The separation of church and state is a concept that has seen growing popularization as of late. Many of the proposition 8 protesters have cited separation of church and state as legal justification for their cause. The ACLU continually harps on the legal wedge between the sacred and the secular and seeks to widen the gap at every opportunity (When it deals with the Christian religion anyway). The Supreme Court has made many moves toward secularism in the latter part of the twentieth century. Secularization seems to be a growing fad just about everywhere these days, and many secularists have gone as far as to try and limit religious freedoms in a country that was founded on the basis of religious freedom.
This concept of separation between church and state is severely misunderstood by most Americans today. The truth is that neither the constitution, nor any other founding document mentions anything about the separation of church and state. The Bill of rights does say: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” But does this constitute separation of church and state? In a way it does. The early Americans had fled oppression from governments that were politically intertwined with a state church that dominated all religious activity. These state churches had become more interested in political power and vain tradition than the practice of true religion. It was for this reason that many sincere believers left their state-sponsored churches and established a new life in a new world. The makers of the constitution wanted to preserve this heritage in writing by striking out any possibility of a state sponsored church that would violate the freedom of citizens to act according to their own religious convictions.
This form of separation of church and state is nothing like the modern concept that is being propagated by secular and moral progressives. According to some, any time a person acts out their religious convictions in a voting booth they are violating the separation principle. Nothing could be further from the truth; our nation is steeped in the tradition of citizens and leaders acting out their religious beliefs in office, or with a ballot. Any true scholar of American history can see that this country been shaped by the Judeo-Christian ethic. This Christian foundation would have been impossible if the majority of Americans had a problem with church principles interacting with the government. Here are some examples that display the mindset that shaped our country:
“On my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention” - Alexis de Tocqueville
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other” - Jon Adams
“Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports" - George Washington
"This is a religious nation… We are a Christian people.” - United States Supreme Court(The Church of The Holy Trinity Vs. The United States)
If there are people that are discontent to live in a country that has been largely shaped by Christian principles, and in which religious principles have often dominated the public square, then they are free to move to a society that has been founded solely on secularism. Russia comes to mind readily. Send me a postcard from the Kremlin, Comrade!
P.S. This only scratches the surface of the information available on Religion in American History. More to come on Founder's Friday!