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Posted by Lewis on January 02, 2007

In Reply to: Separation of church and state posted by Bob on December 24, 2006

: : : : Can someone help with a phrase that is always been of great discussion? Many say it is from the U.S. constitution but that is not true. The phrase is, "The separation of church and state". I have heard it is actually of communist origin. Can someone help me with the origin? Thank you and God bless you.

: : : You've been talking to the wrong people. Ideologues and conspiracy theorists easily persuade themselves, and sometimes others, of some rather bizarre nonsense.

: : : It's true that there has been a constant state of tension between secular rulers and religious zealots, including many religions claiming universality and absolute truth. In the "Christian world", that is, Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire, the stage was set when the Emperor COnstantine, to please his wife Helen, made Christianity the state religion. Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the Dark Ages ensued, with what we call feudalism, in which the considerably fragmented secular authority could hardly stand against the authority of the Church, reinforced by a huge bureaucracy and the complete control of education.

: : : When strong leaders were able to begin to found strong nation-states, they found it expedient (and congenial to their own beliefs) to be the defenders of religion. When did that change? There was gradual change in that direction coming from many sources, the Enlightenment, scientific discovery, the Philosophes, but the most drastic and visible changes came with the large political upheavals beginning in the late 18th century, with the French Revolution (avowedly anti-clerical) and the American Revolution. Later, the separation of church and state was made manifest in several other revolutions, not least of them the RUssian revolutions (both of them, both in 1917). The British and their colonies and adherents (like Canada), ousted Caesaro-papism incrementally, but eventually completely. The Mexican Revolution resulted in an explicit declaration of the separation of church and state.

: : : Where in the U.S. Constitution is it declared that there shall be a Chinese wall between church and state? A certain variety of conservative agitator likes to point out the lack of any explicit clause declaring in so many words that church and state shall be separate. The closest that we come, and it is truly close enough, is the First Amendment, without which the Founding Fathers would not have signed--as some of them vociferously stated.

: : : Another view is that the absence of any language in the main body of the text acknowledging any role of the government in supporting or recognizing religion is proof enough that the authors and signers of the document wished to keep the two spheres, religion and government, independent of each other.

: : : Obviously you neither want nor need any views of this topic as it affects Islam, say, or specific churches. However, I'd like to point out that in the Second Vatican COuncil (Vatican II), 1962-65, the Church formally accepted religious tolerance and religious plurality (or freedom of religion), and the separation of church and state.

: : : I have scratched the surface. Have I left important considerations unsaid?
: : : SS

: : These sources say Thomas Jefferson authored the phrase.

: : From Accessed December 24, 2006
: : The phrase "separation of church and state" is derived from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists. In that letter, quoting the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, he writes: "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." [2]

: : Footnote 2. ^ Jefferson, Thomas (1802-01-01). Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists. U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2006-11-30.

: : From Accessed December 24, 2006.

: : The phrase "wall of separation between the church and the state" was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802. His purpose in this letter was to assuage the fears of the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, and so he told them that this wall had been erected to protect them. The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church's business, not to keep the church out of the state's business.

: The founing fathers of the republic were acutely aware of the dangers of state-sponsored religion. Jefferson and Madison had observed persecution of Quakers and Baptists in Virginia, for example, and wanted the state to remain neutral to encourage tolerance. Is America a Christian nation? Absolutely not, but many Americans would flunk that civics quiz.

In Britain, the 'established church' is the Church of England, which started out as a non-Roman catholicism - a political move by a resolutely self-determining King, Henry VIII. that part which remained in the 'catholic' tradition became known as "High Church" and that which embraced more Protestant ideas was known as "Low Church", but local government was through the parishes, whichever part they fell into - High or Low, they were still part of the CoE. the "Anglican Communion" - the wider association of CoE-based churches is a 'broad church' tolerant of many traditions, both in the UK and around the world. as the church was responsible for social services on a local level - it fulfilled a role that is usually performed by the state in the modern world and thus was in effect part of the state, whether deliberately so or not.
those who see the church having an integrated role with the state argue that by being formally involved, especially at higher leveles, such as state occasions, senior clerics have at least some influence on policy. those that take that 'conservative' line would be regarded as 'establishmentarians'.
a down-side is that senior bishops, the arch-bishops, are in theory an appointment under royal prerogative and thus in effect chosen by the government exercising that prerogative power on behalf of 'the crown'. In practice, the church only puts forward candidates who merit the post and government interference does not seem substantial, but to some, it is an anathema.
those that believe that the church is tainted by its association with government and should distance itself to make it more inclined to criticism and free the church of the nominal appointments system are the "disestablishmentarians".
thus - in antipathy to that notion, those who are against the idea of actively promoting complete separation of church and state are "antidisestablishmentarians" and their belief is "antidisestablishmentarianism" - commonly held to be the longest word in English.

that was fun.