Video: The (mostly) unknown history of the “separation of church and state”

posted at 4:01 pm on May 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Actually, I’d guess that most Hot Air readers know most of John Eastman’s lesson for Prager University on the history of religion and liberty in the US.  For those of you looking for extra credit, here’s a course to audit — and there may be a few new details to learn for our grad students, too.  Eastman, a regular on the Hugh Hewitt show, covers the relatively recent development of this remark from Thomas Jefferson into a legal precedent, and explains why it actually defies the entire system of natural rights defended by Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence:

On another front in this fight, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced their second annual Fortnight for Freedom, their pushback against the HHS contraception/sterilization mandate that would infringe on the rights of private and religious organizations:

The second annual Fortnight for Freedom will take place from June 21 to July 4, and will consist of national and local efforts to educate Americans on challenges to religious liberty both at home and abroad. As with last year’s Fortnight, the event will begin and end with a special Mass.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, will open the 2013 Fortnight for Freedom by celebrating Mass at Baltimore’s historic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. EDT. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington will celebrate the closing Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on July 4 at 12 p.m. EDT.

“The need for prayer, education, and action in defense of religious liberty has never been greater,” explained Archbishop Lori. “The Fortnight for Freedom exists to meet that need. This year’s Fortnight occurs just weeks before August 1, when the administration’s mandate coercing us to violate our deeply-held beliefs will be enforced against most religious non-profits. During the Fortnight the Supreme Court’s decisions on the definition of marriage will likely be handed down as well. Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come.”

Further details about the Fortnight can be found at www.Fortnight4Freedom.org. . . . The site hosts resources such as one-page fact sheets outlining current threats to religious freedom both in the United States and abroad; frequently asked questions about religious liberty, including quotes from the Founding Fathers, the Second Vatican Council and Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI; and a study guide on Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II’s document on religious liberty. The website also lists sample activities already planned in several dioceses, an image gallery of photos from last year’s Fortnight celebrations, as well as resources and recommendations for other local efforts, such as prayers for use in special liturgies.

The fight goes on for liberty.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

You stupid Christofascists! We have freedom FROM you religious theocratic nutjobs! Get your rosaries off my ovaries! Etc.!

Living4Him5534 on May 13, 2013 at 4:09 PM

I find it a glaring omission that he did not remind us that the letter Jefferson wrote was to assure the Danbury Baptists that the church was safe from the government. He made no mention of the other way around.

Odysseus on May 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

By the way, I’ll give the Justices in Everson this: At least they looked to something written by a founding father. That hasn’t been the case very often in the last century.

Odysseus on May 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Good information. Though it would be nice to mention the “Danbury letter” was written to a group of Baptists worshipping in a state with another denomiation as the “established” state church.

cs89 on May 13, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I find it a glaring omission that he did not remind us that the letter Jefferson wrote was to assure the Danbury Baptists that the church was safe from the government. He made no mention of the other way around.

We’ve gone from having a president assuring a religious minority of his time that the federal government had no right to discriminate against them to a president who actively discriminates against the religious – or at least the religious who do not worship him.

18-1 on May 13, 2013 at 4:19 PM

course to audit

Pun intentional?

tbrickert on May 13, 2013 at 4:21 PM

So…

Since the Boston Marathon bombing, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi-gate has gotten almost everyone on the right to stop shooting at each other for awhile and start focusing on the common enemy — Obama, the Left, the MSM, and the Dems — I guess it’s time to toss something in to start cracking open some of the wedge issues on the right.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Prager University…the university that isn’t a university.

Catchy.

Pablo Honey on May 13, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Ah … so many fond memories of liberals spewing spittle and frothy foam while screaming “separation of church and state!”

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Prager University…the university that isn’t a university.

Catchy.

Pablo Honey on May 13, 2013 at 4:37 PM

What does that have to do with the video?

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

i just have never really understood how religion thinks it ok to hide behind the 1st amendment and attempt to take away the liberties and freedoms of other people who do not believe the same way they do.

i don’t approve of the government doing things like that to people or religion (unless the religion is taking away liberties/freedoms) and the religious organizations certainly do not like it when the govt attempts to do that to them, so i don’t know why the religious think it’s ok.

kastor on May 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Russia in the USA

AP is always in Obama’s azz…no separation…but this is dire.

The fight goes on for liberty.

I’m doubting it, more every day.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

I find it a glaring omission that he did not remind us that the letter Jefferson wrote was to assure the Danbury Baptists that the church was safe from the government. He made no mention of the other way around.

