Tag Archives: Separation of Church and State

Atheists: New Hampshire Must Keep Religious Indoctrination out of Public Schools — American Atheists

Concord, NH–Today, American Atheists submitted testimony to support repealing an unconstitutional statue that authorizes recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

Atheists: New Hampshire Must Keep Religious Indoctrination out of Public Schools — American Atheists

Today, American Atheists submitted testimony to support repealing an unconstitutional statue that authorizes recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

American Atheists supports HB 1306, which provides a clean repeal of the unconstitutional statute, and opposes HB 1334, which repeals the unconstitutional statue but also adds in new unconstitutional language.

More specifically, HB 1334 says that school employees may during contract time “take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities.”

This is unconstitutional. First, it is not constitutionally permissible for teachers to engage in religious activities with students even if they are “not participating in their official capacities.” Second, it is unclear who would be in the position to determine if teachers had “made clear” that they are not participating in religious activities as part of their official capacities. What one teacher thinks may qualify would likely differ from other educators, administrators, and certainly students and parents. This provision would leave schools vulnerable to lawsuits by students who are religiously coerced and by educators who feel that their new rights to religious expression are infringed.

“The only way to avoid religious coercion and ensure religious freedom in schools is for educators and administrators to not participate in religious activities with students,” wrote Alison Gill, American Atheists’ Vice President for Legal and Policy.

“There is simply no need for the religious expression provisions found in HB 1334–school employees are and always have been free to engage in religious exercise in private and when not interacting as a teacher with students and parents,” added Gill. “New Hampshire lawmakers should instead pass HB 1306.”

Senator Rubio Pledges Government Handout to Churches in $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package — American Atheists

Washington, D.C.—Today, the religious equality watchdog organization American Atheists denounced Senator Marco Rubio’s promise of a “cash injection” to churches amid the coronavirus crisis.

Senator Rubio Pledges Government Handout to Churches in $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package — American Atheists

Sorry, Senator Hawley. It’s Unconstitutional to Bail Out Churches with $350 Billion Small Business Aid. — American Atheists

Washington, D.C.—Today, the religious freedom watchdog organizations American Atheists, Center for Inquiry (CFI), Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), and Secular Coalition for America (SCA) corrected Senator Josh Hawley’s claim that “the SBA [Small Business Administration] is WRONGLY telling churches and lenders that churches and religious nonprofits don’t qualify for the new #COVID19 relief program.”

Sorry, Senator Hawley. It’s Unconstitutional to Bail Out Churches with $350 Billion Small Business Aid. — American Atheists

$350 Billion Relief Fund Is For Businesses, Not Unaccountable Churches — American Atheists

Washington, D.C.—Today, American Atheists, joined by seven civil rights and religious freedom organizations, provided guidance to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on ensuring that funding programs created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are administered constitutionally.

$350 Billion Relief Fund Is For Businesses, Not Unaccountable Churches — American Atheists

How fundamentalists helped revive militant atheism in the West

How fundamentalists helped revive militant atheism in the West
From the Blog: Classically Liberal
https://freestudents.blogspot.com/2007/09/how-fundamentalists-helped-revive.html

The Washington Post has an article on the rise of the vocal atheist. It starts out with the story of a man who was a life long Anglican and who one day just decided he no longer believed. I’ve seen the same thing happen to other people. There is a clear increase in the number of individuals who identify as atheists. In recent years, among young people, the number of self-identified atheists has doubled.

Of course we don’t know the true number of atheists. Many atheists are aware of friends who put on the pretence of religion but privately admit to being atheists. Even some clergy fall into this category. What percentage of pews or pulpits are occupied by atheists is anyone’s guess.

In recent years polls in the US have shown that religious Americans are more likely to vote for a Muslim, in spite of the 9/11 attacks, than for an atheist regardless of their qualifications. The same sort of disdain for atheists carries into their private lives. All of this reduces the likelihood of an atheist speaking out. Many remain closeted but that doesn’t alter the fact that are atheists.

