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Letter to the Editor: Reflections on Founding Fathers
Ever mindful of the bitter lessons learned by the authors of our Constitution from their Calvinist predecessors in 17th century New England, our Constitution reflects the eternal, profound wisdom and justice of the separation of church and State.
Thomas Jefferson stated that no citizen “shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever.” As president, Jefferson explained the First Amendment builds a “wall of separation” between church and State.
James Madison opposed even “three pence” of tax money being used in support of a religion. Further, Madison opposed Congressional chaplaincies and government days of prayer, warning that “torrents of blood” have been spilled over religious differences.
John Adams stated, “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself, and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil powers ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of it’s being a bad one.”
Our first president, George Washington, refused to take communion, kneel in prayer in churches, (or at Valley Forge), have a priest at his deathbed or take last rites. Washington stated, “Religious controversies are always productive or more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those that spring from any other cause…”
Lastly, Thomas Payne, the revolutionary who gave America its very name and fanned the flames of the American Revolution wrote that “My religion is to do good” and “My own mind is my own church.”
As we witness the chaos embroiling theocracies throughout the world, we must offer reflection and gratitude for the unique and remarkable geniuses who envisioned our Constitution and for those who sacrificed and died to bring the great American experiment to fruition.
I am proud to be an American.
Pamela Campbell, Malibu resident