Why did the 'founding fathers' separate church and state?

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  1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
    TessSchlesingerposted 4 months ago

    https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/201 … ive-speech

    Could it have been because they were cynics or atheists and they didn't believe that the church should rule the country?

    1. Onusonus profile image76
      Onusonusposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      They didn't believe in separation of church and state, which is why it's not in the constitution. There was a big debate about it. Jefferson did but he was out voted.

      Also most of them were Christians.
      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2546951/posts

    2. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      They came from places where was oppression based upon religious beliefs.  They came from places where the prevailing church ruled & governed their countries.  They staunchly believe that religion has no place in government affairs.  They believe that religious affairs should stay within the realms of religion.

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
        TessSchlesingerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        Evidence?

        I'm looking for evidence to dispute the current idea that America was originally a Christian nation, and that it should be a theocracy - not a democracy.

    3. Don W profile image83
      Don Wposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Christianity is not the "official" religion of the US, and never has been, despite what some may claim or desire. On that, the Constitution is clear:

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" (First Amendment)

      "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" (Article VI)

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitutio … _amendment
      https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlevi

      And it's perfectly sensible to describe the intent of the First Amendment as the separation of church and state, just as Jefferson did. He also explicitly stated his satisfaction that the American people, via the Constitution, chose to create such a separation:

      "...I contemplate with sovereign 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 & State."
      (Letter to the Danbury Baptist association, 1802)
      https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

      Other founders had less philosophical reasons for advocating the separation. Madison was concerned about  accumulated wealth of what he called "ecclesiastical corporations":

      "But besides the danger of a direct mixture of Religion & civil Government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded agst in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations. The power of all corporations, ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.". (Monopolies Perpetuities Corporations Ecclesiastical Endowments, c. 1820)
      https://www.constitution.org/jm/18191213_monopolies.htm

      (interesting that Madison was concerned about the issue of monopolies and abuses by corporations even then)

      In terms of why the Establishment clause was included, many of the founders were influenced by the intellectual and philosophical movement in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, i.e. the enlightenment. Religious tolerance, artistic and scientific endeavor were key parts of that movement, so it would have been surprising if elements did not find their way into the Constitution.

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
        TessSchlesingerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        I was also always under the impression that the Englightenment infuenced the American constitution, but because this is now such a hot topic (and very relevant), I'm interested in a little more than opinion.

        Is there any evidence that indicates that the separation of church and state were based on the Enlightenment? Was it Jefferson who spent time in France?

        1. Don W profile image83
          Don Wposted 3 months agoin reply to this

          The scope of that question is huge. Books have been written on it. Best place to start is with some of the key figures of the enlightenment who the founders were inspired by. One of those figures was John Locke.

          In his Second Treatise of Government (1689), Locke discusses from where political power derives. To know that, he suggests, we need to understand "...what state all men are naturally in". In his view:

          "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions..." (1)

          Locke argued that these things represent "the rights and privileges of the law of nature", and it is the role of government to secure and protect these natural rights for members of society.

          87 years later Jefferson wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".(2)

          The notion that equality, life, liberty are natural rights precedes locke, but there is further evidence of Locke as a key source for the founders. He makes reference to "possessions" being part of the natural state of people (he considers life to be one's greatest possession). Jefferson replaces that reference with the "pursuit of happiness", which is lifted directly from another Locke work.

          In 1689 Locke wrote An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. One section is called: "The Necessity of pursuing true Happiness [is] the Foundation of Liberty" and reads:

          "The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happiness in general, which is our greatest good, and which, as such, our desires always follow, the more are we free from any necessary determination of our will to any particular action..."(3)

          To circle back to your original concern though, that of religious tolerance in the Constitution, we see direct evidence of Locke's influence there also. In 1689 he wrote "A Letter Concerning Toleration".

          In that letter, Locke argues that all Churches (religions) are orthodox unto themselves; that civil power in the form of judicial favor of one religion over another makes Churches more intolerant because they are now able to enforce their beliefs on others within the civil realm; and concludes that the authority of government should relate only to what is earth-bound, rather than the spiritual:

          "These considerations, to omit many others that might have been urged to the same purpose, seem unto me sufficient to conclude that all the power of civil government relates only to men’s civil interests, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and hath nothing to do with the world to come"(4).

          The opening of the Declaration of Independence, the Establishment Clause and the No Religious Test Clause in the Constitution are all logical consequences of the philosophical ideas expounded by Locke (and others) during the period of enlightenment. David hume was another influence, but providing evidence of that would take more time and space than I have. Hopefully you can start to see the links between the "great experiment" and the enlightenment movement through Locke's work though.

          (1) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm (Sect. 6)
          (2) ibid
          (3) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10615/10 … 0615-h.htm (sec. 52)
          (4) http://books.ebooklibrary.org/members/p … leranc.pdf

          1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
            TessSchlesingerposted 3 months agoin reply to this

            "and concludes that the authority of government should relate only to what is earth-bound, rather than the spiritual:"

            In other words, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto god what is god's."

            So this is the Constitution.

