Last week we started to look at the main document used in deciding the ‘separation of church and state’ or ‘Establishment Clause’. We will conclude that study here.
It is beyond obvious that Jefferson never intended government to regulate, interfere or restrict public religious practices. Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptist Association with a letter that left no doubt as to what he felt about the First Amendment:
“Gentlemen,–The affectionate sentiment of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature would “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.” 32 (emphasis added).
Jefferson’s intent was plain. He believed that the Constitution called for an institutional separation not an influential separation. In today’s society religion has been literally outlawed in most public arenas but Jefferson’s view was, literally, just the opposite. He commented:
“[The] liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will [is] a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” 33
The interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that the Court has used Jefferson’s private letter to determine ‘constitutional’ meaning. The other writings of Jefferson seem to carry no weight with the Court. What we really need to look at is the opinions of the man who actually came up with the wording for the First Amendment. That person was Fisher Ames. He and many of the Founders believed that the Bible was the most important book for early education. As the schools grew and newer books were introduced the Bible began to be set aside. He commented on this procedure:
“[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and probably if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind.” 34
This is a statement from the author of the First Amendment. If he wrote it, he should know better than anyone else exactly what it means. He believed that the Bible should return to its previous status stating that it should “regain the place it once held as a school book.” The Bible was the foundation of early America’s education. It was the reason we had great men of knowledge as our Founders. They understood and believed the real source of wisdom. It is not in knowledge alone, but in the understanding of the Word of God. Proverbs 1: 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 35 Proverbs 2: 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 36
Proverbs 2: 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 37
Benjamin Rush, Physician, educator, member of the Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence, founder and Vice-president of the Philadelphia Bible Society, and Father of American Medicine made this comment concerning the use of Bibles in schools:
“The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [extinguishing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that is was improper to read the Bible at schools. 38 [T]he Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life. . . . [It] should be read in our schools in preference to all other books from its containing the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public temporal happiness.” 39 (emphasis added)
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stated:
“The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the Word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by it.” 40
Patrick Henry stated simply:
“[The Bible] is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed.” 41
Noah Webster believed that the Bible was the best book for instruction:
“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best corrector of all that is evil in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of man.” 42
These documented beliefs of the Founders were ignored in the Court rulings and the Court even falsely asserted:
“The [First] Amendment’s purpose was not to strike merely at the official establishment of a single sect. . . . It was to create a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority.” 43
This assumption is absurd at best. Virtually all the writings, public and private point to the opposite opinion. Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and the Father of American Jurisprudence stated the exact opposite of the modern courts:
“One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of Common Law. . . . There never has been a period in which Common Law did not recognize Christianity as laying its foundations. . . . I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society.” 44 (emphasis added)
This man is the Father of American Jurisprudence. He literally ‘wrote the book’ on the manner in which we establish law in America and he is stating that the laws foundation is on Christianity. The education system then must also have its foundation on Christianity.
As the men that established our form of government grew up their philosophies for private life, public life, and the type of government that was necessary for a successful nation were grounded in what they were taught. As we have seen in the previous pages it was the Word of God. All education was based on Biblical teachings. All the Founders and their ancestors in America were all taught with the same two books. The Bible and a book called the New England Primer. This book was first printed in 1690 by Benjamin Harris and was the, beginning textbook for students until 1900. The only changes that were made to this book over the years were additional reading lessons but they remained in the same format. That format was the alphabet and was learned using Biblical lessons and references. The letter ‘A’ – In Adams fall, we sinned all. The letter ‘B’ – Heaven to find, the Bible Mind. The letter ‘C’- Christ crucified for sinners died. Virtually the whole alphabet was learned in this manner. The Primer also had the Lord’s Prayer, The Creed, and verses to learn. All the names learned were all from Scripture. There was a Shorter Catechism, a lesson on the Ten Commandments and other lessons all Biblical based. This is how the Founders were educated. They learned to look to God for their prosperity, their protection, and the overall well being of the nation.
Today this book is outlawed in schools because it mentions God, Jesus, and has Bible verses. Students today can learn about Islam, take on a muslim name, memorize, a muslim prayer, dress like a muslim, but a picture of Jesus is not allowed to hang in that same public school.
The foundation of what made America exceptional has been removed for the public arena on the grounds of nothing more than political correctness. Too many in our nation embrace multiculturalism which has destroyed every nation in which it is practiced. All other cultures are now allowed in America except the culture that made America the greatest nation in the world.
It has been said that the mindset of the schools today will be the mindset of government in twenty years. Today’s schools have not taught true American history. They have espoused a secular, godless society that will reap no benefits for its members. We no longer teach personal responsibility, we teach that government is the answer for everything. Government is not the answer. Ronald Reagan stated that ‘Government is not the solution to the problem, government IS the problem.’ The NEA is now recommending for its members books that go against everything American. They recommend that its members read Rules for Radicals, by socialist Saul Alinsky and dedicated to Lucifer, better known as Satan. You can’t read the Bible but you are recommended to read a book calling for chaos and overthrow of the government of the United States? That is insane!
How far will we let them go before we say enough? We should have said ‘enough’ fifty years ago. We have allowed almost three generations of children to grow up learning lies about America’s history and not allowing them to know the truth about how our nation was established.
While Thomas Jefferson is the one most quoted when declaring that religion and government/schools must be separated I will use one last example of the absurdity of that line of thought. In 1801-1809 while Jefferson was President he chaired the school board for the District of Columbia, where he authored the first plan of education adopted by the city of Washington. The plan used the Bible and Isaac Watt’s Psalms, hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707, as the principal books for teaching reading to students. 45
If we do not demand that the real history of America be taught, we will lose our heritage and that will be more than a national disaster, it will be a worldwide disaster.
32) Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802
33) Jefferson, Writings (1904), Vol. XVI, p. 291, to Captain John Thomas on November 18, 1801.
34) Fisher Ames, Works of Fisher Ames (Boston: T.B. Wait & Co., 1809), pp. 134-135.
35) The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Pr 1:7). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
36) The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Pr 2:2). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
37) The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Pr 2:6). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
38) Rush, Letters, Vol. 1, p.521, to Jeremy Belknap on July 13, 1789.
39) Benjamin Rush, Essays, pp.94, 100, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”
40) John Jay, John Jay: The Winning of the Peace. Unpublished Papers 1780-1784, Richard B. Morris, editor (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980), Vol. II, p. 709. to Peter Augustus Jay on April 8, 1784.
41) William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia & London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1929), p. 403.
42) Noah Webster, The Holy Bible . . . With Amendments of the Language (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1833), p. v.
43) Abington at 217, quoting Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 31-32 (1947).
44) Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, pp. 8, 92.
45) John W. Whitehead, The Second American Revolution, (Elgin, IL: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1982), p. 100 Quoting from O.J. Wilson, Public Schools of Washington, (Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society, 1897), Vol. I, p. 5. David Barton, The Myth of Separation (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press, 1991), pp. 130, 175.
Tags: American History Founding fathers Religious Freedom