Nialla, on Dec 22 2005, 10:18 AM, said:
Seperation of church and state isn't just a way to keep religion out of the government, like the religious conservatives seem to think, it's also a way to keep government out of religion.
That was really the more concernin' aspect of it that the Foundin' Fathers wanted to deal with. The British gov't had a habit of regulatin' preachers, what they could preach, and to whom they could preach it. The business of gov't regulatin' religion had been a serious practice since the 1500's in most European countries, whether they were Protestant or Catholic. Such things led to the blood-lettin' known as the Thirty Years War, involvin' more than a dozen major and minor countries, saw Cardinal Richalieu be incredibly duplicitious to his Catholic bretheren, and saw what is now modern Germany be so devistated that for nearly 50 years after it was still economically depressed. (If I'm not mistaken, I think there were famines after the war in Germany that killed thousands.)
However, I digress. The English colonies in No. America had become fairly independent with a great degree of religious liberty (upon which several colonies were founded--MA, RI, CT, MD among them) that the interference of the Crown in religious affairs was anathema to them. The Quebec Act of 1773 was one act, intended to ensure religious liberty for Canadian Catholics, that the Protestant colonists misconstrued as a door that would allow Papal interference (as they saw it) in the English colonial areas.
Considerin' the track record of how gov'ts handled religion, I can understand why the Founders gave religious freedom serious thought. But, they never intended for a man's personal beliefs to be divorced from who he was, no matter what office he held. The phrase "separation of church and state" wasn't mentioned until much later in the life of the Republic. Jefferson wrote the phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, who were worried that the state legislature would meddle in the affairs of religion.
Letter to Danbury Baptist Association
I think our Founders expected Americans, both public and private, to be people of faith and to act upon that faith. They were most concerned with the past history of how govt's tended to interfere with religious affairs (which began with Constantine in 323 at Nicaea).
Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."
"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne
Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.
Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."