It’s practically an article of faith for the fire-breathing secular left that there is ‘separation of church and state’. They think they understand what that sentence means. And they are wrong.
The guy the GOP chose as their new house speaker ought to know. He’s been fighting legal cases based on constitutional law for years.
He was invited onto CNBC’s Squawk Box. He managed to pass a short Continuing Resolution to avoid the Senate shoving another omnibus down our throats… with the plan of coming back with a proper budget by January.
But he was faced with another question. One about his faith.
Dems have been REALLY wound up by the fact that the new speaker is actually a devout Christian, rather than, well, whatever Pelosi was.
Speaker Mike Johnson was asked a question about the photos of him praying with other elected leaders after the decision.
“The separation of church and state is a misnomer,” Johnson said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“People misunderstand it,” he continued. “Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. It’s not in the Constitution. And what he was explaining is they did not want the government to encroach upon the church — not that they didn’t want principles of faith to have influence on our public life. It’s exactly the opposite.” — NBCNews
It might come as a suprise to the left that he is, of course, correct. The phrase itself came up not in law, but in a private letter from Jefferson in reply to concerns raised by the Danbury Baptists. The reply was written in 1802.
The link is there for anyone who wants to read it themselves. What was the concern raised by the Baptists? They wanted assurances of their Religious liberty.
What was Jefferson’s reply? The critical phrase, often misquoted is highlighted with bold text in the following paragraph:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ʺmake no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,ʺ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
What was Jefferson saying in that paragraph? Simply: an American has a right to exercise his private faith and form of worship. The government has no authority to limit such views or religious opinions.
In this context, Jefferson appealed DIRECTLY to the First Amendment. (Notice his use of ‘thus’. The ‘wall of separation’ takes its existence from the limitation of the words that come before it… namely that legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise.) That amendment placed NO obligation on any private parties. The only limitation placed there was on the ability of the federal government to coerce a private person to adopt a certain set of beliefs or opinions.
If only the Biden administration recognized the authority of such objections, we wouldn’t have a cottage industry of feds regulating ‘misinformation’.
Before we can accept that Jefferson was himself in any way hostile to government officials showing signs of religious devotion, we will first need some way to explain this historical fact:
In fact, secular icon Jefferson, while a member of the House of Burgesses in 1774, called for a day of prayer in response to the effort of the British to close Boston Harbor after the infamous Boston Tea Party of late 1773.
The Crown issued the Boston Port Act on March 7, 1774, designed to destroy the economy of Boston and the Massachusetts Bay colony. Jefferson, in nearby Virginia, believed this dictatorial act required a response.
His response was to personally draft a resolution for a “Day of Fasting & Prayer,” to be held on June 1, the day the blockade of the harbor was scheduled to begin. The resolution was introduced on May 24 and adopted unanimously. — AFR