U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urged courts and legislators to “tear down” the wall of separation between church and state in a November opinion column for The Washington Times.
“Simply put, the idea of a rigid separation between church and state is without any basis in our history or laws,” Hatch wrote. He went on to argue that most Founding Fathers didn’t agree with Thomas Jefferson’s concept of a “wall of separation” between church and state; instead, Hatch said they favored John Adams’ view, which he characterized as a “mild and equitable establishment of religion.”
“The erroneous wall-of-separation doctrine narrows the role of religion in public discourse, fueling the view that religion is a private matter rather than a fundamental precept of American civil society and leading many to fall prey to the disturbing claim that religious freedom doesn’t extend much further than the church door,” Hatch asserted. He claimed that the idea of separation of church and state “tells the religious believer that in order to participate fully in public life, he should cabin and hide his religious devotion.”
Hatch, who heads the Senate Committee on Finance, helped draft the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and praised the Supreme Court for its 2014 verdict in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell.
Hatch has been giving a series of speeches on the floor of the Senate on “religious liberty” topics. Americans United has responded to his erroneous views on its “Wall of Separation” blog.