Constitution Lecture 9: Separation of Church and State
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Constitution Lecture 9: Separation of Church and State


Another misunderstood concept regarding the
Constitution and the founding principles of our country is Separation of Church and State.
Some say that this is a right codified in the Constitution; others say that the phrase
appears nowhere in the Constitution, and that our founders wanted a religious state. Who
is right? It is true that there is no phrase “separation
of church and state” in the Constitution, but that’s not very relevant. The question
is not, are the words there, but is the concept there? The place where this concept is claimed
to be is in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”
This clause actually does two things: it prohibits Congress from respecting any religious establishment–in
other words, it can’t privilege any religious belief or set of beliefs above others–and
bans the prohibition of religious exercise. Does this mean that the Constitution requires
a complete separation of church and state? Remember from Lecture 2 that we are not looking
for the intention of any one founder, but what the words were considered to mean at
the time. So we need to find where this phrase “separation of church and state” comes
from and what it was considered to mean, as well as that of the First Amendment. The phrase comes from an 1802 letter by Thomas
Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. They had written in a letter to him:
“Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious
privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not
as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements,
as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if
those, who seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion should reproach
their fellow men…” Jefferson replied:
“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, that the legitimate powers
of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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. Adhering to this expression
of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with
sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all
his natural rights…” So the phrase, from its very origin, was linked
directly to the language of the First Amendment. And this wasn’t just Jefferson’s opinion;
James Madison used the phrase in an 1819 letter to Robert Walsh, where he said:
“[T]he number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood and the devotion of the
people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
Madison felt that both government and religion were better off when there was no link between
them at all, and this was the common sentiment at the time. Going back to the First Amendment, we see
that there are two parts to this. The first part is a prohibition of any respect towards
any establishment of religion. This is also considered to be the secularization of government.
The second part is a guarantee of the freedom of religious exercise. The misunderstanding
of this concept has led to many cases where the attempt to comply with the First Amendment
actually runs afoul of its true meaning. Peyote is an illegal drug, and yet both the
Federal government and 23 different states allow the use of peyote for religious purposes,
as is the case with some Native American religions. The idea is that, even though peyote is illegal
for everyone else, prohibiting it for religious use violates the First Amendment’s restriction
on prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Another example is that members of certain
religious groups can be exempted from paying the Social Security tax. Any member of a religion
on a list of government-recognized religions can file Form 4029 and, if approved, never
have to pay any Social Security tax at all–again, justified by the prohibition on the free exercise
of religion. But there’s a problem of logic here: the
establishment clause prohibits Congress from respecting ANY establishment of religion.
What do these laws do, if not exactly that? These laws effectively grant members of certain
religions privileges that cannot be exercised by anyone else. That completely runs afoul
of the concept of Separation of Church and State. There’s another issue regarding this clause:
the claim that the founding fathers were Christian and wanted a Christian nation, coming up with
all sorts of quotes form the founders for support. Even without taking the enormous
amount of time required to examine all of these, we can see the fallacy here just by
recalling Lecture 2: The intent of the founders should not be considered when interpreting
the Constitution, only the meaning of the words they used. Although some founders were
Deist, others were Christian–but felt, like the Danbury Baptists, that religion should
be a personal thing and not managed or supported in any way by government. Here’s a good way of thinking about this:
If it’s true that America is a Christian nation because a majority of the founders
were Christian, then is it not just as true that America is a White Male nation because
a majority of the founders were white men? If that statement is racial and sexual bigotry,
