Founding Father, John Jay, said that "Every member of the state ought diligently to read and study the constitution. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them."
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
THIS PHRASE COMES FROM A LETTER WRITTEN BY THOMAS JEFFERSON. HE WAS IN EUROPE WHEN THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN AND HE DIDN'T EVEN SEE IT UNTIL IT WAS WRITTEN. HE DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT. "I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, and never saw it till after it was established. On receiving it, I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for... an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1802. ME 10:325
WHEN HE WROTE THE LETTER, HE WAS REASSURING THE MEMBERS OF THE DANBURY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION, WHO WROTE TO HIM, BECAUSE THEY WERE AFRAID THAT AT SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE THE GOVERNMENT WOULD COME BACK ON THEM AND SAY THAT THE GOVERNMENT GAVE THEM FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND NOT THAT GOD HAD GIVEN IT TO THEM. HE TOLD THEM THAT A WALL HAD BEEN BUILT TO KEEP CHURCH AND STATE SEPARATED. http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html
THERE ARE RECORDS OF THE MONTHS OF DEBATES THAT OCCURRED WHERE THE LEGISLATORS DEBATED WHAT SHOULD GO INTO THE FIRST AMENDMENT. THERE IS NOTHING IN THOSE RECORDS TO INDICATE THAT THEIR "INTENT" WAS THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PRAY IN PUBLIC OR THAT ALL RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM GOVERNMENT, BUT INSTEAD THAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM CHURCH. HE WAS REFERRING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE, AND NOT THE FREE EXERCISE CLAUSE.
WHEN HE WAS VICE PRESIDENT, HE STARTED CHURCH SERVICES AT THE CAPITAL. BY THE LATE 1800'S, 2000 PEOPLE WERE MEETING FOR CHURCH SERVICE ON FEDERAL PROPERTY. HE ALSO STARTED CHURCH SERVICES AT THE WAR DEPARTMENT AND THE TREASURY. TWO DAYS AFTER HE WROTE THE LETTER TO THE DANBURY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION HE ATTENDED CHURCH SERVICE AT THE CAPITAL. THE LETTER WAS WRITTEN JANUARY 1, 1802. HE WENT TO CHURCH JANUARY 3, 1802. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html HE EVEN HAD THE USMC BAND PLAY AT THESE CHURCH SERVICES.
HE WAS ASKED WHY HE ATTENDED CHURCH AT THE CAPITAL ALL THROUGH HIS EIGHT YEARS AS PRESIDENT. HE ANSWERED, "NO NATION HAS EVER EXISTED OR BEEN GOVERNED WITHOUT RELIGION, NOR CAN BE. THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS THE BEST RELIGION THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO MAN, AND I AS CHIEF MAGISTRATE OF THIS NATION, AM BOUND TO GIVE IT THE SANCTION OF MY EXAMPLE."
HE SIGNED DOCUMENTS NOT ONLY 'IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD', AS MANY OTHER FOUNDERS DID, BUT 'IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD,CHRIST'.
TO ME THAT SEEMS RATHER CONTRADICTORY TO THE IDEA WE ARE SPOON FED THAT HE DIDN'T BELIEVE IN RELIGION.
THE WORD CONSENT IS USED THREE TIMES IN THE DECLARATION AND ELEVEN TIMES IN THE CONSTITUTION. THE FOUNDING FATHERS WANTED GOVERNMENT TO GOVERN WITH OUR CONSENT, NOT TO USE THEIR POWER AGAINST US. THEY ALSO MADE IT CLEAR THAT THE RIGHTS WE HAVE ARE GOD GIVEN AND NOT GOVERNMENT GIVEN. THOSE RIGHTS ARE UNIVERSAL TO ALL MEN, WHICH IS WHY THEY CALLED THEM LAWS OF NATURE, AND REFERRED TO THE GOD OF NATURE. THEY ALSO CALLED THEM SELF EVIDENT.
PRESIDENT JAMES GARFIELD, "NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE, THE PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHARACTER OF THEIR CONGRESS. IF THAT BODY BE IGNORANT, RECKLESS AND CORRUPT, IT IS BECAUSE THE PEOPLE TOLERATE, IGNORANCE, RECKLESSNESS AND CORRUPTION. IF IT BE INTELLIGENT, BRAVE AND PURE, IT IS BECAUSE THE PEOPLE DEMAND THESE HIGH QUALITIES TO REPRESENT THEM IN THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE."