Schooling liberals on America's 'separation of church and state'
Taking center stage in our nation's capital is the new Museum of the Bible – a massive $500-plus-million-dollar, privately funded, state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the world's most famous book.
Some in the media, most notably on CBS This Morning and NBC's Today, seem to be trying to stir up a little hysteria by claiming that the museum opened "under a cloud of suspicion." Because the museum is located just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol, they fear that it might threaten the "separation of church and state."
Apparently, some people are still clueless about what the phrase "separation of church and state" actually means, let alone realize that it's nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution or any other founding document. I suppose this is to be expected from those who don't actually read about our nation's history from original sources.
Factually speaking, I find it fascinating that in 1800, Congress approved the House Chamber to be used for Sunday services. These religious services were non-denominational and available to everyone, including members of Congress. Public worship in the Capitol was so popular that it lasted 100 years!
Even today, the walls of the Capitol's rotunda are decorated with some of the most exquisite religious artwork I have ever seen, including eight grand paintings showcasing America's religious heritage. In fact, our nation's capitol is adorned with a treasure trove of religious imagery on historic monuments, in museums, and in government buildings, suggesting that God isn't such a taboo after all, as secularists would have us believe.
It was President Thomas Jefferson who first penned the phrase "a wall of separation between church and state" in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. This was to reassure them that the federal government would never interfere with public religious expression. In fact, Jefferson attended church services at the Capitol just two days after writing his letter.
Jefferson's use of metaphor here was specifically related to the First Amendment of the Constitution, stating: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Such limited powers of the government are reaffirmed by the Tenth Amendment, which unambiguously reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Indeed, our federal government was originally forbidden from regulating matters of religion.
However, as great as our Constitution is, its efficacy is predicated on the character of the people who have sworn to abide by it and defend it. In the words of President John Adams, "[o]ur Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
Unfortunately, everything changed in 1947. That's when ACLU attorney Leo Pfeffer took Jefferson's words out of context and fabricated his own version of "separation of church and state" during the landmark Supreme Court case of Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township. In an unprecedented reversal, the progressive court cleverly decided to apply Jefferson's metaphoric phrase to the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment. The rest, as they say, is history – revisionist history.
The federal government, through judicial activism, not only usurped power from the states, but set up a dangerous precedent of case law instead of following the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
Since then, Americans have been harassed by intolerant busybodies trumpeting the spurious "separation of church and state" to demand the removal of everything they don't like, such as Nativity scenes, "God bless America" banners, and even bowing in silent prayer before a sports game. It should be evident that these individuals won't rest until the last coin inscribed with "In God We Trust" is melted down!
As for the Museum of the Bible, it will surely be a popular destination attracting visitors from all walks of life. This is because, for most Americans, the Bible has served as a profound and positive influence in our culture. The real danger is all the mindless chatter over an erroneous application of "separation of church and state" that has already prompted government to swoop in and deprive us of our rights.
Kimberly Bloom Jackson is a cultural and media anthropologist and the author of White Identity Crisis: Inside Hollywood's Dash to Diversity and What It Means for America (Spring 2018). She can be found at SnoopingAnthropologist.com.