What is Separation of Church and State?

Let us understand the establishment clause of the separation of church and state so we can understand how politics and religion are supposed to work in this country. Jefferson said: “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.”

Jefferson wrote this letter to the President and the Danbury Baptist association of the State of Connecticut. He was saying he did not want America to become Baptist. He wanted the separation of church and state so that each person could chose their own faith. And he wanted the state not to meddle in church affairs. But what this does NOT mean is that a Baptist can’t be in politics and let his Baptistic theology affect his decisions.

Let me put this differently, an individual who is Baptist or Catholic or Muslim or Atheist can run for office. And when in office he or she can vote based on their beliefs and even reference their religious reasoning. And the State can’t dictate to a Baptists or Catholic or Muslim or Atheist to shut up about their religious beliefs. But we will never be a Baptist or Catholic or Atheist nation.

There are some who want religion completely out of politics. But these people are pushing a religious view of secular humanism (I.e., belief in no God in decision making. That humans are wise apart from any religion to make good decisions). But this suppresses all other people who at the core make decisions based on their beliefs. So the secularists need to be consistent and allow religious people to let their religious beliefs influence their decisions.



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