to separate secular power from religion, forestalling a state church such as the church of England, and to prevent intrusion into the spiritual life of citizens by the government. Not one word in the text of his letter implies a restriction on the free exercise of religion in either the public square or a governmental setting.

    To interpret Jefferson's words as a mandate for restricting faith to a church building or private home is to distort his purpose. Yet that is precisely what the US Supreme Court did in 1947, in the Everson v Board of Education ruling. Those who essentially sought to ban God's influence from society were able to convince the Supreme Court Justices that this was the actual intent of the first amendment. And they did so by successfully twisting the words in a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson! Yet, the first amendment's true intent should be obvious to any unbiased reader, given Jefferson's intent of allaying concerns about intrusion by the federal government.

    "Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

    Simple, right? Congress will make no law establishing a religion, nor a law that restricts a a person's right to freely practice his personal faith. No caveats or conditions are implied regarding limitations in such pursuits. And the intent embodied in the amendment is clear: to protect religion from the government--not to keep religion from the public square. A cursory study of the prominence place that religion and spirituality held in American society in the early years of the new republic testifies to that truth--a time when Ministers freely preached in public places and held services, without restriction or opposition.

    The US Capitol was originally used as a church (which continued until well after the Civil War), in which prominent statesmen such as Jefferson and John Adams attended services regulary. The Continental Congress allocated money to purchase Bibles even during the Revolutionary War, when money was tight. Meetings of Congress always opened with prayer, and George Washington began the tradition of taking the Presidential oath of office on the Holy Bible. Does it really sound like a wall isolating religion from society was erected by the founding fathers?

    Every time US citizens are forbidden to pray, read the Bible, or talk about God or Jesus anywhere in the USA, that is tantamount to "prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and is a blatant violation of the first amendment. According to the first amendment, we should be able to express our faith in any public setting or government facility; have a Nativity Scene or cross at any public location, as long as the majority of people in that community want it there; invoke the name of Jesus Christ, pray during a graduation ceremony, and even hold a church service on a street corner, as long as civil ordinances are observed. Why can we not do so? Because the Supreme Court was convinced by a handful of God-haters that prohibition of public worship was the first amendment's actual intent.

    Oh, how far the institution of America's highest court has fallen. In 1892, the Supreme Court actually ruled in favor of a Church--based on the view of the Court that the US is a Christian nation! (Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U. S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892). Moreover, many prominent Americans, including a number of Supreme Court Justices, expressed that very conviction, even before that 1892 ruling:

    "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian."
    --Richmond v. Moore, Illinois Supreme Court, 1883) [1]

    "For many years, my hope for the perpetuity of our institutions has rested upon Bible morality and the general dissemination of Christian principles. This is an element which did not exist in the ancient republics. It is a basis on which free governments may be maintained through all time. . . . Free government is not a self-moving machine. . . . Our mission of freedom is not carried out by brute force, by canon law, or any other law except the moral law and those Christian principles which are found in the Scriptures."
    --Supreme Court Justice John McLean (1785-1861) [2]

    "[W]ith us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it."
    --Supreme Court Justice John Marshall (1801-1835) [3]

    "One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations. . . . I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society."
    --Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) [4]

    Even after the Everson v Board of Education ruling, at least one Supreme Court Chief Justice, Earl Warren, still believed our foundation rested on the Bible and Christianity:

    "I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country."
    -Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1891-1974) [5]

    Note that the Justices quoted above not only stated a firm belief in our nation's Christian roots, but expressed the view that our very survival as a nation was tied to remaining true to the principles embodied therein. Sadly, our increasing departure from those precepts will certainly be our nation's undoing. It seems reasonable to conclude that the 1892 Supreme Court ruling affirming our Christian roots, together with the corroborating views of many prominent officials, are an accurate reflection of the prevailing view held by Americans in the early years of our nation. US Presidents, Senators and Congressmen, judges, and American citizens from every walk of life have lent their own testimony to the same belief, and their words affirming that belief are still with us today. Not until after World War II did those solemn sentiments begin to change on a national level, and our legislative body begin to ratify them, in stark contrast to the consensus of opinion that prevailed for the first 170 years.

    So then, sadly, 'the wall' that Jefferson said was there to protect religious liberty from the government has become a barrier the government uses to incarcerate that liberty, walling it off from society. Both the founding fathers and many esteemed Supreme Court Justices of their day would no doubt wonder, as we do, how the clear prohibition in the first amendment against restricting religious liberties could possibly have been twisted by the Supreme Court into what it is today. How sad it is that so many Americans have been so duped into believing the founders sought to protect society from God's influence, when it is clear that a majority of them depended on it to properly govern our Republic.