Yet in spite of this, the number of self-identified atheists is increasing rather rapidly. But that is only part of the phenomenon. The number of atheists who are being open about their atheism is increasing as well. And the number of atheists who are becoming vocal is also increasing. So, not only are the number of non-believers increasing, but those who do exist are becoming more militant and vocal.

The article discusses the rise of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Europe, which was founded in Germany a few months ago with several hundred members. It has created chapters in England and Holland as well. Maryam Namazie, the head of the English chapter said: “We are all atheists and non-believers, and our goal is not to eradicate Islam from the face of the earth.” Instead they are trying to make religion entirely private and strip it of the power to control the lives of non-believers.

The article quotes an academic who has studied the rise of atheism. Phil Zuckerman says: “Anytime we see an outspoken movement against religion, it tells us that religion has power there.” And one atheist is quoted saying: “There is a feeling that religion is being forced on an unwilling public, and now people are beginning to speak out against what they see as rising Islamic and Christian militancy.”

Strictly speaking, an atheist merely lacks a belief in a deity of any kind. It is not a rallying point, nor a particularly reason for social cohesion. Not being something is not something around which a common identity can be forged. The natural tendency, in my opinion, is for atheists to be a relatively unorganized because of this. Atheist organizations will generally contain only a very small percentage of non-believers. Atheists have no more in common with each other than do people who don’t believe in Santa Claus.

But recent world events has forced a rethink. Two things have happened. One is the 9/11 attacks, along with the rise of militant Islamists conducting other terrorist attacks. The second is that religious extremists — Muslims in Europe and Christians in America — have been demanding that more and more state power, meaning coercion, be used to further their agenda.

In both cases these militant fundamentalists are actively trying to impose their stilted world view on the rest of society. Witness the fits they go into over the gay marriage issue. Now if marriage equality is passed no fundamentalists will be forced to marry a same sex partner. They are free to shun the arrangement completely. They don’t want to be left alone, they want the law to prevent others from having the same relationships they can enjoy.

Fundamentalists complain if they are censored. But they are not against censorship. They favor it, provided they get to decide who shall be censored. Nor are they advocates of government leaving people alone. They want government to leave the religious alone and to actively harass others. And they have become increasingly vocal about such demands.

But the worst part for them was that they, and George Bush, entered in some sort of uncivil union. We saw the merger of church and state, the creation of the Theopublican movement. George Bush became their most visible representative. And for that, atheists should thank God.

The Theopublican agenda has been so closely linked to the Bush agenda that the dishonesty, viciousness and ineptness of the Bush administration now tarnishes Christianity itself. Whether that should be case is another question. Bush has been a PR disaster for the two things he is most closely tied to: the Republican Party and God.

On the other side of the world religious fanatics have unleashed their Dark Ages philosophy wherever they can. Islamists have killed thousands and thousands of people. Islamist governments kill people by the hundreds. And they do so in the most barbaric ways. The world is disgusted with Islam as a result. Even many Muslims have become disgusted with Islam.

The fundamentalists of the world, mainly Christian and Muslim, have breathed life into the atheist movement. In many ways they are creating a new, vocal atheist movement.

As I noted, there is no common ground for atheists. You can’t build a movement around a non-belief. But the fastest way to build a movement is to find a threat that intimidates people. Environmentalists know this, which is why they have an endless series of scare stories and have had then for decades now. H.L. Mencken noticed that political movements often succeed by “menacing” people “with an endless string of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” When people face a common threat, or enemy, they tend to unify. Republicans know this. That’s why they pushed the antigay campaign for several years. They wanted to build a fear campaign around homosexuals to unify the Religions Right. Now they are doing the same over immigrants.

If imaginary hobgoblins work well in creating a movement then real hobgoblins are even better. And rational people have felt threatened by Islamism and Theopublicanism. There it is — the reason for the rise of vocal, militant atheism. People are becoming atheists in larger numbers, or becoming more vocal and active atheists, precisely because the religious extremists have, or are trying, to seize power in order to inflict their agenda on the rest of society.

