DOES THE CONSTITUTION TELL US
TO SEPARATE OUR BELIEFS FROM GOVERNMENT?
Does it tell us to keep church separate from the state?
Many Americans think that the First Amendment in our Constitution say that there must be ‘Separation of Church and State’. The media, many politicians, and even church leaders often use that statement. A recent poll showed that 69% of the nation believes that the First Amendment has that wording within it. Yet, those words are not anywhere in the Constitution.
The truth of what the First Amendment does say is this:
"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 that tells us is that the government cannot establish a state religion, nor can it pass laws that hinder or control one’s religion. Free press, free speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom to petition the government on grievances, is also included. The government is not to be ‘religion free’, but rather the church is to be guaranteed the state will not try to control it.
From where did the words ‘separation of church and state’ come?
They were words of Thomas Jefferson in 1802. In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote to President Jefferson, and asked about religious freedom. On January 1, of 1802, the president answered them, and his answer underscored the First Amendment as being a guard against government interfering in religious matters. Jefferson stated that the First Amendment created a ‘wall of separation’ to protect churches from the government making laws prohibiting the free exercise of their religion.
The First Amendment restricts the government, not the people.
The Warren Court misinterpreted the Constitution, and put restrictions on the exercise of one’s religion, by restricting the people from ‘prayer in school, religious displays at Christmas, etc. Jefferson never intended that interpretation of his letter.
In fact, it is quite the opposite of what he was telling the Danbury Baptist group. Three days after writing that letter, Jefferson attended church at a worship service on government property, in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capital Building. The church was having a service on government property, without government interference.
Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist has said:
The metaphor of a wall of separation is bad history and worse law. It has made a positive chaos out of court rulings. It should be explicitly abandoned."
We have freedom of religion, we need to exercise that freedom. It is fine for one to be very religious, to stand on Biblical ethics and morals, and to speak those in any location of the nation, even in the government buildings. The government can make no law stopping us from worshiping, from voting with a Christian conscience, from speaking forth our religious beliefs. We can pray aloud, we can read and quote Scripture in government meetings. Our presence does not need apology, does not need hidden, and can be declared freely without government restraint or punishment.
The government has stated that it is illegal for children to pray in school for it violates the ‘separation of church and state.’ Praying does not establish a state religion. Prayer in schools was always voluntary. Ruling that students cannot pray violates the Constitution. The founding fathers of our nation tried, with the First Amendment, to stop government interference in religious matters.
This current administration banned Franklin Graham from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer event. President Obama ordered that Christian school children must stop praying outside the Supreme Court building, for they were, he said, ‘violating the law’. This president also, twice, omitted the words ‘by their Creator’ from the Declaration of Independence when reciting it to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He also had Georgetown University to cover up all religious signs and symbols prior to his arrival to speak there. He had the government issue a rule that no Bibles could be given patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, until an uproar made them rescind that policy.
This administration has been attacking our faith, corrupting our nation, with anti-Christian efforts. We have a Lord Jesus, Who is the true Ruler of this whole universe, this nation included. He will someday return to heal this nation, and the world. Till then, we need to seek revival, and win souls to Jesus. The nation may be praising one candidate or another, but the only hope of this nation is Jesus.
WHAT GOVERNMENT LEADERS, PREVIOUS TO THIS DAY, SAID ABOUT RELIGION?
We need not debate what faith each of them were, for that is not the point. Some may have been ‘atheists’, some others very Christian, some may have been evangelical, or perhaps deists. The point we need to see, is that they each believed in freedom of religion, and the state staying out of making laws to control one’s chosen faith.
"Do not let any one claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics."
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!"
"We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel…. I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."
"Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other."
"So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectful members of society."
John Quincy Adams
"In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity."
"Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens."
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
"We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being…. When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. We find no such Constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence."
