Separation of Church and State: Has it gone too far?
by Mark Shelby
Concerning separation of church and state, here are the decisions of the modern United States Supreme Court:
* The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.1 Everson v. Board of Education, 1947
* It is unconstitutional to offer verbal prayers in a school, regardless of denominational neutrality and voluntary participation. Engel v. Vitale, 1962;2 Abington v. Schempp, 1963;3 Commissioner of Education v. School Committee of Leyden, 1971.4
* It is unconstitutional for a student to pray aloud over his lunch. Reed v. van Hoven.5
* Students have guaranteed freedom of speech and press, except when it becomes religious, at which point it becomes unconstitutional. Stein v. Oshinsky, 1965;6 Collins v. Chandler Unified School District, 1981.7
* It is unconstitutional for a voluntary gathering of students before school to hear the prayers of Congressional Chaplains read from the Congressional Record by a student volunteer, even though the prayers are printed in a public manuscript published by the U.S. government. State Board v. Board of Education of Netcong, 1970.8
* It is unconstitutional for the walls of a classroom to have the Ten Commandments on them, because it may lead the students to read them, meditate on them, respect them, or obey them. Stone v. Gramm; 1980;9 Ring v. Grand Forks Public School District, 1980;10 Lanner v. Wimmer, 1981.11
These are only a few of the instances in which the modern Court has forcibly separated church and state. Almost all instances occur in the realm of public education. According to a poll published in Time magazine (Dec. 9, 1991, pg. 64) most of these separations are largely contrary to the beliefs of the majority of the American people.
These rulings occur predominantly in respect to education because education is the key to the morals, virtues and dignity of the society in which we will live in the future. Some of the results of these decisions by the Court are as follows:
"Recently public schools were barred from showing a film about the settlement of Jamestown, because the film depicted the erection of a cross at the settlement [despite the truth that] according to historical facts, a cross was erected at the Jamestown settlement."12
"In Omaha, Nebraska, 10-year-old James Gierke was prohibited from reading his Bible silently during free time ... the boy was forbidden by his teacher to open his Bible at school and was told doing so was against the law."13
The Courts started this decidedly un-American and subversive behavior with the Everson decision in 1947. The actions that the Court took at that time began to reverse the long standing opinions of the Court for the 150 years preceding 1947, and these recent decisions were without legal precedent, a definite taboo in the legal profession at that time.
"Why did the Court not include a precedent? The answer is simple: there were no previous cases to support its decision in this case! The Court had refused to acknowledge the existence of opinions by the Founders, Congress, previous Courts, and others, because those opinions conflicted with the position the Court now assumed. This ruling was simply a declaration of the Court's new policy, revealing the way it would now interpret the First Amendment.
"The Court employed an effective strategy to help create acceptance of the new policy: the appearance of its widespread public support ... Without legal precedents to aid them, the Court relied on purveying an image of universal acceptance and support of its new policy. This was a patient misrepresentation ... The Court had employed an effective marketing strategy, but not an honest one!
"The question remains: how could such an absurd decision occur...? The answer is obvious: these Justices were political judges, not constitutional judges. As Edwin S. Corwin pointed out in The Constitution of the United States of America [Eidsmoe, p.396], this Court, which during its tenure was able to completely remove God from education by a series of completely unprecedented decisions, did not have a single judge with any prior judicial experience! Despite the oath the Justices took upon entering office, the Court did not intend to follow the original intent and uphold the Constitution. It intended to make the nation's policies reflect its own personal philosophical views."14
The terminology that the Court used, that of a "wall of separation" between church and state was not even taken from what the Founding Fathers believed, but rather, was taken from an obscure speech given by Thomas Jefferson and was then twisted out of context.
Jefferson gave a speech to a Baptist association during his Presidency. Because he wanted to establish common ground with them in his speech, he borrowed a phrase from one of their theologians to use in his speech. The context in which he used the phrase: "wall of separation" was to reassure them that the national government would not establish a national government supported church (denomination) to be superior to all other denominations. The "wall of separation" phrase was meant as an allusion to a wall around a church to keep the government from interfering (see Barton, pp. 41-42 and Eidsmoe, p. 243).
Concerning the separation of church and state, here are the opinions of the Founding Fathers, of their contemporary statesmen, of later leaders, statesmen and Presidents, of later Congresses, and later Supreme Courts (before the current Supreme Court):
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions ... upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." James Madison.15
"Religion is the only solid basis of good morals: therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man toward God." Gouverneur Morris.16
"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." Samuel Adams.17
"Republican government loses half its value where the moral and social duties are ... negligently practiced. To exterminate our popular vices is work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens than any other improvements in our system of education." Noah Webster.18
"... True religion affords to government its surest support." George Washington.19
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion ... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams.20
"... The cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness ... inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric." Daniel Webster.21
"... The happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality...." United States Supreme Court, 1892.22
"... Offenses against religion and morality ... strike at the root of moral obligation, and weaken the security of the social ties ... this [First Amendment] declaration ... never meant to withdraw religion ... and with it the best sanctions of moral and social obligation from all consideration and notice of the law ..." Supreme Court, 1811.23
"It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs whether any free government can be permanent where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape." Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story.24
"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." George Washington.25
"The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country." President Calvin Coolidge.26
"Moral habits ... cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits ... Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens." Daniel Webster.27
"The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith - the Bible. United States Supreme Court, 1844.28
"... What constitutes the standard of good morals? Is it not Christianity? There certainly is none other. Say that it cannot be appealed to, and ... what would be good morals The day of moral virtue in which we live would, in an instant, if that standard were abolished, lapse into the dark and murky night of ... immorality." Supreme Court of South Carolina, 1846.29
"... For whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government ... because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order." Supreme Court of New York, 1811.30
"... Religion ... must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests ... In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity ... the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions." Senate Judiciary Committee, 1853.31
"It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles off the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom." Horace Greely.32
"... But for [the Bible] we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare ... are to be found portrayed in it." Abraham Lincoln.33
Here is one final quote from one of our modern, most well respected Presidents:
"The basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a ... government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!" President Harry S Truman.34
Don't be misled. Look at American history for yourself, instead of just taking someone else's word for it. The people teaching you this stuff don't want you to go to the sources of American history, the original documents, they only want you too read what has been said about it recently. So be radical, read the Constitution for yourself, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, and all of the other documents important in American history. When we quit reading these things for ourselves, we become no better than cows to be herded around, led by the nose, and then indiscriminately slaughtered.
1 Everson v. Board of Education; 330 U.S. 18 (1947).
2 Engel v. Vitale; 370 U.S. 421 (1962).
3. Abington v. Schempp; 374 U.S. 203 (1963).
4 Massachusetts Commissioner of Education v. School Committee of Leyden; 267 N.E. 2d 226, cert. denied, 404 U.S. 849 (1971).
5 Reed v. van Hoven, 237 F. Supp. 48 (1965).
6 Stein v. Oshinsky; 348 F. 2d 299, cert. denied, 382 U.S. 957 (1965).
7 Collins v. Chandler Unified School District; 644 F. 2d 759, cert. denied, 454 U.S. 863 (1981).
8 State Board of Education v. Board of Netcong; 270 A. 2d 412, 57 N.J. 172, 108 N.J. Super 564, 262 A. 2d 21 (1970).
9 Stone v. Graham; 449 U.S. 39 (1980).
10 Ring v. Grand Forks Public School District; 483 F. Supp. 272 (1980).
11 Lanner v. Wimmer; 622 F. 2d 1349 (1981).
12 John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Baker Book House, Michigan, 1987) p.406.
13 IFA Newsletter, February 1989, "Fifth Grader Sues for Right to Read Bible."
14 David Barton, The Myth of Separation (WallBuilder Press, Aledo, Texas, 1989) pp.147,148.
15. Russ Walton, Biblical Principles of Importance to Godly Christians (Plymouth Rock Foundation, NH,1984) p.361
16. Eidsmoe, p.188.
17. Tim LaHaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., Brentwood TN., 1987) p.196.
18 Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 (FACE, San Francisco, CA. 1967) p.10.
19 Eidsmoe, p.124.
20 LaHaye, p.194, 196; Eidsmoe. pp. 272-273. Quoted from The Works of John Adams.
21 Robert Flood, The Rebirth of America (The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation, Philadelphia, 1986) p.21.
22 Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S.; 143 U.S. 469 (1892).
23 People v. Ruggles; 8 Johns 546 (1811).
24 Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater, The Bible and the Constitution of the United States of America (Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco, 1983) p.38.
25 Dr. Sterling Lacy, Valley of Decision (Dayspring Productions, Texarkana, TX) p.3
26 Steve C. Dawson, God's Providence in America's History (Steve C. Dawson, Rancho Cordova, CA) p.12:3.
27 Verna M. Hall, The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America (FACE) p.247.
28 Vidal v. Girard's Executors; 43 U.S. 153 (1844).
29 City of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin; 2 Strob. 520 (1846).
30 People v. Ruggles; 8 Johns 546 (1811).
31 B.F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (George W. Childs, Philadelphia, 1864) p.318-329.
32 Lacy, p.8.
33 Clarence E. MacCartney, Lincoln and the Bible (Abington-Cokesbury Press, New York, 1949) p.35.
34 Dawson, p.13-1.