In a recent post on the Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s website, Charles C. Haynes, a scholar in First Amendment issues, was quoted as saying “that the actual words ‘separation of church and state’ aren’t in the Constitution. But…the principle of separation clearly is.”
The post then tries to pit the Alliance Defense Fund against this view, saying that our own words show that we just don’t get it because we have said that “the ACLU and its allies have twisted history by using the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ as a legal platform to restrict your religious freedom.”
There is no conflict here. The Jeffersonian view of separation is one wherein the First Amendment shackles the government but keeps the Church free, as is clearly seen in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists; the kind of separation leftist radicals embrace is one wherein the government is often used to silence public display of faith—a concept that the Founders never embraced or fostered. Likewise, the Church is not the entity that should be mounting a national defense or handing out speeding tickets.
This is what ADF means when it says the actual words “separation of church and state are not in the Constitution” and that secularist groups have “twisted history” by using their view of separation “to restrict your religious freedom.”
Nonetheless, we are pleased to see AU admit that the actual words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution. Yet sadly, it doesn’t appear that this admission has dampened their zeal for opposing things like Texas Governor Rick Perry’s calls to prayer or invocations at graduation ceremonies or the public display of the Ten Commandments.
In fact, AU coupled their announcement that the actual words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution with news that their latest polling numbers show that 67% of respondents agree that “the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.” The problem is that they never quantify how many of those respondents agree with the Jeffersonian view of separation or the kind of separation leftist radicals embrace
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