“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 & State.“ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Danbury Baptists.
People who are hostile to America’s Christian founding and legacy and who work to undermine and remove any reminder of our Biblical heritage through government or judicial intervention, often do so on the grounds of the “separation between Church and State.” The only problem with that argument is that no such concept exists.
“Separation between Church and State” does not appear in any of our nation’s founding documents and you will search the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence in vain for it.
The only place that the phrase “separation between Church and State” appears is in a private letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut.
Here is the letter and quote in context:
To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Jan. 1. 1802.
If you read the letter carefully, you would realize that:
1.) Jefferson is stating that the people would never want their legislature (i.e., Government) to erect a wall separating Church and State.
2.) Jefferson’s personal opinion expressed in the private letter is just that; a personal opinion expressed in a private letter. Therefore, it has no bearing whatsoever on American Civics and cannot be used to promote or impugn the concept either way.
Now that we’ve discussed the Church and the State, let’s discuss the Noose.
The Constitution of the United States says in Article 1 Section 10 that you have the right to make a contract. So, let’s say that you approach me and want to make a contract with me to pay me $10 dollars every hour for the rest of my life. Then, after awhile, you change your mind and stop paying, declaring, “I have a right to keep my own money.” However, you also have the right to make a contract. So when I sue you, the judge is just going to uphold contract law when he rules in my favor.
What churches needlessly and to their own detriment do, is they sign a contract with the government and don’t even realize they’re doing it.
Churches submit themselves to the government when they become 501(c)(3) —
List of exempt organization, foundations and established organizations, organized and operated exclusively for religious purposes (the church). RESTRICTIONS — No part of the net earnings of which issues to the neefit of any provate shareholder or individiual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office (including the publishing or distribution of statements.)
At this point, you are a corporation, you are no longer a church. Therefore, you have invited the government to meddle in your affairs.
God made people and God established the church. The people created government. Government creates corporations. So a church that becomes 501(c)(3) has stepped way down from where God intended them to be and they have now become a creature of the state.
If you read internal revenue code for 501 (c)(3) and then turn over a few pages to 508 (c)(1)(A), you would read that IR Code section (26 U.S.C. §508) says that:
new organization must notify the Secretary that they are applying for recognition of 501 (c)(3) status EXCEPT as provided in the subsection (c). §508 (c)(1)(A) states: Exceptions – mandatory exceptions - subsection (a) shall not apply to: (A) Churches, their integrated auxillaries, and conventions or associations of churches…
Therefore, the church is a mandatory exception, not an exemption.