When a Myth Becomes a Wall

Suppose that I began to think of myself as a good friend of Abraham Lincoln. Further suppose that I hatched a plan to turn my belief into a reality or, in current vernacular, a virtual reality. First, I would gather as many photos of Lincoln as I could get my hands on, then I would get just as many similar photos of myself.

Unreal Reality Television

In the old days (like about 10 years ago) I would have to cut and paste myself on the Lincoln photos, make copies, and presto! I would have tons of “evidence” of my close friendship with the great man. Today, this magical plan takes on an even more efficient twist with the use of a computer and a scanner. Either way, through a little homework on my part, I could now proclaim my belief with “proof” to all. If the media was on my side, and they broadcast my belief and reported it as fact, I would soon be providing “expert” commentary on what honest Abe would have done with Iraq! Sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn't it?

Yes, in a logical and balanced world, such a ridiculous ploy would get nowhere. After all, the fact of my age alone would make it a transparent fantasy. The media, aware of this fact and having some idea of history, would expose this farce instead of perpetuating it, and my fifteen minutes of fame would end in psychiatric evaluations. Yet, this is exactly the kind of ploy which has been foisted on the American public by those hell-bent on ripping religion from our society, from our eyes, and from our minds.

It is ironic that a society so obsessed with “reality television” has become so content to wallow in fantasy and delusion. If you believe the courts and the media, the so-called separation of church and state is the foundation of all that we hold dear, the first thought that entered the minds and hearts of our founders, the lynchpin of our society. Remove that wall, they say, and you bring down the flag, the Constitution, Independence Hall, and DVDs. That is their reality, but is it real? A review of American History and the backgrounds of the Founding Fathers shows that religion, and particularly Christianity, was not only a major part of their thinking, it was the major part of their thinking.

The writings of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and John Adams all demonstrate deep devotion, respect, and adherence to their faith. Furthermore, these men deeply believed that any government hoping to succeed had to make religion an integral part of the society it hoped to govern. The phrase “separation of church and state” is found nowhere in the Constitution or other contemporaneous documents, more importantly, the spirit and tone of every word spoken and written by those influential men was drenched with religious and Christian flavor. Despite the illusion that separationists wish to cut and paste on our history, the foundation and basis of American government and society was Christian.

Given these facts, where was this separation thing hatched?

How to Guard a Wilderness from a Garden

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in an attempt to calm their fears that the US Congress might choose a single Christian denomination as the state religion. In this letter, Jefferson borrowed a phrase from the famous Baptist minister Roger Williams, who had stated that a “wall of separation” must be maintained so that the “wilderness” of the state would not spread into the “garden” of the church.

It is clear that Williams' wall was meant to protect the church from the state. After all, few would envision a “garden” threatening a “wilderness” with harm while the opposite is clearly true. Likewise, the backgrounds of the Framers dictates that these men did not want the government to threaten religious thought and practice and, conversely, felt that the influence of Christianity on government was one to be encouraged.

It should be noted that Jefferson had no part in the Constitution or the debates leading up to it, being in France at the time. Likewise, his use of the “wall” phrase was made apart from the discussions and debates of the Constitutional Convention. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Jefferson opined that the Establishment Clause of The First Amendment was meant to create the “wall” which Williams had envisioned. History would show that this poetic hedge would someday become a granite barricade used by secularists to barricade the influence of Christianity from our society.

The Constitution is not a dead, static document but rather a dynamic tool, created by men long ago, but adjustable (by a fixed means of amendment) to apply to our present circumstances. While we must be able to adjust and apply the Constitution and its principles to modern situations, the umbilical cord connecting the present to the original intent of the Founding Fathers must never be severed lest we float into the abyss of changing notions and individual bias. The problem is that while we have to give judges room to interpret original intent, they have too often taken it upon themselves to apply their ownpersonal intent. These judges concocting an expansion of the Framers' original intent as they have interpreted it according to their own views have attempted to justify this expansion as valid change and adaptation. But a judicial decision made void of the original spirit and intent of the Framers is no longer truly a “judicial” one, but is political.

The 1947 Supreme Court decision in Everson v. Board of Educationcut that cord. By construing both the First Amendment and particularly The Establishment Clause well beyond the original intent of the Framers, Justice Hugo Black paved the way for a series of other decisions systematically restricting religion in America. Step by step, God has been removed from daily life under the guise of concerns about pluralism and fairness. It is now easier to burn the flag than pray in public, and secularists scurry to erase God from every corner of our lives as if His Name was a cancer to be cut out of our thoughts. This obsessed, crazed race to eradicate God and religion, especially Christianity, began in the public arena and now extends to the classroom. Angered by Christianity's opposition to many of their agendas, the media and popular culture freely bash Christianity while rushing to the aid of any institution or philosophy they hold dear. Gagged by a double standard steeped in politics and hypocrisy, Christianity has become to this society what Judaism was in Germany a decade before Everson began the assault.

Their Own Words

It is hard to believe that the country founded on Christian principles and nurtured by God-fearing men has become what it is today. In 1789 George Washington said that he would never have signed the Constitution if he felt that it would possibly endanger anyone's religious rights. Alexander Hamilton stated that he did not think that the Constitution would even have been possible without “the finger of God”. James Madison uttered the opinion that the whole future of American civilization depended on our ability to live according to the Ten Commandments of God. He added that religion was the basis and foundation of government. John Quincy Adams said that the highest glory of the American Revolution was its ability to connect in an “indissoluble bond” the principles of government and Christianity. Benjamin Franklin noted that history would show the necessity of a public religion.

Again, we turn to the Father of our country, George Washington, who in 1752 wrote in his personal prayer book, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible”.

Given this, it is clear that original intent was not to rip religion from the public squares and the schools, but rather to protect and encourage its free practice and expression. The Framers noble mission and effort has been tarnished and spit upon by jurists who have betrayed their oath to defend the past in favor of personal philosophies and political agendas. Their present assault is nothing less than a brazen hypocrisy, purporting to defend and honor a document whose spirit they ignore and mock everyday. While they loudly proclaim their loyalty to the Framers' intent, the Framers cry upon seeing what their masterpiece has become. With the help of the media, these secularists have convinced most Americans that their version of a wall between church and state is actually in the Constitution. Secularists may keep building their wall, but it is a wall of Jericho whose time has come.

Suggested Readings

David Barton, America's Godly Heritage, Wallbuilder Press, 1990

Charles and David Barton, The Myth of Separation, 7th ed,. Wallbuilder Press, 1992

M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution, (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982)

John Eidsmore, Christianity and the Constitution ( MI: Baker Book House, 1987)

© Copyright 2003 Catholic Exchange

Gabriel Garnica is a licensed attorney and educator with over 20 years teaching experience at the college, business school, and middle school levels. He has a BA in Psychology from St. John's University in New York and a J.D. from The New York University School of Law. Mr. Garnica writes extensively on spiritual and educational issues and conducts seminars on time management, leadership, and personal development.

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