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Church, state 'wall' not idea of Jefferson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES ^ | August 5, 2002 | Larry Witham

Posted on 08/04/2002 11:55:06 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Edited on 07/12/2004 3:56:04 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

New research on Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" between church and state shows that Jefferson never intended it to be the iron curtain of today, which instead was built on anti-Catholic legal views in the 1940s.

Though the new scholarship has received good reviews for exploding a "Jeffersonian myth" about a wall against religion, others say it is too late to tear down a barrier that Americans feel comfortable with.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Front Page News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: firstammendment; liberty; religion
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1 posted on 08/04/2002 11:55:06 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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Bump for later book-buying....
2 posted on 08/05/2002 12:20:41 AM PDT by toenail
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To: nickcarraway
Time to rub salt into wounds.

The KKK, not Jefferson, is responsible for the false separation of Church and State. Jefferson is only responsible for opposing the State Establishment of religion.

People here, influenced by the KKK cannot seem to understand the difference between the establishment of a State religion and legal political religious views.

3 posted on 08/05/2002 3:41:24 AM PDT by Maelstrom
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To: Maelstrom
. Jefferson is only responsible for opposing the State Establishment of religion.

4 posted on 08/05/2002 6:30:15 AM PDT by USA21
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To: USA21
That's what I said.
5 posted on 08/05/2002 7:13:00 AM PDT by Maelstrom
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To: nickcarraway
"It was an open secret that 'sectarian' was a code for 'Catholic,'" Justice Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion two years ago.

That's hardly surprising -- most of the wrangling caused by religious entanglements into American politics was between Catholics and Protestants, for obvious reasons. The fact that the Protestant majority saw church-state questions as an issue between themselves on one hand and Catholics on the other wasn't "bigotry", it was a simple reflection of experience.

6 posted on 08/05/2002 7:24:48 AM PDT by steve-b
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To: nickcarraway
too late to tear down a barrier that Americans feel comfortable with

What Americans are comfortable with this concept? I, for one, agree that there should be no state established religion, but this concept has been used to eliminate any religious presence in out society - and that is wrong, and was never the intent of the Founders

7 posted on 08/05/2002 8:29:04 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: nickcarraway
Very interesting. Bookmarked.
8 posted on 08/05/2002 1:11:59 PM PDT by kidd
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To: nickcarraway
In the Supreme Court's 1947 Everson decision — forbidding New Jersey to spend state education funds for religious education — Justice Black cited the phrase "wall of separation between Church & State," from Jefferson's Jan. 1, 1802, letter to a group of Baptists in Massachusetts.

I'm not a lawyer, but hopefully someone in this thread is. It would seem to me that once the Constitution was written and ratified, comments made by any of the Founders over a decade later shouldn't have any more relevance to a Supreme Court decision than a comment you or I might happen to make. Am I wrong to think this?

9 posted on 08/05/2002 1:33:35 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: nickcarraway
10 posted on 08/05/2002 2:02:10 PM PDT by EdReform
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Timesink
comments made by any of the Founders over a decade later shouldn't have any more relevance to a Supreme Court decision than a comment you or I might happen to make

I'll 2nd That....

I so belive Thomas Jeff was speaking of a limited firewall, that is, prevent a specific domain {the government} from dictating religon, as such was the rage in the 18/19th century...

12 posted on 08/05/2002 2:13:33 PM PDT by TeleStraightShooter
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To: Timesink
Am I wrong to think this?

No -- especially if Driesbach is correct in his assertion that Jefferson's letter was a campaign ploy aimed at trying to gain the support of the Baptists, whose opposition to the Congregationalists was due in large part to the fact that the latter were the established religion in the State of Massachusetts.

