The myth of separation of church and state has been prevalent for over 60 years now. Hence, I am never surprised to hear it referenced by ignorant, brain-washed, communist-socialist pundits in the public sector; but I am still shocked each time I hear a member of the LDS Church refer to this false doctrine as an authoritative edict banning all political discussion at church or even between members.
The separation of church and state does not exist! It is an impossible reality! It is also morally wrong to teach, promote, or enforce as any type of public policy. Let me explain why.
Jesus Christ is the Most High God. There are no other gods, principalities, or powers above the Godhead which He represents. No matter how the Holy Trinity is defined, all Bible believing Christians should agree on that.
So how can so many self-proclaimed Christians keep asserting the separation of church and state – when they profess faith in a God who asserts His authority as the Most High God – if they believe the state is untouchable by the church? Is the state higher than Christ’s church? Do state and national politics exist in a vacuum where the laws of God no longer apply? Such seems to be the case according to these individuals.
Within Christ’s church we have two priesthoods. In the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil we also have two priesthoods: Priestcraft is the Lesser Priesthood and Statecraft is the Higher Priesthood. Those who promote the separation of church and state clearly endorse and worship the Higher Priesthood within the Church of the Devil.
Either God’s law reaches into and touches all aspects of government or it does not. If it does not, then Jesus Christ is a lesser god, which He definitely is not!
Read your Bible! How many times did the ancient prophets meddle in politics? How many individuals, cities, and nations were destroyed as they rejected these prophetic warnings which most certainly interfered in each respective political process? God has many times irrefutably displayed His interest and authority in politics and government!
By the way, I am still trying to find the phrase, “separation of church and state” in The Constitution of the United States or in one of its Amendments. Some people have called me daft, so if you can find it for me, please help me out and point it out to me.
Do you realize that every dictatorship in history, which was not a theocracy, has insisted upon the separation of church and state? Hitler, Lenin, and many other personalities have hyped up this false doctrine as indispensable in good government. These fabulous extra-villainous personalities in history certainly seem to have almost innumerable modern counterparts, both in and out of the church. Personally, I would rather side with the prophets of God, such as Ezra Taft Benson, David O. McKay, and Joseph Smith, who clearly taught an opposite doctrine.
For the definitive research on this issue, go to David Barton’s website: wallbuilders.com.
37 thoughts on “Sacred Cow #9: Separation of Church and State”
Another great article Jared. I agree, it’s important to use the Scriptures and Gospel of Jesus Christ as a measuring stick in all things, especially politics and government. I would never put the “state” run by men, above my King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Rights are either God granted as part of the divine plan or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. ” -E.T.B.
No man can serve two masters!
Here’s the wallbuilder article. Enlightening. Also covers the 1878 case against LDS George Reynolds…
Thank you. I’ve updated the Wallbuilder’s link in the article.
“Separation of Church and State” is the best example of a court creating law instead of interpreting law. No founding father ever had such an intention. They even held Sunday services in the nations capital!
It’s a mantra that got repeated over and over until it took on a life of its own. The First Amendment says CONGRESS shall establish no religion…ergo, unlike the UK, which we’d fought a war to get free of, having the “Church of England” (in Scotland, whose trouble is that it’s full of Scots, there is also the official Church of Scotland, or the “Kirk”), or Italy having it’s Lateran treaty with the Vatican, etc. It does NOT say that religion is a forbidden subject, under pain of loss of the precious CFR 501(c) status. In fact, many of the several states had their official churches and collected tithes as ordinary taxes on the general population.
Being LDS doesn’t disqualify us as individuals from having political rights, and we need to always assert same.
This article directly contradicts the teachings of our prophets and scripture. Please read here:
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith; Chap. 14:
“Church members are commanded by Divine revelation …: “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that obeys the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.” [D&C 58:21.] 13
With reference to the laws of the Church, it is expressly said: …
“Behold, the laws which ye have received from my hand are the laws of the Church, and in this light ye shall hold them forth.” [D&C 58:23.]
That is to say, no law or rule enacted, or revelation received by the Church, has been promulgated for the State. Such laws and revelations as have been given are solely for the government of the Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds to the doctrine of the separation of church and state; the non-interference of church authority in political matters; and the absolute freedom and independence of the individual in the performance of his political duties. If at any time there has been conduct at variance with this doctrine, it has been in violation of the well-settled principles and policy of the Church.
We declare that from principle and policy, we favor: The absolute separation of church and state; No domination of the state by the church; No church interference with the functions of the state; No state interference with the functions of the church, or with the free exercise of religion; The absolute freedom of the individual from the domination of ecclesiastical authority in political affairs; The equality of all churches before the law. ”
“Our Greatest Obligation” -David O. McKay
“Religious freedom and the separation of church and state are clearly set forth in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and no governmental agency can have any supervision, control, or jurisdiction over religion.” –This would presumably include church interference with the state.
And though I can’t find the official church statement at the moment, our First Presidency recently released a statement in regards to Prop 8, which explicitly stated that the church supports the separation of church and state.
I’d ask you not to promote this article as any kind of doctrine, because as I just pointed out, what you have just said is false doctrine.
You said, “And though I can’t find the official church statement at the moment, our First Presidency recently released a statement in regards to Prop 8, which explicitly stated that the church supports the separation of church and state.”
The reason you can’t find it is because the Church never made the statement. Here is one of several statements the Church put out on Prop 8 and not one of them say anything about separation of church and state but rather encourage civil discourse:
Church Statement on Proposition 8 Ruling
04 August 2010 — Salt Lake City
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision. California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society.
“We recognize that this decision represents only the opening of a vigorous debate in the courts over the rights of the people to define and protect this most fundamental institution—marriage.
“There is no doubt that today’s ruling will add to the marriage debate in this country and we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.”
Even the Church’s Political Neutrality statement does not bring up separation of church and state – see here: http://newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/political-neutrality.
But the Church did say this in one of its statements:
Church Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Votes
05 November 2008 — SALT LAKE CITY
“Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.”
What’s really bothering you? Perhaps, Jared’s comment on “ignorant, brain-washed, communist-socialist[s], hmmm?
I guarantee you that they said it. I know I read it. It was a statement that literally said “we support separation of church and state.” You are also attempting to redefine separation of church and state.
What bothers me is when members of the church publicly claim to speak doctrine, when they are, in fact, merely speaking their opinion. It is difficult enough for people not of our faith to wade through the massive amounts of misinformation and personal opinion about church doctrine, do we really need to add to the confusion?
Don’t make claims or assertions unless you plan to back them up. You come across as willfully ignorant and grasping at straws:
1. Provide the proof that the First Presidency in one of its statements on Prop 8 “literally said ‘we support separation of church and state.’” Otherwise, your guarantee means absolutely nothing. Put up or hush up.
2. Where in my post am I “attempting to redefine separation of church and state”? I don’t, and you know it. All I did was provide statements from the Church that basically do not support your claim that it supports “separation of church and state.”
3. If you are bothered by members “opinions” that you think may cause confusion for those not of our faith, then be sure to back up your “opinions” with solid evidence, so as to not add to the confusion.
Oops, #2 above should say,
2. Where in my post am I “attempting to redefine separation of church and state”? I don’t, and you know it. All I did was provide statements from the Church that basically do not support your claim that it “literally said ‘separation of church and state.’”
1) I was sure an entire Sunday school lesson and comments by McKay stating to the fact that the church supports separation of church and state would have been enough, but if it’s not, I don’t know what else to provide. Even without the simple statement from a recent news release (which I know I read, but was likely removed because the news archives only go back two years) it’s very clear according to doctrine and policy (see the original quotes I posted) that the church supports it. If you choose not to actually read the lesson I provided, then I suppose there is nothing more I can say that would convince you. They are not my words, they are modern scripture. They’re very hard to misinterpret.
2) Your attempt to redefine it is the same that many others on the left attempt to redefine it: that not only does it include the Jeffersonian and Constitutional definition, but has been expanded to also include any discussion or involvement of religion in the public forum. Yet that’s not what the law says. The former is separation of church and state, whereas the latter is not. It’s separation of citizen and religion. This article, as well as several of the comments, are attempting to expand the definition in order to say that: separation of church and state is wrong. Either that, or there is clearly a lack of understanding as to what separation of church and state actually is. Either way, to say that “separation of church and state” is false doctrine is wrong. You can’t pick and choose what you would like the law to mean. Just read the law and you’ll know. Church policy and doctrine support its actual definition. Hence why this article is not only confusing, but is incorrect because it also includes the original Jeffersonian and Constitutional ideal.