    "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God." (Psalms 9:17)

    1. Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429, 1883 WL 10319 (Ill.), 47 Am.Rep. 445 (Ill. 1883). (return to text)

    2. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 639.

    3. John Marshall, The Papers of John Marshall, Charles Hobson, editor (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), Vol. XII, p. 278, to Rev. Jasper Adams, May 9, 1833.

    4. Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, pp. 8, 92.

    5. “Breakfast in Washington,” Time, February 15, 1954 (at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...936197,00.html).
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Gadgeteer's Avatar
      Gadgeteer -
      A well-thought-out, profoundly and eloquently stated letter; it should be delivered in print to every American citizen.

      British Statesman Edmund Burke was quoted in the 1780's as saying, "All that evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing". I've been stopped for DWB --- "driving while Black". Though I do not look black, it is the case when a driver is detained for his ethnicity (usually "Black" or "Hispanic"), for no other reason; that was a violateion of the Fourth Amendment. The First Amendment has been rewritten (as you elegantly proved) to a mocking imitation of what Fisher Ames originally wrote; indeed, his first drafts presumed that "religion" was interchangeable with "Christianity". Not to establish the Christian faith, but to correctly acknowledge what 98% of the Founding Fathers held.

      The Second Amendment is under attack; and so is the rest of the Constitution. Whenever you hear some idiot say "The Constitution is a LIVING and BREATHING document", you know that is trype of a "revisionist", bent on massaging it into whatever he or she wants. Until 1973 the right to ABORTION was never existant in American jurisprudence; but the "living/breathing" lunacy suddenly discovered the heretofore-unknown "right".

      The Constitution is NOT a "living-breathing-document", it was written by considered men with a strong moral (CHRISTIAN) bent. On the website you mention, "Wallbuilders", one can find videos like "The Myth of Separation", and "America's Godly Heritage". And quotations like John Adams' "This constitution is for the governing of a moral and godly people, and is wholly inadequate for the governing of any else." And Patrick Henry's "This is not a nation of religionists, but of Christians; founded not upon the belief of religionism, but upon the belief in Jesus Christ."

      All that evil needs to triumph --- we MUST do something, we must participate. In college a student from El Salvadore asked me: "America is the one place in the world where citizens could control their own destiny; why do most choose not to?"

      I had no good answer then, and I do not now.

      ...neither do any of you who read this...

      Political involvement is the responsibility, nay OBLIGATION and sacred moral trust of any follower of Jesus Christ, to keep the governing bound to Christ's principles of morality and justice. Whoever says "you can't legislate morality" is as much of an idiot as the other person who said "living/breathing document". The correct answer, is: "Oh yeah? What law is NOT someone's morality? Morality is the POINT of law."

      Another quotation from those videos is the truth that if we remove the Bible from school and society, we will experience an explosion of crime and civil disobedience. "Morality must come from outside of men, for men are incapable of it by themselves; one must rule either by the Cross, or by the sword. If not by the Cross, then by the sword!"

      A very excellent article, which should be posted on every school wall in the nation! Such a posting is NOT a violation of any American principle or document!
    1. Sojourner's Avatar
      Sojourner -
      Wow Gadgeteer,
      Thank you so much your kind words. I agree with your viewpoints about the travesty of our heritage being so utterly distorted by revisionists. If the founders were resurrected today, and saw what we've allowed to happen to this country, they'd be absolutely mortified (that is after they verified we were the same country). Baby-boomers like myself can only shake our heads as we see our once-great nation being steered into economic ruin, and "transformed" into a declining, second rate, component in a system of global governance.

      In order to do what is being done to this nation, the Constitution has to be circumvented. And that is already being done ever-increasingly by the current administration. The generation that is poised to replace us, has been thoroughly brain-washed by the corrupt educational system in America, and is clueless about where we came from, and where they are being taken by the powers that be. I pray that I will not be around when the US collapses into the dustbin of history: the most successful republic the world has ever seen--collapsed because the foundation of faith, truth and morality it was built upon was allowed to decay. Please feel free to copy this article and share it with others. It may not help our situation, but there are a lot of people who share our views, who may enjoy seeing it expressed. God bless.
    1. Gadgeteer's Avatar
      Gadgeteer -
      We are wasting a critical natural resource. Forget wind turbines and solar panels --- I propose that we install small generators in the graves of each of our Founding Fathers; imagine recovering all that wasted energy, creating megawatts of power as they turn over and over in their graves. Sigh.

      There are several aspects to our approach. We must participate, and must get everyone we know to participate. And not just to vote blindly --- but to vote with conscience. I dated someone who voted "liberal as that person's whole family always had" --- I said, "Why would you support a party whose platform does violate what you profess to believe?" As people of conscience, WE are the government; and we focus not on how much we can get for ourselves, but on what is good for us and the country long-term. The demise of America is historically predictable. "When a free people discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury, the end of their system is guaranteed". We are well past that point.

      But another aspect to our approach, is to realize that America is great because America is good --- if America ever ceases to be good, it will cease to be great. That's another "Founding-Father" quote from one of those videos!

      ...and America is good because for most of our 200 years we have followed Godly Biblical principles! So much of our Constitution and Law is taken from the Bible!

      The path to national restoration, begins with true revival and return to fellowship with Jesus Christ!

      When the people who are called by God's name will humble themselves and pray, and seek His face, and will turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from Heaven --- He will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chron7:14)

      Political participation is the obligation and sacred honor of each citizen. Beyond that, the inspiration to promote political participation from OTHERS, is to encourage them into the arms of Christ. Only then will their hearts turn to the good of the country, rather than selfish gain. Ironically, "the good of the country" is long-term good for each person; those focused on "personal gain" fall subject to the old proverb, "How many fleas and ticks can bite a dog, until the dog dies?"

      We need a revival in America as strong as that in Europe a couple centuries ago. Revival strong enough that everyone stopped cursing; which was admirable, except all the mules and horses frowned and said, "HUH?"
    1. Sojourner's Avatar
      Sojourner -
      Hi again Gadgeteer,

      Thank you again for the positive feedback on this article, and for the kindred spirit. I'm a little disappointed more people haven't read this yet, as I put a lot of work into it. But, having written a few articles before, I know it sometimes takes a while to accumulate readers. I think this is the one I would hope more people would read, since it helps to dispel the revisionist distortion of our Christian roots. So many Christians today have bought into the lie that most of the founders and early Americans were either godless, or deists. And I'm happy you visited the Wallbuilders site. It is a gold mine of truth about early America, and I have tremendous admiration for David Barton, who stands as a beacon of the truth, so denied today. Did you notice the current news on the home page there? They keep up with the latest news that affects us, as both a nation, and as it relates to us as Christians.

      I agree that if the body of Christ in America would humble itself, and seek and do God's will, and use the civil freedoms we enjoy in this country (while we have still them), He would heal our land, and fix the mess the country is in. But, while I try to be optimistic, I see the US slipping further and further from her Christian moorings, and drifting off into dangerous, uncharted waters. God says if we draw closer to Him, He'll draw closer to us. So what should we expect if we continue to pull further away from Him? Thank God, He deals with us one on one, and no matter where the powers that be take us as a nation--even if is into destruction, we know God is always in control, and that our future in eternity is secure in Him. Knowing that, I'm ready to deal with whatever comes our way in this fleeting, earthly life.
    1. the rookie's Avatar
      the rookie -
      I've read it - and I loved it. It's really great, especially the last line. Thanks for your hard work. Articles like this don't necessarily provoke discussion, they shape thinking - and the latter is of immediate importance right now.
    1. Sojourner's Avatar
      Sojourner -
      Quote Originally Posted by the rookie View Post
      I've read it - and I loved it. It's really great, especially the last line. Thanks for your hard work. Articles like this don't necessarily provoke discussion, they shape thinking - and the latter is of immediate importance right now.
      Thank you so much, brother. No, an article such a this doesn't really generate dialogue. But then I guess I really didn't expect much of it on this one. It's gratifying nevertheless, when my humble efforts receive positive feedback. Especially so, when it's from someone whose opinion I hold in such esteem. God bless.
    1. ChristianCoffee's Avatar
      ChristianCoffee -
      I have, over the years, studied both letters. And I must say, Sojourner, you have very eloquently written a response that should be read by school children now. I only wish to add the following (though I realize I may be reiterating things):

      1) Thomas Jefferson was simply just quoting the First Amendment. His inference was to assure the Dansbury Baptists that the Federal, State and Local Governments would not be able to control them, or any other religious peoples.

      2) He was also reassuring them that there would not be a "State Church" like there was in England.

      3) It was the Warren Court that actually re-interpreted the First Amendment. It started in 1962 with Engel vs. Vitale. Justice Hugh Black, in writing the decision, stated:

      "The Establishment Clause...does not depend upon any showing of direct governmental compulsion and is violated by the enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether those laws operate directly to coerce nonobserving individuals or not." He finally noted that the separation of church and state was intended by the Founders to protect both."

      4) Justice William Douglas concurred, stating:

      "...no matter how briefly the prayer is said...the person praying is a public official on the public payroll, performing a religious exercise in a governmental institution. It is said that the element of coercion is inherent in the giving of this prayer. If that is true here, it is also true of the prayer with which this Court is convened, and of those that open the Congress. Few adults, let alone children, would leave our courtroom or the Senate or the House while those prayers are being given. Every such audience is in a sense a "captive" audience."

      Everything that has passed since limiting prayer, displays of religious items and such, can flow back to these opinions.

      Justice Potter Stewart wrote the dissenting opinion. It can be found in it's entirety on this link: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Engel_...issent_Stewart

      Just a quick quote or 2 from the opinion:

      With all respect, I think the Court has misapplied a great constitutional principle. I cannot see how an "official religion" is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation.

      It was all summed up by this Court just ten years ago in a single sentence: "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313.

      But it did not matter: man wanted God out of his life. Now that we have driven as many references to our Lord and Savior out of the public realm, is it no wonder that our once great country is in such a disarray as it is today?

      I guess we do not presuppose a Supreme Being anymore. And without a Supreme Being, we have no one to ultimately answer to. And since there is no one to ultimately answer to, there really is no right or wrong. And since there is no ultimate right or wrong, we can all just do what we feel is right to us.

      See how slippery that slope is we started down in 1962....

      In Him,

      Romans 8:15-17
    1. Sojourner's Avatar
      Sojourner -
      Hello Christian Coffee,
      Thank you for both the kind words, and your contributions. It's appalling how little the American people really know about the founding and early years of our Republic. History has been re-written by revisionists with an agenda that benefits from that ignorance. We were founded on the very same principles embodied in Biblical precepts--in particular, those espoused in the teachings of Jesus. Faith, truth and honor--bound up in a firm reliance on the providence of God, is what formed both our foundation, and the framework of our society.

      Today, ungodly men and women of power--put there by deluded Americans--are increasingly purging Christian influence from the public square, and facilitating a departure from the very precepts that once made us a great nation. Even as they embrace ungodly practices diametrically opposed to those precepts. We reap what we sow--both in our personal lives, and when we cast our ballots.
    1. ChristianCoffee's Avatar
      ChristianCoffee -
      We reap what we sow--both in our personal lives, and when we cast our ballots.
      Just think: we have a presidential election comming up this fall. The canidates are off and running, raising money, giving speeches, shaking hands and being overall regular politicians. Some are taking a stand, but most of what I have heard is all willy-nilly stuff not ment to offend the masses of voters out there.

      My question is this: how many people are going to vote this fall? And what will be the principals that those who will be running for office stand on? Do you think we will get clear black and white views, or will we continue down the slope of fence sitting that has become so popular over the last 50 years?

      All the election stuff could lead to quite a bit of this:

      And this:

      But not enough of this:

      And it all makes me need this:

      In Him,

      Romans 8:16
    1. JDMedia's Avatar
      JDMedia -
      I am thrilled to see you guys discussing this.

      This 1947 ruling by the supreme Court in essence, was "The Perfect Heist" When America's Freedom of Religion was ROBBED. Right from under our noses... There was no fanfare... I challenge you to find newspaper articles. The country--without exaggeration---had no idea it even happened.

      Yet American was fundamentally changed forever...

      In addition to the lack of news clippings, etc....I have spoken to folks, now in their eighties, who were at least 20 years old at the time---None of them have any recollection.

      For this supreme court...who's Chief Justice was also a former KKK Member---to manipulate Jefferson's phrase "thus building a wall of separation between Church & State" to somehow stand alone as "the full meaning of the entire sentence" is criminal.

      Thomas Jefferson's entire sentence from 1802 (emphsis by me): "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. "

      There can be no doubt that Jefferson did INDEED describe the First Amendment as "a Wall", but Jefferson's Wall was to protect Religion from ANY government interference....NOT vice versa.

      It was absolutely the PERFECT CRIME for multiple reasons----because in addition to virtually no press----no one would be affected by this abomination of a decision for decades to come...

      75 Years Later....WE are the first generation to actually feel the effects of the 1947 Ruling. And it is just getting started.

      Look what the hell is happening! They started ripping down The Ten Commandments what? Ten years ago? Crosses forcibly removed..... No More "Christmas" TRees. No worshipping on Caesar's property...

      My question is this---- Why don't our churches stand up to this? They say nothing.
      My politically-correct church in Kansas City won't discuss it. [Violation of church & state]

      I'm actually trying to get support to produce a God-umantary called. "A Perfect Heist" The Stealing of America's first Amendment - The Freedom of Religion

      Stay loud. God bless you guys.
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