Let me clarify there is no sentence, phrase or wording in the Constitution claiming a division of church and state. It was a reference made from Thomas Jefferson to the Dansbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in a letter which brought about the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. This was a result of the providence of Rhode Island adaptation of Roger Williams’s theology that the churches such as the Baptists and/or Congregationalists were in some way still connected to the Church of England whom he believed to be “irredeemably corrupt.”
His efforts to deny those who were not “separatists” as he was remained too closely to the corrupt church. Making it very difficult for anyone to worship who didn’t break away and begin a brand new church became a problem for those who wanted religious freedom in general. He spoke of how the church needed complete separation from the government; hence the Church of England’s influence.
Thomas Jefferson, like the Baptists was an anti-federalist. As descendants of the pilgrims, these Christians wanted to continue their beliefs before Henry VIII split the church. The previous Presidents had not been as keen on the state’s authority more than the federal government so when Jefferson was elected mainstream Christians were elated.
The Constitution made the Baptists question the validity of the church as having its “inalienable rights” taken away. They believed God formed the church and it wasn’t the government’s alienable right to have access of any kind to religious liberty or the freedom to worship.
Thomas Jefferson agreed. The government should not have the authority to confine, limit, control or get involved with “religious expression.”
Besides the fact Jefferson believed in the “God” of the Bible as the Dansbury Baptists and other Christian churches, there was more at stake than religious independence. Efforts to obtain governmental power in other areas of liberty could have been affected also.
January 1, 1802 Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to the Dansbury Baptists pledging the federal government would never encroach or violate the spiritual and sacred position of the church.
So what happened?
To be continued…..
December 15, 1791 Adoption of Amendment to the Constitution