            Where does it say that church and state must be separate?

            https://constitutionus.com/

            What am I missing?

            I know it's a general concept in the west, but I've never really thought about the legality of it until now.

            I looked a the links. Difficult English to read at a glance.

            1. Don W profile image83
              Don Wposted 3 months agoin reply to this

              "In other words, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto god what is god's."

              Perhaps my summary doesn't do Locke justice because that's not quite the sentiment he is expressing. In his letter about toleration he essentially says that if a particular religion is endorsed by the state, bad things happen because it gives it license to bring religious doctrine into the civic realm.

              If you think about this in terms of Locke's overall position, he's saying that no one, not even religious groups, should have authority to curtail "the rights and privileges of the law of nature" (later called "inalienable rights" by the founders) so government should avoid establishing or endorsing a particular religion over another.

              The founders codified those ideas in the First Amendment:

              "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"(1)

              and the No Religious Test Clause in Article VI

              "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" (2)

              So if you're looking for the exact words "separation of church and state" in the Constitution, you won't find them. What you will find are statements by the founders that indicate the intent of the First Amendment, and jurisprudence that indicate how the judiciary has interpreted that amendment and the intentions of the founders in the centuries since.

              Things get a bit murky when it comes to where the line is between officials making comments about their personal beliefs, and officials endorsing a particular religion in their capacity as government officials though. The comments by Barr and Pompeo in the article you linked to, I think, fall within that grey area. Though both comments are undoubtedly politically motivated religious dog-whistles, whether they can be considered a violation of the First Amendment is debatable.

              To stay true to the spirit of the First Amendment, the White House traditionally acknowledges the diversity of religious belief in the country by marking several different religious holidays including Christmas, Eid, Hanukkah etc; I believe that's a tradition the current administration has maintained (3)(4).

              (1) https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitutio … _amendment
              (2) https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlevi
              (3) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/02/us/p … inner.html
              (4) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-cele … e-updates/

    4. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      No.  It was because the separate political areas of the country - the 13 "states-to-be" had different religions in effect an none of them wanted to be overrun by the others.  Self-protection, in other words, of the states rights.

      It was the only way to get agreement between all 13 colonies to form a central government; to prohibit that government from ever establishing a religion that could override what the states wanted.

      Notice that there is no Constitutional prohibition of a state creating a religion within that state - only the federal government was restricted in that.  Modern interpretation has included states as well, but it was not the intent of the founders, and some of those original colonies already had a state religion going.

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
        TessSchlesingerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        As with my question above to Don W, what is your evidence for saying that?

        If it's in the constitution that church and state should be separate, that would include the states, wouldn't it?

        After all, the point of hte constitution is that there are general precepts that would be inclued for all the states.

        If that is not so, can you indicate your evidence for saying that?

        Thanks.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

          American history is the evidence; dig back into the times when the constitution was written and study the problems they encountered in compromising on a single document everyone would accept and that's what you find.

          No, it would not include the states.  Don't forget that there were 13 colonies, independent of each other, trying to forge something they could all accept. As some of the colonies tied church and state together, they had to remain able to do so.

          General precepts, yes.  Not that specific one.

          The evidence is in the constitution itself: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...".  It does not say the state cannot do so for it's citizens; it says that the congress of the United States may not do so.  Again, the religious beliefs of various colonies were very divergent, and for congress to make one sweeping requirement for all religions would deny those states the power to do so themselves.  Do that and they will not sign the constitution, will not join the others in making one country, but would remain independent.

          However, as noted previously, the Supreme Court has decided that states cannot institute a state wide governent, either.  But that was never the intent of the writers of the Constitution, or even the individual people involved in creating it.  Although more than a few would have been happy to have a country wide religious requirement...as long as it was their own religion and not that of a different colony.

    5. mike102771 profile image83
      mike102771posted 3 months agoin reply to this

      I have this history book, A Patriot’s Guide to the United States. A conservative view of history. Something hard to find today. But that’s not what this is about.
      In this book, they suggest that the Boston Protestants were afraid of Catholic Maryland and, more importantly, the Pope. They just got rid of one king and weren’t looking for a replacement. It’s hard for people today to remember just how much the Catholics were hated/feared in this country. Just go back to JFK and all the talk of him being controlled by the Pope.
      Then you had places like Pennsylvania and the Quaker movement. PA was the California of its time (quite liberal depending on how you define that word).

      A national religion might have been one they didn’t follow.  Just remember, in places like Boston or Massachusetts, you needed to be a member of the church to vote. This doesn’t mean they believed, but at least in public, they pretended.

      But all that doesn’t mean anything. We are who we are today. Taking away one person’s freedom take all our freedoms away. You don’t have to agree with a person, just let them alone. Their freedom to believe or not is their right, and that shouldn’t be anything anyone can take away.

    6. DoubleScorpion profile image78
      DoubleScorpionposted 3 months agoin reply to this

      They were deists...

      And felt that everyone was free to worship as they desired equally without fear of punishment.

      1. psycheskinner profile image84
        psycheskinnerposted 3 months agoin reply to this

        The never contradicted the idea they were deists--but that wasn't really something anyone did who wanted to succeed.  There is a bit of a question mark over what a few of them may actually have believed.

