Matthew R. Perry

Separation of Church and State? Not According to our Founding Fathers

In Culture, Patriotic Days, Politics, Religious Liberties on July 4, 2006 at 2:45 am

Here are some quotes that I believe obliterate the notion that our Founding Fathers intended a grand separation of church and state.


It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Patrick Henry.

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.John Quincy Adams.

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.John Jay, 1st Chief Justice of Supreme Court: One of the three men most responsible for the Constitution.

Do not let anyone claim the tribute of American patriotism if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics.George Washington from his Farewell Address to the Nation.

Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind…It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in the sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892. The Court cited 87 precedents.

The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith–the Bible.Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 1844.

Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.People v. Ruggles, 1811: 2 decades after the 1st Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.First Amendment.

By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing.Runkel v. Winemiller, 1796.

The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States January 1, 1802 in an address to the Danbury Baptists.

Had the people, during the Revolution, had any suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle…At the time of the adoption of the constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect…in this age there can be no substitute for Christianity…That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendents…the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.House Judiciary Committee Report, March 27, 1854 after a one year study brought about by a suit to force the separation of church and state.

Challenges to the Constitutionality of the government being run by Christian principles continued throughout the late 1800’s until finally these challenges arrived at the Supreme Court. In the case of Reynolds v. United States, 1878, the court pulled out Jefferson’s speech in its entirety and confirmed that Jefferson also said that Christian principles were never to be separated from government. The Supreme Court used Jefferson’s speech for the next 15 years to make sure that Christian principles stayed part of government. It remained this way until 1947, when, in the first time in the Supreme Court’s history, the court used only 8 words out of Jefferson’s speech.Unknown


[Please notice the change in the 1960s and the quotes found therein.]


The first separation of religious principles from public education. This is the case that removed school prayer. There were no precedents cited. The court did not quote previous legal cases or historical incidents. A new direction in the legal system – no longer constitutional.

Engel v. Vitale, June 25, 1962.

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country.”

The 22 word prayer was declared to be unconstitutional and led to the removal of all prayer from public schools in the case Engel v. Vitale. This little prayer acknowledges God only one time. The Declaration of Independence itself acknowledges God 4 times.

Within 12 months of Engel v. Vitale, in two more cases called Abington v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett, the court had completely removed Bible reading, religious classes/instruction. This was a radical reversal of law – and all without precedental justification or Constitutional basis. The Court’s justification for removing Bible reading from public schools. The Court at this time declared that only 3% of the nation professed no belief in religion, no belief in God. Although this prayer was consistent with 97% of the beliefs of the people of the United States, the Court decided for the 3% against the majority.


If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and had been, psychologically harmful to the child.

Abington v. Schempp, June 17, 1963.

It is unconstitutional for a student to pray aloud.

Reed v. Van Hoven, 1965.

The Court declared a 4 line nursery rhyme unconstitutional because, although it did not contain the word “God”, it might cause someone to think it was talking about God.

DeCalv v. Espain, 1967.

If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon and to perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments; this is not a permissible objective. Stone v. Gramm, 1980, challenging the right of students to “see” the 10 Commandments on the wall of a school. The Court defined the posting of the document as a “passive” display, meaning someone would have to stop and look on their own volition.

Stone v. Gramm, 1980.

[Quotes provided by Sermon Illustrations.]


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