Thomas Jefferson, one of the earliest and strongest proponents of religious freedoms, shared these principles with his fellow Virginia delegates, arguing that it’s unjust to charge Presbyterians, Baptist, Congregationalist, etc, to support the Virginia Anglican State Church. For example, if a Baptist moved to Virginia, he was required to pay a tax to support the Anglican church even though he didn’t attend nor believe the Anglican creeds. Liberty loving Virginians could see the justice in Mr. Jefferson’s views and repealed the mandatory tax supporting the Virginia State Church. The Separation of Church & State became a foundational plank in Virginia, eventually finding its way into the Constitution through the Bill of Rights, inspiring millions to come to America to enjoy religious freedom. An interesting aside is George Washington’s thoughts on the Separation of Church & State, believing that churches built character through faith and creeds, Washington was hesitant to see churches not funded by public taxes; therefore, he proposed to tax all citizens, but give them a choice of which church to support. Mr.
Washington proposed a voucher program for religion,
giving freedom of choice while ensuring that churches thrived to build character in the people for the benefit of society. No, I’m not proposing launching church vouchers, invoking the name of the great George Washington to bolster my position. I believe keeping government out of local churches, the true meaning of Separation of Church & State, has been a blessing, allowing each church to serve their God and congregations as they please, not requiring, nor asking for, government handouts.
Our Founding Fathers clearly understood the proper relationship between Government and Church life. Our current culture has tried to explain the concept of the Separation of Church & State to mean the Church should keep its views out of the State’s doings. A careful reading of these things, however, has led me to the opposite conclusion.
It is to be noted the phrase “Separation of Church & State” does not appear at all in the U.S. Constitution. The first time anything close to this phrase being used was in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a church in Danbury, CT. He was discussing the church being separate from worldly influences, meaning both sin and control from outside forces. This was reinforced in later writings by other Founders, as well as arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jefferson’s clear intent was to keep government out of the Church, not the Church out of secular government. The Church, according to the Founding Fathers, had, and still has today, a moral obligation to take part in secular government.
Read for yourself. Find out the truth. Sift it from commonly held beliefs, which are so often in error on this topic. And then be comfortable with owning your religious and political views together,