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Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Nashville Chapter
PO Box 210005 . Nashville TN 37221


"How the Declaration of Independence Changed a New Nation"
The World Turned Upside Down
written by Charles Sumner

The obvious result of the unanimous Declaration of Independence of the thirteen British colonies was to dissolve the bonds between them and the most powerful nation in the world. However, there were other effects which "turned the world upside down." They are important for our children to know. For the first time in history the representatives of a nascent nation declared that all men are created equal. They struck down the enslaving principle of the divine right of kings.

Before this time political power had come from heaven. The people were merely pawns of the king and the priest, with their bodies belonging to the former and their souls to the latter. Kings were put in place by God, and to rebel against the king was to rebel against God. Just read the introduction to your King James Bible. Just listen to King James addressing Parliament in 1619: "The state of the monarchy is the supremest (sic) thing upon earth. For kings are not only God's lieutenants on earth, and sit on God's throne, but even by God himself called Gods... Kings are justly called Gods, for they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power on earth; for if you will consider the attributes of God, you will see how they agree in the person of a king. God hath power to create or destroy, make or unmake at his pleasure, to give life or send death, to judge all and be judged nor accountable to none."

Throughout history the link between the government and some religious element was strong, and it usually resulted in oppression of the common people. As early as 2675 BCE the Egyptian Ptahhotep wrote, "To resist him that is set in authority is evil." Around 50 CE the Apostle Paul wrote, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the suthorities resists what God has appointed."

Thomas Jefferson said that to secure the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness governments derive their just powers from THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED. This set the stage for the first secular government in the history of the world. The people would determine their government. Soon they drafted a Constitution which did not even mention God or Jesus and which guaranteed there would be no religious test for public office. There were many attempts to alter the preamble to insert dedication to God or Jesus, but they were resisted.

The first words of the Bill of Rights guaranteed that the institutions of church and state would remain separate to provide for the freedom of both - and the right of the citizen to worship (or not to worship) according to his conscience. Government would no longer show favoritism to religion or a specific religion. The people would not have their taxes distributed to support a church. All citizens would have equal standing without regard to their religious beliefs.

Abraham Lincoln recorded these words September 11, 1856: "There are two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time - one is right and the other is wrong - and they will ever continue to struggle. One is the common right of humanity, and the other is the divine right of kings."

Some actions of our courts, Congress and state legislatures threaten destruction of the principle that the INSTITUTIONS of religion and of government must remain free of each other. The Religious Right wants to alter history to say that there is no such thing as separation of church and state. Yet throughout our nation�s history that principle has been accepted. It was put into our Bill of Rights because the Founders were very aware of the history, both in Europe and the Colonies, of oppression from union of church and state.

We must organize to maintain our freedom. Anything less would be a betrayal of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.


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The Issue of Tax-Exempt Bonds
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America Invented Separation of Church and State
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Religious Liberty Principles Enunciated By the Supreme Court

Congressional Resolution Promoting Government-Sponsored School Prayer is Divisive, Americans United Charges

A Critique of David Barton's "America's Godly Heritage"
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"How the Declaration of Independence Changed a New Nation"
written by Charles Sumner