The BIG Lie: "Separation of Church and State" (Part 7)

Author: Andy Woods
Date Written: March 7, 2014
From the archive of
In the last six posts, we began a series on the "separation between church and state" supposedly found in the First Amendment. It is because of this phrase, which was first introduced into the fabric of our culture through errant Supreme Court decisions of the early 1960’s, that city councils are sued for placing manger scenes on the steps of city hall, public schools are prohibited from teaching scientific creationism alongside evolution, copies of the Ten Commandments are stricken from government walls, teacher-led prayer and Bible reading is prohibited in public schools, and Christianity has generally been purged from public life.   When did all of this insanity begin? We noted that we can trace the origin of the modern understanding and application of separation between church and state to the following two Supreme Court decisions of the early 1960’s: Engle v. Vitale and School District of Abington Township v. Schempp. Yet, an honest appraisal of these decisions shows them to be out of harmony with the vision of the Constitution’s authors. The founders would have been horrified at the prospect of removing the influence of Christianity from the functioning of public schools and government. The purpose of this series of posts is to show how out-of-step these decisions are with the express wishes of America’s founding fathers. This purpose will be accomplished through a consideration of nine historical and legal facts.   First, we observed that the words “separation between church and state” never appear in the actual wording of the First Amendment. The so-called "separation between church and state" terminology was not part of America's foundation and was never even used to limit Christian expression in government until after most of our nation's history had already transpired. Second, we noted that although Thomas Jefferson later used the phrase in a private correspondence, he actually used the phrase “wall of separation of church and state” as a one-way wall preventing the government from interfering with Christianity rather than preventing Christianity from influencing government. Third, the legal test that is used today to completely separate God from government is inconsistent with the beliefs of the founding fathers whose legislative record demonstrates that they contemplated no such separation. Fourth, the Engle and Schempp courts applied the First Amendment’s prohibition of a government-established religion to religious activity taking place at the state level in spite of the fact that the express wording of the religion clauses of the First Amendment are only a limitation on federal power rather than state power. Fifth, for the Engel and Schempp courts to make the First Amendment applicable to the states through the vehicle of the Fourteenth Amendment they not only ignored the Fourteenth Amendment’s historical context, but it also contradicted the intent of those who drafted the Fourteenth Amendment. We now move on to our sixth point.


Sixth, by banning voluntary prayer in public schools, the Engel court made the radical move of overturning a long-standing tradition in American educational history without citing a single precedent. Yet a court following established precedent from previous courts is one of the cornerstones of American jurisprudence. Legal scholars call this time honored principle stare decisis, which is a Latin expression meaning, “Let precedent stand.” Without respecting precedent, our system lacks the stability and predictability necessary to function properly. Interestingly, a year later, even the Schempp court called attention to the non-existence of any precedent cited in Engel when it noted, “Finally, in Engel v. Vitale, only last year, these principles were so universally recognized that the Court, without the citation of a single case…reaffirmed them” (italics added).1 

Today when courts cite prior authority in order to remove some vestige of Christianity from public life, they typically fail to cite anything prior to the 1947 Everson case.2  In other words, the Everson and Engle courts not only created new case law by failing to cite precedent, but they also became precedent themselves since they are now routinely cited when modern courts want to pursue a similar course of action in removing Christian expression from government. The same practice is followed in the abortion debate. In 1973, the Roe court created a constitutional right to procure an abortion out of nothing since no such right actually exists in the text of the Constitution.3  Today, courts look to Roe as settled law and precedent when protecting and furthering the right to have an abortion. The very liberal voices that so easily discarded precedent in Everson, Engle, and Roe, are the very same liberal voices that now want the precedent established in these radical cases respected. What a racket! First you reject settled law to get the new and progressive result and precedent that you want and then you suddenly argue that this new precedent established from these radical cases must now be honored. Such "reasoning" is obviously contradictory. Yet this is exactly how today's commonly used "Separation of Church and State" entered the fabric of American culture.  

(To Be Continued...)

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