Constitutionality and the separation of church and state

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I was just wondering if there are any written documents which give the views of the United States founding fathers' views towards separation of church and state. The constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" and Jefferson himself wrote in a letter, "...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." But where exactly is it mentioned that having a Bible on display at a governmental institution, a president mentioning God in his speech, etc. is unconstitutional or unethical (by the opinions of the founding fathers)?

I'm not religious and I don't consider myself part of any religion, but it's been bugging me when people mention separation of church and state along with the founding fathers and constitution as justification for not allowing public schools to put a cross in a classroom (yes, I do believe it to be distasteful, since it may offend some students and their parents) and I was just wondering where this thinking originated. Could anyone mention a quote or document that mentions what I have outlined?

Again I'm looking specifically for a "strict" separation of church and state: which prohibits politicians to even mention their own religion in speeches and the like. My own opinion from what I have found is that there is no evidence that "strict" separation was endorsed by the founding fathers. I do remember hearing a quote by one of them which goes along the lines of we need religion to keep our moral values from deteriorating but I cannot remember who said it so I cannot provide a reference.

I want to reiterate that this question is not about the truth or falsity of religion in general but just the U.S. Constitution and the founding fathers' views for or against the separation of church and state.

Thank you.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #3
Char. Limit
Gold Member
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Separation of church and state is vital. Separation of religion and politics is impossible.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
Mentor
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The constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" and Jefferson himself wrote in a letter, "...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." But where exactly is it mentioned that having a Bible on display at a governmental institution, a president mentioning God in his speech, etc. is unconstitutional or unethical (by the opinions of the founding fathers)?

I'm not religious and I don't consider myself part of any religion, but it's been bugging me when people mention separation of church and state along with the founding fathers and constitution as justification for not allowing public schools to put a cross in a classroom...
Obviously the constitution nither can nor should be required to mention all specific circumstances, but the view of the courts is that a cross in a classroom "establishes" christianity as the official, government sanctioned religion of that classroom, thus violating the establishment clause.
 
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  • #5
widereader
America came from Britain. British monarchs have risen and fallen because of the intertwining of the state and the church. This is one basis why America separates the church from the state.
 

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