3) Please read #1, and my initial comments.
Basically- if you think that separation of church and state means no religious voice in the public forum, then don’t call it “separation of church and state” because that’s not what it means.
It bothered the gay activists that the LDS Church, not exactly popular amongst Christendom in general, could nevertheless be a galvanizing force in asserting the Lord’s definition of marriage, political correctness be damned. They hate us for the simple reasons that we’re right and good at it.
It was interesting that for years liberal Democrats haunted many a church in the black community to get out the (democrat) vote. I don’t see a problem with “separation of Church and State” where the “Reverend” Jesse Jackson was concerned!
That’s not my idea and those aren’t my words. They’re Joseph F. Smith’s, copied directly from the manual. The second quote is McKay’s. The third is the current First Presidency’s, put into my own words. I know it’s hard to see the quotes on here and I’m not great at html so I couldn’t cite, but if you look carefully, you can see where each quote begins, and where it ends.
The only words that were mine were:
“This article directly contradicts the teachings of our prophets and scripture. Please read here:”
“And though I can’t find the official church statement at the moment, our First Presidency recently released a statement in regards to Prop 8, which explicitly stated that the church supports the separation of church and state.
I’d ask you not to promote this article as any kind of doctrine, because as I just pointed out, what you have just said is false doctrine.”
Everything else I copied and pasted directly from articles and lessons- meaning they are 100% doctrine, not my interpretation of it, as this article, and many of the article on here, attempt to be. If you don’t believe me, you are free to search for the titles of those lessons and articles on the church website and read them for yourself.
Dear Visitor #100:
My article does not conflict in any way with the G.A. quotes you have been so good to provide.
In my article I merely point out that God’s authority supersedes government authority. Is that wrong?
I point out that our church leaders have the right to comment on political matters. Is that wrong?
I point out that members are within their rights to discuss politics at church or amongst themselves. Is that wrong?
Also, government officers are perfectly within their rights to discuss religious principles while acting within the duties of their office. Is that wrong?
Also, may I suggest you review the wording of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In other words, Congress is not authorized to pass laws specific to any religious denomination. That’s it! I am not congress. Our church leaders are not congress. I and they do not pass laws at all, either respecting or not-respecting any religion.
When Joseph F. Smith and David O. McKay discussed the “separation of church and state” they were clearly referring to the limitation specifically enumerated in the First Amendment: a very narrow restriction. And of course, the church does not interfere with government operations and we expect the government not to interfere with ours. Or in other words, governments should not interfere with the administration of churches and churches should not interfere with the administration of governments.
In response to your venomous accusations, I say that my article in no way conflicts with the established doctrines of the church and I do not appreciate your suggesting otherwise.
Your article specifically states that “separation of church and state” is false doctrine and that separation of church and state does not exist. I proved to you otherwise. It is very clear in law what “separation of church and state” means, and it is very clear in LDS doctrine what that means as well. Do you mean “separation of citizen and religion?” That is not the same thing, not even close.
The book you have just posted is not doctrine, regardless of who recommended it. Separation of church and state is doctrine, as I have showed you with numerous quotes from GA over the past 100 years.
It seems to me that, if what Jared has said in his comment is what he actually meant in this article, the issue is not a misinformed understanding of doctrine on his behalf, but a lack of understanding of the legal definition of separation of church and state; which has led him to the erroneous conclusion that “separation of church and state” actually means “no religious speech in the public forum.” If that is the case, wouldn’t be be far less confusing, and far more helpful to reaffirm the actual definition of “separation of church and state” instead of claiming that it doesn’t exist and is false?
I suppose I find this article disturbing primarily for the reason that it, as well as many articles on this website, mingle personal political opinion with gospel doctrine, and then try to pass it off as pure doctrine instead of what it really is: opinion. Despite the “opinion” disclaimer on your homepage, this article claims that other members’ political opinions are “false doctrine,” meaning Jared is of the belief that his opinion is actually doctrine- while more politically liberal members of the church languish in their “brainwashed, socialist-communist ignorance” of gospel doctrine.
