Talk:Separation of church and state

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This article is almost completely opinion. References to the Declaration of Independence should be removed, as it is not a founding document of the US, but a document separating the original colonies from Britain.

The article should be re-written by someone actually knowledgeable in constitutional law. --Todd 12:45 16 March 2007 ETD

The first ammendment seems to confirm the separation of State and Church - KT

The phrase 'liberal interpreation' needs to be removed, as it has no sources and is not fact.

Wrong reference

The letter suppossedly from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Associasion is the other way around here. It is not from Jefferson, but it was used here as a reference as though it was. This article does not need a re-write by someone in Constitutional law, but by someone with the common sense required to write this properly. The complete letter from Jefferson I've added to the article. Karajou 11:00, 24 March 2007 (EDT)

The supposition that THE document that founded the United States (Declaration of Independence) is not a founding document is absurd. Since the constitution is written in very plain English, it does not require a college degree to comprehend. The First Amendment seems states "Congress shall make no law..." This does not mean anything other than "Congress shall make no law..." The concept of separation of church and state is simply an interpretation which, (while accepted by modern society), is absolutely forbidden by the constitution itself, and was, by many founding fathers, grounds for treason. All 'interpretations' of the constitution is a liberal interpretation. The conservative viewpoint is to not interpret the constitution, but to simply do what it states. (Somehow, liberals believe that taking the constitution at it's face value is somehow 'just another type of interpretation'). --Bufshof 21:46, 13 January 2011 (EST)

So if "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," then what does "establishment" really mean? That's the whole debate of the Establishment Clause which has gone back and forth since the Constitution was ratified. My take on it is, if Congress is not allowed to establish a religion, and if the US Constitution does not declare an official religion of Congress, then that leaves little wiggle room, does it? It can't start a religion, nor does it actually belong or endorse a specific religion, therefore there is no religion--at least that's what I have been taught based on a professor's 'interpretation' of the law.

Then, if Congress were to fund one religion and not another, or if they were to allow the practice of one religion's rite over others, then wouldn't they be "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" by favoring one over another?

Finally, one has to 'interpret' the Constitution because it was written 200+ years ago before modern society. It has to be 'interpreted' because the "framers" were sometimes purposely vague in their verbiage. Compound that with the vagueness of the language, I believe, is due, in part, to changes in usage over time of words and the construction of sentences. Its an 'interpretation' by people that the US Constitution actually assumes a Capitalist Society. Justice Scalia, to a great degree, and Justice Thomas specifically classify themselves as "Originalists" meaning they want to research and ultimately deduce the "original intent" of the Framers. Certainly, trying to derive the "original intent" of people who are really really dead requires some level of 'interpretation.' One can't send Th Jefferson a letter decrying why their church could no longer receive subsidies and be favored by their state legislature because he's dead and died 200 years ago. So unless someone reanimates Th Jefferson and can talk to him, we are stuck 'interpreting' the Constitution no matter what our political philosophy is, and even then, there is no guarantee that, after having experiencing death in this highly unlikely scenario, the man wouldn't have experienced a slight change of perspective and high might just have changed his mind. Then again, that too is an 'interpretation' of a highly fictionalized event.


The liberal edits removed factual information and thus were rolled back.--Aschlafly 00:20, 6 August 2007 (EDT)

Amercian-Christianity-denying Article 11 of the ratified Treaty of Tripoli was almost certainly spurious.

New to and inept with techniques and protocols of this site I ask others to take up the Subject matter using leads provided below.

Further evidence and information beyond Reference 5 is available from Yale University's Avalon Project covering the Barbary Treaties . See (below) various links to authenticating scholarly work and to the source for the quote below. That quote is from Arabic scholar Snouck Hurgronje's annotated translation of the Arabic (and presumed) copy of the original treaty. The ratified (Christianity denying) version, still is the official one often quoted from and held by the U.S. State Department; it is the Barlow translation from the Arabic, the original treaty language; it unaccountably includes a widely divergent interpolation as Article 11.

I add emphasis and quote from the annotated translation by Hurgronje:

"The eleventh article of the Barlow translation has no equivalent whatever in the Arabic. The Arabic text opposite that article is a letter from Hassan Pasha of Algiers to Yussuf Pasha of Tripoli. The letter gives notice of the treaty of peace concluded with the Americans and recommends its observation. Three fourths of the letter consists of an introduction, drawn up by a stupid secretary who just knew a certain number of bombastic words and expressions occurring in solemn documents, but entirely failed to catch their real meaning. Here the only thing to be done by a translator is to try to give the reader an impression of the nonsensical original:

Praise be to God, who inspires the minds of rulers with causes of well-being and righteousness! The present matter may be in the interest of the land and the servants [of God], in order that things may be put in their place. This whole affair...."

SEE THIS LINK FOR THE FOLLOWING MENU AT THE AVALON PROJECT FOR TREATIES WITH THE BARBARY POWERS. These menu items are quite comprehensive if not exhaustive on the topic.

