SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
In reality there can be no separation of church and state. The government has to make some rules regarding religion. In fact, James Madison did not use the phrase in the First Amendment. Instead, he wrote
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson wrote :
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 & State.
Here, Jefferson reflected his frequent speaking theme that the government is not to interfere with religion.
Many historians credit William Penn Jr., the Quaker, who was the son of the Rear Admiral of the British Fleet, with writing the first constitution on the guidelines of religion and the government. William Penn actually wrote that man is to have freedom of conscience and should be able to worship and think as they choose without fear of punishment. He wrote this for the charter of the land that was given to him by Prince Charles and that he (under pressure from friends) named Pennsylvania. Philadelphia was the city of brotherly love that William Penn founded. People from all over Europe came to Philadelphia to live a life where they could think and worship freely. It is not surprising that Philadelphia was the focal point in the founding of the USA.
William Penn was a contemporary with Isaac Newton. Both of these men were members of the Royal Society of London and both opposed the Church of England. Neither accepted the doctrines of the trinity, hell fire or the immortal soul. William Penn published his beliefs on these and was imprisoned for doing this. Isaac Newton was private with his beliefs, but he wrote of them in his diary and in his principia. Isaac Newton met with members of the Briacy Polscy who also held to these beliefs. The Briacy Polscy struggled with the Polish government in order to have freedom of religion. The Briacy Polscy like the Quakers, opposed war. Newton most likely had an influence on John Locke, another non-trinitarian. Thomas Jefferson was fond of John Locke.
There is much debate over whether the founding fathers were ‘Christian’ or not. Joseph Priestley who many historians credit with the discovery of oxygen was born shortly after Isaac Newton died. He immigrated to the USA and helped found the first Unitarian church in the USA in Philadelphia. He also did not believe in the trinity, hell-fire or the immortal soul. He became friends with Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson listened to sermons given by Priestley. Priestley, like Jefferson was a devout defender of freedom or religion and conscience.
John Adams also attended Unitarian church, but was never a member. In fact, his wife, who John was very close, wrote to her son, John Quincy Adams, on May 5, 1816,
I acknowledge myself a unitarian—Believing that the Father alone, is the supreme God, and that Jesus Christ derived his Being, and all his powers and honors from the Father." "There is not any reasoning which can convince me, contrary to my senses, that three is one, and one three.
John Adams is known for the statement:
“I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that hereafter inhabit it...May none but the honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."
The prayer was later carved in the State Dining Room. Unfortunately, this prayer has not always been answered.
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Mason are credited with writing the constitution of Virginia which has
Section 16. Free exercise of religion; no establishment of religion.
That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. 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, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support such private contract as he shall please.
Thomas Jefferson also had a fear and respect for whom he perceived as God for he wrote the following on slavery.
must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our
people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The
whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual
exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting
despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the
other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man
is an imitative animal. . . . Indeed I tremble for my country
when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep
for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means
only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of
situation, is among possible events: that it may become
probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no
attribute which can take side with us in such a context. But
it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject
through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of
history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they
will force their way into every one's mind. I think a change
already perceptible, since the origin of the present
revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the
slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way
I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total
emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of
events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by
His Statute for Religious Freedom that was
approved by the State of Virginia is
An Act for establishing religious Freedom.
Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;
That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,
That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;
That even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;
That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,
That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,
That it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it;
That though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;
That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;
That it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:Be it enacted by 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, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
James Madison fought hard with the Baptist minister Elijah Craig and his second cousin James Madison, an Episcopalian minister for freedom of religion. James Madison wrote in the Federalist papers
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
It is clear that James Madison had read the book of Deuteronomy because many items in his constitution can be found in that book. James Madison’s wife, Dolly was a Quaker when he married her, but she converted to be an Episcopalian after marrying James and became a member of a church. James Madison was never a member of a church.
James Madison held his religious beliefs to himself and was not outspoken on theology. James Madison certainly knew of William Penn and Isaac Newton and their beliefs and it influenced him. This is probably why James kept his theological beliefs personal. James Madison wanted the government to have no part in religion and religion to not have part in the government. To help insure this he kept his beliefs to himself. One can read
Clearly, James Madison believed in a Creator and had deep respect for Judeo-Christian principles, but he also had deep respect for those who did not. James Madison believed like Pascal that
Nothing gives certainty, but truth; nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth.
James Madison believed that everyone should have their own way and time to discover the truth. James Madison loved wisdom and agreed with King Solomon that
Let wisdom enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.
James Madison wanted religion to be personal and agreed with Jeremiah that
You will find your Creator when you seek with all your heart.
Clearly, many of the founding fathers were not fundamentalists and all searched for the truth. They wanted everyone to have this same opportunity and wanted everyone to have their own theological and religious beliefs that were not forced on them by anyone.
No matter what you believe or have convinced yourself to believe, you must realize that the Earth is extremely toxic and the world is in unrest. It is interesting to note that Isaac Newton wrote that in 2000 technology would be controlling mankind.
What is the best way to live on this Earth?
For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet they are fed. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.