The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

June 11, 2014

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Recent letter contains historical inaccuracies

Mr. Bracken’s letter of June 8 on separation of church and state contains some historical inaccuracies.

Bracken states there were a series of letters from Boston Baptist ministers on the issue that were exchanged years after Jefferson left office as president. There was only one letter (known as the Danbury Baptist Association letter) and Jefferson’s response to the ministers from Danbury, Conn., not Boston. The letter and Jefferson’s reply were shortly after Jefferson was elected president in 1802 — and not years after leaving office.

Bracken states that Jefferson stated in the letter that there should have been a separation clause, but that statement is not in the letter. Jefferson actually said “... I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act as the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of ,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

Clearly Jefferson considered the First Amendment to be a separation clause as did James Madison (the principal drafter of the constitution) who when debating the first draft of the First Amendment in 1789 stated, “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”

There is another source on the issue and that is the Bible, specifically Matthew 22:21 when Jesus was asked if the Jews should pay tribute (taxes) to Caesar Jesus replied “Therefore render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s,” a pretty clear unarguable call for separation of church and state.


Randy Z. Crawford


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