Reader's view: Founders clearly wanted church, state separation
It was fascinating to read the July 25 letter, "Foundation of America leaves room for religion." As a graduate of a prestigious Jesuit university, I maintain a deep respect for the clergy. But when information is wrong, even a priest, as the lett...
It was fascinating to read the July 25 letter, "Foundation of America leaves room for religion." As a graduate of a prestigious Jesuit university, I maintain a deep respect for the clergy. But when information is wrong, even a priest, as the letter writer was identified, needs to be corrected.
I have done extensive research concerning church and state separation for my new book. I reviewed more than 50 proofs provided by Christian nation theorists and advocates, evaluating each for validity, accuracy and context. Allow me to correct some misconceptions.
There is no evidence that Christianity is under attack, at least no more so than Judaism or Islam. In fact, atheism suffers attacks at a much greater degree. If the letter writer can provide such proof of this anti-Christian conspiracy, I would be happy to evaluate it.
When discussing the Declaration of Independence, it must be noted that its recognized author, Thomas Jefferson, was a deist, not a Christian; and he was not speaking of the Christian God. Deists in the 18th century, as today, did not believe in a personal god, as Jews, Christians or Muslims, but, as Albert Einstein once described, "A power greater than any man's imagination." If one reads Jefferson's "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," one would better understand the deist beliefs held by Jefferson and other deist Founders.
The letter writer was correct that "separation" is not found in the Constitution. However, Article VI, clause 3 states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." That, along with the First Amendment and Supreme Court decisions, makes the case for our pluralistic nation, allowing the church and state to be separate partners.
I do hope this corrects some of the misunderstanding.
The writer is a columnist for the Columbian Missourian. His newest book, "A Christian Nation? An Objective Evaluation of Objective Evidence," is scheduled for publication Nov. 1.