I completely endorse the principle of Separation of Church and State as it was originally intended and defined by Thomas Jefferson; and as it was perceived by early church leaders. However, the definition has radically changed in the minds of the masses since then–thanks to the Supreme Court and the media. Today it is interpreted to mean that religion has no place in politics and politics has no place in religion. This modern view disagrees with thousands of years of historical precedent.
Also, the church’s policy today on church involvement in politics is just that: policy. Policy is not doctrine.
It appears to me that the only part of my article that you even read was the title and the first paragraph.
None of your comments are even in context with what I actually said.
You latch onto the phrase “separation of church and state” and then precede with your own preconceived definitions and objections. You list off a bunch of quotes but you do not demonstrate how they disprove anything in my article.
Please address the content of the article and stop wasting my time accusing me of preaching false doctrine on a premise that doesn’t even appear in my article.
In short, I am asking you to stop embarrassing yourself as an obvious “ignorant, brain-washed, communist-socialist pundit” yourself. Or is that why you don’t even have the academic confidence or courtesy to put your real name on your posts? If you can’t keep up academically, then please stop wasting the time of those who can.
Nope, I read the entire article. Why else would I have “wasted your time” posting? You have written an entirely confusing article in regards to separation of church and state. While some individuals in the US attempt to loosen the definition of ‘separation of church and state’ in order to limit religious speech in the public forum, the Supreme Court has not, in fact, encroached upon religious freedom by widening the original definition intended as you so claim. Your use of “separation of church and state” is erroneous according to the law, which is of course, why I posted what I did. If you had not used the term as it currently means under the law, you would have never heard from me.
You say that it is not doctrine, but is policy. Then why was this “policy” taught as an entire Sunday School lesson, with scripture quoted and interpreted by a Prophet? I believe you are reaching quite a bit to negate what I have quoted. You should try reading the rest of the lesson. You’d be very hard-pressed to say that it is merely policy.
And what of your “false doctrine” claim? You say that others’ opinions are “false doctrine” and then attempt to explain that your opinion is “doctrine.” I find that disturbing.
As for not posting my name, I consider myself a private person and do not wish my name to come up in a Google search. A person’s privacy does not reflect academia or intelligence, but way to resort to name-calling. How very “academic” of you.
You should also keep in mind that merely because someone disagrees with you, does not make them liberal, socialist, communist, nor ignorant (as if all of those are the same thing.) I am not a liberal. To categorize your fellowman and automatically label them your “political adversary” not only reveals your desire to be at war with your fellow Americans, but with members of your own faith. How very, very sad.
I should also add that by using the term “separation of church and state” not only are you using your erroneous definition, but the original definition as well. Therefore, regardless of what the “context” of your article is, to say that “separation of church and state” is false doctrine and doesn’t exist is to say that Jefferson’s definition is too. You’d still be wrong.
I read the entire lesson, not a mere quote. Did you? It is not the slightest bit out of context, and is pretty point-blank. Not only that, but I quoted Joseph F. Smith (who was post-John Taylor) from an official lesson in the 90s, then McKay, then Thomas S. Monson and his counselors- each reaffirming the doctrine of separation of church and state. This concept has long been a part of church doctrine, and it’s surprising to me that not only would someone ignore that doctrine, but attempt to circumvent it by reinterpreting other doctrine in order to fit his or her political beliefs.
“The Government of God” merely says that all nations have deviated from the gospel of Christ and now rule without God. This does not mean we should forcefully reform the government under the gospel of Christ and create theological law to bind citizens to its teachings, but means there is a greater need for righteousness among a nation’s people in order for a government to again be led according the direction of God. A righteous people will naturally have a righteous government, but we do not currently have a righteous people–and will likely not have that until the second coming of Christ. In fact, Taylor’s essay would only further validate the necessity for separation of church and state due to the corruption of government.
