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Separation of Church & State In Context by

KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

Separation of Church and State.  I know of very few statements that carry so much emotion and so much misconception at the same time.  Our education system passes its own agenda with this phrase.  Our court systems have failed America with their rulings misapplying this phrase.  Our churches have been negligent to their responsibilities because of this phrase.  The culmination of all this wrong doing has lead this nation down a road that, may I boldly say, our founders never intended.  All because we have failed to understand the history that motivated Thomas Jefferson to make his statement to the Danbury Baptists in 1802.

What would we do as a nation if we owned the truth about Jefferson’s statements in this letter?  Would we have the courage to change things?  Would we have the courage to stand against the false premises and give truth the victory?  Well, let’s see, because here is the truth. 

When the first settler’s came to the continent fleeing religious persecution in their home country, they established charter governments.  Each new settlement had a new charter.  These charters wanted to make sure that they would never be prevented from practicing their religion again, so they repeated the government formula they knew, ironically exactly like the one they just fled.  Each charter established the religion of that charter.  The thought was, if the government is OUR religion, we will never be persecuted by our government for OUR religion.  But they also understood that as new administrations came and went, there would be a danger of those newly elected changing that law, then the danger would exist again.  So they took additional remedies, they created “test act” qualifications for office.

Test acts were oaths that each person had to take before they were eligible to hold any governmental office.  These oaths required a sworn allegiance to the religion of that charter.  Additionally, part of the laws of these charters established means for persons of this religion to receive a license from the charter government to build a church or preach the established religion.  So, if you were not of the faith of the charter, you were not able to obtain a license to preach or build a church.  If you were not of the faith of the charter, you were not able to hold office to change the law so you could build a church or preach from a pulpit.  This is obviously not religious liberty, this is government mandated religion.  And the penalties for breaking these laws were severe, to include public execution.  This religious charter worked for those of like faith and practice, until someone elected to office decided to break their test act oath and change the government mandated religion.

The problem came when someone lived in a charter contrary to their beliefs or when a religious denomination was not represented at all in any of the charters of the new colonies.  These individuals were thrown into a liberty conundrum.  Do they follow the law and violate their conscience?  Do they follow their conscience and violate the law?  Either way, there is no way to have liberty.

This problem existed for the pastors and preacher of the Baptist denomination.  Men like Obadiah Holmes could not take a license to preach.  Even if they would, they could not profess a denomination they did not support, so they could not have an official church, and could not legally preach in any charter.  History tells us that this did not stop these men from preaching.  However, it did hold some dire consequences.  If you doubt me, go ahead and research these men.  They were arrested, fined, imprisoned, and tortured for refusing to take a license to preach.  And yes, that happened right here, in the new American Colonies.

Several states, being led by Virginia refused to ratify the proposed Constitution because they felt:

“Whether the new Federal Constitution, which had now lately made its appearance in public, made sufficient provision for the secure enjoyment of religious liberty; on which it was agreed unanimously that, in the opinion of the General Committee, it did not.” Virginia General Committee, 1788

Virginia was led in this stand by a group called the Virginia Baptist General Convention, John Leland was their leader.  Virginians wanted Leland to be the delegate for Virginia in the Constitutional Convention.  Leland did not want to be a delegate; he wanted to remain a pastor to his church.  However, he felt so strongly in this matter he was willing to do just that. 

John Leland met with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and struck a deal.  He offered James Madison his position as delegate for the state of Virginia as long as Madison promised he would make sure there was sufficient protections for religious liberty; namely a Bill of Rights.  Madison made his promise and held to it, being not only an ardent proponent for religious liberty but for the entire Bill of Rights.  If you are interested in a fairly good account of this agreement, you can find this story in movie titled, Magnificent Heritage.

Once the Constitution was ratified and the Bill of Rights adopted, several founders tried to pass a bill to establish a tax to pay for Christian Teachers.  Many of the founders, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to mention two, were adamantly opposed to this taxation.  They felt this taxation was a direct assault on the religious liberty they had fought so hard to protect.  They felt:

“…it is believed to be repugnant to the spirit of the gospel for the legislature thus to proceed in matters of religion; that the holy author of our religion needs no such compulsive measures for the promotion of his cause; that the gospel wants not the feeble arm of man for its support; that it has made and will again through divine power make its way against all opposition; and that should the legislature assume the right of taxing the people for the support of the gospel it will be destructive to religious liberty.”

They knew that where the government taxed they had an obligation to regulate.  If Christian Teachers were to be paid, even in part by taxes collected from the people, they would become employees of the government.  Where the government employs, they will also, dictate.  (Precisely why vouchers are not a benefit but the downfall of Christian schools) The supporters of religious liberty prevailed and the bill was defeated. 

What most fail to see is that religious liberty is a principle of the  Judeo-Christian world view.  It is the only world view that supports the statement that “all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.”  This is why Leland reminded those who were fighting for liberty there is an essential principle to limiting government to maintain liberty.  He said:

“Everyman must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile it to his conscience.  If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let me be free.”

The Judeo-Christian world view requires that government not dictate a person’s conscience because every individual will be held accountable one day before God and they will not be able to use government as an excuse for their belief or unbelief.

Our founders were fighting for a nation where all would be equally free “Jews, Turks, Pagans, And Christians”.  They knew from history, that Christianity could only prevail in a nation where Liberty was a primary principle of the people.  Where the government, through power or sword could dictate, there is no liberty.  In the Letters from a Federal Farmer IV, the author stated,

“It is true, we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion; but when we are making a constitution it is to be hoped for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as a part of the national compact.”

So, when Thomas Jefferson was elected president the Danbury Baptists wanted to encourage their new president to continue to fight to maintain religious liberty.  In a letter to President Jefferson they congratulated him on being elected and encouraged him to stand firm on this issue.  President Jefferson responded to this letter in 1802 with the following words:

“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 and State.”

Now combine that explanation with the clarification offered by Jefferson in the second Session of Congress, regarding the adoption of the act for “establishing religious freedom”:

“…that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on their supposition of ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all liberty,” it is declared, “that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when its principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”

Anyone with any critical thinking skills can look at this information as see the true application.  Thomas Jefferson was making a statement that the Government has no business in the affairs of the church.  Period.  Then if you take into account the very words of Jefferson and even those of Ben Franklin it will be clear that they never intended for God to be removed from Government.

Thomas Jefferson said , “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?”

Benjamin Franklin said this at the Constitutional Convention:  “In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection.... All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of Superintending Providence in our favor...have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?.... God Governs in the affairs of men And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” 

Unfortunately for America the courts have not taken the time to understand this text in its historical context.  I find it ironic that there were judges recognizing that to truly and correctly interpret a provision in the Constitution it is vital to refer to the intentions of the Founders.  Yet, in this instance, where they do quote a founder, they get it entirely wrong.  Is that a sign of judicial activism: the courts using whatever they can lay their hands on conveniently to complete their agenda?  Or is it simply ignorance of history and misapplication of principles?  I can’t help but think that if some attorney had taken that time to present an historically correct argument the courts would have never have been able to take Jefferson’s quote completely out of context and create a precedent that has been used changed the face of Liberty in America.

Jefferson’s words of ‘separation of church and state’ were a declaration that the government has no business in the affairs of the church.  By Jefferson’s own words, this was never to imply that God had no place in government.  Now you have the truth and to whom much is given, much is required.  The responsibility remains with the people to make a difference.  WE must take back the narrative and speak truth.  WE must elect people who understand the true foundation of America.  WE must teach our children Liberty First Principles and where they come from.  WE must restore Liberty perspectives so we can built a better tomorrow.

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A Lesson On Gun Control

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

What many citizens and legislators do not understand is that the federal government has no right to prevent any law-abiding citizen from owning or possessing ANY firearm.  The entire argument for gun control is built upon a false premise. The second amendment is not about self-defense from criminals.

As unpleasant as it may be for this modern society to say outloud, historically and constitutionally speaking, the right of the people to keep and bear arms has always been a right to protect yourself from those in power who want to enslave you. If America wants to engage in a real factual debate on the right to keep and bear arms, then it must be approached from the proper perspective.

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  Government Charity: Unconstitutional & Unlawful

by KrisAnne Hall, JD

 

Americans watch our federal government spend and spend and spend.  Not only paying out tax dollar funded charity to Americans, US corporations, and foreign countries, but now even so-called conservative politicians are claiming “we” have an obligation to give tax payer dollars to non-citizens here in the United States and even in Mexico.  This out of control forced charity, government agents giving money taken from Americans by the force of government, is the very epitome of over-grown, uncontrollable, bloated government.

