Separation of Church & State

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by LadyEagle, Feb 5, 2003.

  1. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle
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    The only way I know how to do this is to plunge right on in.

    On another thread with a discussion about liberals & conservatives, I posted this:

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/lindabowles/lb20010724.shtml

    To which Baptist Believer replied:


    I say it's a matter of interpretation. Perusing the web, I found this, as well:


    http://www.cfif.org/htdocs/legal_issues/legal_updates/other_noteworthy_cases/estab_clause.htm

    According to Baptist history, what is the view re: Separation of Church & State?

    Am I rejecting my Baptist heritage, as Baptist Believer has stated, because I embrace the establishment clause in the Constitution but do not accept the non-existant "separation of church & state clause?"


    My view is that the First Amendment was meant to keep government from establishing a religion, not to keep the 10 Commandments out of public buildings, kick prayer & Bible reading out of school, and all the other things the liberals and atheists are trying to twist this amendment around to mean (and have jurisprudence legislate from the bench on these issues as they have been doing for the last 40 or 50 years).

    So, because this is my view, have I rejected my Baptist heritage, as has been alleged?

    I am not wanting to debate this. Just wanting some actual Baptist history on this subject, so am bringing it to the "experts on Baptist history" in this forum. [​IMG]
     
  2. Johnv

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    The Separation of Church and State is a core foundation of the Baptist faith. All Baptists are therefore bound to abide by it.

    It was said that the "First Amendment says nothing about a "separation of church and state.... It is a "hands-off" amendment, instructing Congress not to establish a state religion and not to make laws interfering with religious expression.".

    Read the amendment carefully regarding religion, as it's a two parter:

    Congress shall make no law:
    1 - Respecting an establishment of religion; and
    2 - prohibiting the free excercise thereof.

    In other words, Congress is not allowed to legisliate the endoresement of religion, and is not allowed to the limit practice of religion so long as the practice of religion does not constitute an official endorsement of the same.

    Sounds like a wall of separation of church and state to me.
     
  3. LadyEagle

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    Well, thanks, Johnv, but the purpose of this thread is to find out real Baptist history on this issue re: this so-called wall.
     
  4. Baptist Believer

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    I'm going to hang back in this discussion since you obviously want other opinions on this matter, but I've put this on the table:

    Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and founding pastor of the first Baptist church in the Americas, wrote of a "hedge of separation" between church and state that was the model for the Rhode Island colony. Rhode Island was the first government in the history of the world with separation of church and state. Williams had a unique opportunity to bring into reality the Baptist ideal of church and government.

    The First Amendment of the Constitution took this example of Rhode Island and applied it to the nation when the Bill of Rights was ratified. Jefferson's famous letter to Danbury Baptists alluded to Roger Williams' "hedge" when Jefferson explained the intent of the First Amendment as providing a "wall" of separation between church and state.


    Some links for your edification:

    http://www.ifas.org/fw/0003/wrong.html
    http://my.execpc.com/~dcoy/PEDS/relfree.htm
    http://travel.roughguides.com/planning/journalEntryFreeForm.asp?JournalID=2977&EntryID=3493
     
  5. LadyEagle

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    Some links for your edification:

    ROFL! :D Ah, so. [​IMG]

    Glad to see posting links are not beneath you after all! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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    Nope. :D

    I'd rather have you read a few books though... Do you want me to put together a list for you?
     
  7. rlvaughn

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    Just a few scattered comments from me:

    SheEagle, you are correct in the fact that "separation of church & state" is a Jeffersonian term, not a constitutional one. That being said, I remember that 30 or 40 years ago among Baptists here in east Texas, it was quite common to hear the term used to describe what they believed about religious freedom. Some of the same people today would draw back from using the term, because of the extremes to which some have gone against religion under the guise of that term. But we must realize that the terminology "wall of separation between church & state" means different things to different people.

