SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

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Harvard University Press, 2002 - History - 514 pages
2 Reviews

In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later.

Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination.

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Personal Evaluation of Separation of Church and State by Melineze Logan Hite ( Christian author)
This book takes the reader on a rigorous journey to unearth the truth about separation of church
and state. It was not the intention of the writers and the participants of the council who presented the Constitution of the United States to America, but largely on the motivation of one Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America who wrote the infamous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association who had earlier been called an atheist by the Federalists.The writer of this book does not try to examine the motivation behind his writing of this additional phrase to the First Amendment of the Constitution. I would think that most lawyers would attack Jefferson’s reputation and background. Why? Jefferson was a contributor of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I was somewhat upset to have to do research on my own on Thomas Jefferson which was not exactly favorable. To my shock I found that rumors were common about his personal life as opposed to his lily white and clean, political life. I learned about Jefferson’s female slave and concubine, Sally Hemings, who fathered six children by him. Even today, there are those who hold that this affair did happen. It depends on whose DNA report you believe. However, our author goes back in times with only documented, researched evidence which proves that the 1941 Supreme Court case, Everson vs. the Board of Education which upholds the separation of church and state can be clearly seen to have been birth through years of hatred and intolerance, and the quest of power by very influential men in government like Thomas Jefferson, who legitimately is credited with shooting the first shot which was figuratively heard around the world. Justice Hugo Black, appointed by President of the United States of America F. D. Roosevelt, a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization which praises the separation of church and state in its creed with members who have reported to be lifetime members, was instrumental in making this a established and approved standard in America. There was no challenge to his decision, and today Americans are still battling with the consequences of that seemingly inconsequential guarantee from governments to institutions, specifically for public schools throughout the land. Hamburger sought to do research into the developments leading up to this infamous decision found in the case of Everson vs. Board of Education. Everson did not think it was constitutional for the Board of Education to cause citizens to be taxed and for parents to be reimbursements when their children were bussed to largely religious schools. Justice Black, it was revealed from documentation from his own son, “hated Catholics and Jews. He thought that they were too powerful….” There is a long line of supporters for the Ku Klux Klan that helped shape the thinking of men like Justice Black and many others. Their warped way of thinking has caused the Bible to be taken out of the Public School, and their way of thinking has caused immorality, violence, disrespect of authority to enter into its walls.
Some will find the book to be rather difficult to sink your teeth into at first. This book is written for the serious political science major, government student, law student, lawyer, constitutional law student, etc. I found very satisfying the notes at the bottom of the page. They helped me to stay on tract with the huge array of names, cases, and decisions regarding the separation of church and state.
Conclusion
Hugo Black was a prejudiced and villainous civil servant who declared in his own words that his “principles to be those of the Klan”. What is most shocking and appalling is the indictment against the American people who were not doing their homework because of distractions and obviously because of apathy, when it comes to politics. Therefore, we gave a free rein to a disregarder of the sanctity of the Christian faith.
 

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User Review  - Matthew Sutton - Goodreads

powerful dismantling of pernicious myth. Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Philip Hamburger is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.