It Didn’t Have To Be A Wall Of Separation.

In our prior installments of “Sunday Thoughts,” we saw a few examples of authoritarian opinions by the courts that have been used to support the leftist contention that the “wall of separation between church and state” ought to be insurmountable.  But alternative conclusions to those expressed in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church exist; ones that could just as easily have been adopted by the court. 

Chief Justice John Marshall, the most prolific jurist in American jurisprudence wrote, “The American population. . . is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institution did not presuppose Christianity.”  This phrase, delivered in ex parte fashion, just like Jefferson’s, and delivered by one of the great participants in the nation’s creation could have very easily employed by the various Supreme Courts to support a more Christian-based interpretation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. 

Justice Joseph Story, one of the early members of the Supreme Court and amongst its strongest strict-constructionists said, “My own private judgment has long been (and every day’s experience more and more confirms me in it) that government can not long exist without an alliance with religion to some extent; and that Christianity is indispensable to the true interests and solid foundations of free government.”

And then, there is John Adams, our nation’s second president, a member of the Constitutional Convention and signer of the Declaration of Independence who famously wrote, “Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. . . The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.  (suspension points included by Adams)

Based on these authoritative precedents, courts could have easily crafted phrases vastly different from “a wall of separation of church and states” to guide their rulings.  With equal intellectual credibility, they could have said, “American governance presupposes Christianity” (based on Marshall); “Christianity stands as indispensable to the true interests and solid foundations of a free government” (based on Story); and “no lasting liberty can exist without moral and religious virtue” (based on Adams).  Had they done so, America would be a much different nation, one where children still prayed, or stood silently and respectfully while others did, and adults publicly and comfortably revered the many blessings mercifully given to them by their Creator.  

The fact that twentieth century jurists did not select these equally valid, but pro-religion guidelines reveal their secularist agenda, an agenda that has sought ready refuge in the chambers of our nation’s courts.  If our aim is truly to restore our nation’s moral standing, if we want to buttress families and faith advocates, then it is fundamentally important that we remove that bastion of safety from the secularist and force them to defend their views in the public square and within the legislative branches of government. As we have previously written, a legislative override provision in our Constitution is the only way to rid secularism of its asylum. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo is by Tom Archer on Unsplash.

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