then surely the argument about a Christian nation must be religious bigotry as well. They have tried using various founders for
support. For example, they usually turn to Ben Franklin as an example of a founding father
who proposed that each morning of the Constitutional Convention open with a prayer. What they fail
to mention is that his proposal was rejected. They didn’t even bother to vote on it. They
adjourned for the day, and Franklin never brought it up again. Even if you could definitively find a founder
who was a Christian and wanted a Christian nation, it would only be that individual’s
opinion, and nothing about that was ever codified into the Constitution. In fact, the Constitution
only mentions religion in one other place, where Article VI prohibits religious tests
as a requirement to take public office. Remember that the Constitution is there to specifically
enumerate the powers, functions, and character of the Federal government, and the absence
of any religious preference is enough to discount the idea of a Christian nation entirely. This is the point Roger Sherman made when
the establishment clause was being debated. According to the minutes of the debate from
August 15, 1789, “MR. SHERMAN thought the amendment altogether unnecessary, inasmuch
as Congress had ‘no authority whatever delegated to them by the Constitution to make religious
establishments.’” He was worried that the inclusions of this clause would otherwise
imply that the government had any power to do this in the first place, which it didn’t. The fact that there is no power given in the
Constitution to favor any religious belief over others should be enough, but in case
it isn’t, there is one example of the secular nature of our government being codified into
law. In November of 1796, the United States signed a treaty with Tripoli, signed by President
John Adams and written by him with Thomas Jefferson’s input. Article 11 of this treaty
reads: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded
on the Christian religion…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.” According to Article VI, any treaties made
in pursuance of the Constitution are part of the Supreme Law of the Land. This declaration
therefore has the same effect as if it were part of the Constitution itself. This treaty
was confirmed unanimously by the Senate; it was published in the Philadelphia Gazette,
and there is no record of any dissent from any members of the public. Some Christians
have claimed that the quoted passage is a mistranslation from the Arabic, but this is
the precise language that was approved by the Senate and entered into the law of the
land. Some also claim that it was replaced by the
Treaty of Peace and Amnity in 1805, but this is untrue. The purpose of this treaty was
to end the hostilities that broke out in 1801 when the Pasha of Tripoli broke the 1796 treaty.
There is nothing in the language of this new treaty that amends or overrules the language
of Article 11 in the previous treaty. They point to other bits of evidence as well,
such as the motto “In God We Trust” on the money, and “Under God” in the Pledge
of Allegiance. Neither of these hold water. The phrase “In God We Trust” does not
appear on a single coin until 1864. Before then, the only place this motto could be found
was in the fourth stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner: “And this be our motto: In God is
our trust.” But the Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t made our official National Anthem
until 1931; before then, the unofficial anthem was “Hail, Columbia,” which makes no mention
of God at all. The country’s first coin, the Continental,
bore the motto “Mind Your Business,” while coins minted after the 1792 Coinage Act bore
the motto “E Pluribus Unum,” Latin for, “Out of many, one.” It still appears on
coins to this day. And although the phrase “In God We Trust” appears prominently on current
money, such as this recently-printed one dollar bill, it did not appear on earlier bills,
like this 1935 dollar. “In God We Trust,” despite showing up
on a few coins beforehand, wasn’t made the official US motto until 1956, as a Cold War
statement against the “godless Communists” during the era of McCarthyism. As for the Pledge of Allegiance, it wasn’t
even written until 1892. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a famous socialist, and didn’t
include any reference to God at all. It initially read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and
to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for
all.” Today, libertarians wonder what a free country is doing with a pledge to begin
with. This picture of schoolchildren reciting the pledge is particularly disturbing. At
any rate, the phrase “Under God” was not added until 1954, during that very same McCarthy-era
posturing that made “In God We Trust” the motto. So, not only is it untrue that America was
a Christian nation that was undermined by secular liberals, it is actually true that
entirely the opposite is the case. The separation of church and state was universally recognized
from the very beginning, and only came into doubt in more recent times. As always, stay strong and be free.

100 Comments

  • PaulfrmTXtoCO

    The phrase is "with regards to" establishment. of religion. This says clearly that the government will not establish a religion. This a clear ban of the State religion like the Church of England which was joined to the King/Queen.
    This has nothing to do with laws being applied to religions, that is addressed in the next verse.

  • PaulfrmTXtoCO

    The laws given in your example as were all made after the religions were practicing them. That is a clear violation of the second part. There is no special class assignment involved. In fact, the banning of activities of a religion is a violation of the first part, as this imposes ones beliefs onto others religions.

  • Shane Killian

    It specifically say AN establishment, not THE establishment. You're pretending like it says "respecting THE establishment of religion," meaning solely that government cannot set up its own religion. But no, it says "respecting AN establishment of religion," meaning ANY religious establishment, not just one set up by the government.

  • Shane Killian

    "This has nothing to do with laws being applied to religions, that is addressed in the next verse"

    The Constituion doesn't have "verses." It's the same sentence.

  • Shane Killian

    "The laws given in your example as were all made after the religions were practicing them."

    Irrelevant. The act should be legal for everybody, or illegal for everybody, regardless of religion. If they'd been practicing human sacrifice, they could and should have made it illegal.

  • MightyNerdKing

    "In fact, the banning of activities of a religion is a violation of the first part, as this imposes ones beliefs onto others religions."

    When the states wrote laws for the legal age of consent, it became illegal for anyone to have sex with a minor. No religion was granted an exception for the age of consent laws.

    Freedom of religion is not freedom to violate the laws of the land.

  • PaulfrmTXtoCO

    No law is written in a vacuum, the activity must exist before a law is written. The second part of the 1st amendment is to prevent laws being written that inhibited religious practice. With the exception of Islam, I know of no religion that encourages sex with minors. Most discourage sex outside of the marital bond. The definition of what constitutes marital age has changed over time as life expectancy has increased. If we go by science, no one should have sex till 23 when the brain complete.

  • MightyNerdKing

    "The second part of the 1st amendment is to prevent laws being written that inhibited religious practice"

    Polygamy was made illegal while it was being practiced by Mormons. I guess they forgot about the 1st amendment when they wrote those laws.

    "I know of no religion that encourages sex with minors"

    Just because you don't know about, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    "If we go by science, no one should have sex till 23 when the brain complete"

    I must have missed this in biology class.

  • Shane Killian

    I've read about our brains fully developing in our 20s, but I've read nothing at all about how this means we don't have the capacity to consent to sex before then.

  • libalchris

    "Mind your business." I'd love our money to have that on it. That would be awesome!

    Brilliant video, you covered just about everything there is to cover on the issue!

  • PaulfrmTXtoCO

    Full development relates to ability to make decisions, So, if an individual is not able to make a mature decisionkn, that's the same as taking advantage of a drunk woman.

  • PaulfrmTXtoCO

    According to recent findings, the human brain does not reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s. (See J. Giedd in References.) The specific changes that follow young adulthood are not yet well studied, but it is known that they involve increased myelination and continued adding and pruning of neurons. mit.edu/worklife/youngadult/brain.html

  • Ganga Din

    Well, you have to engage in it. If you aren't religious, then all your child needs is respectful exposure to people following various religions, that way he/she doesn't identify pre-maturely with any particular group, and can see them from an outsider's perspective. If the child is capable of rational thought and not overly emotional, he/she will never fall for indoctrination.

  • jjmdirector

    You miss understand, sorry I was being brief… I am in complete agreement with your assertions here. I was speaking of the continuous legislative seepage that comes from DC, weakening and breaking a near perfect document. keep it up

  • Shane Killian

    Bring it on. But being a question of theoretical and experimental physics, it doesn't belong in a high school science classroom until it's gone through years–possibly decades–of experiment and verification. For an example, look at Lynn Margulis's discovery of endosymbiotic theory, and how long it took to be accepted by scientists, and after that to make it into the textbooks.

  • Bill McKenna

    The phrase from its origin (Danbury Baptist letter) was linked to the first amendment. Jefferson, who was not at the constitutional convention, linked his phrase to the first amendment after the fact.

