Christopher Hitchens--Dead Wrong On 'Separation Of Church & State' & America's Secular Heritage

Greg Hengler
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Posted: Apr 08, 2009 10:26 PM

I have never seen nor heard Christopher Hitchens so ineloquent, sporadic, and wrong. As Dinesh D’Souza has said to Hitch before in one of their great God debates, “It’s like a mosquito in a nudist colony who does not know where to begin.”  

There is so much to rebut in this video clip so I will stick to the two most common talking-point lies: 1) America is secular nation. 2) There is a separation of church & state. 

1) Hitch accuses Ken Blackwell of being “flat-out wrong” when Blackwell says our country’s “moral foundation is based on Judeo-Christian precepts.” Let’s see who is “flat-out wrong” when we look at the three Founders who are considered the most hostile to Christian believers and the Divinity of Jesus Christ: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. What did they think of America’s “moral foundation?”  

Thomas Paine, in his discourse on "The Study of God," he wrote that it is "the error of schools" to teach sciences without "reference to the Being who is author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin." He continues that "the evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching [science without God] has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism." 

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the necessity of a public religion . . . and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."  

-“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.” 

Thomas Jefferson:

-“The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.”

-“I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.”

-“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”  

President Obama's statement is far to the left of these three Founders who did not consider themselves to be men of faith. What happened?

2) The “separation of church and state” mantra is one of those things that are repeated so many times that most who utter it think it is either in our Declaration of Independence or Constitution. It’s not. Here is some bullet-point knowledge for those who wish to come out of their anti-theist closets: Jefferson was living in France during the adoption of the First Amendment and the Constitution. 90 men spent about three months framing the First Amendment and every word they spoke was recorded and available to us today. The words separation, church, and state appear nowhere in the three months of deliberation. Here is the First Amendment:  

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

Both “clauses” are addressing Congress. Congress shall make no law and Congress shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof. This was written so American government would not be like British government where the King decried which denomination of Christianity his country would practice. How does this Amendment apply to a kid thanking Jesus at graduation? How about a little girl who draws a cross with crayons in art class? The list of stupidity around the “separation” issue is endless. And Hitchens, although smart, is way off the mark in this clip. 

Exit question: Do you think Jefferson would defend today’s redefinition of the First Amendment? 

Bonus question: What did Jefferson do two days after responding to the Danbury Baptist letter where he declared a “separation of church and state?”   

Answer: He attended a church service—in the Congressional building.