The Real Wall between Church and State

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!
—Psalm 144:15

America was founded as a Christian nation. The second president of the United States, John Adams, wrote: “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system.”

Or consider the words of Patrick Henry, a man responsible for the Bill of Rights. He said, “Being a Christian . . . is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.” John Quincy Adams said, “The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”

But what about the wall of separation between church and state? Isn’t it true that our nation’s forefathers wanted to build a wall that prohibits Christianity from having any impact on public policy? I never cease to be amazed at the ignorance of the American public. Did you know most Americans believe the phrase “separation of church and state” is found in the Constitution? The phrase “separation of church and state” is not anywhere in the Constitution. It came from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote.

When Thomas Jefferson was the newly elected president of the United States, a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, heard a rumor that Jefferson was going to establish the Congregational denomination as the state denomination. So on January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to these Baptists to reassure them, stating, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” Notice that he was referring to establishing a denomination, not a religion. He was saying, “We are not going to make one denomination the official national denomination.” More importantly, Jefferson used the phrase “separation of church and state” to reassure Christians that the government would do nothing to prohibit their free exercise of religion. Liberal groups today twist those words to restrict Christians from the public expression of their religious beliefs, but that was not Jefferson’s intent. His words were not to restrict religious expression but to reassure us of our right to express our spiritual convictions.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “America Is a Christian Nation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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