The BIG Lie: "Separation of Church and State" (Part 8)

Author: Andy Woods
Date Written: March 14, 2014
From the archive of
In the last seven 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. 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. We now move on to our seventh point.


Seventh, the Engle and Schempp courts reached the decisions that they reached regarding prayer and Bible reading in the schools because of their a priori belief that such activity is psychologically harmful. An a priori is belief is a conviction that one arrives at ahead of time even before all of the facts are considered thereby causing the decision maker to work backward in order to force the selectively examine evidence to fit into a preordained outcome. The fact that the court majorities perceived these practices of prayer and Bible reading as harmful is evidenced by the Schempp court’s willingness to rely on expert testimony indicating that psychological damage could be inflicted on a child if portions of the New Testament were read without explanation. The court observed:

"But if portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and in his specific experience with children Dr. Grayzel observed, had been, psychologically harmful to the child and had caused a divisive force within the social media of the school."1 

Rather than considering additional testimony of how prayer and Bible reading might be emotionally beneficial, the court had already made up its mind that such practices were detrimental. I would contend that the Bible, with its exhortations to avoid unforgiveness, bitterness, anger (Eph. 4:26-32), worry and anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:6-7), self-centeredness (Phil. 2:3-4), a poor self-image (Gen. 1:26-27), etc.. and any other number of mental attitudes negatively impacting one's emotional well being, actually contributes positively to a person's psychological health. However, when the court fails to acknowledge this side argument and instead embraces one-sided testimony that the Bible causes psychological harm, it is no wonder that the Schempp and Engle courts reached the decision that they did. After all, if it is a foregone conclusion that the Bible is psychologically harmful, then you would be forced to do whatever was necessary to remove its influence from the schools regardless of what the Constitution actually says.  

(To Be Continued...)    

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