  • Bill McKenna

    Wasn't a treaty negotiated during the Jefferson administration with the Kaskaskia Indian tribe which provided for subsidies towards the support of a Catholic priest and for the erection of a church? Was this treaty also considered as part of the supreme law of the land?

  • Shane Killian

    Paying reparations in compensation for crappy stuff the US did to them IS FUCKING NOT the same thing as establishing a religion! Geez, you nutcases just get more and more desperate as time goes on…

  • Bill McKenna

    I suppose if one were desperate, one might resort to name calling and vulgarity like you just did. So remunerating a Catholic priest and payments to erect a church as part of a reparation package for the Indians is not, in your mind, an establishment of religion? Was that treaty considered part of the supreme law of the land as you said the other treaty was? Name calling and vulgarity are not arguments.

  • Shane Killian

    Rebuilding what was destroyed via reparations IS NOT AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION and I explained why. So go ahead, ignore the cogent argumentation and just pretend it was all name calling and vulgarity. That just puts you in the bottom of the cess pool with creationists and other people who can only support their religion through LIES.

    "Was that treaty considered part of the supreme law of the land"

    Yes, but the part you cited was reparations, NOT a legal declaration.

  • Shane Killian

    Anything that pokes holes in his delusion is an insult to him. But in this case, he was employing the age-old tactic of replying to a completely different post in the hopes that I wouldn't see it, in which case he could then claim that I had no response. It's dishonest and immature, but then, that's all they have.

  • Bill McKenna

    Thanks, I thought I was pretty polite and respectful but I got vulgarity, name calling and then the suggestion that was in a cesspool. Not sure where all of that comes from but I am not interested in have a conversation like that.

  • Shane Killian

    First of all, just because someone uses a word on an arbitrary list that's completely meaningless otherwise, GET OVER IT.

    Second of all, you can be disrespectful without using those words–and you have most certainly succeeded at that! You made a fallacious argument, and when it was pointed out to you, you ignored that and started making it about character.

  • motoman22atgmail

    I wonder if he really thinks the founders considered churches to be 'religious establishments' at the time. Do other legal mentions of the time reference 'religious establishments' specifically and mean churches? Curious.

    He sees the first part to mean that no legal respect can go to any religion oriented entity. I see the first part to mean that no religion can be 'established' by law. They made sure there would be no American version of the Church of England, ever. Then they said the fe

  • Shane Killian

    "I wonder if he really thinks the founders considered churches to be 'religious establishments' at the time."

    The denominations they were members of were, yes.

  • Doron Bond

    VERY informative and straight forward plus "user-friendly" context. I'm all about the FACTS. Thanks for making it clear and concise in this video. Do you have a lecture on 501c3 in relation to church organization? Would like to hear your commentary on it. Thanks.

  • Nunov Yrbznes

    Is English not your first language? Why clutter up a serious discussion with such inanity? If you have something to say and you want to say it, you should study first HOW to say it, otherwise you are only embarrassing yourself.

  • amy9774

    What do you think about a teacher forcing you to stand for the pledge? I am wiccan and I do not believe in "God" I believe in pagan gods and goddesses so in my opinion I think its wrong of the teacher to make me stand because it is a pledge of allegiance to a flag of one nation under one God and I'm not under one God.

  • Elder Lee Harris

    There is one other place where the Constitution and religion exercise the same direction: The Holy Bible's Book of Acts 25:16 says (To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.) and the 6th Amendment of the Constitution states: (In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.)

  • Bob Knob

    Intent is moot???????  WTFarfignewton!?!?!?! Intent is everything!
    So if I say "I killed him yesterday" now I am convicted of murder??   No a sensible person understands that I won a game handily.  21 to 4 in fact. lol  

    Intent is EVERYTHING and the Danbury Baptist were worried about about government getting into the churches business. The establishment clause protects us from a government religion, Jefferson assured them of that.

