The Worldnutdaily now features weekly columns by Ben Kinchlow, former co-host of the 700 Club. Unsurprisingly, they demonstrate all the ignorance we’ve come to expect from WND columnists. His latest column contains lots of nonsense about separation of church and state. Like, did you know that it’s a communist idea?
Let me state unequivocally: The concept of separation of church and state used incessantly by anti-prayer, anti-Bible and anti-God forces to erode our constitutional liberties is clearly articulated in Article 124 of the Constitution. However, it is the Soviet (not the U.S.) Constitution:
“[T]he church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the State and the school from the church.”
When I was growing up, my stepmother watched the 700 Club incessantly. I remember her making a similar argument to me when I was 17 or 18, that separation of church and state wasn’t in the Constitution, it was in the Communist Manifesto. So I went to my room and got a copy of the Communist Manifesto and a copy of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists and showed them to her. She was horrified that I had a copy of the manifesto in the house, as if reading it was going to turn me into a commie (I am anything but, of course).
Let us be clear at the outset: There is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution or any other founding document that articulates, supports or defends the concept of the separation of church and state.
The source of the subject phrase, “separation of church and state,” is a letter written by then-President Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptist ministers in Danbury, Conn., who were concerned that a state church would impinge upon their religious liberties, as was the case in England. Furthermore, it meant the exact opposite of what the anti-God forces infer today.
President Jefferson reassured them thusly:
“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. …” (Emphasis added.)
– Thomas Jefferson, Jan. 1, 1802
Clearly, the “wall of separation” was/is to prevent the establishment of an official state church and to keep the state out of the church – not vice versa. While I am not an attorney, it seems clear to me that the moment someone invokes the First Amendment “establishment clause,” they immediately violate the “free-exercise clause.” Furthermore, “Congress shall make no law … ” – not local judges or school boards, etc.
First, it’s certainly amusing that he claims there is nothing at all to suggest a separation of church and state in the Constitution, then he quotes Jefferson explicitly describing the purpose of the religion clauses of the First Amendment as establishing such a separation. Madison said the same thing many times, of course. And both Jefferson and Madison also argued quite plainly that the Establishment Clause forbid much more than the establishment of a national church; it also forbid, in their view, the government from giving any aid at all to religion, including declarations of days of prayer and thanksgiving, military and congressional chaplaincies, and so forth. So the very man he’s quoting as endorsing his position actually takes the exact opposite position.
Second, the notion that invoking the Establishment Clause violates the Free Exercise Clause is beyond idiotic. That would read the Establishment Clause out of the Constitution entirely (which I don’t doubt he favors, but it’s hardly a valid argument). The obvious distinction, which he is too irrational to recognize, is that the Establishment Clause applies to what the government can and can’t do, while the Free Exercise Clause applies to what the individual can do.
Lastly, he ignores, as nearly all Christian Nation apologists do, the 14th amendment. It happened nearly 150 years ago. You’d think word would have reached them by now.