The most destructive and widely circulated myth ever perpetrated upon our nation!
"Separation of Church and State"
What does the 1st Amendment really say?
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."
The first ten amendments, popularly called the "Bill of Rights" are just that - Our Rights! They serve to further restrict the powers of the federal government to those enumerated in the Constitution in order to protect our God given rights.
Notice the 1st Amendment opens with: "Congress shall make no law..." That is clearly a prohibition against Congress, and not the states.
The states clearly retained all sovereign authority over religion. Most states had their own preferred denominations and were not about to give the federal government any sovereignty in that area. They were strongly against a national denomination that would dominate their own.
The states had their own religious tests. Delaware's Constitution required the following oath in order to hold public office:
" I, _____ do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."
The Constitution of Pennsylvania required a similar oath:
"I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration."
Most of the other states had similar oaths specified in their Constitutions. Georgia required an oath that public officials were of the protestant religion.
Our US Constitution prohibits religious tests because the states did not want a federal religious test to trump their own, not because we were founded by deists as a secular nation. This is simply another example of states retaining sovereignty over religion.
The next newsletter will explain the source of that mythical phrase, "A Separation of Church and State," and how it has been distorted.