The current occupant of the White House is keeping Americans United busy with constant attempts to placate his Religious Right allies by undermining the separation of church and state. (But remember, AU is fighting back, as the federal lawsuit we filed on Friday demonstrates.)
Presidents Day is good time to remember that it hasn’t always been this way. Many of our presidents haven’t been enemies of church-state separation. In fact, they’ve strongly supported that principle, recognized its fundamental value and said great things about it.
Three years ago, I pulled together an article for Church & State listing what were, in my opinion at least, the 10 best things U.S. presidents have said about separation of church and state; I also provided some context for each statement.
You’ll find the usual champions of religious freedom here – Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John F. Kennedy – but you will also see some interesting statements by less-prominent presidents.
I urge you to take a look. I hope the words of these presidents will inspire you. I also hope you’ll redouble your efforts to work alongside Americans United to protect the vital principle of church-state separation.
Happy Presidents Day!