13 posted on 08/05/2002 2:22:14 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: nickcarraway
There never was a wall of separation as the liberals would have us believe.If that were true then persons who belong to a church should not be taxed.If you can collect taxes from religious people and give them to public schools then you should collect taxes from non-believers and give them to religious schools.Just the fact that money is only travelling in one direction proves there is NO WALL.An actual wall would keep it on each of their respective sides.
14 posted on 08/05/2002 2:22:39 PM PDT by INSENSITIVE GUY
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To: TeleStraightShooter a minute I will be posting a huge post of links and quotes on this thread.
15 posted on 08/05/2002 2:26:29 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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To: rwfromkansas
16 posted on 08/05/2002 2:26:39 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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To: rwfromkansas
17 posted on 08/05/2002 2:26:50 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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To: rwfromkansas
18 posted on 08/05/2002 2:26:59 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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To: rwfromkansas
19 posted on 08/05/2002 2:27:08 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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To: rwfromkansas
Relevant Citations and Quotations on the First Amendment's intent (from official sources whenever possible):

1. Madison supported a bill to punish Sabbath breakers in Virginia (he introduced it and Jefferson supported it...possibly even wrote it).

"As a state legislator, however, he [Jefferson] partook in a sweeping revision of Virginia’s laws, which included: A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers; A Bill for Appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving; and A Bill Annulling Marriages Prohibited by the Levitical Law, and Appointing the Mode of Solemnizing Lawful Marriage. Reprinted in 2 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 555-558 (J. Boyd ed. 1950)."

From:, which is the footnotes to this page:

"In this same year, Madison presented to Virginia legislators "A Bill for Punishing . . . Sabbath Breakers" which provided, in part:

'If any person on Sunday shall himself be found labouring at his own or any other trade or calling, or shall employ his apprentices, servants or slaves in labour, or other business, except it be in the ordinary household offices of daily necessity, or other work of necessity or charity, he shall forfeit the sum of ten shillings for every such offence, deeming every apprentice, servant, or slave so employed, and every day he shall be so employed as constituting a distinct offence.'"


Based upon the Rutgers information, it appears Jefferson had a hand in the law (speculation is that he actually wrote it). Madison was the one that actually introduced the law.

2. Madison said the First Amendment was only intended to prohibit a national religion (as recorded in the Annals of Congress).

This proposed amendment is the start of the process toward the First Amendment, as best as I can tell:

"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed."


A later discussion on the First Amendment in August of 1789:

"Mr. Madison said, he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience."


3. Jefferson went to church IN THE CAPITOL.

At the Library of Congress website, two different people detail Jefferson taking part at church services in the capitol.


4. Jefferson wrote in letters that he opposed making one religious
sect legally above another (the real meaning of the establishment clause).

Kentucky Resolution (not a letter, but important anyway):

"And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares that "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": thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violates either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals."

From:"> href="mailto:DOCID+@lit">DOCID+@lit(tj080201))

Letter to Elbridge Gerry (1799):

"I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence By force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents."

From:"> href="mailto:DOCID+@lit">DOCID+@lit(tj090014))

Letter to Benjamin Rush (1800):

"The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

From:"> href="mailto:DOCID+@lit">DOCID+@lit(tj090069))

Letter to Samuel Miller:

"I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U. S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority."

From:"> href="mailto:DOCID+@lit">DOCID+@lit(tj110010))

5. Jefferson gave FEDERAL funds to missionaries.

Kaskaskia Indians:

From the treaty-----
"And whereas, The greater part of the said tribe have been baptised and received into the Catholic church to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars towards the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for the said tribe the duties of his office and also to instruct as many of their children as possible in the rudiments of literature. And the United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church."


Jefferson clearly supports the treaty:

"Another important acquisition of territory has also been made since the last session of Congress. The friendly tribe of Kaskaskia Indians, with which we have never had a difference, reduced by the wars and wants of savage life to a few individuals unable to defend themselves against the neighboring tribes, has transferred its country to the United States, reserving only for its members what is sufficient to maintain them in an agricultural way. The considerations stipulated are that we shall extend to them our patronage and protection and give them certain annual aids in money, in implements of agriculture, and other articles of their choice. This country, among the most fertile within our limits, extending along the Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois to and up to the Ohio, though not so necessary as a barrier since the acquisition of the other bank, may yet be well worthy of being laid open to immediate settlement, as its inhabitants may descend with rapidity in support of the lower country should future circumstances expose that to foreign enterprise. As the stipulations in this treaty involve matters with the competence of both Houses only, it will be laid before Congress as soon as the Senate shall have advised its ratification."