    The phrase “separation of church and state” comes especially from the 1500s, and was a product of the Reformation in Europe.
    In the fourth century A.D., the government took control of the church and began to establish specific doctrinal tenets by law, making the church an official organ of government and using coercion and brutal penalties against those who did not submit to government-established theology. That abhorrent practice predominated until some religious leaders began to oppose it in the 1300s. Eventually, over a span of two-and-a-half centuries, numerous individuals in different nations across Europe raised their voice against the government union of church and state. After all, God Himself had separated the two institutions, placing Moses over civil affairs and Aaron over spiritual ones; and when King Uzziah tried to combine the two functions in 2 Chronicles 26, God Himself struck him down, thus reaffirming the institutional separation He had established. (Those European leaders and their followers who objected to many of the unBiblical operations of both the state and the state-established and state-run church became known as “Dissenters”.)
    The first recorded usage of the separation phrase occurred during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. Henry had sought a divorce, but when the church rightly denied it, Henry established his own government-run church and awarded himself the divorce. The Parliament also passed laws decreeing who could and could not participate in the Lord’s Supper and other sacraments, even deciding who could and could not preach the Gospel. The Rev. Richard Hooker objected, and is credited with being the first to use the separation phrase, demanding that the government stay out of what was rightly the church’s jurisdiction.
    Since those who came to America afterwards were largely Dissenters and generally held the same view as their Dissenting leaders in Europe, the separation phrase was widely used in America for the next century-and-a-half, especially in objecting to British attempts to establish official theology or British-run churches in America.
    The most frequently referenced American source for the contemporary usage of the separation phrase today is an 1802 letter written by President Thomas Jefferson to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, in which he assured them that because of “the wall of separation between church and state” the government would not interfere with or inhibit their religious practices or expressions, whether occurring in private or public. But in 1947, the Supreme Court reversed the traditional use of this phrase, for the first time allowing the government to interfere with and even prohibit religious practices and expressions, especially when occurring in public – a complete reversal of the historic meaning of the phrase and its usage both by Jefferson and those in previous centuries. Consequently, the modern application of this phase bears nearly no resemblance to either its historical or Biblical origins.

  • Bob Knob

    The intent of Jefferson's reply was to assure the Danbury Baptist that the church would not interfere in church business. Not the other way around.

  • wmarclocher

    I liked the lecture, until you got to the school children giving the bellamy salute to the flag. Instead of using it to degrade a pledge of allegiance with  'this is disturbing' I think you could have made your point without using it. Like the swastika the bellamy salute was something benign and harmless prior to the european facist movement started using it and giving it the tainted image it has now.

  • muddavugger

    0:44 Lecturer has already misinterpreted the 1st amendment. He said it prohibits Congress from making any religious establishment. Wrong! It says and you can read it for yourself: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Therefore, Congress has to make a law respecting a religion for it to be unconstitutional. Everything else is not separation of church and state such as waving a flag, bearing a cross, saying prayer, nativity scene etc. Everything else is prohibiting the free exercise thereof and is constitutional grounds for lawsuits.

  • Obstreperous 1

    To the guy down below that noted Jefferson was in France at the time, yes, he was, but Jefferson was the most stalwart of proponents of a Bill of Rights, from the beginning, and his correspondence with Madison, and a number of other legislators  still survives, and illustrates that most of the tenets that are actually in the Bill of Rights were those he advocated. Madison himself, originally, didn't believe it was even necessary, but Jefferson changed his mind. To suggest that because he was in France at the time the Bill of Rights was actually passed means that his writings on the subject should not be considered, is frankly disingenuous. At the time, he, not Madison was considered the father of the Bill of Rights.

  • Joseph Gilbert

    The 1st Amendment prohibits The State getting involved in religion.  It does NOT prohibit the involvement of religion in politics.

