Monday, April 21, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on Church & State...

Thomas Jefferson has been credited with coining the now controversial phrase, "a wall of separation between church and state". In reality, Roger Williams (founder of the First Baptist Church in America) used the phrase prior to Jefferson. But did you know that Jefferson was a proponent of the clergy serving in civil government? Thomas Jefferson spoke against the Virginia Constitution's prohibition of clergy serving in elected office. According to David Barton, "The church speaking into the civil arena was a long-standing practice in America, as was the practice of ministers serving directly in the legislature. In fact, it was Thomas Jefferson himself who encouraged the lifting of restrictions against ministers and clergy that had been imposed in his own state of Virginia: 'I observe...(in the Virginia) Constitution an abridgment of (a) right...I do not approve. It is the incapacitation of a clergyman from being elected.' Thomas Jefferson wished to see clergymen possess the same rights as others" (David Barton, The Role of Pastors & Christians in Civil Government, p13-14).

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