Odysseus on May 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

We are so lucky that Jefferson wrote that letter. Who knows, had he not, those Baptists could have become self-radicalized on us. /

The ability to worship freely is under attack. The faithless left would have such activity only happen in churches without any outward societal expression. They’ve gone so far as to crucify Santa as their contribution to a community holiday display. This is not tolerance of other faiths it is about as intolerant as you can get.

Somebody should be able to express their faith without being turned in to HR or get the eye-roll from one of the Godless.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

i don’t approve of the government doing things like that to people or religion (unless the religion is taking away liberties/freedoms) and the religious organizations certainly do not like it when the govt attempts to do that to them, so i don’t know why the religious think it’s ok.

kastor on May 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

You mean like Islam? I can think of no other religion that is an organized political force.

gryphon202 on May 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM

kastor on May 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

What are you talking about?

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM

The fight goes on for liberty.

Not really.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM

The 1947 SCOTUS majority opinion was penned by Hugo Black, who wasn’t a constitutional scholar. He was a senator from Alabama who FDR nominated because of Black’s support of the court-packing scheme.

Before he was a senator, Black practiced law and joined the Klan, and had given many anti-Catholic speeches.

pt on May 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Prager University…the university that isn’t a university.

Catchy.

Pablo Honey on May 13, 2013 at 4:37 PM

In other words you have nothing.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Living4Him5534 on May 13, 2013 at 4:09 PM

So based on your comment we can safely say that your “name” is not referring to Him – our Lord above? In return I have to say you antichristianfacists, we have freedom from you nutjobs, your condescending, over the top rhetoric?

ladyhawke53 on May 13, 2013 at 4:51 PM

i just have never really understood how religion thinks it ok to hide behind the 1st amendment and attempt to take away the liberties and freedoms of other people who do not believe the same way they do.

kastor on May 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Crucifying Santa as a holiday display on the courthouse lawn was a real mark of tolerance that “people who do not believe the same way they do.” Face it, the faithless are about as intolerant a group as you can find. They hide behind the First Amendment to attack any expression of faith outside the walls of a place of worship. The Ten Commandments are good rules to live by no matter what your beliefs but can that reside in a classroom or court chamber? No because a bunch of intolerant bigots have decided to make it their mission to strip God from society.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Pablo- btw the man in the video is law professor, John Eastman.

I know you whackos like it simple and you like to play your games but why don’t you try to expand your mind a little?

CW on May 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Prager University…the university that isn’t a university.

Catchy.

Pablo Honey on May 13, 2013 at 4:37 PM

I think Harvard already has the rights to that one. Or University of Phoenix. I always get those two mixed up.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Prager University…the university that isn’t a university.

Catchy.

Pablo Honey on May 13, 2013 at 4:37 PM

What does that have to do with the video?

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Were you expecting a substantive criticism. Pablo Honey would have to go get outside help.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Living4Him5534 on May 13, 2013 at 4:09 PM

So based on your comment we can safely say that your “name” is not referring to Him – our Lord above? In return I have to say you antichristianfacists, we have freedom from you nutjobs, your condescending, over the top rhetoric?

ladyhawke53 on May 13, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I am pretty sure that was sarcasm.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Ironic that Jefferson’s words to the Danbury Baptist Church that a wall of separation should be built to protect religion from government has been turned around to mean protect government from religion.

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Interesting that a Christmas tree or even a creche establishes a religion. I drove by a Mosque once and it didn’t make me a muslim.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Pablo left nothing and well left. Dense is dense.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 5:08 PM

‘I find it a glaring omission that he did not remind us that the letter Jefferson wrote was to assure the Danbury Baptists that the church was safe from the government. He made no mention of the other way around.
Most important item left out! Go to conservative Hillsdale College and sign up for their FREE courses

Bullhead on May 13, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Most important item left out! Go to conservative Hillsdale College and sign up for their FREE courses

Bullhead on May 13, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Hillsdale is a joke. The faculty there does NOT teach about state-level nullification, without which We The People have little recourse against a tyrannical congress.

gryphon202 on May 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Hillsdale is a joke. The faculty there does NOT teach about state-level nullification, without which We The People have little recourse against a tyrannical congress.

gryphon202 on May 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Their mission as a college should include state-level nullification?

