I never thought I'd be doing homework at the age of 35, on the United States Constitution. And this homework is self-inflicted. My 16 year old self would call me a Beat-Off. So, here is what I've come up with. On the subject of "Separation of Church and State", I have come to the conclusion, that the statement is nowhere to be found in our constitution. In my research, I found that the phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802.[As originally commented on by EOK]
His original text in the letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, read like this, "... 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.".
Another early user of the term was James Madison, the principal drafter of the United State's Bill of Rights. In a 1789 debate in the House of Representatives regarding the draft of the First Amendment, the following was said.
August 15, 1789. Mr. [Peter] Sylvester [of New York] had some doubts...He feared it [the First Amendment] might be thought to have a tendency to abolish religion altogether...Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry [of Massachusetts] said it would read better if it was that "no religious doctrine shall be established by law."...Mr. [James] Madison [of Virginia] said he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that "Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law."...[T]he State[s]...seemed to entertain an opinion that under the clause of the Constitution...it enabled them [Congress] to make laws of such a nature as might...establish a national religion; to prevent these effects he presumed the amendment was intended...Mr. Madison thought if the word "National" was inserted before religion, it would satisfy the minds of honorable gentlemen...He thought if the word "national" was introduced, it would point the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent.
(Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1834, Vol. I pp. 757-759, August 15, 1789)
So, that is what I've found through some research. But I'm still a little confused on how some ordinary everyday things are deemed unconstitutional by some. For example, how can Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, say that the reference of God in the Pledge of Allegience is unconstitutional and infringes on his religious beliefs? I suspect, I would have to ask him. However, from what I've read and studied, I believe he is wrong. At the same time, he is obviously guilty of the crime of Douchebaggery. Maybe the ultimate Liberal mind at work. But, instead of trying to figure out why he made this accusation, I will attempt to explain why I think he is wrong.
Dr. Newdow argues that the term, "Under God" in the Pledge offends him as an Atheist, and violates his constitutional rights. Maybe if the pledge said, One nation, under Jesus Christ, would I buy into his statement. But in my opinion, his arguement holds no validity. I interpret the Freedom of religion too mean that the government can not tell you what God to believe in, what faith to practice, or what church to go to. Not to mention, as a sworn Atheist, you do not believe in a God, nor are you any part of a religion. So freedom of religion would not pertain to you in the context you are trying to use it. You obviously picked this "Pledge of Patriotism" to push forward an agenda.
What I find most interesting about my research is this. "Thomas Jefferson reflected his frequent speaking theme that the government is not to interfere with religion."..........................................
So when any Government agency tries passing a law, banning a Nativity scene on your front lawn. Let them know how unconstitutional, their new law really is....................................................