Wall of Separation

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The term "Wall of Separation" between church and state does not appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. However, many feel that the Establishment Clause provides for such a separation.

The phrase originally came from Roger Williams, a Puritan leader, in Rhode Island.

Roger Williams had been found guilty of preaching religious liberty in England, and he fled to Boston in 1631; he was banished from that region by the colonial government.

Williams purchased Indian land and created Providence Plantation, which became part of Rhode Island. This became the first place in the world where government did not control church affairs.

In 1639, Williams established the first Baptist Church in America. In response to his nemesis Mr. Cotton, Williams published "Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered" (1644). In this Roger Williams wrote:

The church of the Jews under the Old Testament in the type, and the church of the Christians under the New Testament in the anti-type, were both separate from the world; and when they opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broken down the wall ... therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world.

This was the "wall of separation" to which Jefferson referred in his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802.

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