THE ATTACK ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN AMERICA
IS AIMED MOSTLY AT THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
The church is being attacked in the news reports, mocked on entertainment media, and the government passes laws that restrict our exercise of our faith. The churches, both protestant and catholic, that reject abortion are now being told that their personal religious beliefs are not to be considered in their having to pay for the abortion, morning after pills.
While government laws are making the military outlaw Christian sanctuaries at our bases, they, at the same time, are building a mosque on one for the Muslim religion.
Something is happening regarding religious liberty, something is happening in the lawmaking of this age that is unprecedented, and certainly not as the Constitution would allow.
When there is no concern over making Christians pay for abortion, for abortion pills, for sterilization, for gender change operations, there is an obvious need for ‘healing’. Yet, how can a ‘government’ be healed? government is the people, and if there is no revival of the people back to God, back to His Word, there can be no change in the government. The persecution of Christians can increase, the mocking can change to violence, in a dark sinful nation. We need revival.
It is going to take Christians to be revived and find that God still has directions for us. He still wants to direct us on who to vote for, and direct us on how to direct our grievances in a Christian manner. He needs to remind us to pray for our leaders, and to intercede for their salvation. He needs to restore the love in congregations that they will not vote for those who want to kill the unborn. He needs to get preachers to preach against co-habiting, against homosexual sins, against greed, against callousness to those homeless or unemployed. The attitudes need to change, and revival of the church, salvation of sinners is still the only way.
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr, said:
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.
GOD’S ADVICE FOR OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT
Romans 13:1-14 (KJV)
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
The word ‘powers’ is the Greek word ‘exousia’ which means ‘delegated authority’. There are appointed officials of the government, to which we are to realize we are temporarily subject. God gave them permission to be in power. Even if they think they were elected, or had taken a nation by force, still, if God had not permitted, they would not be in power.
If Christians vote for people that are heartless to the needy, or that allow or cause unborn babies to be killed, God may let them reap what they have sown in their un-Christian decisions. Had they been close to the Lord, been listening to His Holy Spirit counsel them, reveal to them the wisdom of right and wrong, the government may have been drastically different.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Governments and the leaders of such answer to God for their works. If they work sinfully, they answer for such sin. The purpose of leaders is to be a terror to evil works. He is working in an authority that God has allowed, but God is still God, so the rulers answer to Him at judgment day.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Christians are not to obey the law due to fear of punishment, but are to do it to keep a clear conscience before God.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
The ‘tribute’ of taxes is not something we enjoy. Sometimes they are fair, sometimes they may be unfair, but the purpose is to support the government that God has allowed. If they use it unwisely, they answer to God for that sin, for it is really God’s.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
What we really owe this world and its governments, is love. We are to really love. Taxes may pay the bills of the government, but love will bring a healing to a nation. We walk in peace and safety with God if we ‘love’.
When we truly love, we do not:
Transgress the moral law (Rom. 13:8,10).
Deprive anyone of their own mate (Rom. 13:9).
Rob a person of their virtue (Rom. 13:9).
Take the life of anyone, man, woman, child, or even the unborn (Rom. 13:9).
Hate someone (Rom. 13:9).
Steal another’s property (Rom. 13:9).
Spoil another’s good name (Rom. 13:9).
Covet something that belongs to another (Rom. 13:9).
Love only yourself, and not love others (Rom. 13:9).
Work ill to anyone (Rom. 13:10).
Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Paul advises revival here. He sees the need to realize that our salvation and deliverance from this sinful world is near. We need to awake to that, and realize we need to be an example in this world. Our ‘armour’ is light, our words speak the Light of the World, i.e. Jesus, with this world in darkness.
Daniel worked for Nebuchadnezzar, and other sinful rulers. That job was hard, but Daniel kept his faith, lived righteously, went into a lion’s den when the choice to serve God came in conflict with the ruler of the day, and in the end, he brought Nebuchadnezzar to God. God even allowed Nebuchadnezzar to write one of the chapters of our Bible. That was allowed, I believe, to illustrate that we are to an example in the governments of this world. We are to keep right with God, live a righteous life, and pray for revival.