Topic category: Constitution/Constitutional Crises
American Revival & Mr. Jefferson’s Letters
It never occurred to me before to read Thomas Jefferson’s letter that the phrase “separation of church and state” came from. The Lord moved upon my thoughts today to find and read the letter, and I am so thankful that I have read it. Prior to 1947 the phrase was widely believed to protect Americans from the government dictating which Christian religion Americans would belong to. Since 1947 the courts have seen fit to give the phrase a meaning which clearly was not the intent of Mr. Jefferson. The phrase has been used to divorce American life from America’s Christian religion.
I am sure you all know by now that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or in our Constitution. It does not even appear as a popular phrase in preserved writing during the time of our Republic’s founding. The phrase must be viewed as it is in context of Mr. Jefferson’s whole letter. I believe that if Americans were to read the letter with an unbiased mind and heart, they would cry out in agony of the injustice and of the damage that has been done to American society as a result of court rulings based on the term “separation of church and state.”
I have inserted my commentary between lines of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist association, written in 1802. My commentary will be italicized and enclosed in brackets:
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which
[approbation = approval],
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, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
[He is happy that his constituent’s opinion of his pursuit of his constituent’s interests is equal to his actual faithful and zealous pursuits on their behalf.]
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,
[We owe an accounting of our faith, and how we worship, to no one but God.]
that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions,
[The government has its limited and legitimate powers spelled out in the Constitution. Those in government, once elected, should not be spewing their personal opinions as if they were law.]
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,"
[He is in awe of the American people with their absolute power and authority declared that their law makers will never make a law establishing a particular Christian religion as the religion of the land. This is clearly in contrast to The Church of England, which they removed themselves from. They came here to have the freedom of whatever Christian religion they wanted to participate in. There were, to name just a few, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Quakers, Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists. All thirteen colonies had constitutions that protected Christianity as the state religion. Even today, almost every state in the union has our Christian God in their State Constitutions. Until recent diversion, oaths of office have always been taken on the Holy Bible, and saying the words, “so help me God.” Sessions of State and Federal Congress have begun with Christian prayer beginning with our first elected officials. Until modern times, Sunday has been honored as a day of rest; this tradition is peculiar only to Christianity. When I was a girl, almost all stores were closed on Sundays. Most families spent time with their family at church and at home on Sundays. Currently, one can barely tell the difference between Saturday and Sunday. The family unit has deteriorated with the decline of our Christianity being present in our daily lives.]
[The phrase “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” insures that no one can stop me from practicing my religion. Mr. Obama stating that “we are no longer a Christian nation” comes as a surprise of his ignorance that 85% of Americans are Christian.]
thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
[Until modern times, this phrase was viewed in the context of the rest of the letter as declaration that the government will never be able to dictate what religion we belong to. This phrase lends itself to our religious protection from the state.]
[During the time of our Republic’s founding the term “rights of conscience” was a common phrase used for our Christian, God given rights and associated responsibilities. These rights belong to us every minute of every day we are alive. These rights define who we are. Who we are cannot be divided from our activities at home, at play, or at work – even if our work is that of politics – or, perhaps even most important if our work is in service to our citizens. Our Christian population is in dire need of returning to the “rights of conscience” that defined us in the birth of our American Republic.]
[To quote Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church at New London, CT, February 4, 1809, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience.” Mr. Jefferson is actually saying that there is provision in our Constitution that protects “the rights of conscience.” There is no better definition for something Mr. Jefferson wrote, than for him to define it for us in his own words, in this second letter.]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.
[After the agonies of war and suffering borne in gaining our independence, it is quite natural to see Mr. Jefferson satisfied to see man restored in his natural rights. Those natural rights to man from God (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), and knowing that these natural rights are in agreement with man’s social duties. Part of man’s social duties is exercising his voting privilege, or being voted into office to exercise the bounds of his “rights of conscience” in representing his constituents.]I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
[It seems obvious Mr. Jefferson is returning good wishes in kind that he received from the Danbury Baptist association.]Th Jefferson Jan. 1. 1802.
It is time for the majority of American Christians to end their silence on this issue. The courts have been getting it wrong since the 1940’s. If we value the revival of our American Christian faiths, families, education, Constitution, and Republic, this issue is central to revival.
Biography - Juanita Holloway-Walters
Juanita has forty five years experience as an Accountant. During her last twenty eight years she specialized in the start up phase and / or the recovery phase of businesses from two million in revenue per year, to fifteen million per year. Her sphere of successful influence ranges from accounting, to operations, to the backroom marketing effort. Streamlining and organizing out of control businesses is serious fun for her.
The art of raising a family while working was of supreme importance to her; and she chose a route of self-education coupled with some college. Her endeavors in self-education range from philosophy and history, to Christian studies outside of mainstream religious organizations. Much of her college dollar was spent on enhancing natural management skills and writing skills.
Although Juanita has lived in many regions of the country, she is settled near the Gulf coast in her home state of Texas.