Monday, December 08, 2008

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, on the Separation of Church and State

Found here.

Gentlemen

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 pleasing.

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.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.


(Emphasis mine.)

3 comments:

Tim's Mom said...

I wonder if he would ever even believe that his words, intended to keep the state from meddling with the church, would be used as an attempt to barricade anything of God from the state?

When is something mentioned often enough and then believed against all evidence, at what point does it actually become, for all practical purposes, truth?

Katie said...

Yes. I have to say, when I posted the letter this morning, I had a vision of Thomas Jefferson shaking his head up in Glory.

Katie said...

On the question of when does something repeated often enough become truth-- I would think, when it enters the collective consciousness as truth, and there is no one left to protest.