The moral majoritarians don’t merely want to avoid erotica. They want to force you to avoid it as well — regardless of your personal preferences. They want to burn the magazines, and some no doubt, the publishers as well. The Islamists don’t want the right to worship Allah. They want to deny you the right to not worship him. It’s not that these people want to lead lives abstaining from what they see as sin but that they want the state to punish you if you sin according to their religion.

I became an atheist over two decades ago. I remember sitting in my apartment one morning looking into the garden while reading a book on the logic of theism. I had been a Christian, attended Christian schools, was active in the church, and even attended Bible college. I had no doubts about a deity but then I never gave the matter much thought — something which is always conducive to faith. But that day I did give it some thought and concluded that a deity was a highly irrational assumption on my part and that the evidence was not there to support the belief I adopted. So at that point I abandoned it and haven’t looked back since.

But I was a quiet atheist for years. I did condemn the Moral Majoritarians and the like but pretty much ignored the religious impulses behind this new authoritarianism. But as time went by the nascent movement of theocrats in the 70s and 80s became increasingly shrill and illiberal and powerful. Their movement got uglier and more vicious. They were voracious for power. And then comes 9/11 with the praying fanatics who managed to kill 3,000 people in one day. I watched the second plane hit that tower as it happened on television. And I can’t escape the images of people leaping out of the burning building 100 floors above the ground, to their deaths. Watching these living human beings plummeting to their death was more than I could stomach.

And then I ran into some “orthodox Christians” who were pushing the theocratic agenda. And they felt I was an obstacle to them. So they engaged in a concerted hate campaign that turned my life into a living hell. And they enjoyed it. They relished it. They even bragged about it.

When I added all these things up in my head I concluded that I was obligated to not only reject the faith statements of theism, but that I ought to be more vocal about the threats and dangers as well. I was pushed into the position of being a “militant atheist” much against my own inclination. I’ve always been an adherent of the “live and let live” view of the world. But I realized that some people simply refuse to let you live and you have no recourse but to resist. So I went from quiet non belief to vocal atheism.

Apparently the same thing is happening in the educated nations of the world. Atheism is on the rise. The numbers of non-believers are escalating as people reconsider religion based on the results that they see around them. And those who, like me, were quiet atheists, have decided to put an end to their silence.

The massive sales of atheist books in the last year, works by Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, are the result of millions of people rethinking religion because of the actions of the religious. People are not buying these books because of Dennett, Dawkins and Harris. They are more likely to be doing so because of the Bushs and bin Ladens of the world. The real salesmen of atheism have been the theists not the atheists.

And when these theists started grabbing political power they gave millions of people the incentive to organize in opposition. If there were an Academy Award for atheism the recipients would have to get up and give a speech along these lines:

I want to thank all those people who made this possible. In particular George Bush and Osama bin Laden. Without you guys this just wouldn’t have been possible. Of course there are so many to thank. I should mention Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell as well but it was really the little people who deserve the thanks. All those people bashing on gays, bombing abortion clinics, closing down adult shops. And we can’t forget the guys who arrest people for selling dildos, or cut off the heads of infidels or slit the throats of sinners. And all those parents who murder their own children in ‘honor’ killings or let them die without medical care because medicine indicates a lack of faith. Your campaigns in the Shiavo case, to promote ‘faith based’ initiatives and to eradicate the separation of church and state, or mosque and state helped. All of you made this possible. Without your help we wouldn’t be where we are today. Thanks for making this possible.

ChristoFascist Bryan Fischer: : “I Am a Christian Nationalist”

Bryan Fischer: “I Am a Christian Nationalist”
By Hemant Mehta
https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/01/20/bryan-fischer-i-am-a-christian-nationalist/

The United States is NOT a Christian nation, it is a nation that has been taken hostage by Christian terrorists.

It helps when Christian supremacists come right out and admit when their critics always say about them.

