Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Myth of Separation of Church and State

It was Thomas Jefferson who penned the words, “wall of separation between church and state” in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

Jefferson was responding to a letter the Association wrote him objecting to Connecticut’s establishment of “Congregationalism” as its state church. Jefferson responded that the 1st Amendment prohibited the national (Federal) government from establishing a “National Church”.

Jefferson concluded, rightly so, that the constitution’s 10th Amendment’s federalism provision prohibited the national government from interfering with matters of state governments - “a wall of separation”, if you will, between the federal government and state governments. The 1st Amendment states that we, as a nation, should be free of a government of religion, but not free of a government from religion. The “wall of separation” does not appear in our constitution.

Isn’t it ironic that most people agree that the G.I. Bill of Rights, which issued vouchers to returning veterans of W.W.II so they could pursue a college education, are not upset that the monies given to the veterans could’ve and was used to attend private schools (including religious schools), but get very upset when vouchers are proposed to be given to families of elementary and high school students to attend private or religious schools, and use the “wall of separation” as justification for opposing educational “vouchers”. In a very insightful paper written by, Professor Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School, he states the following; “Some people argue that, in effect, school choice programs are pro-religious because most of their funds end up being spent at religious schools. But, this is like saying that putting out a fire at a church is pro-religious because the firefighters are helping only the church. If you look at education as a whole, or firefighting as a whole, you’ll find that the lion’s share of all money goes to nonreligious institutions – in education, to government-run schools. School choice programs merely mean that instead of the money going only to government-run schools, it goes to all schools, including a relatively few religious ones………That’s the true meaning of the Constitution, whether we’re talking about police services, the fire department, the G.I. Bill, or elementary schools. Equality for all. Special benefits for none. Discrimination against none”.

So the use of the “wall of separation” as justification for opposing “vouchers” is a bogus argument as it has no justification in our U.S. Constitution.

Written by Chuck Lehmann

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1 comment:

Al McKinney said...

If Obama can send his kids to private school, why shouldn't people less fortunate be able to get vouchers to help them get away from failing schools? It's another example of Obama and the Democrats saying one thing but doing another. I wonder how many Senators and Congressman will give up their health care insurance for the "great" government-run health care insurance they are proposing to shove down our throats? How do you spell hypocrite, is it d-e-m-o-c-r-a-t? That's close enough.