CORRECTION: Though it's really
immaterial, I want to be accurate about such things. When commenting
on Jefferson's innauguration, I was off by one year. TJ was elected
in 1800, and innaugurated in 1801, so he had been President for just a bit less
than one year when he replied to the Baptist group in CT. My apologies
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 8:13 PM
Subject: Re: In God We Once Trusted
The True Intent of the Founding Fathers
with Regard to Separation of Church and State
President Thomas Jefferson's letter
to the Danbury Baptists
My comments are in green.
First, the Danbury Baptist Association,
concerned about religious liberty in Connecticut, wrote to President-elect
TO: President Thomas Jefferson,
October 7, 1801:
"Sir, Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your
Election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in
our collective capacity, since your Inauguration, to express our great
satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief Majestracy in the United States;
And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompious than what
many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, Sir to believe, that none
are more sincere.
Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty -- That
Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals -- That
no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious
Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than
to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor:
But Sir our [Connecticut] constitution
of government is not specific. Our ancient [Connecticut] charter together with the Laws made
coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time
of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are;
that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore
what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as
favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors
we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent
with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those, who
seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion
should reproach their fellow men -- should reproach their chief Magistrate, as
an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dare not assume
the prerogatives of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.
Sir, we are sensible that the President of the
United States, is not the national legislator, and also sensible that the
national government cannot destroy the Laws of each State; [ here we see that the Danbury Baptists had no doubt as to the
meaning of The First Amendment ] but our hopes are strong that the
sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial affect already,
like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine and prevail through all these
States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth.
[ a hope that, despite the well-understood
Constitutional guarantees, that President Jeffrson would indeed abide by
his oath of office .... and that States will follow the same wisdom as the
Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy
and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason
to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State out
of that good will which he bears to the Millions which you preside over. May God
strengthen you for the arduous task which providence & the voice of the
people have cald you to sustain and support you in your Administration against
all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth &
importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to
his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator. "
Signed in behalf of the Association.
Ephram Robbins The Committee
Stephen S. Nelson
Though it is, by no means, a crucial
point, one might note that President-elect Jefferson's had not yet been
innaugurated when he replied. Therefore, his correspondence is not
official correspondence ... but, again, that's not a key issue.
"To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a
committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good
as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me
the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of
the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of
my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man
& his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship,
that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions,
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people
which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus
building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to
this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of
conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those
sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has
no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the
common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your
religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem."
Jan. 1. 1802
The issues Jefferson addressed were as
(1) despite the Baptists' clear understanding
of the First Amendment, they wanted additional assurance that the U.S.
would not adopt an exclusive Christian denomination as an official
national religion (i.e. that the new President Jefferson was not a
Connecticut Baptists recognized Jefferson;s power of persuassion -- the bully
pulpit -- and were hoping that Jefferson could use his sway to get Connecticut
thinking along the same lines, (but certainly not to pass laws on
Conencticut's behalf) because the inadequate ancient Connecticut
Constitution had primacy in these matters.
Again, it was well understood that -- with
respect to the written law -- the Federal Government was a non-issue.. In
effect, the Danbury Baptists wanted hope (with respect to Connecticut
adopting a similar provision for freedom of religion as an inelienable
right) and absolute assurance, from the President-elect, that States
would be protected from acts of federal tyranny (despite knowing the plain
letter of the law).
National Forum Foundation
600 Bel Air Boulevard, Suite 166
© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
National Forum Foundation
Subject: Re: In God We Once Trusted
The Biggest Lie of all time called "The
Separation of Church & State" has sunk so deeply into our thinking that
we now find it shocking when we see first-hand proof that it's a fraud: a
ludicrous doctrine that was invented, whole cloth, back in 1947.
rationalize this lame "doctrine", the Supreme Court made reference to an
unofficial lette (above)r, written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury
First of all, why would one suppose a personal
letter to a religious organization should carry any weight in regards to
constitutional interpretations? Moreover, the letter was directed at the
opposite notion (i.e. that it is GOVT that should keep their grubby hands out
of ecclesiastic affairs, not the other way
around"). Furthermore, this was an issue for the states, not the
feds. I mean, the language of the U.S. Constitution was as plain as
day. Jefferson had no reason to make reference to that settled
matter. And there's more ...
Jefferson is considered the author of the Declaration of
Independence, but his influence on the U.S. Constitution was indirect, at
most ... so why would they quote HIM? What a scam!!
overturn this absurd doctrine before it chokes the life out of us all.
the Commonwealth of Virginia got it right ..... and despite the
fact that George Mason was the real author, Jefferson, being a Virginian who was
close to Mason, undoubtedly had a role
here is an excerpt (Sec. 16) from their Constitution.
it is an article about Virginia's legal requirement to place the sign "IN GOD WE
TRUST" in every public school.
is indeed hope to get this nation straightened out yet.
be easy, but we can do it if we care enough to take some risks and keep pushing,
P. S. also below is a link
to some great quotes ... enjoy!
Section 16. Free exercise of religion; no
establishment of religion.
religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and
conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion,
according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all
to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each
No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious
worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained,
molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on
account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to
profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and
the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or
confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or
pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of
any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax
for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of
any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his
religious instructor, and to make for his support such private contract as he
We have no government armed with power
capable of contending with human passions unbridled by
morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or
gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution
as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only
for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for
the government of any other.
Statesmen, my dear Sir,
may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality
alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can
securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure
Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater
Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the
forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.
|The Christian religion is, above all
the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern
times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity.|
|It is the duty of the clergy to
accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such
sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most
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