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Buying the 'big lie' of church-state separation


“Get your hands off our God!” shouted one indignant protester.

Others, urging him to stay calm, knelt on the ground and prayed. Still other demonstrators took to chanting, “Put it back! Put it back! Put it back! …”

Prominent national voices wailed in indignation. Dismayed and angered Americans unleashed a fusillade of letters, faxes and e-mails to politicians and newspapers and each other. Evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson, who had urged his 3 million radio listeners to head to Montgomery, Alabama, in a show of support, fervently warned that America was witnessing a campaign “to remove every vestige of faith or reverence for God from the public square.”

But all the agonized protests were to no avail.

The spectacular 5,300-pound monument of the 10 Commandments, installed in the courthouse’s rotunda by then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy O. Moore, was being kicked out.

It took little more than an hour for three workers and a security guard to hoist the washing machine-sized granite cube onto a dolly and scoot it out of sight of television cameras to an undisclosed location – and out of public view.

To top off the spectacle, Moore was then suspended from his position as the state’s top Supreme Court justice for defying the mandate of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who had ordered the monument’s removal.

Exactly why, you ask, did the 10 Commandments – the spiritual basis for America’s laws, and which are carved into the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. – have to be banished from the Alabama Judicial Building?

You see, Judge Thompson had determined that the monument violated the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause,” which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

“Congress shall make no law.” Thompson never did explain how a granite display of the 10 Commandments in a courthouse constituted Congress “making a law.”

But that didn’t matter. Somehow, though the vast majority of Americans are repulsed by it, a virulent and increasingly pervasive legal theory of the First Amendment holds that Christmas manger scenes must be eliminated from public places, Bibles thrown out of public school libraries, commencement exercises conducted without a prayer, and that kids must refrain from saying “Merry Christmas” at school.

How far, millions wonder aloud, can this judicial assault on the nation’s religious and traditional values – a jihad waged most prominently and notoriously by the American Civil Liberties Union – possibly go before someone stops it?

The truth is, the notion of “the constitutional separation of church and state” that underlies all of these cases, indeed, that underlies the legal transformation of America into a de facto atheistic, secular state, is a lie.

It is one of the truly outrageous, malignant – and provably false – “Big Lies” of our generation.

Secularist fantasy

Think back. If you attended public school in the last few decades, you probably remember being taught that America was founded by a lively assortment of slaveholding Christians, deists and free-thinkers who insisted on instituting a “constitutional separation of church and state.” Thomas Jefferson, you were reminded, had famously affirmed this “wall of separation” in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists.

You could be forgiven for inferring from all this “education” that, back in the good old days at least, government scrupulously kept religion at arms length.

But that would be a truly deluded secularist fantasy. In reality, throughout the late 1700s – the era of the Revolutionary War and the subsequent adoption of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment – Christianity permeated America from top to bottom.