The Separation of Church and State
Throughout history, this topic has generated much of controversy. Ancient history is full of examples of the state or governing authorities interfering with religion. There were rulers or kings that assumed various “priestly” titles, like the “temporal” titles that their offices command. An example of such state-church mixing and melding, led to the execution of Socrates, for his disrespect for the gods( in Biblical times, like kings of Israel were anointed by Priests, as a sign of God’s approval. This is why separation of church and state is bad for America. For centuries, Monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right. This later metamorphosed into monarchs ruling over church’s administration in a way. There was this catholic doctrine that the Pope, as Vicar of Christ on earth, should have authority over the church on earth and indirectly over the state. This led to claims in the middle ages that the pope has authority to depose Catholic kings and they did try to exercise this authority. Thus in the medieval times in western world, monarch who ruled in secular world tend to encroach on the church’s rule of the spiritual sphere. This led to power struggles and crises. In the 1530s, Henry VIII, rejected the annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon by the Pope. He consequently, formed the Church of England (Anglican Church) and set himself as the ruler of the new church, thus ending the separation that had existed between the church and the state of England. From that period on, the Monarchs of Great Britain have retained ecclesiastic authority in the Church of England with the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This eventually led to anti-Catholicism and others who were against The church of England, subsequently religious persecution. One of the results of the persecution was that some fled Great Britain in hopes of religious freedom to the American colonies. After the American colonies revolted against King George III, the Constitution of United States was written to guide against the State’s interference with religion. The Protestant Reformation also has a part to play in the concept of the “separation of church and state”. Thus Martin Luther wrote and articulated the doctrine of the two kingdoms, during this period and marked the beginning of the modern concept of separation of church and state. To look critically at this topic, we would have to study the genesis of the concept in the United States, we need to recall that the first immigrants to United States were included those that were persecuted in Europe for their spiritual beliefs. Having faced religious persecution in Europe, they were not ready to allow such an experience to be entrenched in this New found land. Initially, some o the colonies established continued with the European system of making a denomination the religion of the colony. For example the New Netherland colony had the Dutch Reformed Church as the only denomination in the colony and all other denominations were prohibited. Although other colonies allowed multiple denominations and protected them, like Roger Williams of Rhode Island. Colonies of Massachusetts, New Haven and New Hampshire had Puritans, Calvinist, Catholics and other Protestants denominations. While colonies like New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia were established by immigrants that had Church of England as their denomination. In most cases, the founders of such colonies determined the denomination that is either established for the state or are predominant. Based on these facts, observations and the recollection of religious persecution in Europe. Hence early immigrants To the United States proposed to have a place to worship freely without being persecuted. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was introduced; “Congress shall not make no law respecting an...
References: Benard G W.(2005) The king’sReligion and Founding of the American Republic (website)
Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcomb, “What if America were a Christian Nation”.
Henry VII, Britannia History Feldman Noah (2005); Divided by God
Letter of October 7, 1801, from Danbury (CT) Baptist Association to Thomas Jefferson, from the Thomas Jefferson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C
Rights of the People: Individual Freedom and bill of Rights John Whitehead “The Separation Illusion”, 1977 Stephen V. Monsma; Positively Neutality, Baker Books 1993.
The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, John P. Foley, editor (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), p. 977; see also Documents of American History, Henry S. Cummager, editor (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948)
Annals of the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1852, Eighth Congress, Second Session, p. 78, March 4, 1805; see also James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899)
Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U. S. 145, 164 (1878)
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