Note: Today’s blog post originally ran last year to mark Independence Day. For more information about the “Christian nation” myth, see this Americans United brochure.
Today is Independence Day, and many of us will be meeting up with family for cook-outs, picnics, reunions and other events.
Tomorrow is the birthday of an unsung hero of church-state separation: the Rev. John Leland.
Leland, born in Grafton, Mass., on May 14, 1754, became a nomadic Baptist preacher after abandoning the Congregationalism of his early years. He eventually moved to Virginia in 1775, where he quickly became a prominent religious and political figure.
Just days after some in the media declared the Religious Right to be losing its political power, evangelical favorite U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Iowa caucus thanks to a big turnout from his base.
When most people consider the qualities they want in a president, things like the ability to manage the economy, forge political compromises and tend to foreign policy come to mind.
But U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has an additional qualification: He believes it’s absolutely essential that the president be a believer who prays regularly.
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) seems to believe that church-state separation is harming American society.
In remarks delivered yesterday on the U.S. Senate floor, the longtime lawmaker criticized the concept of a church-state wall.
Tomorrow is Independence Day, and many of us will be meeting up with family for cook-outs, picnics, reunions and other events.
While I’m certainly not recommending that you get into an argument with your Uncle Lou who watches too much Fox News, I acknowledge that it might happen. If it does and the topic of America as a “Christian nation” comes up, here is some information you might find useful.
Let’s say a legislator in your state came up with the bright idea to force everyone to pay a special tax to support “teachers of the Christian religion.” What would you do?
You’d probably fire up your computer and use social media and Twitter to mobilize opposition. You might start an online petition or lobby the legislature directly.
But if it were 1785, and you didn’t have any of those tools, you might just have to do what James Madison did – reach for a quill pen and write a broadside so powerful it would sink the idea.
By Jonathan Engel
Like Joshua in the Bible, there are Americans today who would like to blow their trumpets loud and strong in order to destroy the “wall of separation between church and state” of which Thomas Jefferson spoke approvingly in his 1802 letter to the Danbury, Conn., Baptists.
But instead of trumpet blasts echoing off the walls, the faithful are shouting a mantra of sorts that they tend to repeat loudly and ad nauseam, those words being: “Separation of church and state is not in the Constitution!”
Editor's Note: Today's blog is a re-publication of an item that originally appeared on Presidents' Day 2012.
Today is Presidents’ Day. Celebrate by reading some great presidential classics of religious liberty!
Start with George Washington’s letter to Touro Synagogue, one of the most succinct statements ever issued about religious liberty.