The TOTAL TRUTH Solution for a Fractured America
Big Picture Answers for America's Big Problems -
Rebuilding on America's Original Worldview

by Leonard Ransil

Section 4: America Founded on a Christian Worldview
Chapter 30     What Did the First Amendment Establish?

Rights Come From God        

In their anti-God zeal to secularize America, Secularists routinely insist that it was Enlightenment thinking, not Biblical thinking, that propelled our “deistic” Founders.  Previous chapters have already proved that assertion to be a lie.  But the implication that an absolute dichotomy exists between the two perspectives is also misleading.  In fact, the Founding Fathers and Enlightened thinkers agreed that God gave rights to man which government was obligated to protect.

They also agreed that monarchal governments run by so-called “divine rulers” are not legitimate when they usurp rather than protect these God-given rights. This explains the vital importance of the Establishment Clause. The Founding Fathers formulated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to prevent the federal government from endorsing or establishing an official national religion because religion had been abused by kings to oppress the God-given rights of man, especially the right of religious liberty.

The Establishment Clause (which should be called the non-establishment clause) specifically handcuffs the federal government - not state governments or individuals - when it declares: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” And if such clear language is not clear enough, one only need look objectively at the many civic actions of the Founding Fathers to understand their intent for the Clause.  It was to protect every citizen’s right to freely practice the “religion” or Worldview of his choice while it supported and furthered in even overt ways the very Christian principles that guaranteed that freedom of conscience.

Our Founder's intent is under incessant attack by Secularists who wish to prevent all public expression of religion - especially Christian.  Their focus is not freedom of religion but freedom from religion.  However, as noted in a previous article, it is impossible for a government NOT to be based on some Worldview and the set of assumptions our Founders chose was decidedly Christian, not Atheistic.  So Secularists are trying to replace our Christian heritage with the irrational view of godless Atheism.  

Jefferson’s Actions Speak

It is instructive to note that when Secularists need an "expert's" words to mantra their "separation" propaganda, they usually pick Thomas Jefferson, even though he was in France when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. Yet, when they deny that God exists or is irrelevant, they ignore their champion Jefferson’s own words that "all men are created equal.  … and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…."  They quote only what is convenient to their Worldview, the very thing that they accuse Christians of doing.
If, in fact, Jefferson was anti-religious and insisted on an absolute wall of separation between church and state, then how can one explain his following words and deeds?
“In 1774, while serving in the Virginia Assembly, he (Jefferson) personally introduced a resolution calling for a Day of Fasting and Prayer."
And while Thomas Jefferson was serving as our third president, though he certainly did not hold to all the traditional doctrines of Christianity, he nonetheless helped place the Bible and Isaac Watt's Book of Psalms and Hymns in the District of Columbia's public schools. Further, regarding religion, he declared:
"Deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support."2
Additionally, while president, Jefferson approved of and actually attended religious services in the Capitol and Treasury Building (a weekly use that lasted until 1866).  He  personally arranged for the Marine Band, subsidized by government funds, to play at these services.  And further, he asked the Senate to ratify a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians and provide federal funds:
"And whereas the greater part of the said tribe have been baptized and received into the Catholic Church, to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually, for seven years, one hundred dollars toward the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for said tribe the duties of his office, and also to instruct as many of their children as possible, in the rudiments of literature, and the United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars, to assist the said tribe in the [erecting] of a church."3   (emphasis added) 
If that didn't qualify as "establishing a religion" (by Congress, no less) what would?  Yet in Jefferson's mind it obviously did not.  So either Thomas Jefferson was a schizophrenic hypocrite or what he said to the Danbury Baptists has been twisted to say the exact opposite of his meaning.  The relevant portion of his now infamous letter follows, beginning with the second paragraph: 
…"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, ... ." 4 (emphasis added)
Given Jefferson’s letter and corresponding deeds, it is obvious to any objective observer that he did in public what he wrote about in private.  He acted on his conviction that the Christian religion was an important support to society and civil government and that the Bible should be used to educate future citizens.  His actions as an elected official demonstrated that he approved of public prayer and worship even when facilitated and funded by the federal government.

Jefferson’s Faulty Wall

Thomas Jefferson, the Secularist’s icon, was not prohibiting but actually promoting “the free exercise” of the Christian religion in federal buildings and paying clergy with federal funds! Does that sound like an impenetrable wall between church and state?  Unfortunately, his metaphor has been intentionally distorted to mean just that; yet he demonstrated by his actions that religion must impact the federal government but not vice versa.  That is why, for example, church-owned property is tax-exempt.  The separation metaphor caused no trouble for 160 years.  It became important only when modern day Secularists hijacked and perverted its meaning, as cogently explained by Associate Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist:
"In 1984, Associate Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist in the case of Wallace vs. Jaffree stated: "The 'wall of separation between church and State' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging.  It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."5
The metaphor is useless because our Founders intentionally based their “New Experiment” squarely on the principles of a Christian Worldview, not a Secular or New Age or Buddhist view.  Articles in this series thoroughly document that historical fact.  The “wall” metaphor implies an inherent and necessary separation when, in fact, the relationship our Founders envisioned was fundamentally different.  True, the church is not to be identical to the state, as sometimes was the case in Europe and is with Islamic states today.  Rather, the relationship is to be more like a boat on a lake where Christianity supplies the ideological framework of moral values and norms that supports the government of a citizenry who, ideally, think and behave biblically.  As cited in previous articles, many Founders said this.