Bryan Fischer just did that by declaring, “I am a Christian nationalist.” And he justifies it with a series of lies. Because lying is what Christian Nationalists do.

The Founders established a nation grounded and rooted in Christianity, Christian principles, and a Christian worldview. They enshrined their view of what a Christian nation looks like in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I use the term “constitutionalist” synonymously with “Christian nationalist,” because our constitution is the constitution of a Christian nation, and could only be the constitution of a Christian nation. Our Constitution is shot through, warp and woof, with the thinking of Christian statesmen who shared a deep-dyed view of the world, soaked deeply in the Bible.

The Founders included plenty of Deists and Christians who bear no resemblance to the conservatives of today. The Constitution they wrote explicitly rejected any sort of national religion — even subtly. (As the saying goes, the word “religion” appears twice in the Constitution, both times preceded by the word “no.”) You get the idea. Fischer lives in a fantasy world where his religion has always made everything better. That’s never been true. It’s certainly not true today.

Which means the Christian Nationalism that Fischer professes is nothing more than the racist, bigoted, hate-fueled movement that currently thrives in the White House and Republican politics. Trying to shine that shit by pretending it’s patriotic doesn’t make things any better.

The ChristoTalbans Taking Over Our Public School Systems

Thomas Jefferson starts out with his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, where, the actual law of the statute says as follows:

II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods…

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law. Thomas Jefferson.

James Madison stated, when he introduced the Bill of Rights to Congress:
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscious in any manner, or on any pretext, be infringed.”

The Civil Rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscious in any manner, or on any pretext, be infringed. James Madison

John Adams made it even more clear in his Treaty of Tripoli, article 11:

Art. 11.As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The United States is NOT a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohameddan nation. John Adams

George Washington repeated John Adams words and added to them:

“The government of the United States, is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.”

And one more from Thomas Jefferson:

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.”

Creationism in our Public Schools

The Battle to Teach Evolution in Public Schools
https://futurism.com/battle-teach-evolution-public-schools-far-from-over

Publicly Funded Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism. Thousands of schools in states across the country can use taxpayer money to cast doubt on basic science.
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html

Christian Abstinence Only education in our public schools

Abstinence education should be taught in public schools
https://sundial.csun.edu/37129/opinions/abstinence-education-should-be-taught-in-public-schools/

Many Georgia school districts tell students: No sex until marriage
https://www.macon.com/news/local/education/article215972505.html

Here is one Christian girl who stood up to the abstinence only sex education in Texas.
The Lubbock Independent School District high schools have an abstinence-only policy, which means they do not discuss condoms and contraception except in terms of failure rates. And they teach abstinence as the only acceptable behavior for teens that are not married.
https://www.beliefnet.com/news/2005/06/the-case-against-abstinence-only-sex-education.aspx

Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Is a Failure
Two new papers highlight the scientific and ethical shortcomings of the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach. Two scientific review papers find abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and policies in the United States are ineffective because they do not delay sexual initiation or reduce sexual risk behaviors. According to the researchers, these programs also violate adolescent human rights, withhold medically accurate information, stigmatize or exclude many youth, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, and undermine public health programs. Both papers are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/abstinence-only-until-marriage-programs-and-policies-are-failure

And yet? Christians are still demanding that abstinence only sex education be taught in our taxpayer funded public schools.

Next up? Christians forcing the history classes in our tax payer funded public schools is going like wildfire.

Here? We have the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. Interesting read here on how these psycho Christians are forcing this into our public, tax payer funded schools huh?
To date, our Bible curriculum has been voted into 3,500 high schools in 41 states. Over 650,000 students have already taken this course nationwide, on the high school campus, during school hours, for credit.
https://www.bibleinschools.net/

Growing number of states pushing ‘Bible literacy’ classes in public schools
A growing number of states are considering bringing the Bible back to the classroom. At least six states — Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia — have introduced legislation this year pushing for public schools to offer Bible literacy classes. Supporters say learning the basics of the Bible is an important part of American history — and students should not be denied learning its tenets just because someone might be offended.
https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/growing-number-of-states-pushing-bible-literacy-classes-in-public-schools

