Separation of God and State
An essay by James A Graves, Jr.
The advocates of the Separation of Church and State insist that American law should not be associated with religion. They insist American law must be secular and cleansed of the items that connect it to religion. They claim that Amendment I of the US Constitution contains all that is necessary to enforce their misguided goals. Ruling after ruling from the US Supreme Court, federal courts and state courts serving to remove God from public access stands in living testament of the power of this movement in America.
Amendment I, in part defining religious freedom, originated from the reasons that our forefathers left Europe and the only life they had ever known to come to America in hopes of creating a new and better nation.
Amendment I states, “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 freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and petition specified in Amendment I were not possible in Europe, primarily because of the power the Church of Rome and the Church of England held over its citizens. King Henry VIII established the Church of England in 1534, separating from the Church of Rome and declaring himself "Supreme Governor of the Church of England" in order to help centralize his power. Before that, England had been subject to the Church of Rome for nearly a thousand years.
The First Amendment shows that the framers of the US Constitution had a strong desire to avoid repeating European religious history. That religious legacy continues today in Europe. The Church of Rome remains a powerful influence, as does the Church of England, and although England established parliamentary rule in place of monarchy rule, the reining British monarch still has the constitutional title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England established by King Henry III.
Because of the wisdom of the founders of American government there has never been a Church of the United States nor has the US Government ever established a national religion. To be specific, Congress has never made ANY LAW establishing any religion of any kind, nor is there any US law that prohibits the worship of any religion… no matter how bizarre. The very existence of the Church of Scientology is a testament to that.
However, nowhere will you find any law or statement in the US Constitution or US Code that prohibits the government from acknowledging the existence of God. The act of governmental acknowledgement is not the enactment or the act of establishing a law or a directive, nor is it a command of obedience directed to US citizens, just as Mother’s Day, which was proclaimed a national holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, is not a governmental order that all children must celebrate their mother.
Consequently, there is no basis for the arguments by the advocates of the Separation of Church and State that an official acknowledgement or reference to God by the government is a violation of the First Amendment or any other law.
Since US law has not been violated by a government-established religion in America, the only possible goal of the Separation of Church and State movement is actually the separation of God and State. A government church or national religion is not the issue; God is the issue. Their intention is to remove God from all that is associated with American government and then use the momentum of that movement to simultaneously push God as far away from America as possible.
The mere suggestion of removing God from America would have sent the framers of the Constitution into a rage. Separation of church and state (and certainly separation of God and state) was as far from the intentions of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and established the US Constitution as is possible to imagine by reasonable thought. This is evidenced by the use of God’s name, or the reference to God’s power, in official documents, symbols, articles, items, structures, Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) and coins associated with the formation and operation of our Republic.
It was our forefather’s choice to invoke God’s name and ask for God’s blessing on America. It was also their wish that those who do not believe in God have just as much right not to believe. That right is also contained within Amendment I to the Constitution by the words; “…or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,…”
Not only do non-believers have the right not to believe, they also have the right to talk about their non-belief, to write about their non-belief, and to peaceably assemble to announce their non-belief to all who will to listen. Those rights also extend to those who choose to worship someone or something other than God.
However, the Constitution gives no one, including the Supreme Court and federal judges, the right to take away America’s right to keep references to God in those official government documents, symbols, articles, items, structures, Federal Reserve Notes and coin.
Nevertheless, the rights of believers have been taken away in order to accommodate non-believers. It is truly a sad commentary on America and our Republic when those who do not believe in God have more rights under the Constitution than those who believe in God.
Despite what the advocates of the Separation of God and State may say, including the US Supreme Court and other courts, US law is inextricably tied to religion, specifically the Bible, from which the basis of our laws were established.
While there is some logic to the argument that the Bible is not the sole source of American law because non-Biblical cultures have established laws similar to Biblical law, it is a moot point because the laws that govern America have roots in European law. Europe was a Judeo-Christian culture and the laws of the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, were taught, followed and used as a guide for the laws that became the basis of European governments. The Europeans who came to the New World for religious freedom brought their religion and their experiences with government with them. The framers of the US Constitution had the wisdom and humility to recognize this and acknowledge the historical significance of the Bible’s guidance & God’s influence in the process of creating our Great Republic.
Still, many non-believers want to remove God from view within the government hoping that will remove the influence and guidance of God over America. But just removing the Ten Commandments from government buildings and removing God’s name from conspicuous places will not accomplish that. It will require rewriting American laws to favor secular, Socialist philosophy. One Justice of the Supreme Court favors doing that now by incorporating European Socialist government law rulings into US law. Fortunately, the remaining eight justices are not quite that opinionated… yet.
Also, there are many references to God associated with American Government and the advocates of the Separation of God and State have a long way to go in the process of extracting those references. In addition to the many places where the Ten Commandments appear in government buildings, here are just a few additional obstacles still remaining:
· The “In God We Trust” declaration on all US coins, currency and other documents.
But it won’t be easy; In God We Trust has been on US coins since 1864. In God We Trust is the national motto and became law when it was passed by the 84th Congress on July 30, 1956 (P.L. 84-140). President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring In God We Trust the national motto of the United States.
This law does not state that Americans must say the motto nor that a religion must be established based on the motto. The law simply specifies that In God We Trust is the national motto. It is an official acknowledgement by the government that God exists and it is not a violation of the First Amendment. However, based on the requirements of the advocates of the Separation of God and State, In God We Trust has to go.
· The references to God in the Declaration of Independence.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The advocates of the Separation of God and State claim that, unlike the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence is not US law therefore the reference to God doesn’t count. However, some of the same men who wrote the Declaration of Independence also wrote the Constitution. Their intent and mentality did not change from one document to the other. This is made evident by the reference to God in the Constitution.
· The reference to God in the Preamble to the US Constitution.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Preamble will have to be edited out since “Blessings of Liberty” is an obvious reference to the the widely held belief among the framers of the Constitution that God blessed America with liberty.
· The well-known “Under God” statement in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Pledge of Allegiance is also controlled by US law; US Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 4. However, the law does not require anyone to recite the pledge, nor does it specify that every word in the pledge be spoken. Section 4 simply declares that the Pledge of Allegiance is the official pledge of the US, and specifies the manner of delivery; i.e.,“…should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart…” which dictates respect for the flag, not the pledge.
· The fourth verse of the National Anthem (The Star Spangled Banner);
O, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must,
When our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The words of the Star Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. The tune is Anacreon in Heaven by John Stafford Smith, written in 1771.
The reference to God in the third and fourth lines of the fourth verse is as obvious as it is in the seventh line.
The National Anthem is also part of US law; US Code, Title 36, Subtitle I, Chapter 3, Section 301. However, the law only dictates how respect to the flag will be shown while the National Anthem is playing.
Still, based on the requirements of the Advocates of the Separation of God and State the fourth verse of the National Anthem will have to go. And considering it was probably Mr. Key’s intent to have his reference to God easily remembered by placing “In God is our trust” and two other references to God in the last verse I suspect that the Advocates of the Separation of God and State will insist that The National Anthem be banned from public performance entirely.
· The fourth verse of America, sometimes known by its first line, My Country, 'tis of Thee, written in 1832 by Reverend Samuel F. Smith.
Our fathers' God to Thee,
Considering that a man of God wrote this song, the Advocates of the Separation of God and State will certainly require the same fate for it as The National Anthem.
We can also expect the same fate for the following songs:
America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates, melody by Samuel Ward.
God’s name is in all eight verses.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe.
God is either named or referred to in each of the five verses and five choruses.
God Bless America by Irving Berlin.
Obviously the Advocates of the Separation of God and State will not allow that song to be sung, played or broadcast.
· The Great Seal of the United States.
The Great Seal is displayed on the back of the one-dollar bill. The reverse side of the seal has the Eye of Providence at the top of the pyramid above the motto Annuit Coeptis, meaning, “He favors our undertakings.”
One of the definitions of providence is “divine intervention“. That, coupled with the obvious reference to God in “He favors our undertakings.” puts The Great Seal directly in the path of the advocates of the Separation of God and State.
The Great Seal will not only have to be removed from the back of the one-dollar bill, but it will also have to be
removed from its display in the Exhibit Hall of the Department of State in Washington, DC… and destroyed, because US law defines specifically how The Great Seal must be used and prohibits any misuse.
However, the design of The Great Seal had a specific intent. According to a web document released by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office: On July 4, 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson (three of the five men who had drafted the Declaration of Independence) were given the task of creating a seal for the United States of America. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention believed an emblem and national coat of arms would be evidence of an independent nation and a free people with high aspirations and grand hopes for the future.
The Great Seal was finalized and approved six years later on June 20, 1782. The seal reflects the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers wanted to pass on to their descendents.
The official description of the reverse side of the Great Seal is; The pyramid signifies strength and duration: The eye over it and the motto, Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings), allude to the many interventions of Providence in favor of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it, Novus Ordo Seclorum (A new order of the ages), signify the beginning of the new American era in 1776.
Although it took six years, two more committees, and the combined efforts of 14 men before the Great Seal of the United States became a reality on June 20, 1782, it is significant to note that the first committee, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson, originated the Eye of Providence (Divine Intervention or the Eye of God) that is part of the reverse side of the Great Seal.
How could the Advocates of the Separation of God and State possibly come to the mistaken conclusion that Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, along with the other framers of the US Constitution and founders of American government, had no intention to make references to God in official US documents?
Rulings by federal courts and The Supreme Court in favor of removing The Ten Commandments and other references to God and The Bible from government buildings, government property and The Pledge of Allegiance have opened the door and paved the way for the Advocates of the Separation of God and State to bring an end to all of the great symbols of the United States that I have described in this essay. These great symbols, like the US flag, are the badges, banners and declarations created by Americans to demonstrate pride, dedication and respect for the Republic and the freedom that America represents, and they serve to instill those emotions in citizens, young and old. When these great symbols are taken away nothing will be left to hold the fabric of America together because by then the US Constitution will no longer be worth even the parchment upon which it was written.
©2006 James A Graves, Jr.