    But I understand that you are asking more for history. Roger Williams should definitely be considered when one looks for the historical meaning of religious freedom among Baptists. But also I would remind our readers that Williams was a seeker whose actual time as a Baptist was quite short. I would in no means downplay Williams' contributions to the foundations of religious freedom in our country, but I would recommend looking to such men as John Clarke, Isaac Backus, and John Leland as better representatives of the Baptist contribution to religious freedom. I say this on account of their lifetime commitment to Baptist principles (not just religious freedom). These men were solidly in the Baptist camp, spent their ministries as Baptists, and died as Baptists. Below are some quotes of Baptist preacher John Leland (1754-1841). Someone has started a website of the writings of Elder Leland, but it is quite incomplete. Maybe this will give a taste of Leland, but I recommend the reader find the book and put the quotes in context.

    http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Hills/1668/john_leland.html

     
  8. rsr

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    Well said, rlvaughn.

    If any of the Founders understood the concept, it would be Madison, who opposed paying for chaplains in Congress and opposed an act of incorporation for a church in Alexandria.

    -- Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments

    http://www.sunnetworks.net/~ggarman/estaorel.html

    Many public officials are wary of religion in any form, mostly because they don't know, or care to know, the law. Bible reading and prayer have not been banned from the schools (except by pettifogging, unlearned bureaucrats).

    Listen to George Bush's speech after the Columbia disaster. Didn't seem that he felt constrained to downplay his religious belief.
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    Isaac Backus (1724-1806)
    Found at http://www.baptistpage.org/Distinctives/church_state/backus_01.htm and http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions21.html
     
  10. rlvaughn

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    I'll try to get together some quotes from John Clarke (1609-1676). But since many who've heard of Roger Williams don't even know who Clarke is, here's a quote from this site:
    http://www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies/classic/baptist_classics_Clarke.htm

    http://www.redwoodlibrary.org/notables/clarke.htm

    May all forever remember that it was the Baptists - not the Atheists, nor the Deists - who first secured and performed a lively experiment in religious liberty.
     
  11. LadyEagle

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    Wow, a lot of great links to peruse! Don't have the time now, but will definitely check these out. Appreciate all the input so far. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Walls

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    Amen SheEagle, I am with you on this one. [​IMG]
     
  13. rlvaughn

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    I haven't had much success locating statements by John Clarke on the internet (so I could simply cut and paste), but here's a quote from him, plus a few others.
     
  14. LadyEagle

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    Thanks, rlvaughn, for all your research on the web. These things take time, & it's appreciated.

    But here's my rant - For years and years, it was fine to have prayer & Bible reading in school and to have the 10 Commandments posted in public buildings. (like when I was a kid) Now all of a sudden in the last several years, thanks to Madeline Murry O'Hare's big case to start the ball rolling, it became "unconstitutional." Well what about the 200 years or so previous to now? Why wasn't it unconstitutional then? Are we as a nation suddenly "more enlightened?"

    If the Founding Founders had the idea of having a true wall of separation between church and state, then why is Congress opened with prayer? Why is there a Senate chaplain? Why is there a National Prayer Breakfast? Why is there a reference to God on the walls of the US Supreme Court? Why does our money say "In God We Trust?" Why was the phrase "One Nation Under God" added to our Pledge?

    It's not a question of separation of Church & State for me. It is a question of reverse discrimination towards Christians and the leaning of society in general to secular humanism.

    The ACLU is a bastion of evil. Well meaning folks on school boards and on city councils and other local government officials are now intimidated by the thoughts of an ACLU law suit. One law suit can devastate a city or county budget from legal fees when that money is supposed to provide necessary services for taxpayers. So they shy away from any forseeable trouble. One letter from the dreaded ACLU will cause the most well-meaning and well-intentioned public official to tuck tail and run. Town squares can no longer put up a nativity scene at Christmas. Children are told not to say Merry Christmas in school. There was a recent case in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The parents of Columbine victims. The list of ACLU intimidation goes on and on.

    As godless as our nation has become, murdering thousands of unborn babies each day, vile filth spewed in music, videos, movies, and television, churches preaching to "itching ears," corruption in our government all the way up to include the Beltway, a society plunging into hedonism with reckless abandon, and shaking the fist at Almighty God in word and deed, I still Pray for God to Bless America.

    Woe unto Americans the day God totally removes His Protective Hand and His Blessings from us because of our national sins! [​IMG]

    Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
     
  15. Kiffin

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    SheEagle,

    I sympathize with you. I think the Founding Fathers had no problems with anyone expressing their religious views or even praying at a Congressional meeting. After all we have freedom of religion and I think they would be disturbed at the removing of manger scenes from parks or schools forbidding Christian students from doing book reports of the life of Jesus or forbidding a student from giving a speech on Jesus at a graduation.

    On the other hand I think the Founding Fathers would have problems with some in the religious right who at times obsessed with school authorized prayer or even teaching Bible courses under state authorization. I believe Madison opposed public funds going to teach the Bible in schools of his day (Does anyone know about this? :confused: ) I have met some who are for the religious rights of Christians but not Muslims, Buddhists etc... I agree with Johnv that Separation of Church and State is a core foundation of the Baptist faith ( As much as Believer's baptism is). There is a carefull balance. [​IMG]
     
  16. rsr

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    From James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance to the Virginia legislature in opposing a bill to make assessments to further Christian education:

    http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/jm4/writings/memor.htm
     
  17. rlvaughn

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    SheEagle, it's relatively easy for me to quote our forefathers on religious liberty, but sometimes hard to consistently apply the principles on a day by day basis. I often find myself confused in trying to juggle all the religious, political and social implications of religious liberty. Concerning some of the early practices related to Christianity and government, though, I think we have to be careful in getting all the facts. I would not be surprised if some of these practices were influenced as much by the Congregationalists, Puritans, Anglicans, etc., - who did not really believe in absolute religious liberty - as they were by the Baptists. David Barton has done considerable research into the religion of the "founding fathers." I have a great respect for David - he is founder of Wall Builder ministries, co-chair of our state Republican party, author and speaker on founding fathers and documents. If he is in my area, I try to go hear him speak. But I believe that much of his focus on the foundations of the United States as a Christian nation must magnify the religion of many that did not actually approve of religious liberty. I am also of the opinion that a number of radicals are using the cloak of "separation of church & state" to try to drive Christianity into the caves and closets, and out of the public arena in our nation. For example, the practice of a teacher allowing students to write on any religious topic except Jesus Christ or the Bible is certainly outside the intent of the First Amendment; even violates it. That being said, I offer a couple of quotes from Elder John Clarke:
     
  18. rsr

    rsr
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    I entirely agree. There is room for Christianity in the public square and it should not be excluded.
     
  19. Jim1999

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    Coming from England and living in Canada, I come to this discussion from a different perspective. In England we did not have separation of church and state. Indeed, the one on the throne was the Head of the Anglican Church, and the Prime Minister and the Royal virtually decide who will be the Archbishop of Canterbury...the head of the very chair where royalty is crowned.

    In Canada, until the repatriation of the Canadian "consitution", we still had no separation of church and state. When serving in the military as a chaplain, you followed one of two orders: Anglican or Roman Catholic.

    The public school system read from the King James Version of scripture and said the Lord's Prayer each day.

    Generally, as Baptists we mostly opposed this in the schools. We said that it should have no part in the public arena, except by the local church. What we feared eventually happened. Teachers were invited to speak once a week to the school children. This included all stripes of religion.....Now where are we? What we thought was a good thing....reaching children with the word of God has turned into a farce of religion, including the Muslim religion and Jehovah's Witnesses.

    As a Baptist, and not as a citizen, I will fight for the absolute separation of church and state, and leave the teaching and preaching of the Christian religion to the local church where it rightly belongs.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. rsr

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    Thank you, Jim.
     

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