Treaty with Tripoli November 4, 1796 and at Algiers January 3, 1797

Text of the Treaty The Receipt The Note The Approval of Humphreys The Annotated Translation of 1930 Translation of the Treaty Translation of the Receipt Translation of the Note Account of the Seals Hunter Miller's Notes The Original Treaty The Cathcart Copy The Italian Translation The United States Ratification and Proclamation Note Regarding the Arabic Text Note Regarding the Barlow Translation


Note that material under various of the menu options materially substantiate the treaty version Hurgronje translated.

An interesting discussion of the Treaty of Tripoli is here: .

Of course, skeptics rightfully ask how it is possible that the treaty was ratified by the Senate and accepted by the country without objection. The history of the period indicates Barbary Pirates from Barbary States preyed upon, controlled and required tribute for shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. Vital pre- and post-Revolutionary War American Mediterranean shipping had been attacked by the Moslems, sailors had been killed and enslaved, and amounts demanded for tribute were excesssive. Accordingly, in discussing this elsewhere after reading the item above at I wrote:

The Tektonics piece provides some support for three plausible explanations [for Americans' acquiescence in Article 11]. Here are three [among] plausible reasons or contributing factors, the first being the most compelling:

1. In a word, duress: inability to do otherwise considering past and prospective casualties in vital shipping; 2. It was likely common knowledge that the hegemonic Moslem pirates viewed being Christian or sailing under a "Christian flag" as a casus belli. This ties to the second part of the claim in Article 11 about relations with Mohametans. 3. The U.S. Government was technically Christian only in the sense that Christianity energized the majority of the founders, [it was] the spirit of the founding documents, and [of] the citizens. (Individual states, I believe, still had or several recently had had state churches.)

My apologies for this long commentary. But I believe this is an important item that needs to be threshed out as to its significance. [User Atalaya did not sign]


This article seems to be completely American-centric. The idea of the separation of church and state is a theme that runs through many former British colonies. In my country (Australia) the motivation behind such a move is because of the wars that were fought in the name of state religion in England in the 16/17 hundreds. The idea of separating church and state is to allow freedom of religion. If the state, which governs people of many religions, is overtly influenced by a particular religion, then members of other faiths, or indeed those who do not identify with any faith, will feel that their lives are being governed by principles that they do not share. Zoltaen 10:11, 22 October 2008 (EDT)

I wholeheartedly agree. The Separation of Church as State is a large, complex issue with a long history and many different motivations. The original separation of Church and State (that I know of, could be an earlier case) was when the Catholic Church extricated itself from the Roman government as the Roman empire went into decline. This separation was done to ensure longevity in the Church and to distinguish Church doctrine from Imperial law. - Sardonac
Yes, and? If one bothers to actually read our articles, you will find those facts are not "missing".
Conservapedia is by design and intent, an American encyclopedia. Any perception users receive that we are unabashedly American-centric in content and outlook, is purely intentional. --ṬK/Admin/Talk 14:48, 19 August 2009 (EDT)

Too much separation (of articles)

I realize that there is also a First Amendment page as well as a Establishment clause. My additions to this article of major establishment cases would go in the latter, but I would suggest that this page and the Establishment clause be sections of the First Amendment page. Daniel1212 15:28, 23 March 2010 (EDT)

Good suggestion, but the First Amendment is so vast and important that one entry would not do it justice. The church issues are really different from the free speech issues.--Andy Schlafly 15:41, 23 March 2010 (EDT)
Then perhaps this page and the Establishment clause could be one?


Is it to protect religion from government interference, or to shield government from religious influence? --Ed Poor Talk 10:54, 20 January 2010 (EST)

That was quick.
Both, but not really so much influence as instrumentation, as the historical context was one in which the Founders saw the harmful nature of state imposed (institutionalized) religion, while yet recognizing it as necessary for good government (not in the liberal sense today), and thus overall most had no real issue with basic state sanction of the general Christian religion.
The problem is that of understanding the 1st Amendment too much by its letter, as well as defining a religion as only that which is formally manifest. And eliminating any sanction of formal religion, which results in secularism becoming the state-sponsored functional religion. One must not imagine that a legal or educational system can separate itself from a moral beliefs. Who says cheating, etc., is wrong? But in democracy, people decide what will be the "civil religion". And American has chosen false gods, and thus it has and will suffer accordingly. Daniel1212 15:46, 23 March 2010 (EDT)
The purpose of the establishment clause was the same purpose of the entire first amendment, as well as every single one of first ten amendments (Bill of Rights (first ten amendments). They are all designed to protect the people of the United States from an oppressive Federal Government. The Constitution does not belong to the Federal Government, it is the people's rules for the Government to follow. People seem to forget the first word of the first amendment (Congress). It is a restriction on type of laws that the Congress of the United States can pass. --Bufshof 21:54, 13 January 2011 (EST)