"In this resolution, Congress makes public lands available to a group for religious purposes. Responding to a plea from Bishop John Ettwein (1721-1802), Congress voted that 10,000 acres on the Muskingum River in the present state of Ohio "be set apart and the property thereof be vested in the Moravian Brethren . . . or a society of the said Brethren for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity." The Delaware Indians were the intended beneficiaries of this Congressional resolution."


"Later sessions of Congress extended the United Brethren’s trusteeship to these land grants--with some related legislation signed even by President Jefferson who was certainly not going to object to continuing these contractual agreements made by previous administrations."

In other words, Jefferson did have a hand in this legislation being extended, though not to the extent that he extended this legislation all by himself, as some conservatives claim.


Note: The previous info is from a strong separationist website, not some crazy right-winger's website.

6. The Northwest Ordinance encourages religion and morality to be taught in schools.

Selection from the Ordinance:

"Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."


7. During the Civil War the military mandated church service attendance for soldiers.

"Invoking the words of the sainted George Washington, Abraham Lincoln issues a general order "respecting the observance of the Sabbath day in the Army."

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, November 15, 1862. The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine will, demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity....At this time of public distress, adopting the words of Washington in 1776, "men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality." The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended: "The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country." ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

Heavens, if this isn't a violation of separation of church and state as currently described, I don't know what is.


8. Both state and federal courts supported religion in the public sphere in
most cases prior to the 20th century.

People v. Ruggles, Supreme Court of New York (1811):

"Kent, Ch. J. delivered the opinion of the Court. The offence charged is, that the defendant below did "wickedly, maliciously, and blasphemously utter, in the presence and hearing of divers good and christian people, these false, feigned, scandalous, malicious, wicked and blasphemous words, to wit, "Jesus Christ was a bastard, and his mother must be a whore;" and the single question is, whether this be a public offence by the law of the land. After conviction, we must intend that these words were uttered in a wanton manner, and, as they evidently import, with a wicked and malicious disposition, and not in a serious discussion upon any controverted point in religion. The language was blasphemous not only in a popular, but in a legal sense; for blasphemy, according to the most precise definitions, consists in maliciously reviling God, or religion, and this was reviling christianity through its author. (Emlyn's Preface to the State Trials, p. 8. See, also, Whitlock's Speech, State Trials, vol. 2, 273.) The jury have passed upon the intent or quo animo, and if those words spoken, in any case, will amount to a misdemeanor, the indictment is good...

The free, equal, and undisturbed, enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious subject, is granted and secured; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community, is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound, by any expressions in the constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors. Besides, the offence is crimen malitiae, and the imputation of malice could not be inferred from any invectives upon superstitions equally false and unknown. We are not to be restrained from animadversion upon offences against public decency, like those committed by Sir Charles Sedley, (1 Sid. 168,) or by one Rollo, (Sayer, 158,) merely because there may be savage tribes, and perhaps semibarbarous nations, whose sense of shame would not be affected by what we should consider the most audacious outrages upon decorum. It is sufficient that the common law checks upon words and actions, dangerous to the public welfare, apply to our case, and are suited to the condition of this and every other people whose manners are refined, and whose morals have been elevated and inspired with a more enlarged benevolence, by means of the christian religion.

Though the constitution has discarded religious establishments, it does not forbid judicial cognisance of those offences against religion and morality which have no reference to any such establishment, or to any particular form of government, but are punishable because they strike at the root of moral obligation, and weaken the security of the social ties."


Commonwealth v. Kneeland, Supreme Court of Massachusetts (1838):

"But another ground for anesting the judgment, and one apparently most relied on and urged by the defendant, is, that this statute itself is repugnant to the constitution ... and therefore wholly void. . . . [This law] was passed very soon after the adoption of the constitution, and no doubt, many members of the convention which framed the constitution, were members of the legislature which passed this law."

Note: The Constitution mentioned is the Massachusetts Constitution.

