Rediscovering and recovering lost and endangered American liberties by studying our Founders' ideas, contemporaries, and etymology – because our united States "…are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…"
Would you know how to answer someone who claims that our Government may not tolerate any religious influence, based on the idea of “separation of Church and State?”
A good question to ask first might be:
“Where in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence is the notion of ‘separation of Church and State,’ as you perceive it, set forth?”
Usually, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment gets referenced, in answer:
However, the Establishment Clause only means that no law may be made that either 1) establishes a national religion, or 2) prevents anyone from practicing a religion. It does NOT mean that a Congressman cannot read or use the Bible to influence his values and decisions. It does NOT mean that religious references or prayers may not be offered up in Congress.
To emphasize the meaning even further: the Establishment Clause only addresses LAWS. Not plaques, books, or prayers. Just LAWS.
The first occurrence of the phrase “separation of Church and State” comes from a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, as an assurance that Congress would never infringe on their religious liberties:
To Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others
A Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut
January 1, 1802
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you 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, 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 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.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.
President of the United States