The atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has been very busy as of late. They recently filed a complaint against a Tennessee football coach who led a prayer with some of the players and staff on the field after one of the players was seriously injured. They also got upset in Wisconsin when a University football coach tweeted a religious message. Any time there is any mention of religion or God in the public square they are outraged. They always claim it is against the separation of church and state. This is of course absurd.
The FFRF is now going beyond trying to get rid of any government support of religion. They now want to ban any free individual from being able to PRACTICE their religion in public. This is completely against what the founders believed when they created the American government and put forward religious freedom in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The words “separation of church and state” is actually not in the Constitution, but originates from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote as a reply to the Danbury Baptist Association who congratulated him for being elected President, in which he used the words “wall of separation.” Eventually the Supreme Court would pick up on those words in rulings about religious liberty and the rest is history. The idea of separation of church and state believed by the founders might be the most misinterpreted idea in the U.S. today.
Believe it or not the idea of separating the secular government from spiritual matters originates from Jesus himself. It comes from his well know exchange with the Pharisees in Matthew 22 when about paying taxes when he said “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” This was echoed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13 when he told Christians to submit to the governing authorities.
Although separating church and government has biblical foundations, the church eventually would not follow this and often through the Middle Ages the church would also be the government. This created numerous problems not only for governments, but also caused corruption in the churches themselves. Eventually churches and secular governments would separate. This was done for the benefit of government AND for the benefit of the church. It allowed people to practice their religions freely without government interference. Philosophers like John Locke would see the benefit of this and would write about how this was instrumental for the creation of a free society. The thoughts of John Locke and others would influence the founders a great deal when they would create a new American government.
The author of the First Amendment which establishes the freedom of religion was James Madison, who was instrumental in creating the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and would later be President. James Madison thought the amendment was important because he believed the government should not play favorites between the many different Christian sects that existed in the country at the time. He also did not want official church organizations to corrupt government as well as the government corrupting those churches. But what would James Madison think of the FFRF thinking there should be no mention of God by people in government and the public square? Would he think people in government should never even promote the idea of God? Well in 1815 he put forward a recommendation of a “Day of Public Thanksgiving for Peace.” In that proclamation he said,
The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.
It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
Does that sound like someone who thinks God should not ever be mentioned by people in government or in the Public Square?
Let’s be honest though. Even the left who say they believe in the separation of church and state don’t believe it. Why? Because they believe the government should break through that wall and stop people from practicing their religion. Their true goal is not a separation between church and state, it is to attack and prevent the practices of Christianity. That is why it is called the Freedom FROM Religion Foundation, not the Freedom OF Religion Foundation.
So if the left and the FFRF really believes in the separation of church and state, how about they actually practice what they preach and leave Christians alone!