Maintaining the limited form of government our Constitution demands is vital to the preservation of this nation.  If we fail, the unfortunate reality will be that we will have failed to maintain the gift of the Republic that was bought for us by the sacrifice of ease, estate, pleasure, and blood of our forefathers. 

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States Ignoring History, Wisdom & the Uniform Rule of Naturalization

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

An non-citizen alien has been appointed to California government and has become the poster child for WHY our founders delegated to Congress the power to create a Uniform Rule of Naturalization.  Other States are allowing non-citizen aliens to vote, run for office, and utilize 

Ironically, there was a discussion during the ratification of our Constitution on why it was necessary to establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization.  Once again, a disregard for the Constitution and its intent has America experiencing a crisis that our founders sought to prevent.

Prior to our current Constitution, under the Articles of Confederation, each State was left to determine, independently, the terms of citizenship. James Madison, Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 42;

"The dissimilarity in the rules of naturalization, has long been remarked as a fault in our system..."

Madison goes on to describe the condition of confusion thrust upon all the States because of a lack of standard for the benefits of citizenship.  For example, one State would establish a very lax standard for citizenship where another State would establish a very strict standard.  This disparity created chaos when people would travel or move from one State to another.  Madison asks the question, what would happen if a person who is banned from citizenship in one State, obtains citizenship from another State and then demands the benefits of citizenship from that State from which they were originally banned?

"An alien, therefore, legally incapacitated for certain rights in the latter, may, by previous residence only in the former, elude his incapacity;"

Madison then explains to avoid these consequences both "embarrassing" and  "potentially very serious" our Constitution delegated the authority to Congress to establish a uniform rule to obtain the benefits of citizenship.

Liz Mateo, claiming those benefits of citizenship through the State of California, is not a citizen by the terms established through the Constitution by law.  Mateo has lived her life experiencing the benefits of that citizenship she does not legally hold. She got a doctorate level of education from Santa Clara University School of Law.  When she graduated, she was not grateful for these benefits, however, she declared, “[E]verything is dedicated to Oaxaca, Mexico!! to that land that I miss so much.”

In addition to her education, Mateo has now been appointed to serve within the California State government.  As a new member of California's representative government, one of her chief concerns is that illegal aliens are "under represented" in American government. Mateo clearly has a great deal of confusion about the terms of citizenship established by law. One can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if Mateo were to leave California and expect to experience these same benefits in a State that is actually complying with the terms of citizenship created through the Constitution. As Madison supposed, what will also be the more "serious consequences” when people like Mateo continue to expect the benefits of citizenship while remaining ignorant and even hostile to the Constitution itself?  And what will be the "serious consequences" in all of America if we continue to ignore these historical truths by allowing States like California violate the supreme law of the land?

The governors of every other States must immediately take a stand against this violation of the Constitution.  Each State should issue resolutions of condemnation and sanctions against California until they come into compliance with the terms of the Constitution.  The people must demand that the federal executive branch continue to enforce the Uniform Rule of Naturalization, even in California.  If California refuses to come into compliance with the Constitution the other States need to have a serious discussion amongst each other and Congress regarding the ability of California to remain a part of the Union.

States like California are not just ignoring the Constitution, they are also ignoring the history and wisdom used to write the Constitution.  Their blatant disregard is thrusting America into the embarrassment and chaos our founders actively sought to prevent.

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How the Constitution Ended Slavery

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

While defending the Constitution I am met often with two questions:  1) If the founders were so great and the Constitution such a great document, why did it preserve slavery?  2) Why did the Constitution treat black people as 3/5th a person?  To understand the truth, we start with some basics…

Slavery was an imposition placed upon the colonists by Great Britain.  Col. George Mason describes this source and its problem during the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787):

“This infernal traffic originated in the avarice of British Merchants.  The British Govt. constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it.”

This created an addiction to this labor in many States.  Judge Pendleton observed during the Debate in South Carolina House of Representatives (1788) “that only three States, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the importation of negroes.  Virginia had a clause in her Constitution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even before the war, prohibited them.”

However, James Madison also pointed out during the Debate in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (15 June 1788) that there were even “a few slaves in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: these states would, probably, oppose any attempts to annihilate” slavery.