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Interesting that a Christmas tree or even a creche establishes a religion. I drove by a Mosque once and it didn’t make me a muslim.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

You sure about that? For all we know that might have even made you a self-radicalized lone wolf! ;0

Seriously, for a certain element in society, it isn’t just about freedom of religion it is about ensuring that their faithlessness becomes the de facto state religion.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 5:23 PM

I wrote about this several years ago, too.

Does ‘Separation of Church and State’ Really Exist?

http://www.publiusforum.com/2012/07/04/does-separation-of-church-and-state-really-exist/

This essay of mine was included in a college textbook, believe it or not.

Warner Todd Huston on May 13, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Once again someone misquoting the Declaration of Independence!!!!
It is not

inalienable rights

It is

unalienable rights

!
Inalienable rights are man given and can be taken away. Unalienable rights are God given and can only be taken away by GOD!
You would think if someone were teaching this subject, they would get it right!!!!!!

flytier on May 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM

The Rehnquist Dissent in WALLACE V. JAFFREE (1985) is essential reading for anyone interested in ‘separation of Church and State’ issues

Afterseven on May 13, 2013 at 6:11 PM

The Rehnquist Dissent in WALLACE V. JAFFREE (1985) is essential reading for anyone interested in ‘separation of Church and State’ issues http://is.gd/lYA1Ih

Afterseven on May 13, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Prager University is hardly befitting the man Dennis Prager used to be. Nowadays…meh.

I find it a glaring omission that he did not remind us that the letter Jefferson wrote was to assure the Danbury Baptists that the church was safe from the government. He made no mention of the other way around.

Odysseus on May 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Soooo you found your premise for Evangelical Sharia?

I say Keep ‘em separated.

Pun intentional?

tbrickert on May 13, 2013 at 4:21 PM

FAIL!

I think Harvard already has the rights to that one. Or University of Phoenix. I always get those two mixed up.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

You’re so smart that you’re too dumb to matriculate and graduate from a decent university. Impressive. Equating Harvard with UOP reveals much more about you than about the oft-trashed Ivies. Basically every person with a respectable-degree now knows you to be an idiot.

Bashing education that you don’t have is a favored pastime of the supremely uneducated.

This is my one point of contention with DP. He has an elite educational pedigree. He knows the value thereof. But he talks down to those he perceives as dumb by telling them that they don’t need university-education.

Capitalist Hog on May 13, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Marriage, except among religious Americans, is in decline.

OTOH marriage among serial-adulterers seems to be thriving.

un/

Capitalist Hog on May 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM

flytier on May 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM

The perceived error likely stems from the fact that both words are nearly indistinguishable in meaning. And Eastman did not do much in the way of clarifying that for his listener.

Eastman is a professor at a decent law school. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s constrained by time. But, he should make the distinction clear especially in a format for the masses who will regurgitate this stuff unfiltered.

As for the near-synonomous unalienable and inalienable I find this explanation handy:
At first glance the two terms seem pretty much synonymous. However, while the word “inalienable” is “not subject to alienation,” the word “unalienable” is “incapable of being aliened”.

Capitalist Hog on May 13, 2013 at 7:21 PM

For those who still would cling to the notion that the Founders were in favor of “separating” religion from public life I would recommend the following

http://undergod.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=69

Religion in the Original 13 Colonies

“By the year 1702 all 13 American colonies had some form of state-supported religion. This support varied from tax benefits to religious requirements for voting or serving in the legislature. Below are excerpts from colonial era founding documents citing these religious references.

Most instances of state-supported religion were removed before 1850, and the remaining requirements became null and void after the passing of the 14th Amendment on July 28, 1868. New Hampshire and North Carolina removed the nullified religious references from their state constitutions in 1875 and 1877 respectively”

The graphic that follows this illustrates the point quite compellingly. Text from the pertinent colony and/or state documents is provided.

“14th Amendment to US Constitution was ratified by South Carolina in July 1868. The US Supreme Court ruled that this amendment ended state support of religion in all US states in ruling of Gitlow v. New York, 1925″

djaces on May 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM

This is my one point of contention with DP. He has an elite educational pedigree. He knows the value thereof. But he talks down to those he perceives as dumb by telling them that they don’t need university-education.
Capitalist Hog on May 13, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Harvard is an overpriced, overrated diploma mill. Yes, I exaggerate for effect, but I don’t know why you defend the worship of prestigious names. Undergraduate education at so-called elite colleges is absolutely not superior to what someone can get at far less expensive state schools. It is impressive that someone got accepted at a school with a low admit rate, but that’s about it. About half of the undergrad admits are affirmative action and legacy, anyway. You are basically paying for the name and for the ability to say you went to a particular school. You sound like someone who went to a prestigious college and who is now mad that others aren’t sufficiently in awe of your grade inflation and diploma.

bluegill on May 13, 2013 at 8:13 PM

One self-serving distortion after another. No surprise.

