The Myth of "The Separation of Church & State"
Most Americans believe, and it's been proven by polls, that the separation of Church and State is an enumerated clause of the Constitution. The believe that it's constitutional because they believe that the anti-establishment clause creates it. Yet, like Morpheus' offer to Neo in the popular movie The Matrix, to believe that, you have to take the Blue Pill. If that's what you want, I warn you, you probably want to stop reading now. The rest of this article is, in essence, the red pill, and once you've seen it, agree with it or not, you can't go back and un-see it.
If you're still reading, then I have a challenge for you, regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, I want you to click HERE and find the place where you see the Separation of Church and State enumerated in the Constitution. Go ahead, I'll wait, in fact, it's a website, so I'll be glad to wait as long as you need. Why am I so confident? Simple, I've read it over and over again throughout my life and I promise you that you won't find it in there. It doesn't exist. Such a separation is not "Constitutional," and it never was.
The idea comes from a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. You can find the full text of that letter HERE, as well as an article from the Library of Congress about it HERE. If you're going to believe in this "separation," you'd better at least have done your homework to understand where it comes from and why.
Yet, as the George Fox Journal points out HERE, it wasn't until 1940 that cases against religious practice in public would find any footing in our country, and 76% of them cited historical precedent, not the Constitution, as their reason for ruling the way that they did. In those cases where the ruling went in against the "separation?" Only 17% cited historical precedent which means that 83% of the time their citation for such a ruling was the Constitution itself.
Kind of hard to create a constitutional right / power when it's not even in the Constitution.
Yet, for those who believe in, "living law," or "evolving jurisprudence," such a problem creates no cognitive dissonance, after all, the judges were just "evolving" their "interpretation" with the "will of the people," so to them it's all ok. It doesn't matter what it says, or what was intended, or how it was supposed to work, those are all irrelevant to what we WANT it to say now. In other words, "Freedom From Religion" or the banning of religious practice or thought from ALL public sectors and displays, is a victim of judicial fiat, and not, in fact, a Constitutional writ.
Historical context matters, and there is a reason for the First Amendment's position that congress shall not pass a national religion. The founders had just founded a country in which most of its citizens had, not but two generations ago, fled from Europe and its never ending religious wars. They looked to the mass killings carried out in Ireland, England (Mary Queen of Scotts ring any bells?), France, and even Germany, and decided that a religious fight over a "national religion" was at the core of it.
So they gave every American the right to believe as they want, or to not believe at all, because after watching governments push a religious practice on its populace, they decided that the government had no business interfering in the religious practice of the individual citizen, nor did they have a right to demand that they NOT believe/practice either. Their statement was one of complete government neutrality in religious matters, not a freedom from it, yet, thanks to a handful of judges from the 1940s forward, that is where we've ended up today.
(Side note, prayer in school is yet another victim of the nationalization of education. Prior to the DOE, it was a state's issue and therefore the Anti-Establishment clause did not apply)
So, out of 244 years, only 80 have had this type of, "separation," and even then not all 80 of them as it evolved with different judicial rulings over that timeframe. Gee, that doesn't sound like some grandiose governmental philosophy to me, like say, our right to protest, or to not be searched, or to bear arms which are EXPLICITLY enumerated in the Constitution. I can point right to them and say, "See that's where it says it directly and explicitly."
I could go into the religious history of it, the Hindu counter-missionaries, the rise of the Secular Humanist philosophical movement and its assault on religious freedoms starting in the 1930s, and others, but hey, I don't want to bore you. If you're interested, use the contact us section and I can send you more info, or buy me a coke and sit with me, I'll explain it all. Needless to say, its a modern philosophy and not a founding principle of our nation, save one person directly (Jefferson), one person indirectly (Madison), and a growing number of Secular Humanists who would love nothing more than to see religion abolished from the face of the Earth entirely.
So, the next time someone tries to tell you that America was FOUNDED on a principle of the "Separation of Church and State," you can ask them why they believe that America was founded in 1940. The truth is, that you'll discover quickly whether they are simply someone uninformed or whether they are someone who doesn't want to know the truth because they have a vested and personal interest in seeing religion snuffed out, or, at least, its influence diminished until it's not even a factor in society.
Most people who argue it are the latter, not the former, and no amount of truth is going to change their minds because they want it to evolve into what they want it to be. They're perfectly fine with changing it, even without an amendment, because it's the change they WANT to see happen.
You see, to them, the ends completely justify the means.
However they can achieve "Freedom From Religion" is perfectly fine with them, the results are all that matter.