  • The Duke

    Your "interpretation is wrong – It means "DON'T RESPECT RELIGION" period. So when you give the jewish religion 100 billion dollars, i'd say that was a lot of respect – wouldn't you? Where in the Constitution does it outlaw drugs? or Peyote, these drug laws are unconstitutional… Where in the Constitution does it put speed limits on horse and buggies? The speed limit laws are unconstitutional !! Antonin Scalia and his prison bitch Clancy 'pubic hair on the can' Thomas are full of shit.

  • Aaron McLaughlin

    The first amendment was a limit on the U.S. Congress.  It basically means the federal government has to take a hands-off approach to legislating for or against an establishment of religion.  A tradition of prayer in the Senate, for instance, as long as it is not made into law, is perfectly constitutional.  A ten commandment monument can be on public property, as long as Congress makes no law saying that it has to be, can be, or can't be.  The real question is what is meant by an "establishment of religion"

  • thomas jewell

    Aaron McLaughlin: The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Exactly as you stated in your comment

  • jeffersonianideal

    If I am in a debate with someone who insists there is no mention of "separation of church and state" within the Constitution and I insist the concept is embodied within the First Amendment, how can I engage in a discourse without appearing as if I am attempting to have it both ways. That is, using the tactic of "intent" when it suites my cause but employing the "directly expressed" strategy when such an approach will most effectively advance my argument?

  • j lin

    and what i just seen on tv the pope in the u s congress turn my stumic being fave over or respect keep you b s in your not house ! not in my house

  • Larry Alley

    the office of the Pope is no known for its politics, its known for its religion..so having him shame Americans from that podium was not constitutional. even all the media was calling him Holy Father..so thus recognized as a religious figure..Government hypocrisy….

  • marcus davenport

    The person who made this video is an idiot. He didn't even bother to admit the obvious truth that the separation was only to keep the corrupt church of England out of our politics. Corrupt church of Penn…. Same idea but more broadly known about

  • billymodo

    Having heard your intensely biased interpretation of the constitution I'd be grateful for your response to the following…. The USA is not a democracy…. It is a Constitutional Republic.     When the US declared it's independence something very strange and historically unique occurred. The sceptre of power (which for centuries had been in the hands of a few, elite, European families) was wrestled away from the elites and handed over to 'We The People'.     The founding fathers were familiar with the plight of the pilgrim fathers and the religious persecution the first settlers had previously suffered under the rule of a tyrannical king.  Because of this the founding fathers set out a three tier government (influenced by Isaiah ch33v22) and they set in stone certain protections in a written constitution.     The Constitution is a first line defence that protects the new rulers (that is 'We The People') from any future tyrannical government.     The function of government is to serve the rulers (We The People) Not the other way around.    To this end the constitution sets out a number of matters that no future tyranny could overlook so they could seize back the Power now held by 'We The People'.  It protects 'We The People' and keeps the power hungry government on a short leash.     The right to bear arms and form a well regulated militia is to protect 'We The People' from a future tyranny.    The right to free speech and a free press is another protection to guard against a future tyrannical government.     The right to privacy and not to be subject to searches and seizures keeps a greedy and inquisitive government at bay.     I'm sure you see where I'm headed with this….Now tell me. Why put in place 'Constitutional' conditions that specifically protect 'We The People' from losing any power to a future tyrannical government?     Why put in place a lawfully protected constitution that is specifically protected from interference or meddling from a future tyrant?      Why is it that all these things were written to protect 'We The People' from the menace of a future Tyranny…….. Apart from one thing?      Why would the founding fathers protect 'We The People' (who are the rulers) from the state/government in so many ways but on this one issue of freedom of religious practice (you claim) the founding fathers intended to protect the Government from 'We The People'?     Why would a constitution that protects 'We The People' from the state become reversed on this one matter?

  • lease2coach1

    Here's what the Supreme Court had to say (9-0, by the way) about separation of church and state in Everson v. Board (1947): "The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can…pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. …In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.'" 330 U.S. 1, 15-16. [emphases mine]

    So there ya go: SCOTUS, whose job is to interpret the Constitution, says it's in the First Amendment. And SCOTUS decisions, like the Constitution itself, are the supreme law of the land.

