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