A “Wall of Separation”? (Church & State)
There is no more ominous defilement of our Constitution than that of the errant notion of a “Wall of Separation” between our constitutional government and our Creator – ominous because if the knowledge of our Creator (at one time proliferate in every educational institution) is constrained, then the general knowledge that liberty is “endowed by [our] Creator” will be equally diminished.
As noted in the previous section, our Founders' intent was that the Central government would not appoint any state church by act of Congress. “Congress shall make no law...”
But judicial activists have for decades “interpreted” this First Amendment to suit their political agendas, placing severe constraints upon the free exercise of religion and invoking the obscure and grotesquely misrepresented “Wall of Separation” to expel religious practice from any and all public forums.
As noted by the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist, “The wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based upon bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. ... The greatest injury of the ‘wall' notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intention of the drafters of the Bill of Rights.”
George Washington wrote in his 1796 Farewell Address, “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Our Founders affirmed that the natural rights enumerated in our Declaration of Independence and, by extension, as codified in its subordinate guidance, our Constitution, are those endowed by our Creator.
Thomas Jefferson proclaimed, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. ... Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.”
Alexander Hamilton insisted, “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...” These are natural rights – gifts from God, not government.
Moreover, it was with firm regard to this fact that our Constitution was written and ratified “in order to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” As such, it established a constitutional republic ruled by laws based on natural rights, not rights allocated by governments or those occupying seats of power.
John Quincy Adams wrote, “Our political way of life is by the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, and of course presupposes the existence of God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and government.”
Notably, the conviction that our rights are innately bestowed by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God,” is enumerated in the constitutional preambles of every state in our Union.
But, for many decades, those who advocate a “living constitution” have used the “despotic branch” to remove faith from every public quarter, ironically and erroneously citing the “Wall of Separation” metaphor – words that Jefferson wrote to denote the barrier between federal and state governments, not to erect a prohibition against faith expression in any and all public venues.
The intended consequence of this artificial barrier between church and state is to remove the unmistakable influence of our Creator from all public forums, particularly government education institutions, and thus, over time, to disabuse belief in a sovereign God and the notion of natural rights. This erosion of knowledge about the origin of our rights, the very foundation of our country and basis of our Constitution, has dire implications for the future of liberty.