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


Eschewing Obfuscation

Three-Minute Introduction to Separation of Church and State
written by Charles Sumner


How do I tell you about such a complex subject in three minutes? The Constitution in Article VI states that there shall be no religious test for public office, as there had been in most of the American Colonies. This establishes the intent of the Founders that all should be treated equally. The First Amendment states that government shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This means a separation between the institutions of government and religion and was called by Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence) and Madison ("Father of the Constitution") "separation of church and state." Establishment means government aid or favoritism. All shall be free to practice (or not practice) the religion of their choice.

Separation of the institutions does not mean that people elected to public office must leave their beliefs behind. It does mean that they should not use their position of influence to favor religion or any religions. Keeping the institutions separate has benefitted both the church and the state.

It is not always easy to draw the line - as our Supreme Court has discovered. The issues are numerous and complex. Faith-based Initiatives of the Bush administration were instituted without Congressional approval and often allow religious institutions to receive government funds but discriminate. Vouchers for private education were forced on the District of Columbia when the voters had voted nearly nine to one against such action. Prayer in public schools, reproductive rights, censorship, stem cell research, creationism, posting the Ten Commandments, calling or making this a Christian nation, permitting churches to electioneer - all are hot issues.

All citizens deserve to have their government remain neutral on the subject of religion and treat people equally no matter what their religious beliefs. A government which promotes religion will offend those citizens who have different beliefs. Government should leave religion to the churches and certainly cannot be the arbiter of truth. Help us preserve true religious liberty.

Listen to WRFN-LP 98.9 from 3 to 4 pm every Wednesday to hear news and commentary from Nashville Chapter Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Also streaming at www.RadioFreeNashville.org.



Jefferson's "Wall of Separation"
published in the August 6th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Why Do We Need a Progressive Newspaper?
published in the September 3rd edition of the Nashville Free Press

Jefferson's "Wall of Separation"
published in the August 6th edition of the Nashville Free Press

The Sage of Monticello
published in the June 18th edition of the Nashville Free Press

The Enlightenment and Deism
published in the June 4th edition of the Nashville Free Press

America as a "Religious Refuge"
published in the May 7th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Conflicts over Religion and Government
published in the April 23rd edition of the Nashville Free Press

Roger Williams - Freedom's Forgotten Hero
published in the April 9th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Religious Liberty in Colonial America
published in the March 12th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Religious Liberty Requires Government Neutrality
published in the February 26th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Charles Darwin's 200th Birthday
published in the February 12th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Is Posting the Ten Commandments Moral or Immoral?
published in the January 29th edition of the Nashville Free Press

Three-Minute Introduction to Separation of Church and State
published in the January 15th edition of the Nashville Free Press