The BIG Lie: "Separation of Church and State" (Part 6)

Author: Andy Woods
Date Written: March 02, 2014
From the archive of
In the last five posts, we began a series on the "separation between church and state" supposedly found in the First Amendment. It is because of this phrase, which was first introduced into the fabric of our culture through errant Supreme Court decisions of the early 1960’s, that city councils are sued for placing manger scenes on the steps of city hall, public schools are prohibited from teaching scientific creationism alongside evolution, copies of the Ten Commandments are stricken from government walls, teacher-led prayer and Bible reading is prohibited in public schools, and Christianity has generally been purged from public life.   When did all of this insanity begin? We noted that we can trace the origin of the modern understanding and application of separation between church and state to the following two Supreme Court decisions of the early 1960’s: Engle v. Vitale and School District of Abington Township v. Schempp. Yet, an honest appraisal of these decisions shows them to be out of harmony with the vision of the Constitution’s authors. The founders would have been horrified at the prospect of removing the influence of Christianity from the functioning of public schools and government. The purpose of this series of posts is to show how out-of-step these decisions are with the express wishes of America’s founding fathers. This purpose will be accomplished through a consideration of nine historical and legal facts.   First, we observed that the words “separation between church and state” never appear in the actual wording of the First Amendment. The so-called "separation between church and state" terminology was not part of America's foundation and was never even used to limit Christian expression in government until after most of our nation's history had already transpired. Second, we noted that although Thomas Jefferson later used the phrase in a private correspondence, he actually used the phrase “wall of separation of church and state” as a one-way wall preventing the government from interfering with Christianity rather than preventing Christianity from influencing government. Third, the legal test that is used today to completely separate God from government is inconsistent with the beliefs of the founding fathers whose legislative record demonstrates that they contemplated no such separation. Fourth, the Engle and Schempp courts applied the First Amendment’s prohibition of a government-established religion to religious activity taking place at the state level in spite of the fact that the express wording of the religion clauses of the First Amendment are only a limitation on federal power rather than state power. We now move on to our fifth point.


Fifth, as noted in the previous post, the Engle and Schempp courts followed the precedent set by the Everson court in using the Fourteenth Amendment as the vehicle for making the First Amendment’s religion clauses applicable to the states. However, the Fourteenth Amendment has nothing to do with religion. Historically speaking, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 in the post-Civil War era in order to guarantee certain rights to the recently emancipated slaves. Thus, to turn the Fourteenth Amendment into a commentary on religion in public life is to force it to say something that it was never intended to say.  

"The Fourteenth Amendment has nothing to do with religion. Historically speaking, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 in the post-Civil War era in order to guarantee certain rights to the recently emancipated slaves."

  Moreover, just seven years after the Fourteenth Amendment passed, a legislative attempt known as the Blaine Amendment was made to allow the First Amendment to become binding upon the states through the vehicle of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Blaine Amendment was so named after Representative James Blaine of Maine. Yet, the very Congress, which was comprised of many of the same individuals who helped form the Fourteenth Amendment, voted down all attempts to link the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment together in this manner.1 Judge William Brevard Hand commented many years later that the Blaine Amendment’s defeat was a “stark testimony to the fact that the adopters of the Fourteenth Amendment never intended to incorporate the establishment clause of the First Amendment against the states…”2 Thus, for the Engel and Schempp courts to make the First Amendment applicable to the states through the vehicle of the Fourteenth Amendment not only ignores the Fourteenth Amendment’s historical context, but it also contradicts the intent of those who drafted the Fourteenth Amendment. In sum, for the judiciary to bring the “strict wall of separation between church and state” into the fabric of the American culture, they had to not only discard the original intent of the Constitution's First Amendment, but they similarly had to trample upon the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment in order to make the newly created separation doctrine applicable to state governments.  

(To Be Continued...)    

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