So it’s not surprising that the prophets would support separation of church and state, because it is the only way to ensure freedom of religion. This “sacred cow” article focuses on the church being involved in the state; but if tomorrow, the state became involved in the church, what would you say? My guess is you would quote the 1st Amendment. Spend some time in China, and you will see what it’s like when the state becomes directly involved in the church. Though there is some freedom of religion in China, because of government direction and influence in ecclesiastical leadership in several religions, they are by no means truly free. The only means that our own faith is allowed to operate in China without the government’s direct involvement in choosing church leadership is due to our honesty, patience, and a great deal of prayer.
Didn’t work- sorry! But you can see both quotes, I think.
In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”
People who clamor about the separation between church and state appear to be the same ones who want to limit prayer in school, public displays of the ten commandments, or the like.
I read the wall builders article and it seemed to demonstrate that Jefferson’s understanding of the separation of church and state was entirely different than what many understand that phrase to mean today.
The Founding Fathers believed the federal government had no authority to regulate, restrict, or interfere with religious expression.
As members of our church, we have been commanded to uphold those laws which are constitutional and support wise and just men in government who are faithful to our Constitution. Heavenly Father established the Constitution by the hands of wise men whom He raised up for that very purpose.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should take great interest in upholding those laws which are constitutional, anything that is more or less cometh of evil.
It appears to me that it is hard to separate political views from religious views, or at least our political views should be in complete harmony with the principles of the Gospel.
Satan has always tried to exert his influence on earthly governments to restrict our free agency. The war that began in Heaven continues today on this earth. It is still a war on free agency.
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
This scripture seems to demonstrate that there should be little separation between church and state from an LDS perspective.
Well said. Thank you.
I think I need to apologize for some of the confusion and contention generated by my article.
It needs to be understood that the term “separation of church and state” is as evolutionary as a Prime Time Soap Oprah. What it means to people is constantly changing and evolving.
100 years ago, Joseph F. Smith defined it as meaning:
1. The non-interference of church authority in political matters;
2. The absolute freedom and independence of the individual in the performance of his political duties;
3. No domination of the state by the church;
4. No church interference with the function of the state;
5. No state interference with the functions of the church, or with the free exercise of religion;
6. The absolute freedom of the individual from the domination of ecclesiastical authority in political affairs;
7 The equality of all churches before the law.
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 125)
That was 100 years ago! And I completely endorse what he said (not that a prophet of God needs an endorsement from a nobody like me).
Today, proponents for “the separation of church and state” have an entirely different view. I have observed (and I ask others to back me up on this) that the modern interpretation is that:
1. Religion should be kept totally separate from politics;
2. Churches and church leaders should not discuss politics or seek to influence their hearers on political issues;
3. Politics should not be discussed in religious settings (like at church);
4. Religious principles or sentiment should not be taught, discussed, or displayed in public areas which are in any way regulated or financed by the government;
5. Christian values and expressions of worship (such as prayer, scripture reading, and posting the 10 Commandments) in public areas (such as parks, public schools, and court houses) is a violation of the First Amendment;
6. Legislation should not be influenced by religious principles;
7. The name of God should be stricken from all public records, documents, and monuments;
8. IRS intimidation of churches by only allowing tax-free status to those who do not endorse candidates or parties is not considered state interference with the function of the churches (contrary to the First Amendment).
9. Churches should not discriminate in any way based on gender, sexual preferences, or ideologies. (Hence, gay marriage should be allowed in LDS temples and sexual morality should not be taught from LDS pulpits).
When I speak out against the “separation of church and state,” I am referring to the public’s perception of what this means today. You will note that this latter definition is in complete agreement with what is now termed “politically correct.”
Anyone with even a basic knowledge of LDS Church history should know that the LDS Church has never denied its right to comment on political matters or to urge its members as it deems appropriate in courses of political activism.
How many General Authorities have held public office? How many ballet measures have we been counseled to support or oppose? How many General Conference addresses have stressed the importance of loyalty to both the Laws of God and to national and state governments? How many General Conference addresses have defined the proper role of government and have sought to expose the secret societies prevalent in our day? How many prophets of God have publicly opposed tyranny and despotism?
Certainly, our church leaders do not interfere with government; but they are very vocal on political issues. This is in harmony with the original definition of “separation of church and state,” but it is in direct conflict with the newest politically correct view of it.
