A Merry Wall of Christmas Separation
Okay, it’s Christmas season once again and the “holiday” scrooges are out in full force. Using the hammer of separation of Church and State, they are working to beat the words “Merry” and “Christmas” out of our public expression free speech. They are seeking to ban nativities, Christmas trees, and Christmas music from court houses, schools, and virtually all public land. And as I said, it’s all in the name of “separation of church and state.”
So let me admit right up front that I laugh at these attempts because you can’t drive Christmas away no matter how hard you may try and because this whole idea of a wall of separation between church and state is not even remotely found in our Constitution. In fact, it was the intent of the founders to protect and preserve specifically Christianity. Not Islam and Hinduism and ALL other beliefs, but Christianity.
These attempts to whittle Christianity out of public life are nothing new. Going back to the 1800s Congress was arguing even then about these matters. But the House Judiciary Committee on March 27, 1854 boldly explained that, “Had the people during the revolution, had any suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”
Wow – can you imagine such words coming from a committee of Congress today? I wonder what Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart would do with that?
This whole business of the separation of church and state is not, as I said, even in the Constitution, but instead goes back to a conversation that the Danbury Baptist Church, in Connecticut, was having with Thomas Jefferson. This church had heard rumors that the Congregationalist Denomination was going to be declared the “national” denomination by the government. They were greatly disturbed by this because the whole reason for leaving Britain and for fighting a Revolutionary War was to get out from under the thumb of a dictatorial government and the state sanctioned Anglican Church.
So the members of this church and association wrote Thomas Jefferson a letter of concern. In response, Jefferson wrote them back a letter. In that letter he assured the church that this would never happen and reminded them that,
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 prohibit the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State….
And there it is…those famous words that have changed our approach to religion in America forever. It is clear that people have taken Jefferson’s words and run with them much, much further and in directions he never intended. When you read his words, it is clear that Jefferson was ensuring the people that the government would never declare any one Christian church or denomination as THE official church of America. Period. That is ALL he said. He never said or intended that we would expel prayer and Bible reading from schools. He never intended that we would remove the Ten Commandments, crosses, nativities, etc. from public space.
And if Thomas Jefferson were here today, I firmly believe that he would stand in the halls of Congress and boldly wish us all a Merry Christmas!