Starting this Thursday afternoon at 5:30 p.m., nine of our area congregations will be joining together to host a 3 night event at our local Middle School Soccer field. Because of its Christian nature, one of our citizens has called our local Nazarene church to express their displeasure at our breaking the ironclad law in our Constitution of “Separation of Church and State”. Sadly – one of the greatest evidences of how uneducated our general populace is (regardless of degrees they may hold) is that so many believe this phrase is in our Constitution.
Typically what folks who get hot and bothered about this are referring to is the First Amendment to the Constitution, which simply states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The words “separation”, “church,” or “state” are not found in the First Amendment, the Constitution, or in any other official founding document. And yet many believe all of these words are found in the First Amendment – largely because someone they trusted said it was in the First Amendment; and because they failed to ever actually read our constitution for themselves.
A close study of the sentiments and writings of our founding fathers will clearly show that their great concern was that the government not have any power or authority to interfere with the affairs of the church in any way – – knowing full well from their history with the government in Europe – – that government has an irresistible urge to do just that. Their concern was never that a government employee not have the right to express their own religious views. Their concern merely was that the government not have the power or authority to force those views on their citizenry.
I think it is important to note that the phrase “separation of church and state” appeared – not in any founding document – but rather in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, which was both a personal and private document. And his use of the phrase again in no way was meant to stifle the freedom of expression (religious or otherwise) that every citizen of our great nation has (whether they are a gov’t employee or not).
So are the officials of our school district breaking the law by allowing nine of our area congregations to rent their middle school soccer field to hold some meetings in big tents? Absolutely not! Now if they instructed each of their teachers to command their students to attend these meetings as part of their homework assignments – then that could be a problem. But I don’t think we need to worry about that happening.
Because of this amazing event that will begin this late Thursday afternoon, I can’t write more on this now. But if you really want to learn more about this subject, in my view – David Barton is the foremost scholar and authority on our nation’s founding documents and their clear intent. If you google “David Barton and Separation of Church and State” you will find plenty of information to help you see this issue clearly.
Finally I would encourage each of you to find some time in the near future to actually read for yourself our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Were you to read each of those documents word for word on your own, you would be more educated than some of our members of congress!