In Their Words: The Truth About America’s Founding Fathers and the ‘Separation of Church and State’

Why did Thomas Jefferson attend religious services in the executive branch buildings from 1801 to 1809?

“It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church.” Library of Congress

“Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country…”Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

It is quite unfathomable that the founding fathers’ intent has been somehow interpreted over time to mean that all semblance of religion should be removed from the public square. That interpretation, one could reasonably conclude, would lead to suppression of religion, or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.

Would the founders approve of the deep anti-Christian sentiment found in America today? It seems that smothering Christianity and bashing the “religious right” would have been deeply offensive to the founding fathers, and indeed, reminiscent of the religious persecution from which their ancestors fled.

The founding fathers believed in religious freedom, not religious suppression and persecution. Even the Library of Congress confirms that “the great majority left Europe [to come to America] to worship God in the way they believed to be correct.” In Europe, “majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.” The “New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland,” the article continued, “were conceived and established as ‘plantations of religion.’”

While most of the founding fathers were undeniably deeply religious, they also wanted to ensure that the federal government would impose “no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Jefferson's Qu'ran' And Islam In America | On Point
Thomas Jefferson asked specifically for the “the following inscription, & not a word more” on his tombstone: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia”

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3 thoughts on “In Their Words: The Truth About America’s Founding Fathers and the ‘Separation of Church and State’”

  1. You are exactly right. If you actually go back to the document that “separation of church and state” was quoted from, it is clear that it had been misconstrued. They believed that religion should be taught in public schools and that government should not interfere with religious practices.


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