The Establishment Clause / by kevin murray

Our First Amendment reads:  " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…"  The purpose of this amendment was to preclude and to prevent our National Government from ever imposing upon its citizenry a national religion that all peoples of this country would have to adhere to.  In addition, this important Amendment makes it clear that we, the people, are entitled to freely exercise our religious beliefs without interference from our National Government.  Yet, today, through rulings of various courts, and through the gradual secularization of our country, powerful agents within our government and judiciary want us to read this Establishment Clause as essentially separating or creating a wall of separation of church and state, and thereby mandating that the United States of America is, in essence, a secular state, to which it was created.  This viewpoint is not only fundamentally wrong; it is also a grand disservice to our people, and a bastardization of our Constitution.


It is important to realize that back in the days when our nation was founded, that national religions in European nations was the norm.  For instance, Denmark's established church was the Church of Denmark, England's was the Church of England (Anglican), and France's established church was the Holy Roman Church (Catholicism).   The founders of our great nation did not want to repeat this error in America by creating one national church forced upon its citizens.  Instead, each State of our union of States had their own established religion such as Massachusetts (Puritan), Pennsylvania (Quaker), Maryland (Catholicism), and Virginia (Anglican).  Thomas Jefferson well understood the dangers of even a State-established religion and the vital importance of not being coerced into believing, against a man's own free volition, one religious sect over another, or even being compelled by law to believe in the Almighty at all.  Consequently, in 1779, Jefferson wrote and submitted a bill for Religious Freedom in Virginia, which later became enacted in 1786.  The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom meant that: "Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever…"


James Madison, Jr., our 4th President, and the "Father of our Constitution", was a fellow Virginian, who was also the man that presented Jefferson's bill to the Virginia legislature, and championed its passage by that legislature, meaning that Madison was intimately familiar with Jefferson's viewpoint on the establishment of a National or State religion, and thereby Madison made it a point by enacting this act as our 1st Amendment to our Constitution, that our National Government would never impose a National and compulsory religion upon its denizens.  What this did not mean, however, was that the National Government that we created, was a secular state, because America well understood the merits of religious and moral virtue and the inestimable value of these twin pillars.  It meant, instead, that America provided its citizens the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs without interference from or by the State, and further that the National Government would not favor one religious sect over another.  This enabled thereby the flourishing of religious sects and beliefs that could not have been attained in a country to which only one established religion was permitted.  That is why America, today, has such a diversity of ways to worship our Lord, and recognizes and upholds that each man can seek that Kingdom as he best sees fit.