Letter: Church, state divide explained

February 27, 2014 

The phrase “separation of church and state” has been taken out of context. It doesn’t mean what those who use it think it does or it is used intentionally deceptively.

President Jefferson is the origin of the words contained in a letter in 1802 to a church denomination fearful of a rumored establishment of a national denomination, something repugnant to those who had suffered the political power of a national religion in England. The misunderstanding began in 1947 when in Everson vs. Board of Education, the court didn’t cite Jefferson’s entire letter, just eight words. “Separation of church and state” appears in none of our founding documents. It was deemed permissible for Christian principles and values to be part of government.

“There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.” — Dr. William James, father of modern psychology.

— William Ahrens

Eagle River

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