  • James Buchanan

    I consider the "separation of church and state" as a separation of powers issue; exactly like the legislative, executive, and judicial powers are separated from one another. Government and religion were one for most of history. The separation of moral authority (aka church, mosque, pagoda, etc.) from the legal authority (government, state, etc.) created a dynamic where people could use one power to nullify the other. In the middle ages when this concept developed, one could lawfully petition the Catholic church for clemency from earthly authorities. It is inappropriate for the moral authority to make laws (legislative power) and sit in judgement (judicial power) of those same laws, as there would be no separation of moral authority from legal authority. According to Blackstone, clergy cannot be members of parliament. This dynamic is most often played out in courts today where a defendant appeals to the moral authority through the jury for protection from the legal authority. Consider the centuries old lawyers adage which clearly indicates separate legal and moral authorities , and the right to petition one for protection from the other. "When morality is on your side, you pound on the jury. When the law is on your side you pound on the judge. When neither is on your side you pound on the table." … Considering the "moral authority" as a fourth branch of government with limited power to nullify other acts of government also explains tax exempt status without complications.

  • MIke Vallender

    Interesting lecture and well presented. I tried reading the comments. There looks like some interesting views, however much of it looks like first drafts. If only there was a way to come back and edit these post and polish them.

  • David Anderson

    Hmm, I like this explanation better. It's a little less 'Atheistic' (plus this one is only 3 minutes long) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACufmHNFE98

  • Liberty Josh

    James Madison wanted to include states with the fed government in the first amendment. So he took the bill to congress passed it but the senate voted it down. So when politicians and states say that the first amendment didn't include the states, but they need to look at history.

  • Sword O'Truth

    As with most Leftists, you are trying to convince ignorant people that the founding fathers agree with you, but you fall short. The First Amendment was to restrict the Government from preventing religious practice or favoring one religion over another by establishing a “state Church” as the English did with the “Church of England” of which they were well accustomed to. Now, by leaving out so many quotes that are contrary to your point, you make clear your intent to deceive.

    Here are a list of founders and congressional and supreme court quotes on the subject from my upcoming book called "The Progressive Regression" . Please explain what they meant.

    James Madison “We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”- (1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia)

    James Madison "Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government” – (The Papers of James Madison, Robert Rutland, ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), Vol. VIII, pp 299, 304, June 20, 1785.)

    John Adams “[The 4th of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” (Correspondence with James McHenry, Nov 4 1800)

    John Adams “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God” (letter to Thomas Jefferson 28 June 1813)

    Benjamin Rush “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” (Of the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1798)

    Thomas Jefferson "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated” (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.)

    John Hancock “Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” (History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.)

    Joseph Story -Supreme Court Justice “There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as laying its foundations.” (Harvard Speech, 1829)

    John Quincy Adams “In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” (Speech given on the 61st Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1837 in the town of Newburyport.)

    John Quincy Adams “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” (Newburyport oration of 1837)

    Abraham Lincoln “This nation under God,” (Gettysburg Address and inscribed on Lincoln Memorial)

    United States Congress printed a Bible for America and said: “The United States in Congress assembled and recommends this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States … a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.” Congress passed this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”– (United States Congress 1782

    By Law the United States Congress adds to US coinage: “In God We Trust”– United States Congress 1864)

    Supreme Court “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian…This is a Christian nation”– (United States Supreme Court Decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892)

  • Lex Luther

    from where the old test. values are not important enough to carry out…. from fornication now is ok if we went back to biblical ways many of us would suffer for normalizing what is not moral

  • sunlitweb

    You have to think about the era in which the Constitution was written. I don't see separation of church and state. I see this as the government promising there will be no state run church that you are required to go to or pay taxes to support. They are also making it okay to start a church without fear of retaliation. That is much more freedom than people had in parts of Europe. Religious freedom was at the top of the bucket list back in those days. It was as important to them as our hot topics are to us in this age.