Christianity and Public Education: Do they Go Together
In his article, “Integrating Faith and Public Schools Without Mixing Church and State”, Eric Buehrer says that teaching students about Christianity and its positive influence on American culture is not only possible, it’s legal, and a legitimate academic pursuit for public schools.
https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/education/catholic-contributions/christianity-and-public-education-do-they-go-together.html

Report: Over 350 Public Schools Teaching the Bible
More than 350 schools in 43 states have implemented courses on the Bible for the 2009-2010 academic year, a new report reveals. Leading the pack is Texas where more than 50 schools are teaching the course this fall, according to data from the Bible Literacy Project, which publishes The Bible and Its Influence, a student textbook designed for public school courses on the Bible.
https://www.christianpost.com/news/report-over-350-public-schools-teaching-the-bible.html

Then you got these idiots from Ken Hamm’s psychotic Answers in Genesis clowncar.

The Rights of Christians in America’s Public Schools

by David Gibbs, Jr. and David Gibbs, III on July 12, 2007; last featured August 9, 2009

https://answersingenesis.org/public-school/the-rights-of-christians-in-americas-public-schools/

Although some legal barriers exist, teachers do have opportunities to express their Christian beliefs. God’s people must be diligent to exercise the liberties currently available to them.

The assault on religious liberty in public schools began in earnest in 1962 when the Supreme Court decided that officially sponsored prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. A second blow was delivered in 1963 when the Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional for schools to begin each day with Bible readings.

Regardless of these legal barriers, organizations such as the Christian Law Association have persistently defended the right of Christian students to express their Christian beliefs in public school. God has rewarded these efforts by restoring the rights of many Christian students not only to pray in school but also to witness.

However, the right of teachers and other school officials to share their Christian faith is much more limited. A teacher must remain neutral about religious matters and may not do the following:

  • Read the Bible or tell Bible stories (devotionally) in the classroom
  • Conduct devotional exercises
  • Pray in the classroom or during extracurricular events
  • Witness to students while on school grounds

Public school teachers are permitted to teach positive values in a religiously neutral way in the classroom and may also teach about religion as part of the academic curriculum, including the history of religions, comparative religions, biblical literature, and the role of religion in American history and world history. The history of religious holidays may also be taught, and teachers may objectively answer student questions about what various religions believe.

Teachers may arrange to meet students outside school hours to witness to students who are asking questions about spiritual matters. A faculty member may meet with the student leaders of Bible clubs off campus in order to assist them and train them to lead other students.

One Florida teacher was initially frustrated by this restriction but chose to mentor a few student leaders in an off-campus setting. It was exciting for this teacher to then see the students take an active role in leading their classmates to Christ, something that might not have developed had the students relied on the teacher to do the witnessing.

It is also legal for a coach to organize a voluntary prayer time off school property before the players gather on the field.

In addition to these options, there are multiple opportunities for community groups to defend Christian education in public schools.

For instance, soulwinners may not be prevented from witnessing or distributing tracts on public sidewalks outside schools, as long as the free-speech activity remains orderly, the noise level does not exceed appropriate limits, and there is no interference with the educational activity of the school.

In some cases, outside Christian groups will even have access to students on school property. A Christian group will be entitled to such access if school officials have already permitted groups such as the Little League, 4-H, the Boy Scouts, or any other group to distribute information to students during the school day. For example, Gideons have used the principle of equal access to gain the right to distribute Bibles to students on school property during non-instructional times in the school day.

The most under-used method by which outside groups can reach public school children is a Release Time program. If approved by a school board and with parental permission, students may leave the school for no more than one hour per week in order to attend religious instruction offered by churches or other religious institutions. Such permission is already on the books in hundreds of public school districts. All that is needed is one or two adults to coordinate and teach the program.

While there is constant legal pressure to further resist these freedoms, God’s people must be diligent to exercise the liberties currently available.

