Foundation of "Separation"
of Church & State
by Dr. Art Mathias
In Anchorage, Alaska these non-traditional Christmas messages were posted on city buses:
"Imagine No Religion"
"Yes, Virginia, There is No God"
"Sleep in on Sundays"
"Enjoy Life Now: There is No Afterlife!"
I'm sure Anchorage is not the only city where an Atheist group has been advertising. Whether it's nativity scenes, crosses, or Ten Commandments; there always seems to be some sort of controversy during the height of Christian holidays regarding the whole separation of church and state issue. The debate stems from the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, which is the beginning of what is known as the Bill of Rights. The founders of this nation wanted to make sure some of the most important freedoms were outlined, so that we don't lose them, and no one, especially the government, can take them away.
I wonder, what do you know about the history of the Separation of Church and State" in our nation? Sometimes, the word "history" makes too many people zone out and fall asleep, yet the reality is that lack of historical knowledge can lead to very bad decisions!! Here is what the Constitution says:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Here's the bottom line: The Freedom of the people, especially God's people, to express themselves is protected by the First Amendment. It's interesting how the enemy (satan) will take something that is true and twist it enough to use it against you, and if you don't know the "word", you can get tricked!
Here's the question: Is the separation of church and state in the Constitution? Is it in the Bill of Rights? No.
But here's the problem: In a recent poll, 70% of Americans think the wall of separation that is often used against Christians is somewhere in the Constitution! It's not. The idea of separation of church and state was actually formed by Christians to keep the state from encroaching on their freedom to exercise their faith.
October 7, 1801 ten years after the ratification of the Bill of Rights, a group of Baptists from Connecticut write to Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States. In their letter, they said, "We are praying for you because we believe the God of America has placed you in the seat of President to serve the people." They actually sent lists of signed names of those who promised to pray for him.
They go on to say that they feel the 1st Amendment is a bit unclear to us, because it says "the government shall not prohibit the free exercise of religion." In other words, if the government is saying "we won't prohibit the free exercise of religion," it almost sounds like the government is giving a favor or granting permission to the people of God as if their faith were in the government's control. So they said, "We believe it is an inalienable right from God to us to be a people of faith, and that is solely in the hands of God and people, it has nothing to do with the government, it is separate from the government."
Thomas Jefferson wrote back and said that he fully agreed, because faith is between God and man - it doesn't run through the government, therefore the First Amendment has put a wall of separation between church and state from infringing on the people of faith, hence the phrase, "separation of church and state." It is totally taken out of context when it is used to prevent Christians from practicing their faith in public or in government. Context and history are very important!
We need to stay aware lest we lose our freedom! I am so glad that we are still free to exercise our faith, celebrate Jesus, read publicly from His Word, and pray!
Let us pray for our Nation!
Dr. Art Mathias
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