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Separation of Church & Statesmen



Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association gave us the phrase “separation of church and state,” a principle that held the government should not establish a national religion or meddle in the practice of religion. [2] Sadly, this principle is being reinterpreted to say that the statesman ought to be separated from the church, that those holding public office should not be sincere believers in their religion.


During her 2017 confirmation hearings for the United States Court of Appeals, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was told by Senator Diane Feinstein that “the dogma [of your faith] lives loudly within you." [1]


While this comment was meant as an insult to her Catholic faith, this was no insult. The Godly principles of faith, which Feinstein referred to as “dogma,” ought to “live loudly” within Christians.

In 2 Corinthians 3:3, Christians are told “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”


Contrary to the Senator’s Feinstein’s implicit beliefs, one should not stop being a Christian the instant they enter a public office. The Founder’s of our country understood the value of religious principles which kept people bound to one another with a shared set of moral and ethical principles. In fact, the idea that having a religious belief makes one unfit for public office is antithetical to early American traditions, which saw weekly church services held in the House of Representatives up through the 19th century. [3]


While Senators have remained largely respectful of Barrett’s religion, the press has had a field day, Newsweek even went so far as to suggest that a religious group with which Barrett was associated had inspired the dystopian, patriarchal story of The Handmaid’s Tale. This assertion was soundly refuted by a Washington Examiner article that pointed out the factual discrepancies in the story, however, the damage done by a headline far outweighs any attempts at correcting the record. [4]


Unfortunately, the secular suspicion of Barrett for her Catholic faith and large family bodes ill for others who would dare to both serve in public office and practice a religious faith. Dr. Jennifer A. Frey, an associate professor in the philosophy department at the University of South Carolina and a practicing Catholic, identified so strongly with the plight of Barrett that she felt compelled to write an op-ed published in USAToday which dared to ask “why is a highly educated, professionally successful, Catholic mother of a large family so threatening?” [5]


She and Christians everywhere are still waiting on the answer.


Romans 1:17 commands Christians to live out their faith “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Unfortunately, it appears that there are many in this country that would prefer Christians not to live by faith, and thereby, be insincere in their beliefs. We cannot allow ourselves to back down in the face of this cultural shift. Christians have a legitimate and important interest in maintaining their place in public life and being true to the Lord’s commandment to sincerely adhere to the Christian faith.


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[1] Billy Binion, “Senate Democrats Have Stopped Attacking Amy Coney Barrett's Faith for Now,” Reason (October 12, 2020), https://reason.com/2020/10/12/senate-democrats-stopped-attacking-amy-coney-barretts-catholic-faith-confirmation-hearings/

[2] “Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing,” Oyez (n.d.), https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/330us1

[3] “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic,” Library of Congress (n.d.), https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html

[4] Becket Adams, “The Amy Coney Barrett Handmaid’s Tale smear that just won’t die,” Washington Examiner (September 24, 2020), https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-amy-coney-barrett-handmaids-tale-smear-that-just-wont-die

[5] Jennifer A. Frey, “Like Amy Coney Barrett, I'm a professional woman criticized for my big, Catholic family,” USAToday (October 15, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/10/15/amy-coney-barrett-catholic-big-family-religion-bias-column/3642952001/

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Foundations of Truth hereby waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.