Even more to the point, Jefferson’s phrase should not be used as the basis for interpreting the First Amendment because he had no direct hand in writing it or the Constitution.  Jefferson was an ambassador in France when these founding documents were hammered out.  In his article, Separation of Church and State?, David Barton writes:
"In 1802, Dr. Joseph Priestley sent Jefferson a copy of an article he had written crediting Jefferson with much of   the thought and work of the Constitution.  Jefferson knew this was erroneous; on June 19, 1802, he wrote Dr. Priestley, instructing him to correct that error:

'One passage in the paper you enclosed me must be corrected.  It is the following, 'And all say it was yourself more than any other individual, that planned and established it,' i.e., the Constitution.  I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, and never saw it till after it was established.'  

… Further, Jefferson is not an exclusive authority on the First Amendment.  As a strong Anti-Federalist, he did want the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) but, as he explained, he gave only vague directions concerning it:

'On receiving it [the Constitution while in France] I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, the substitution of militia for a standing army, and an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union. . . . This is all the hand I had in what related to the Constitution.' "6
While Jefferson’s passion on the subject probably influenced Madison, it was Madison’s efforts that gave us the Bill of Rights.
"Madison's support of the bill of rights was of critical significance. One of the new representatives from Virginia to the First Federal Congress, as extablished by the new Constitution, he worked tirelessly to persuade the House to enact amendments. Defusing the anti-Federalists' objections to the Constitution, Madison was able to shepherd through 17 amendments in the early months of the Congress, a list that was later trimmed to 12 in the Senate.  In October 2, 1789, President Washington sent to each of the states a copy of the 12 amendments adopted by the Congress in September.  By December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states had ratified the 10 amendments now so familiar to Americans as the 'Bill of Rights.' "7
Jefferson Disqualified Yet Lionized

So, in actual fact, Jefferson disqualified himself as an authority on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; yet he is cited by Secularists as the primary authority on both documents, summed up by his misinterpreted phrase that is not even found within them.  Outrageously, this “proof” is often used by judicial and social activists as the basis for public policy decisions and is the primary way that Secularists use our court system to establish their religion of Atheism. Examples of distortions about Jefferson's participation can be found in Supreme Court opinions, as cited by David Barton:  
"This Court has previously recognized that the provisions of the First Amendment, in the drafting and adoption of which . . .Jefferson played such [a] leading role ..." (Everson v. Board of Education, 1947)           

"Thomas Jefferson ... a moving force behind the creation of the Bill of Rights ..." (Legal brief submitted by "Americans United for the Separation of Church and State," 1992) 8

This heavy reliance on Jefferson is a recent phenomenon beginning with non-constructionist judges appointed by President F. D. Roosevelt.  Ironically, Jefferson himself was strongly suspicious of a court system staffed with fallible humans not elected directly by the people, knowing it could be used to undermine our God-given freedoms.  How prophetic his suspicions have turned out to be!  The next chapter will focus on specific court decisions that have systematically undermined our Constitutional freedoms.

For additional reference, read Michael Medved's October 3, 2007 column at, The Founders Intended a Christian, Not Secular, Society and Vine and Fig Tree's website article, Were the Founding Fathers "Deists," "Freethinkers," and "Infidels?".

1 Ben Rast, Contender Ministries, "Separation of Church and State?  Don't Blame Thomas Jefferson.,", retrieved October 11, 2007.
2 Alliance for Life Ministries, "America's Christian Heritage, Part II: The Revolution and Beyond,", retrieved October 11, 2007.
3 Evangelical Perspective,, "Revising the Revisionist,", retrieved October 11, 2007.
4 Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Martha Graham Collection, "Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists, The Final Letter, as Sent,"  Vol. 57, No. 6, June 1998,, retrieved October 11,2007.
5 Linda Bowles, WorldNetDaily, "Legislation by metaphor, bad history," July 24, 2001, retrieved October 11, 2007.
6 David Barton, Separation of Church and State?, as found on Victory Baptist Church website,, retrieved October 11, 2007.
7 The National Archives Experience, Constitution of the United States, A History, "A More Perfect Union: The Creation of the U.S. Constitution,", retrieved October 11, 2007.
8 Barton, Separation of Church and State?

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