Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Separation of what and what?

What do folks mean by "separation of church and state"?

Thomas Jefferson first wrote these words to the Danbury Baptists as assurance that a state religion would not be created, and each American would be able to worship in the manner of their choosing:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 & State." (Read it in its entirety on the Library of Congress website.)

Sadly, Jefferson's statement of religious freedom has become a statement of religious oppression, in essence: "Americans, check your religion at the door. Religious Americans must stop being religious when they express their opinions about American law!"

This is the opposite of what Jefferson presented.

It is unconstitutional to prohibit the free exercise of religion at any time, including when people vote. We all take our identity and experiences--and our resultant worldview--to the polls. There is nothing more American than the right of each individual to vote or opine their conscience.