Recently I have discussed the issues involved in the controversy surrounding Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Before finally leaving the subject, I want to address this nettlesome notion of the separation of church and state.
Often the sword of separation is used to smother, rather than promote religious liberty. There is nothing in the Constitution mandating a separation of church and state. (The phrase originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson.) When you hear people talking about the supposed "separation of church and state," what they usually mean is "The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment requires a separation." But it doesn't.
Aside from the fact that the Establishment Clause has been erroneously extended to apply to the states as well as Congress, let's look how far the scope of "establishment" has been stretched on both the state and federal levels. It's darn near criminal.
The Framers meant that Congress couldn't establish a national church. They did not intend to forbid every little activity on government property or partially funded by the government. Justice Moore's monument flap is just the tip of the iceberg.
The courts are using the Establishment Clause to scrub Christianity entirely from the public square, including public schools. Their restrictions on religious freedom in schools illustrate the obscene extremes to which the law has been extended.
The separationists contend that public schools, because they are funded by federal and state money, cannot engage in activities that are deemed an endorsement of a religion. Just the slightest nod toward a religion will be enough to trigger an Establishment Clause violation.
Consider the case in which public high school students held their own two-step election, first, to decide whether a student address, possibly containing a prayer, could be delivered at a football game, and second, which student would deliver it. The Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that just by permitting such an election the state was violating the Establishment Clause.
Now seriously, just how far do we have to suspend our disbelief to conclude that the Framers intended to prohibit such an election merely facilitated -- not initiated -- by a public school?