Separation of Church and State in the US Constitution
by: Reverend Keith Bennett
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I am an ordained Priest of the UCTAA. I live in Oklahoma City, OK (bible belt country). One of our local news channels has a segment called "The Rant" where viewers can call or write in to complain (or compliment - a "Rave") about a variety of subjects (they even have an "open topic" night so viewers can Rant or Rave about anything they want). They also have a facebook site (KFOR-The-Rant).
Recently, a viewer (Rick Alleman) posted a rant on the facebook site regarding "separation of church and state" in the US Constitution.
He states (02 February at 20:30):
I wish people would do their research before posting to "the rant" I challenge any of them to show me "separation of church and state" in the constitution of the United States of America. That quote was made in a private letter between that Thomas Jefferson's wrote to the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802.
It unnerves me when people change any official writings to suit their feelings. STICK TO THE FACTS
On the surface, he is right; the phrase Separation of church and state is not in the US Constitution - it is indeed a quote made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter.
What unnerves me is that he leaves off a very important detail: When Thomas Jefferson stated "thus building a wall of separation between church and State" he was referring to the first amendment of the US Constitution which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The obvious intent of this amendment is to say that the Government has no authority over the establishment of any religion (or lack there-of). Also, the Government has no authority to prohibit the practice of any religion. So, while Alleman is correct that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the US Constitution, but the sentiment certainly is.
When one suggests that others should "stick to the facts" one should practice what one preaches. By neglecting to share all the facts in his rant, he effectively lies to others to make his point.
To make matters worse, when Rick's rant was read by the news anchor, Kevin Ogle, he stated that Rick was right, without offering any clarification or further details; very poor reporting at best.
I'd love to hear feedback on this (or other poor reporting) topic from others.