CHURCH AND STATE
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.
- First Amendment
to the United States Constitution
"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 the 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, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall
of separation between church and state."
"If we did a good act
merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence
arises the morality of the Atheist?"
"In every country and
in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance
with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."
- Thomas Jefferson,
"The truth is, that the
greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those calling themselves
the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the structure of a system
of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his
genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus
by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed
with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
- Thomas Jefferson,
We shall be a city upon
a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely
with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw
His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through
- John Winthrop, Pilgrim
"In the past, many have
maintained and some still do, that freedom of religion is harmful. They
say that religious liberty is nothing but license for unbelief. It is true
that in America one may deny and ridicule the most sacred teachings of
our Christian faith. But those who would oppose religious liberty on these
grounds do not stop to consider what a government is. Just as the church
should not be a state, so the state should not be a church. The state is
not a religious establishment or church through which its members hope
to come to eternal life. The state is rather an institution ordained by
God for this life, to protect each person's property, administer justice
and ensure that each person can live here with his family in peace.
The church, on the
other hand, struggles not against armies, but against unbelief and sin:
it seeks not to conquer lands, but hearts. Therefore, how can the state
help the church with its prisons of stone and weapons of steel? Christianity
holds sway only in the hearts and consciences of people. Its weapon is
the Word of God, and its power is faith. It needs neither the support nor
help of the government.
What therefore, is
the greatest boon that the state can grant religion? Not privilege, but
freedom: not laws which command adherence to its teachings, but freedom
to proclaim these teachings to all the world; not the extension of its
message by worldly power, but freedom to spread this message with the sword
of the conquering Word; not dominion in the state, but freedom to dwell
therein as a refuge and a haven."
- Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm
Return to Politics
index, or Site homepage.