'Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God,

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with soveriegn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State." [Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT. "The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K. Padover, pp 518-519] ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Miller, 1808: "I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to asssume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government." [Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, ed. (Washington, DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XI, p.428, letter on January 23, 1808.] Now, what did Jefferson say here? The government is prohibited from interfering with religious doctrine and practice as a result of the 1st Ammendment (see sentence 1-2). Further... "In the Senate of the United States, January 19, 1853, Mr. Badger made the following report: The [First Amendment] clause speaks of 'an establishment of religion.' What is meant by that expression? It refered, without doubt, to that establishment which existed in the mother-country ... endowment at public expense, peculiar privileges to its members, or disadvantages or penalties upon those who should reject its doctrines or belong to other communions,--such law would be a 'law respecting an establishment of religion' ... They intended, by this amendment, to prohibit 'an establishment of religion' such as the English Church presented, or anything like it. But they had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people ... they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy. Not so had the battles of the Revolution been fought and the deliberations of the Revolutionary Congress been conducted." [Tim LaHaye, Faith of our Fouding Fathers (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers Inc., 1987), p.27.] --------------------------------------------------------------------- "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." - James Madison "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785 "History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose." - Thomas Jefferson to Baron von Humboldt, 1813 "[I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others." [James Madison, "James Madison on Religious Liberty", edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-8975-298-X. pp. 237-238]


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank