SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Constitutional Context: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (1st Amend). Executive Branch Context: "We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon." - Jimmy Carter "I was humbled to learn that God sent His Son to die for a sinner like me." - George W. Bush"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 Congressional Context: Public Law 97-280 is a resolution that recognizes the influence of the Bible on the development of our nation. Introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 165, with thirty-three co-sponsors, and as House Joint Resolution 487 with 219 co-sponsors, a request was delivered before Congress to honor the Bible as Holy Scripture. The resolution suffered no amendments, no exclusions, no demands that it be stricken of religious references. It became law. The 97th Congress of the United States publicly declared 1983 the national "Year of the Bible". The bipartisan document known as Public Law 97-280, was signed on October 4, 1982 by Speaker of the House Thomas P. O'Neill, President of the Senate - Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond, and President of the United States Ronald Reagan. It reads as follows: WHEREAS the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people; WHEREAS deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation; WHEREAS Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States; WHEREAS many of our great national leaders--among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson--paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country's development, as in the words of President Jackson that the Bible is "the Rock on which our Republic rests"; WHEREAS the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies; WHEREAS this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and WHEREAS that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people: NOW, THEREFORE, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national "Year of the Bible" in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
Both secularists and Christians in evangelism in America must operate within the context of the controversy of the separation of church and state. The State and Church are in mutual consensus as evidenced in both the law of the land and in the law of God. By resolution of U.S. Congress ratified by President Reagan PL 97-280 our government acknowledges the formative role of the Bible in our State affairs “the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies.” Likewise, scripture speaks to the church on this duty as a citizen: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities...
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