  2. Castlepaloma profile image74
    Castlepalomaposted 4 months ago

    There is no word God in the US Constitution.

    If there were the US would be ruled more like the many of the Middle Eastern Muslims countries where God rules all in their constitution.

    No joke, from death to America news. Some kidding there.

  3. Live to Learn profile image82
    Live to Learnposted 4 months ago

    I would say different people had different reasons. I know Jefferson got his ideas on separation from a Baptist minister. Many Baptist ministers preached long and hard on there needing to be a wall of separation. Jefferson's wording on the subject was plagiarized from one of them.

    Which is really funny. Now that the Baptists are so powerful they aren't on board with the idea.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Not surprising; the original intent was to preserved freedom of religion and once a particular sect or belief is strong enough that is no longer necessary.  Indeed, it can prevent a strong religion from taking over and requiring ALL to accept it.

      1. Mark O Richardson profile image73
        Mark O Richardsonposted 3 months agoin reply to this

        That is my understanding to about not forcing a certain religion for all.

    2. Castlepaloma profile image74
      Castlepalomaposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      I love studying history and empires that keep on repeating themselves. With Government, Religion and Military all in Bed together. Their ultimate power of authority to kill and steal greater than the public do throughout history. It's just these 3 hierarchy take turns at it at different times.

      Even Richard Dawkins said, Nationism is more dangerous than Religion, right now. I fully agree.

      1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
        TessSchlesingerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        I think one of the most fascinating articles I have ever read with regard to the  overlords of the earth was this one on psychopathy.

        http://www.whale.to/b/callahan1.html

    3. TessSchlesinger profile image94
      TessSchlesingerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Could it possibly have to do with the influence of Armeniansim influencing the Baptist denomination?

      1. Live to Learn profile image82
        Live to Learnposted 3 months agoin reply to this

        Individually, perhaps that is seen as justification for attempting to bludgeon freedom of thought in other individuals.

        But, as with all organizations, the idea is gain as much power as possible within the sphere of your interest. Then expand your sphere of interest to gain more power. The more power attained, the more likely those on board are to assume the power gained proves their beliefs on social structure are right and should be forced on others through legislation.

        Religion is just one manifestation of this type of structure. I don't think a Christian has to subscribe to an arminian belief to support, even tacitly, pushes for legislation we assign to be driven by it.  Because even if you don't support a particular interpretation you realize you have no proof that interpretation is wrong. You just hope it is. Your understanding of God doesn't support it but, again, you have no proof. You won't support it but you won't fight it.

        I think what bothers me is that Americans don't get the fact that desire to control through government mandate, where hard facts can't support a shared belief, is not unique to religious organizations.

        Desire to criminalize individual ideas and actions within the whole, solely because they run contrary to an agreed upon norm within an individual group, is alien to the values espoused by those who began the great experiment.

        1. Castlepaloma profile image74
          Castlepalomaposted 3 months agoin reply to this

          Taxes began in world war two. Now they own you by debt and your mortgaged house and the your little unhappy job too.
          Of course Religion does not have to pay taxes wail the poorest paid Feild like artist like me, have theives like government for every turn.

          What group I have learn most from about individual freedom is entrepenurs anarchist. If you follow the hierarchy scripts for your entire life, you will be economy slaves of the synthetics and will not even notice it because your comfortably numb in your state of mind. You won't even know your not really living life to the fullest.

          Write your own script for your life.
          Love is Godlike and nature is my Religion and nobody owns me.

          1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
            TessSchlesingerposted 3 months agoin reply to this

            ??? Where do you get the idea that taxes began after WWII?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o … ted_States

            1. Castlepaloma profile image74
              Castlepalomaposted 3 months agoin reply to this

              I'm speaking of income taxes that were supposed to be temporarily during the war.

              Product taxes is understandable for most part.

              1. TessSchlesinger profile image94
                TessSchlesingerposted 3 months agoin reply to this

                Nope.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax

                QUOTE: August 5, 1861
                The US federal government imposed the first personal income tax on August 5, 1861, to help pay for its war effort in the American Civil War - (3% of all incomes over US$800) (equivalent to $22,300 in 2018). This tax was repealed and replaced by another income tax in 1862.

                1. Castlepaloma profile image74
                  Castlepalomaposted 3 months agoin reply to this

                  Didn't I say , supposed to be temporarily during the war. I forgot my s that's all, bad habits. Now they are up to averaging 2 major wars a year. They always need more money than we got to support greed.

        2. TessSchlesinger profile image94
          TessSchlesingerposted 3 months agoin reply to this

          Why do you think that Americans have this drive (it's not unique to America, by the way.) America espoused the opposite in days gone by.

          1. Live to Learn profile image82
            Live to Learnposted 3 months agoin reply to this

            This drive to what? Criminalize thought or speech contrary to what those pushing for power disagree with?

            I'd say the drive for globalization. There's some,to me, weird stuff being pushed. I think the influence of Europe is causing trouble here.

 
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