Even though this case does not refer to the First Amendment, it is relevant because it shows that the First Amendment was not intended to control state actions on blasphemy laws.


Davis v. Beason, U.S. Supreme Court (1890):

"It was never intended or supposed that the [First] amendment could be invoked as a protection against legislation for the punishment of acts inimical to the peace, good order and morals of society. With man's relations to his Maker and the obligations he may think they impose, and the manner in which an expression shall be made by him of his belief on those subjects, no interference can be permitted, provided always the laws of society, designed to secure its peace and prosperity, and the morals of its people, are not interfered with. However free the exercise of religion may be, it must be subordinate to the criminal laws of the country, passed with reference to actions regarded by general consent as properly the subjects of punitive legislation. There have been sects which denied as a part of their religious tenets that there should be any marriage tie, and advocated promiscuous intercourse of the sexes as prompted by the passions of its members. And history discloses the fact that the necessity of human sacrifices, on special occasions, has been a tenet of many sects. Should a sect of either of these kinds ever find its way into this country, swift punishment would follow the carrying into effect of its doctrines, and no heed would be given to the pretence that, as religious beliefs, their supporters could be protected in their exercise by the Constitution of the United States. Probably never before in the history of this country has it been seriously contended that the whole punitive power of the government for acts, recognized by the general consent of the Christian world in modern times as proper matters for prohibitory legislation, must be suspended in order that the tenets of a religious sect encouraging crime may be carried out without hindrance...

It is assumed by counsel of the petitioner, that because no mode of worship can be established or religious tenets enforced in this country (**note from me inserted here: this is the real intent of the First Amendment**), therefore any form of worship may be followed and any tenets, however destructive of society, may be held and advocated, if asserted to be a part of the religious doctrines of those advocating and practicing them. But nothing is further from the truth. Whilst legislation for the establishment of a religion is forbidden, and its free exercise permitted, it does not follow that everything which may be so called can be tolerated. Crime is not the less odious because sanctioned by what any particular sect may designate as religion."

Note: This is after the 14th Amendment.


Vidal v. Girard's Executioners (1844):

"But the objection itself assumes the proposition that Christianity [*200] is not to be taught, because ecclesiastics are not to be instructors or officers. But this is by no means a necessary or legitimate inference from the premises. Why may not laymen instruct in the general principles of Christianity as well as ecclesiastics. There is no restriction as to the religious opinions of the instructors and officers. They may be, and doubtless, under the auspices of the city government, they will always be, men, not only distinguished for learning and talent, but for piety and elevated [**192] virtue, and holy lives and characters. And we cannot overlook the blessings, which such men by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must impart to their youthful pupils. Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college -- its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? What is there to prevent a work, not sectarian, upon the general evidences of Christianity, from being read and taught in the college by lay-teachers? Certainly there is nothing in the will, that proscribes such studies. Above all, the testator positively enjoins, "that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to instil into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that on their entrance into active life they may from inclination and habit evince benevolence towards their fellow-creatures, and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer." Now, it may well be asked, what is there in all this, which is positively [**193] enjoined, inconsistent with the spirit or truths of Christianity? Are not these truths all taught by Christianity, although it teaches much more? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the sacred volume?...

It has hitherto been thought sufficient, if he does not require any thing to be taught inconsistent with Christianity.

Looking to the objection therefore in a mere juridical view, which is the only one in which we are at liberty to consider it, we are satisfied that there is nothing in the devise establishing the college, or in the regulations and restrictions contained therein, which are inconsistent with the Christian religion, or are opposed to any known policy of the state of Pennsylvania."

9. The "wall of separation of church and state" is not from a legally binding document and was simply an attempt at mitigating fears of Baptists that a state religion would be established (if it meant more Jefferson could not have done many of the things he did).

Quotation from letter:

"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 was a letter that was privately written due to Baptist concerns of an established church being formed. Jefferson wrote to reassure them. This is not a good document by itself as a judicial framework. It can be used with other documents, but to build a judicial principle of a wall of separation out of this phrase is not logical nor right.


20 posted on 08/05/2002 2:45:22 PM PDT by rwfromkansas
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