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Constitution doesn't mean separation of church and state

"Then I said to them: 'You see the trouble we are in...Come, let us rebuild..., and we will no longer be in disgrace'." (Nehemiah 2:17)

One of the newspapers in which my column appears featured a letter to the editor recently in which the writer quipped, "Separation of church and state is guaranteed in the Constitution...Even the Bible supports the separation of church and state when it says, 'Give unto Caesar what it Caesar's, and give unto God what is God's.'"

The writer is wrong on both points. Jesus wasn't promoting the principle of the separation of church and state at Matthew 22:21. His point was that the Jew of his day had a dual citizenship, one in Rome and one in Heaven. In other words, the responsibility to pay taxes to Rome could not be avoided any more than and the Jew's obligation to walk in a covenant relationship with God. The irony of the error in the writer's claim is that Jesus' point about dual citizenship is still true today.

David Barton in his book, Original Intent, clarifies that separation of church and state was a relatively seldom-used term until 1947. "Through continuous usage over recent decades, the separation language has now become so commonplace that many Americans believe it to be a constitutional phrase found in the First Amendment. It is not. That Amendment simply states, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...' The current application of the 'separation of church and state' metaphor actually represents a relatively recent concept rather than the enforcement of a long-standing constitutional principle."

Barton points out that the separation of church and state - as we know it today - has its roots in a 1947 United States Supreme Court decision when the Court announced in the landmark case, Everson v. Board of Education: "The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."

The rest is history. The Supreme Court, and numerous lower courts, have repeatedly struck down religious activities and expressions which had been constitutional for the previous 150 years. Is it really any surprise to hear that student-led prayer at football games is no longer constitutional?

Interestingly, our Senate has focused on confirming justices who refuse to ignore an important principle about which Thomas Jefferson once admonished Supreme Court Justice William Johnson. "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

Hope is not lost for our country. We never have to doubt whether God will defeat the enemy. The only question is when it will happen.

Remember II Chronicles 7:14 states "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

It really doesn't matter what the rest of the country thinks or does because God said He would heal our land when his people humble themselves, pray, seek his face, and turn from their wicked ways.

It may not be a simple answer, but it is pretty easy to understand and you don't even have to read between the lines. If we'd only believe what He says and put His word into action.

Copyright 2019, Pen Holder Ministries


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