I wanted to talk a little about the separation between church and state. This comes to my mind during this holiday season because of certain high-profile news stories. One being the removal of the cross from the City of Los Angeles seal. The other being some of the things being said right now by certain conservative pundits. Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly have been saying that Christmas is "under assault" or "under attack" because people are saying "Happy Holidays" more now then "Merry Christmas."
First of all, Christmas is in no danger of being abolished. Let me just state that before I get to what the founding fathers had to say about a seperation between church and state. Saying, "Happy Holidays" is not endangering Christmas as much as it is inclusive of other religions and indescriminate of any particular religion. Anyway, on with the founding fathers. I am going to do a series of posts about different founding fathers and their opinions on religion and government. Today's it is going to be James Madison. Signer to the Constitution, co-author to the Bill of Rights and the 4th American President. This from Devin Bent of the James Madison Center:
"There is no doubt that James Madison believed in the separation of church and state. It was a constant theme of his career and an area in which his views were sometimes stated without his characteristic moderation. In the Memorial and Remonstrance of June 20, 1785, he wrote:
'During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.'
Thirty-seven years later, he has perhaps softened his rhetoric, but not changed his mind. In a letter to Edward Livingston, he writes: 'religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed.'"
Not only does Madison not endorse a "Christian government" he does not endorse a specific Christian denomination. Again quoting the JMC, "He [Madison] does not endorse Christianity or any specific Christian denomination; he is 'absolutely indiscriminant.' He refers to 'great Parent and Sovereign of the Universe,' for instance. He also asks that persons gather 'in their respective religious congregations;' thus they can follow 'their own faith and forms.'"
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