Orlando Humanist Association Message Board › What Does NOT Appear In The United States Constitution?
Does the phrase “separation of church and state”
appear in the United States Constitution?
by Jack Maurice
Actually the following phrases also do not appear in the United States Constitution: “separation of powers,” Bill of Rights,” “fair trial,” “interstate commerce,” “self-incrimination,” “right to privacy,” “freedom of association,” or “religious liberty.” Yet these phrases have come to represent well-established constitutional principles.
As stated by Dan Barker, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, “There is excellent historic and legal precedent for invoking “separation of church and state.” President Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase in 1802 in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, commenting on the Establishment Clause:
“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 and state.”
The Supreme Court has often used Jefferson’s phrase “wall of separation between church and state.” In 1947 (Everson v. Board of Education). In fact, an authoritative 1944 Catholic text said, “Our Federal and State constitutions forbid the legal establishment of religion thereby insuring the separation of Church and State…” (See Catholic Principles of Politics, Ryan and Boland, MacMillan, 1948).
The next time believers tell you that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the founding document, tell them to stop using the word “trinity.” The “trinity” appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If the believers still don’t get it, then add these words and phrases that are also NOT included in our United States Constitution:
Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural, Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Sermon on the Mount, Triumphal Entry, Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative, Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible. Incidentally, the word Liberal is mentioned in both the Constitution and the bible.
Dan Barker states in Freethought Today, September 1990, The Freedom From Religion Foundations newspaper that “some of these words appear in some of the looser bible paraphrases, which are not translations.” If the believers argue that these words represent concepts that are derived from their founding document, then they have made YOUR point. Therefore, as long as we Freethinkers etc. know the truth I’d say “separation of church and state” is here to stay.
Edited by Jack Maurice on Feb 24, 2005 6:13 PM