The future of America depends on the training of today’s young people.

Abridged from the article “Defending Christian Freedom in America’s Public Schools” by Dr. David C. Gibbs, Jr., and Dr. David Gibbs III. Used by permission from the Christian Law Association, a legal missionary ministry at www.christianlaw.org.

Founding Father James Madison on the Separation of Church and State

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between Church and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the dangers of enroachment by Ecclesiastical bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.” in an undated essay (probably early 1800s) and an 1819 letter.

“In a free government,” Madison declared, “the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects.” (James A. Henretta, The Evolution of American Society, 1700-1815: An Interdisciplinary Analysis, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1973, p. 136. According to Henretta, the quote is from Number 51 of the Federalist Papers.)

Here [in the Virginia statute for religious liberty] the separation between the authority of human laws, and the natural rights of Man excepted from the grant on which all authority is founded, is traced as distinctly as words can admit, and the limits to this authority established with as much solemnity as the forms of legislation can express. The law has the further advantage of having been the result of a formal appeal to the sense of the Community and a deliberate sanction of a vast majority, comprizing [sic] every sect of Christians in the State. This act is a true standard of Religious liberty; its principle the great barrier agst [against] usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected & no longer, these will be safe. Every provision for them short of this principle, will be found to leave crevices, at least thro’ which bigotry may introduce persecution; a monster, that feeding & thriving on its own venom, gradually swells to a size and strength overwhelming all laws divine & human. (James Madison, “Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments,”

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history. (See the cases in which negatives were put by J. M. on two bills passd by Congs and his signature withheld from another. See also attempt in Kentucky for example, where it was proposed to exempt Houses of Worship from taxes. (James Madison, “Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments,”

Chaplainships of both Congress and the armed services were established sixteen years before the First Amendment was adopted. It would have been fatuous folly for anybody to stir a major controversy over a minor matter before the meaning of the amendment had been threshed out in weightier matters. But Madison did foresee the danger that minor deviations from the constitutional path would deepen into dangerous precedents. He took care of one of them by his veto [in 1811] of the appropriation for a Baptist church. Others he dealt with in his “Essay on Monopolies,” unpublished until 1946. Here is what he wrote: “Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment … ?” The appointments, he said, were also a palpable violation of equal rights. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? “To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the veil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers, or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.” The problem, said the author of the First Amendment, was how to prevent “this step beyond the landmarks of power [from having] the effect of a legitimate precedent.” Rather than let that happen, it would “be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex [the law takes no account of trifles].” Or, he said (likewise in Latin), class it with faults that result from carelessness or that human nature could scarcely avoid.” “Better also,” he went on, “to disarm in the same way, the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion.” … The deviations from constitutional principles went further: “Religious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts are shoots from the same root with the legislative acts reviewed. Altho’ recommendations only, they imply a religious agency, making no part of the trust delegated to political rulers.” (Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights: Its Origin and Meaning, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965, pp. 423-424. Brant gives the source of “Essay on Monopolies” as Elizabeth Fleet, “Madison’s Detatched Memoranda,” William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], pp. 554-562.)

At age eighty-one [therefore, in 1832?], both looking back at the American experience and looking forward with vision sharpened by practical experience, Madison summed up his views of church and state relations in a letter to a “Reverend Adams”: “I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency of a usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespass on its legal rights by others.” (Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad, 1987, p. 39.)

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson on the Separation of Church and State

“Erecting the Wall of Separation between Church and State is absolutely essential in a free society.”

“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 and State.”1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Connecticut

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782;

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799.)

Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is in the best interests of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times of these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. (Thomas Jefferson, just before the end of his second term, in a letter to Samuel Miller–a Presbyterian minister–on January 23, 1808)

In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814)

Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve? If M. de Becourt’s book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose. I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject to inquiry, and of criminal inquiry, too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, on the occasion of prosecution for selling De Becourt’s “Sur le Création du Monde, un Systême d’Organisation Primitive”