Members of the church who seek to use the quotes from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church (quotes which contextually apply to the time in which they were spoken)–these sadly blurry-eyed individuals try to use a yard stick to measure a meter when they declare the modern view of “separation of church and state” as official doctrine.
The rest of us, those who have done our homework, those who have diligently studied what all our modern prophets have said on politics together with Constitutional law and history–we will not be cowered or deceived by such shallow, uninformed, underhanded tactics.
Notice that I do not mind speaking disparagingly of special interest groups within the church which speak and act in opposition to the prophets and apostles of our day. Membership in Christ’s church is purely temporary and probationary. We are only Christ’s inasmuch as we speak His words and His truths as inspired by His Spirit. Only those who are sealed His will be members of His church in the eternities. Hence, when LDS people oppose the prophets of God, I do not view them as brothers and sisters in that thing, but as renegade church members who have allied themselves with the enemy.
Be that as it may, I know I should express myself with more charity, patience, kindness, and understanding. Let’s just say I’m working on it.
I love to study, religion, history, government. The study of “separation of church and state” is a fascinating subject. Thank you for your input and your article. Com let us study religion and politics so we can become wise, honest, good citizens. So we can do our duty to god and our country. Let us prepare for the glorious return of our savior Jesus Christ
The idea of separation of church and state is a one-way street. The purpose of the First Amendment is to keep GOVERNMENT out of religion, not the other way around. It was hoped and expected that our elected officials’ religious convictions would influence government through them. Of course, if our representatives have no religious convictions, or weak ones, our government reflects that.
“Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” – John Adams
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” George Washington, Farewell Address
Rex, I think your comment is the best one yet for clarity and accuracy. I also think that a great misunderstanding is created when LDS equate the separation of church and state with a separation of church and politics, and then brand any statement made by any of us about constitutional principles at a Church meeting as “mixing politics with religion”. Let’s be clear about something: Politics is about political parties. Therefore, the principles of liberty and good government contained in the Constitution have NOTHING to do with politics. It infuriates me when limp-wristed elders scream “No politics! No politics!” in Church meetings anytime I or anyone else makes a reference to the Constitution. The principles and governmental structures contained in the Constitution transcend politics. They are essentially the framework of a free and prosperous society, and as such are in direct opposition to Lucifer. They lay out the correct relationship between government and the principle of agency. President Benson said that our nation’s founding documents are like scripture to us because they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. His best friend H. Verlan Andersen wrote that our political persuasions, more than any other single factor, will determine our place in the eternities because they will accurately indicate what we consider an appropriate use of force, inasmuch as government is best defined as legally sanctioned force. The entire false theory of the separation of church and state came about as a result of the intentional misuse of a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to his friend, Albert Ellery Bergh, in 1802, as recorded in “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson”, vol. 16, pg 281, by Mr. Bergh. The point he was trying to drive home in making the remark is that our religious beliefs are entirely matters of conscience, and thus do not come under the purview of government, whereas our outward behavior is in fact the subject of government. I will here quote the pertinent portion of that letter for the benefit of those who would like to read it. “Believing…that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, [and] that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature [i.e., Congress] 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. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties”. From this and his other writings, it is clear that he had the proper understanding of the relationship that should exist between church government and civil government, that he hated the idea of a state sanctioned church, and that one of the primary purposes of religion is to teach man that he must harmonize his individual sovereign rights with his responsibilities as a citizen. NOWHERE in the writings of Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison, or any of the other founders is there even a hint that there should ever be a separation between public and private morality, between principles of government and principles of Christianity, or between our civic duties and our religious duties, let a man be a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, an Episcopalian or what have you. Regardless of anything else, the Founders established America as a Christian nation, and intended that it remain so, which explains the Ten Commandments being chiseled in stone on the supreme Court building. Therefore, it is evident that America is now way off course, thanks largely to such satanic organizations as the ACLU, the leaders of both major political parties, and the hedonistic lifestyle of the typical American. We are going the way of the Jaredites and the Nephites because we have separated government and morality. Our only hope, if there is any, is to bring them back together.
Thanks for the compliment. As stated above, we can thank the Supreme Court for our misunderstandings about church and state. It has abandoned original intent for precedent.
While the Constitution is a great document, I think we have to agree that it is because of its inherent flaws that we have the government that we have; rather we have the government that we have because evil and designing men have exploited the Constitution’s inherent weaknesses, such as the Supremacy, Commerce, and General Welfare Clauses. There is good evidence that, after Hamilton’s plan for a consolidated (i.e. national) government was struck down at the Constitutional Convention, these clauses were Federalist (a misnomer; the Federalists were nationalists) plants that they hoped could be exploited in the future to get their consolidated government; and that is exactly what happened, starting with the Marshall Court and coming to fruition under Lincoln and the Republicans (again, a misnomer because the Republicans were Hamiltonian nationalists).
I believe that the Articles of Confederation were a better document for preserving federalism, but not without its weaknesses. Had the delegates not been swayed by Hamilton and stuck to their respective states’ instructions to do nothing more that amend the Articles, we might have had a document more capable of preserving federalism. Unfortunately, the warnings of the anti-Federalists went unheeded and most of them have come to pass. (I like the anti-Federalist Papers more than the Federalist Papers. The latter contain Hamilton’s worthless assurances and convoluted reasoning to get the Constitution ratified.) I often wonder how the Constitution might have been different had Jefferson been in attendance. (I don’t think that his absence was an accident.) I wonder if he would have tolerated the secrecy in which the Convention was held. But that’s all water under the bridge, and we have to play the hand that we’ve been dealt.
Interesting thought about Jefferson’s absence from the Convention. I had never considered that. How do you reconcile your feelings about the “inherent weaknesses” of the Constitution with what the Lord said about it in D&C 98:5-8? Yes, Hamilton was a blue-blood. If he had been able to get adequate support from the other Founders, we might have become a kingdom, with the Prince of Prussia as our first king. Oh well, good thing Aaron Burr was the better shot.
The Lord says that he justifies us in befriending the constitutional law of the land. Is that the same as justifying us in killing in self defense? In other words, it might be justified, but is it the ideal? No. Even in the latter example, it would be preferrable that there be no killing at all. In fact the People of Ammon preferred death to killing someone else. Also, I’m not sure that being inspired equates to perfect. The Constitution was written by mortal men; therefore, it is not far-fetched to believe that it might have some imperfections in it. It’s simply the best that man could come up with.
The Lord does not say that the Constitution is perfect, much less the men the administer and interpret it. Besides, is representative government the best or most efficient form of government? Perhaps in most cases for mortals, but “if it were possible that [we] could have just men to be [our] kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge [us] according to his commandments, yea, if [we] could have men for [our] kings who would do even as [King] Benjamin did for [his] people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that [we] should always have kings to rule over [us]” (Mosiah 29:13).
I’m pretty late to the conversation here, but hope to participate in the future. Jared, I agree with most of what you said about the way the idea of separation of church and state has changed. But to say it is “a myth” and “doesn’t exist,” as you did from the beginning, is asking for trouble. America, Mormons included, should be grateful for that separation. The Church could not have been established anywhere else specifically because of this concept. No matter how weird you are, you won’t be squashed by the state. And I happen to agree that religion should be kept separate from politics. Look at the current GOP nominees. Politicians find religion very useful, particularly on the right, because it’s so easy to distract from what they’re actually doing.
There never was an intent to separate church and state completely. The First Amendment was to keep the federal government from imposing an official religion on the states. If you haven’t read The Federalist Papers, start now. You’ll find the original intent of the Founding Fathers there.
Here’s a thought I just had in our family scripture study tonight.
“… all things unto (God) are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any…; neither Adam, your father….
… I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal….” D&C 29:34-5
I know the intent of this article is to dispel the fallacious application of the phrase “separation of church and state;” yet the rift between God’s law and Natural law seems to me an even more fundamental, underlying problem. I attended a predominantly LDS liberal arts school, and saw this falsehood vehemently defended. Many who subscribed have since fallen away from the church. Tragic
I was brought up LDS– and with all due respect,I’m sorry but I don’t agree with what you have to say Mr. Eastley. I will try find the phrase “separation of Church and State” and get back to you. I wouldn’t mind having Mitt Romneny as the first LDS president, however I don’t like his politics, the way he thousands of workers– he really puts profit over people, gay marriage should be a legal right and the LDS church has long racist history that is quite frankly embarrassing.