  • Looli

    I wish this concept get applied in the Middle East especially in Iraq. Unfortunately the country is becoming more and more corrupted and lawless when religion and politics interfere…..just my opinion with fact.

  • Gregory Wrightsman

    I understand many points but also need to be noted that there is cherrypicking in this video as well. The US is not a Christian nation, as in offically, legally, etc., that is true. Were many of the elements laid out in the Declaration and Constitution etc influenced by Christianity? Undoubtedly yes. Important to note that the US Supreme Court considers "atheism" and "agnosticism" as under the classification of religious. So even in secularism, atheism, agnosticism etc, the state cannot force that upon others as well. Atheism is considered a belief system (religious). Buddhism is also atheistic just to toss a monkey wrench into people's own version of their definition of "atheism isn't a religion."
    2nd, you are correct in the mention about "In God We Trust " but you only included part of the de facto motto prior to the official motto, which is "E Pluribus Unum" "Annuit cœptis" and " Novus ordo seclorum " are the de facto mottos. Mainly due to their prominence on the Great Seal of the United States of America and adopted officially in 1782. The obverse side shows many places, but leaving out the reverse does no help in trying to make your argument. "Annuit cœptis" translats "he, she, it approves of our undertaking." According to the Treasury Dept, US Mint and the US State Department it translates "He [God] has favored our undertakings" (note brackets included). When breaking the translation down and the reason for the change from "Deo Favente" it is shown what "He, she, it" was.

  • Flyacow Good

    I grew up a religious school I was beating consilii all the time yes you can look it Twin Valley Bible Academy Northern Pennsylvania a religious Fundamentalist Nazi School basically okay, it was school it was a fundamentalist School very evil yes it is not proper but I am so pissed off right now these people are starting to take over they would beat you and beat you and beat you and beat you they are stupid they believe the world's only 6000 years old I repeat this is a run-on sentence I understand that I am just so angry right now

  • GrayEagle48

    Psalm 2:2&3 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their
    Judges 17:6 …every man did that which was right in his own eyes.their own eyes. KJV
    Bands and cords keep one from doing what one wants to do.
    These versus are in actuality end times prophetic, their bands & cords are the bands & cords of the law. That people are stripping themselves of today. Gays seeking preferential treatment under the ruse of equal rights, law suits against Christian bakeries that refuse to make gay wedding cakes and other businesses, the war on Christians, such as Obama's lawsuit on the Little Sisters of the Poor, the war on Christmas, the removal of Christmas displays from public places and all the rest. The war on the ten commandments, crosses, and Bible verses in public places. The perverted, twisted neo ideology of separation of church and state. It reminds me of Bill Clinton's question "what is the definition of is" BTW the phrase "separation of church and state" is not even in the Constitution. Bible verses are not churches therefore do not fit the criteria to violate separation of church and state. All of these and all others fulfill, Psalm 2:2&3 I need your help. If you like my videos and comments pls subscribe. I will subscribe back to you. Thank you.

  • Deebo Nash

    Shane killian. You love taking the constitution out of context. Just admit youre wrong. That's all. Let go of that pride you carry

  • WPLU572 Trunked Radio

    I was just watching Frank Zappa interviews all strung together and he said to his understanding or from his recollection the Constitution states that there's a church and there's a state in their separate or to be kept separate. The question, to me isn't weather the concept is in the Constitution, it's whether the words are there. The Constitution says what it means and it's a general framework, not a highest authority statutory type text. so I disagree with you on points although I appreciate that you're taking the time to point out this separation of church and state myth that so many things to believe in. It's a concept that Thomas Jefferson was a proponent of or a practice that he was a proponent of it's not in our constitution. edit semicolon maybe I do not disagree as much so I apologize for coming off as condescending I made a comment without watching the entirety of your video by the way. At least I'll admit it LOL

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