How could the States overcome their differences on this subject and agree on enough to form a Union? The drafters of the Constitution had an advantage, they knew a few things to be absolutely true and these things would provide the solution to their dilemma.

The drafters of the Constitution knew their history, they had studied governments and how people interact in society throughout history and they knew the principles of Liberty.  They KNEW that they could not plow new fields overnight; they understood that they could not reform society with one move.  But they KNEW they were forming a REPUBLIC and NOT a democracy.

A democracy is mob rule; it is tyranny in public form.  Jefferson said, “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.”  With a democracy, the majority of the people would always oppress the minority.  Liberty would never prosper and grow.  The force of the majority would always keep the minority in servitude.  By creating a republican government, they were able to provide minorities with a society-changing voice.  This voice would ensure not only the survival of Liberty but also its expansion.

In order for a Republic to function properly, there must be proper representation.  If there is a way to manipulate the number of representatives allotted to a State, then that would be another avenue for one party to seize the power of another.  Representation was to be established through population and controlled through the popular vote.  Incorporating the slave population in order to determine the number of representatives was causing some states to cry foul.

The slave owners wanted to classify slaves as “property” to avoid the application of rights to them as “persons,” but wanted to also classify them as “persons” for establishing representative power in Congress.  The objection was, the States with greater slave populations would get greater representation, but since only “freemen” could vote, greater representation would be consolidated into fewer people. The large slave owners would almost assuredly control the vote in the State and have greater representation and control in Congress. This skewed representation could delay the desired end to slavery significantly.

The drafters’ solution to this dilemma was the 3/5th Compromise which, along with article 1 section 9, would help to further the of end slavery.  The 3/5th Compromise did not, as popular education teaches, count each slave as 3/5th of a person, it deprived Slave States 2/5th of their representation in Congress!  This created a powerful incentive to end of slavery legislatively.  Slave States would have a reduced representative power in Congress and the Free States would have an increased representative power.  This would not only ensure that the Slave States could not over power the Free States in Congress, but also would act as an incentive for the people of the Slave States to demand their government free the slaves to obtain the full potential of their representative power.  The 3/5th Compromise did not make "black men 3/5th of person," but ensured that the true power to end slavery would come through the will of the people over their government.  Former slave and famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass made this very point in 1860 in a speech in Glasgow, Scotland:

"I answer — It is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation. A black man in a free State is worth just two-fifths more than a black man in a slave State, as a basis of political power under the Constitution. Therefore, instead of encouraging slavery, the Constitution encourages freedom by giving an increase of "two-fifths" of political power to free over slave States. So much for the three-fifths clause; taking it at is worst, it still leans to freedom, not slavery; for, be it remembered that the Constitution nowhere forbids a coloured man to vote."

The second constitutional mechanism to end slavery was the sunset provision incorporated into the Constitution, Article 1 Section 9, a provision that would provide the means to end slavery in 1808 by putting an end to the importation of slaves once and for all.

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think fit to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person;"

The framers understood that the end of the slave trade would bring about the end of slavery.  Stop the flow of slaves and the trade that George Mason called "diabolical" and "disgraceful" and Patrick Henry called "a lamentable evil" would be extirpated.  They believed the abolition of the slave trade equaled the abolition of slavery as a whole.

“Men, at that time, both in England and in America, looked upon the slave trade as the life of slavery. The abolition of the slave trade was supposed to be the certain death of slavery. Cut off the stream, and the pond will dry up, was the common notion at the time.” – Frederick Doglass

The final guarantee to the end of slavery our drafters secured came through the ratification of the Constitution. If these Slave States refused to join the Union, the trade of slaves on the American Continent, and by the very neighbors of the Union could go on forever.  However, if the Slave States wanted to be part of the Union, if they wanted to participate in the benefits of the Union, they would have to agree to all the provisions that would disadvantage the use of slaves and ultimately destroy the trade altogether.

Justice James Iredell stated during the Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention (26 July 1788):

“It was the wish of a great majority of the Convention to put an end [to slavery] immediately; but the states of South Carolina and Georgia would not agree to it. Consider, then, what would be the difference between our present situation in this respect, if we do not agree to the Constitution, and what it will be if we do agree to it. If we do not agree to it, do we remedy the evil? No, sir, we do not. For if the Constitution be not adopted, it will be in the power of every state to continue it forever. They may or may not abolish it, at their discretion. But if we adopt the Constitution, the trade must cease after twenty years, if Congress declare so, whether particular states please so or not; surely, then, we can gain by it. This was the utmost that could be obtained. I heartily wish more could have been done. But as it is, this government is nobly distinguished above others by that very provision. Where is there another country in which such a restriction prevails? We, therefore, sir, set an example of humanity, by providing for the abolition of this inhuman traffic, though at a distant period.”

The framers knew that by creating the union they would ensure the survival of Liberty, without the Union establishing a government on the principles that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right” would likely fail.  James Madison spoke of this fear during the 1788 Ratifying Convention:

“Great as the evil is, a dismemberment of the Union would be worse.  If those States should disunite from the other States for not indulging them in the temporary continuance of this traffic, they might solicit and obtain aid from foreign powers.”

The drafters of the Constitution also understood through the establishment of the Republic they would guarantee the minority populations a society changing voice. They believed through compromise they had done everything that they could have possibly done end the institution of slavery and the power of slave owners and still create a union.  They were also persuaded through a study of their own history that if Liberty is given the proper fertile ground, it always prospers and grows.  They were convinced that Liberty was contagious!

Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut to the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787) observed

that the abolition of slavery seemed to be going on in the U.S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat (sic) it.” 

Oliver Elsworth, also a representative from Connecticut very confidently stated, “Slavery in time will not be a speck on our country.  Provision is already made in Connecticut for abolishing it.   And the abolition has already taken place in Massachusetts.”

An additional insurance for the cultivation of Liberty was established through the Amendment process. The framers believed that as society matured in Liberty, the people would be more capable of self-governance and need less government.  They wanted to ensure that as Liberty grew, it could also be protected through peaceful modification of the Constitution.  By offering the Amendment process, the expansions of Liberty could become permanent.  The Amendment process prevents the Constitution’s interpretation to be based upon the whim of the current culture.  Without the process of permanently amending the Constitution, the people of this nation would be subject to temporary interpretations.  The prevailing party or culture would beget a conservative interpretation today, a liberal interpretation tomorrow, a socialist interpretation the next… subjecting the people to an ever-vacillating standard and leaving the people never really knowing the security of their rights.

It is unquestionable that slavery was detested by many at the formation of our Constitution; only revisionists are served by denying this truth.  But the formation of the union was essential to the preservation of Liberty and the end of slavery.   Without the union these independent, sovereign States would be able to continue the practice of slavery without any national consequence.  The Constitution did not preserve slavery, it was crafted to be a weapon wielded for slavery’s demise.

It is to be hoped, that by expressing a national disapprobation of this trade, we may destroy it, and save ourselves from reproaches, and our posterity the imbecility ever attendant on a country filled with slaves.  James Madison, Import Duty on Slaves, House of Representatives  13 May 1789

It is true that members of Congress, Presidents, and Supreme Court Justices have all failed to meet the standards established by the drafters of the Constitution.  But the failings of America are because of the failings of people, and not because the standard set by the Constitution failed America. As Frederick Douglass asked in his defense of the Constitution, “Shall we condemn the righteous law because wicked men twist it to the support of wickedness? 

Frederick Douglass gives a most conclusive summary to the argument. Only by twisting the document’s words and ignoring the truth can we assign a pro-slavery character to the Constitution and miss its role in setting the stage for the abolition of slavery.

 “This, I undertake to say, as the conclusion of the whole matter, that the constitutionality of slavery can be made out only by disregarding the plain and common-sense reading of the Constitution itself; by discrediting and casting away as worthless the most beneficent rules of legal interpretation; by ruling the Negro outside of these beneficent rules; by claiming that the Constitution does not mean what it says, and that it says what it does not mean; by disregarding the written Constitution, and interpreting it in the light of a secret understanding. It is in this mean, contemptible, and underhand method that the American Constitution is pressed into the service of slavery. They go everywhere else for proof that the Constitution declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; it secures to every man the right of trial by jury, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus — the great writ that put an end to slavery and slave-hunting in England — and it secures to every State a republican form of government. Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed up by a right moral sentiment, would put an end to slavery in America.”

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