The First Amendment establishes separation between church and state, meaning that religion has no place in the government.

The First Amendment’s establishment clause limits what teachers can say about religion in the classroom.

Right?

Actually, not so much….

The first amendment gives freedom to teach religion

Now, yes, the courts have interpreted the First Amendment to mean exactly this and thus it has become the law of the land, but this is by no means what our Founding Fathers intended.

Let’s take a closer look and see exactly what the First Amendment actually does and does not say:

The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment….

  1. Restricts Only Congress. Did you notice who exactly the First Amendment restricts? Well, it says “Congress shall make no law…..” Did you catch that? Congress….. Not government employees. Not teachers. Not even states or local governments. Congress. Congress is not allowed to make any law that respects an establishment of religion or prohibits the free exercise thereof.
     
  2. Guarantees the free exercise of religion. The amendment clearly states that congress shall not prohibit the free exercise of religion. Period. No if‘s, and‘s, or but‘s. No exceptions. Congress shall not prohibit our religious freedom. Ever.
     
  3. Guarantees the freedom of speech. Furthermore, Congress shall not prohibit our freedom of speech. So put those two together – Congress shall not prohibit our freedom to practice our religion or to talk about it. At all.
     
  4. Prevents Congress from respecting an establishment of religion. Okay, this is where we get all confused. What exactly does this mean? Remember how we seceded from England? Well, England had the state-sanctioned Anglican church – and this created lots of problems. Our Founding Fathers did not want this in America and took careful guard against it since some of the colonies did have official state churches.
     
    So their intent here was to keep Congress from respecting one religion over another, from establishing a state church. But even if someone wants to debate that, remember who this amendment restricts again – Oh yeah, Congress. Not you. Not me. Not any citizen.

What About Separation of Church and State?

Great question. We’ve probably all heard that the First Amendment creates separation of church and state. But that phrase certainly isn’t in the amendment itself. So where did it come from?

It’s actually from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists who were concerned that the government was not allowing them their full religious freedom.

The First Amendment was never intended to keep the church out of the state. It was always intended to keep the state out of the church.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to assure them that the First Amendment built a wall of separation between church and state – meaning that the church would be protected from the government.

The First Amendment was never intended to keep the church out of the state. It was always intended to keep the state out of the church.

The Founding Fathers Wanted Christianity Taught in Our Schools

It only takes a casual glance around Washington, D.C. to see how important the Bible and Christianity were in the early days of our nation. Scriptures grace the walls of our national monuments. And government buildings have Biblical quotes engraved in their stones.

Our Founding Fathers believed that the truths of Scripture were so vital to the success of our nation that they quoted the Bible throughout the Constitution and modeled much of it after Biblical principles.

Prayer was an integral part of both their private and public lives, and opening government sessions with prayer was way more than just a formality. They even held church services in the U.S. Capitol.

Furthermore, they believed that the Bible should play a key role in our school system. Consider a few quotes from Benjamin Rush, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and is considered the father of public schools under the Constitution:

[T]he only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.

The Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life… [T]he Bible… should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness.

Does it sound like our Founding Fathers were concerned about keeping religion out of the government and out of schools? I certainly don’t think so.

No, that was just a decision our courts arbitrarily made almost 200 years later in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education decision.

So What Does This Mean?

So we realize that the First Amendment is not supposed to limit our individual religious freedom at all but is instead intended to keep the government from taking away the very freedom they now claim the amendment limits.

So what?

Does it really matter what the Founders intended? The courts have declared that the government cannot in any way support religion. And that is now the law of the land.

I would argue that, yes, it does matter. It matters because the foundations that the Founders built our country on are crumbling. They’re crumbling because we are getting farther and farther away from the never-changing Biblical truths that built this nation. They’re crumbling because we don’t know our history and because we just stand idly by as one law after another, one court decision after another alters our way of life in this greatest nation on God’s green earth.

It’s time we stopped parroting the Progressives’ view for them. It’s time we started teaching our students what the First Amendment really means. It’s time they knew the truth of America’s history – the truths about our Founding Fathers and their incredible faith.

Because ignorance truly has been our curse. We as a nation do not know our own history. We do not understand our own Constitution and our own Bill of Rights. The history books have been rewritten and for too long we have been taught a distorted view of our Founders.

We can make a small impact by learning about our true history for ourselves, by proclaiming our own freedom, and by teaching our students what really happened back in those incredible early days of our nation.

And if enough of us make a small impact, we just might start to turn the tide.

Have you been told that the First Amendment restricts religion in the public sphere? How do you think the rewriting of our nation’s history has impacted our views and laws?

Want to learn more about America’s true history? Check out these great resources:

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2 Thoughts on “Life, Liberty, and Censorship?: What the First Amendment Really Says about Religion in Government

  1. Jess on July 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm said:

    It is so disheartening to see you misunderstand the founders and keep attempting to find ways to push your agenda with students who are in your classroom. That is not your job during your teaching day. It is absolutely your right to do outside of that time and away from students whose parents did not consent to your attempts to use only your religion in your classroom.

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