The relationship between Church and State is one that is guarded and defined by skepticism. From Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter explaining the necessity of “building a wall of separation between Church and State” to the plethora of recent Supreme Court cases citing the First Amendment as a reason to prohibit everything from prayer in school to the public display of the Ten Commandments, Americans have been cautious of the integration of these two influential institutions. However there are many issues that people who do not know about and take for granted that the idea of separation of church and state is somewhere in the U.S. Constitution. The simple answer is that it is not.
This is the letter that started it all. The Letter To the Danbury Baptist Association.
Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists
The Final Letter, as Sent
To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Jan. 1. 1802.
Note these words, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. “ No where does it say that there should be the concept of separation of Church and State. The separation of Church and State exists to protect the Church from interference from the Government- not the other way around. Today, the government is trying to interfere with the Church and Church teachings. This is not what Jefferson had in mind at all.
The Relations Between Religion and Politics
Pope Leo XIII clearly lays out the position of the Church in the relationship between religion and politics
CUM MULTA ENCYCLICAL OF LEO XIII the 8th day of December, 1882
6. Here, however, it will be fitting to recall the mutual relations of the spiritual and of the temporal order, for many minds on this matter fall into a two-fold error. There are some, for instance, who are not satisfied with distinguishing between politics and religion but separate and completely isolate the one from the other; they wish them to have nothing in common, and imagine that the one should exercise no influence over the other. Such men, in truth, differ but little from those who desire the exclusion of God, the Creator and Sovereign of all things, from the constitution and administration of the State; and the error they profess is the more pernicious that they thereby rashly debar the State from its most abundant source of prosperity. The moment religion is removed, those principles are of necessity shaken on which the public welfare most of all rests, and which drive their greatest force from religion, among the first of which are government with justice and moderation, obedience from a sense of duty, the submission of the passions to the yoke of virtue, to render to each his due, to leave untouched that which is another's.
7. But, though this opinion is to be avoided, the contrary error must likewise be shunned of those who identify religion with some one political party and confound these together to such a degree as to look on all of another party as undeserving any longer of the name of Catholic. This is an intrusion of political factions into the August realm of the Church; it is an attempt to break the union of brothers, and to open the gate and give access to a multitude of grievous troubles.
8. The spiritual and temporal orders being, therefore, distinct in their origin and in their nature, should be conceived and judged of as such. For matters of the temporary order - however lawful, however important they be - do not extend, when considered in themselves, beyond the limits of that life which we live on this our earth. But religion, born of God, and referring all things to God, takes a higher flight and touches heaven. For her will, her wish, is to penetrate the soul, man's best part, with the knowledge and the love of God and to lead in safety the whole human race to that City of the Future which we seek for.
9. It is, then, right to look on religion, and whatever is connected by any particular bond with it, as belonging to a higher order. Hence, in the vicissitudes of human affairs, and even in the very revolutions in States, religion, which is the supreme good, should remain intact; for it embraces all times and all places. Men of opposite parties, though differing in all else, should be agreed unanimously in this: that in the State the Catholic religion should be preserved in all its integrity. To this noble and indispensable aim, all who love the Catholic religion ought, as if bound by a compact, to direct all their efforts; they should be somewhat silent about their various political opinions, which they are, however, at perfect liberty to ventilate in their proper place: for the Church is far from condemning such matters, when they are not opposed to religion or justice; apart and removed from all the turmoil of strife, she carries on her work of fostering the common weal, and of cherishing all men with the love of a mother, those particularly whose faith and piety are greatest.
Look at these words carefully, “ State the Catholic religion should be preserved in all its integrity. To this noble and indispensable aim, all who love the Catholic religion ought, as if bound by a compact, to direct all their efforts; they should be somewhat silent about their various political opinions, which they are, however, at perfect liberty to ventilate in their proper place: for the Church is far from condemning such matters, when they are not opposed to religion or justice;”
The words for the Church is far from condemning such matters, when they are not opposed to religion or justice. Brothers and sisters beware of this forewarning from Pope Leo XII. How can you possibly believe the idea that you can be Catholic yet vote against the teachings of the Catholic Church? Is this what Pope Leo said or was this what he was warning our generation about? Was he talking about the problems of the late 19th century or what we are facing today? I will tell you that he was clearly warning the future generations about this. Today, brothers and sisters, we need to stand together and fight the politicians who advocate positions that are clearly against the teachings of the Church. We should do this like our life depends upon it because it does. Amen. Comment below