Most Americans are aware that the First Amendment to the Constitution provides for Freedom of Religion. And most Americans believe that the wording of the First Amendment states that there shall be a separation between Church and State. However, nowhere in the First Amendment does it state that there is to be a separation between Church and State. The specific part of the First Amendment that refers to religion reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor the free exercise thereof.”
There are two parts to the above sentence, the first declares that the Government will not specify a national religion; the second declares that Americans will be allowed to freely worship in any way they want. Yet in today’s time, some 225 years after those words were penned, the dominant belief is that there will be a separation between Church (religion) and State (any Government branch or body). Groups working against any religion in America have used the perception of the First Amendment, which is incorrect, to their advantage by pursuing legal battles against any Government employee, office, or body that in any way displays some form of religious affiliation. From praying in schools to Nativity displays around Christmas, these groups have decided that because Americans, as a majority, do not understand the Constitution and its amendments, the citizens of the United States will be pressed into believing that there is to be a clearly defined line between Religion and Government in this country.
Americans who hope for Freedom of Religion need to stand together against these groups that want to abolish and semblance of religion in the United States, starting with our schools and public offices. For the first 150 years of America’s history, there was no separation of Church and State, only a literal understanding of the First Amendment. But in the latter half of the 19th century, that changed and people began to feel that there should be no religion associated with anything related to government. Suddenly, anything paid for by tax dollars was fair game for those who wanted a clear definition between Church and State, and they have slowly been winning over converts to their anti-religion attitude with lawsuits and propaganda.
The Founders of the United States believed that all Americans should be free to practice their religion at any time and in any place. And this included public officials in public offices and establishments. If the Founders were around today, they would not recognize what people believe to be the First Amendment’s take on Religion and Government because a third part to that single sentence has been added separating Church and State.
Americans in the 21st century are, in large part, unaware of the gradual shift away from the Freedom of Religion envisioned by the Founders. But anyone who is aware of how the First Amendment has been interpreted, with the third statement defining a clear separation between Church and State, will recognize that that third part does not exist and there should be no reason to remove the Pledge of Allegiance or Nativity scenes or prayer at high school football games from our culture, which is so open and free when compared to other nations around the world. But with regards to Religion in the United States, we are far from free according to the way the Founders established Religion’s place in American society.