What do you think when you hear “separation of church and state?” Where did the phrase come from, and what does it really mean?
For years we have been told that “separation of church and state” protects the state from religion. But, did you know that phrase does not appear in any official governing document? It is not in the Declaration of Independence, it is not in the Constitution, it is not in the Bill of Rights, it was not part of the Continental Congress and it was not in the Federalist papers.
That phrase was actually written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, explaining that the establishment clause (First Amendment) adopted by the American people was a “wall of separation” between church and state. If you remember American history, you recall that people left places where government had over run the church, setting up state-sponsored churches, and the pilgrims were looking for freedom of religion and worship. When our founding documents were written, they were filled with protection of the rights of people. Thus, our Constitution begins with “We the people,” and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysberg Address declared a government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people. That is also why the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights!
Thus, if we look carefully at our US Constitution, we find laws established to protect the very rights that had been lost in countries of origin. The most prominent right, known as the First Amendment states:
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What is the very first right established? Religious freedom! While some tell us “separation of church and state” means protection from religion, our First Amendment says exactly the opposite! The government may not prohibit us from freely exercising our right to worship as we see fit! It is meant to protect religion from the state!
Too many Christians bend right here and say, “Well, I don’t want to get involved in politics.” Did you know our nation’s politics were built upon religion!?! What if those pilgrims had said, “Wow. We’re now free from the tyranny of state religion, but let’s not establish our right to worship here in our new country.” One of the key reasons they risked their lives to come to an unknown land was so they could worship freely! My how far we have drifted.
It’s time to take back our nation! As we have studied in 1&2 Thessalonians, Jesus is coming back soon, but we are to be found faithfully doing our Father’s business until Jesus comes for us! Part of His business is redeeming what has been lost. After all, that is what He did for us! Let’s work to redeem our religious freedom!
Charlie Kirk has become a favorite of mine when it comes to straight shooting about religious freedom in America and the Christian’s rightful involvement in it. I’m certainly not suggesting that every Christian runs for office, but we should all be working to maintain what God gave us in this great nation: religious freedom. Take some time to hear Charlie describe our role in this video: