I enjoyed your article on Constitution Day. In my view, it is the second most important day in our country’s history.
As your article reminds us, the Constitution does not contain the words “separation of church and state.” Those words were used in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a friend. The Constitution’s First Amendment reads: “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.”
The prohibition against an establishment of religion was to avoid having a national religion from which the Pilgrims and others were fleeing.
Jefferson’s remark unfortunately is misinterpreted by some to require the complete exclusion of God and religious beliefs from any government-related activities. It is the platform on which some self-identified atheists work to attack every Christian connection to say “state” activity. Their goal obviously is to eliminate any vestige of what we Christians believe to be our Christian heritage. Interpretation of remarks not in the Constitution does not help in understanding what our forefathers intended.
The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote many years ago:
“I sought for the genius and greatness of America ... in her fertile fields and boundless forests — and it was not there ... in her rich mines and her vast world commerce — and it was not there ... in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution — and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America ... did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
The secret of America’s greatness is etched on her coins: “In God we trust.”