There is a lot of talk these days about Thomas Jefferson and religion. He is cited as the source of “separation between church and state” in discussions of the first amendment. However, this is taken out of context. Not only is separation of church and state not anywhere in the fist amendment, Jefferson only used the phrase once. It was in a personal letter.
As for the Constitution, Jefferson was in Europe at the time the Constitution was written. Many mistakenly assume since he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he also wrote the Constitution. He had nothing to do with it’s writing or ratification. Later when asked about parts of it, he said he was unqualified to answer because he wasn’t there. So if Jefferson wasn’t there, and wouldn’t talk about religion and the Constitution himself, why is he used today to wrongly defend a position he himself refused to take?
Jefferson was in favor of total freedom of religion. Jefferson lived in a time when countries forced their citizens to belong to a “state” church. Persecution by the state for those who believed differently was real. Jefferson didn’t like that. He wanted people to be free to believe any way they chose without interference by the state either for or against. This is the non-establishment part. The state should not force religion upon its citizens. Nor should it limit expression of religion.
Today we are quick to embrace the first part. However, we have greatly failed in the second. It isn’t an either or. But instead is a balance of both. This is true freedom of religion. Freedom is religion includes the freedom of atheists and others not to believe. To force the atheistic view above all religions is for the state to enforce atheism, which is actually a form of religion in that it’s a belief in no religion or God.
An atheistic state is the lead up to socialism and even communism. The state determines what is right and wrong. It begins by placing the desires of the few above the freedoms of the many. Thomas Jefferson understood the danger in this.
Now Texas is rewriting it’s history program to get rid of teaching about Thomas Jefferson. That way no one will know when he is incorrectly cited or taken out of context. The danger is that since Texas is such a large state, textbook revisions to accommodate their new program will likely be sold to other states. Thus, eliminating Jefferson there as well.
I would urge you to learn more about our founding fathers so you will better know how precious and precarious our freedoms are. Start by reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights so you know exactly what’s in them yourself. Despite their importance, they aren’t very long. Perhaps our current lawmakers should read them as well to learn about how to be brief and to the point in writing law.
There’s also some great audio recordings about Jefferson. One is by Jim Weiss. Another is a 2 part episode of Focus on the Family. They also have a DVD. Even if you support the separation of church and state, you should do your homework on the true history of this idea. If you think it’s in the Constitution, you’re in for a surprise because that phrase isn’t mentioned anywhere in it.
Filed under: issues, political rants, Uncategorized | Tagged: Christianity, curriculum revision, Declaration of Independence, first amendment, freedom of religion, Jefferson, religious freedom, Thomas Jefferson, US Constitution | 6 Comments »