Consider: Yes Jefferson invoked the phrase “separation of church and state” but so did others and our video professor is proven either ignorant or a shameless liar. Among those, notably, was Madison who wrote:

Direct references to separation:

The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).
Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).
Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).
I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others. (Letter Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).

To the Baptist Churches on Neal’s Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself (Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811).

It only gets worse from there as far as this video propaganda goes.

MJBrutus on May 13, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Thanks for posting this, Ed.

I hope that Allahpundit reads and watches it.

ITguy on May 13, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Thomas Jefferson wrote;

“The god who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”

Written in 1774, A Summary of the Rights of British America, was Jefferson’s first published work and it’s assertion that the colonists had a natural right to govern themselves was a radical idea that pushed Jefferson up to forefront of the American Revolution.

ITguy on May 13, 2013 at 9:41 PM

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

——————————————————————————–
For Immediate Release January 22, 2001

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING, 2001

- – - – - – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Nearly 200 years ago, on March 4, 1801, our young Nation celebrated an important milestone in its history, the first transfer of power between political parties, as Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office as President. On this bicentennial of that event, we pause to remember and give thanks to Almighty God for our unbroken heritage of democracy, the peaceful transition of power, and the perseverance of our Government through the challenges of war and peace, want and prosperity, discord and harmony.

President Jefferson also wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time” and asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are of God?” Indeed, it is appropriate to mark this occasion by remembering the words of President Jefferson and the examples of Americans of the past and today who in times of both joy and need turn to Almighty God in prayer. Times of plenty, like times of crisis, are tests of American character. Today, I seek God’s guidance and His blessings on our land and all our people. Knowing that I cannot succeed in this task without the favor of God and the prayers of the people, I ask all Americans to join with me in prayer and thanksgiving.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 21, 2001, a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving and call upon the citizens of our Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship to pray alone and together and offer thanksgiving to God for all the blessings of this great and good land. On this day, I call upon Americans to recall all that unites us. Let us become a nation rich not only in material wealth but in ideals — rich in justice and compassion and family love and moral courage. I ask Americans to bow our heads in humility before our Heavenly Father, a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors, but to love them, to ask His guidance upon our Nation and its leaders in every level of government.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fifth.

GEORGE W. BUSH

ITguy on May 13, 2013 at 9:47 PM

You won’t find a call for Christianity to be separated from our government in any of our founding documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution), but you will find it in Article 124 of the 1936 Constitution of the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics):

the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state

ITguy on May 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Many people are surprised to learn that the United States Capitol regularly served as a church building; a practice that began even before Congress officially moved into the building and lasted until well after the Civil War…

The approval of the Capitol for church was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Speaker of the House, Theodore Sedgwick, and Senate approval being given by the President of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, Jefferson’s approval came while he was still officially the Vice- President but after he had just been elected President.

So the very same Thomas Jefferson whom the leftists pin their “separation of church and state” hopes to is the very same Thomas Jefferson who approved of, and attended, church services in the U.S. Capitol building.

ITguy on May 13, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Excellent Ed.

Zorro on May 13, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Somebody should be able to express their faith without being turned in to HR or get the eye-roll from one of the Godless.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

“Somebody should be able to express their faith without being turned in to HR”

Agree.

“Somebody should be able to express their faith without … the eye-roll from one of the Godless.”

Disagree. That’s simply an expression of a different opinion.

DarkCurrent on May 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

“Somebody should be able to express their faith without … the eye-roll from one of the Godless.”

Disagree. That’s simply an expression of a different opinion.

DarkCurrent on May 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

*eye-roll*

. . . then, in a perfect world, one should be able to express their belief in the existence of God without being lampooned by people who mistakenly believe such belief in God is irrational. Such a world would require the continuing ability to express opinions as desired, but contain no person stupid enough to believe belief in God is irrational, or prideful enough to elevate themselves above a peer and roll their eyes at them.

The fact that the current world is full of people who would imagine it the other way round — a perfect world would be one where no person believes in God — is just icing on the cake.

Not that you said otherwise.

. . . I wonder how many people will mistake my eye-roll for hypocrisy.

Axe on May 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM