MYTH 7: The First Amendment was intended to keep the state from interfering with the churc

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MYTH 7: The First Amendment was intended to keep the state from interfering with the church, not to bar religious groups from co- opting the government. Jefferson and Madison held an expansive view of the First Amendment, arguing that church-state separation would protect both religion and government. Madison specifically feared that a small group of powerful churches would join together and seek establishment or special favors from the government. To prevent this from happening, Madison spoke of the desirability of a "multiplicity of sects" that would guard against government favoritism. Jefferson and Madison did not see church-state separation as an "either or" proposition or argue that one institution needed greater protection than the other. As historian Garry Wills points out in his 1990 book Under God, Jefferson believed that no worthy religion would seek the power of the state to coerce belief. In his notes he argued that disestablishment would strengthen religion, holding that it would "oblige its ministers to be industrious [and] exemplary." The state likewise was degraded by an established faith, Jefferson asserted, because establishment made it a partner in a system based on bribery of religion. Madison also argued that establishment was no friend to religion or the state. He insisted that civil society would be hindered by establishment, charging that attempts to enforce religious belief by law would weaken government. In his 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance, Madison stated flatly that "Religion is not helped by establishment, but is hurt by it." Provided by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 8120 Fenton Street, Silver Spring MD 20910; 301-589-3707.--- * Origin: The FROG Pond BBS * Rochester, NY (1:2613/270)


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