Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Ken Starr Aims to Exalt Faith, Academic Rigor at Baylor

12:00 AM CST on Sunday, December 26, 2010 | By S.C. GWYNNE / The Dallas Morning News | sgwynne@dallasnews.com

JERRY LARSON/The Associated Press |
Shedding the pious image he acquired investigating the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair, Baylor President Kenneth Starr joined students in rushing onto the field before the Bears’ home football game against Oklahoma last month.
No, really.

Most of the world knows him as the Whitewater prosecutor, the man whose zealous investigation of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the president’s 1998 impeachment. To his many critics and adversaries, Starr seemed a sort of Old Testament avenger, a grim, puritanical apostle of the Christian right whose office conducted what amounted to a political jihad against a sitting president.

From his campus office, Kenneth Starr directs Baylor’s efforts to transform itself from regional Baptist school to world-class – but still avowedly Christian – research university.
But the reality of Kenneth Winston Starr, who in June became the 14th president of Baylor University, is quite different. To watch him work the crowd at the Baylor-Texas A&M football game, in fact, is nothing short of a revelation.

Here, he seems less a pious righter-of-wrongs than a sort of funny uncle. Resplendent in a white warm-up suit trimmed with green and gold and a yellow Baylor cap, and bearing a cherubic smile that never quite leaves his face, the 64-year-old Starr plunges into groups of startled tailgaters. He talks to everyone. He hugs anyone who will agree to be hugged. He tells jokes. He tosses footballs. He poses for photographs, lots of them.

DOUG MILLS/The Associated Press
Starr testified to lawmakers in 1998 about his Bill Clinton inquiry, which included the president’s sex life. ‘We just had a nasty, unpleasant task to do, and we simply had to do it,’ Starr told Ken Gormley for the book Death of American Virtue.
When the Baylor players emerge from their bus to walk a gauntlet of fans, Starr tries to hug all of them, many of whom appear to have no idea who he is. He fails, but is undeterred.

Though his enemies might prefer to think otherwise, this is the actual Ken Starr, the one the TV cameras never quite got: warm, kind, humble, funny and engaging.

Even before taking office as Baylor’s president, Starr consoled basketball player Dragan Sekelja in March when a loss to Duke kept the Bears from advancing to the men’s Final Four. Though detractors might prefer to think otherwise, Starr is warm, kind, humble, funny and engaging.
Even more remarkable is what Baylor’s board of regents has hired this cheerful, politically polarizing fifth-generation Texan to do: unite a 15,000-student Christian university that has been riven by internal wars – academic, religious and otherwise – for a decade.

Healing those wounds is just the beginning of Starr’s task: His larger mission is to fulfill one of the most breathtaking visions in American higher education. Baylor wants nothing less than to transform itself from its traditional role as a somewhat sleepy, second-rate, predominantly regional Baptist school to a world-class research university with highly ranked graduate programs.

With his wife, Alice, Starr greeted guests at a community Christmas reception this month on the Waco campus. In addition to spreading encouragement, Starr said, he spends time every day raising money for scholarships.
And it wants to accomplish all that while asserting itself as a fully Christian, evangelical university with avowedly Christian professors. No Protestant university has ever done this before or even tried. Old-line schools founded on Christian principles like Harvard, Princeton and Yale historically bowed before a relentless secularism and are now places where religion is relegated to extracurricular status. Notre Dame is the only remotely comparable model. It is very definitely a world-class research institution, but not absolute in requiring its faculty to be Catholic or Christian.

Dismay and joy
When Starr’s appointment was announced in February, the news was greeted in the extended Baylor community with a mixture of shock, surprise, dismay and joy. Starr has at least as many fans as he has detractors, and at least half the country (and probably much more than half of Baylor’s alumni body) believes that Bill Clinton’s behavior deserved to be investigated.

Still, many of the comments on the Baylor Alumni Association website and by Baylorites in the press were sharply negative. And even conservative evangelicals who had no political agenda with Starr wondered: Why, at a school whose civil wars of the early and mid-2000s became front-page news, would it possibly be a good idea to hire a non-Baptist with such partisan baggage? (Starr was raised in the Church of Christ, in which his father was a preacher.)

But the Baylor regents had reasons for their seemingly odd choice, arrived at after an intensive two-year search. And it has resulted in a sort of brilliant honeymoon that many would not have predicted.

Starr’s success in winning the Baylor community over is at least partly due to his upbeat, disarming personality and his deep religious convictions that are in tune with those generally held at Baylor.

But he is also the possessor of a legal résumé that few contemporaries can match, as well as a striking record of success as dean of Pepperdine University’s law school.

He is one of America’s leading appellate lawyers, a man who in a single year (1996), while spending much of his time on the Whitewater investigation, managed to earn $1 million in legal fees. He was a federal appeals court judge (9th Circuit) at the age of 37, so well respected that he was considered for the Supreme Court in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush – only to be deemed too liberal by Bush’s own Justice Department. He served as counsel to the attorney general in the Reagan-era Justice Department, as solicitor general under Bush and as special prosecutor from 1994 to 1999, investigating the Clinton White House.

“He’s part of a very small club at the top of the legal world,” says former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, a Baylor grad who was on the search committee. “He has had, what, 26 arguments at the Supreme Court? There are probably not more than 10 people who have done that.”

And while Starr is accorded almost automatic respect for his law career, he has had to hustle to win acceptance from parts of the Baylor community that were suspicious of his politics.

Winning over the wary
Perhaps the best example is his experience with a group of extremely wealthy, extremely Democratic trial lawyers who have given large amounts of money to Baylor. Many of them were angry at the news that Baylor had hired the controversial Republican.

“At first, I was very surprised and apprehensive because of his background,” says Baylor Law School graduate Walter Umphrey, one of the wealthiest lawyers in Texas.

Umphrey invited Starr and eight other prominent trial lawyers who were also Baylor grads to his ranch in Wimberley. Starr accepted, spent two days with the group and got their enthusiastic approval.

“He answered all our questions,” says Umphrey. “I was very impressed with Starr, and it appears right now that it is going to be a great thing for the law school and for Baylor as a whole. My plaintiff lawyer friends all have the same opinion I do.”

Starr has spent much of his time since he was hired reaching out to various Baylor constituencies, from regents to alumni and faculty with – thus far – similar results.

“I have to say that Ken Starr as a political figure is indeed polarizing,” says Michael Lindsay, a Baylor graduate who teaches sociology at Rice University and wrote about Starr in his book Faith in the Halls of Power.

“But as a human being, he is not at all,” Lindsay says. “I have yet to meet anyone who has … spent any time with him who does not like him. I worked pretty hard to find someone on the faculty at Pepperdine who really didn’t like him or had bad things to say about him. I did not find that person.”

Perhaps Starr’s strongest credential was his performance at Pepperdine, where he ran the law school from 2004 to 2010. His mandate had been to improve the school’s standing among its peers, a difficult task for any graduate school and one that often requires decades of work. Under Starr, the law school’s standing improved with unprecedented speed.

“He succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” says Tim Perrin, vice dean of the Pepperdine law school. “When Ken came in, we were 99th in the U.S. News rankings. When Ken left, we were 52nd. No other law school has come close to moving that far that fast.”

The jump in rankings was driven by fast-rising law board scores and grade point averages of Pepperdine students, a number of high-profile faculty hires and Starr’s success in raising money.

“He almost single-handedly went in there and raised the profile of the school,” says Ken Gormley, dean of Duquesne Law School, whose book Death of American Virtue, published this year, chronicled the epic battle between Clinton and Starr. “All of a sudden, you saw major national figures participating in symposia at Pepperdine, coming as guest speakers, very high-profile leaders.”

And while Gormley admires Starr’s management style at Pepperdine, he has a very different assessment of his leadership of the Office of the Independent Counsel.

“He was miscast in the role of prosecutor,” says Gormley. “He was not really built for the job. He was more suited to be an appellate judge, not someone in the trenches of a prosecution like this.”

If Starr is the least bit haunted by his five-year stint as the special prosecutor, you would never know it. He is an expansive and relentlessly cheerful person. He is, however, weary of talking about Monica Lewinsky and answering the same questions over and over, many of which amount to: Do you still think you were right to investigate Bill Clinton’s sex life?

“Starr would later conclude,” Gormley wrote, “that it was a mistake for him to expand into the Monica Lewinsky matter, largely because of the disastrous effect it would have on his Whitewater/Madison investigation and in sullying his otherwise sterling professional reputation. His view in hindsight was that, ‘It had to be investigated, but I was a poor choice to do it. …We just had a nasty, unpleasant task to do, and we simply had to do it. It was being portrayed for political reasons as essentially some sort of religious-inspired jihad.’ ”

Over lunch at Baylor, Starr is less interested in talking about Whitewater than in expounding on what it means to be a Christian university.

“At Baylor, we believe fervently in academic freedom and we do not flinch from the truth,” said Starr, referring to the fact that, unlike many more conservative religious schools, Baylor teaches evolution and other biblically sensitive topics from a scientific perspective, as it always has.

“But we do have a world view where we are called to use our talents and gifts for the benefit of our fellow human beings who are created in the image of God. There is no requirement that you check the box saying ‘I covered the Sermon on the Mount’ in physics. But we do provide the freedom to talk about these other things that are part of this centuries-old tradition that animates much of Western civilization, what T.S. Elliot would call the permanent things.”

To understand what Starr and Baylor are trying to do, it is necessary to understand a bit of history.

Baylor is a private Baptist institution – the largest Baptist university in the country – and has been since its founding in 1845. In 1990, after a decade long fight between fundamentalists and moderates in the Southern Baptist church, Baylor’s charter was changed to restrict the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ board representation to 25 percent, effectively taking Baylor out of the strict control of the Baptists. This meant the end of any talk of teaching courses based on the Bible as the inerrant word of God.

Christian at core
Many faculty members and alumni also believed that this event would mark the beginning of secularization, a process that had transformed other once-prominent Baptist institutions, including Brown University, the University of Chicago and, most recently, Wake Forest.

In fact, the reverse happened. The charter change – which blocked a fundamentalist takeover of the school – actually freed Baylor to reassert its Christian identity. In 2002, it embarked on an ambitious plan, known as Baylor 2012, whose goal was to completely alter the character of the university. Baylor had long been content to be primarily a low-tuition teaching university for children of Texas Baptists. Professors did not publish much and were generally not leaders in their fields.

Under Baylor 2012, all that would change. Faculty would teach less and publish more, and their tenure would depend on it. The university would also greatly expand its graduate schools. The largest building campaign in the university’s history would add whole colleges and academic buildings. Students would come with improved boards and grades. The idea was to move the university’s ranking from the mid to high 70s in the U.S. News and World Report list into the top 50, the cutoff for “Tier One” status.

The university’s second and far more controversial goal was to reaffirm its Christian mission, which meant hiring only faculty members who were not only Christians, but also deeply committed to their faith. (Roughly one-third of Baylor’s faculty and students are Baptist these days.) Though Baylor’s Christianity is visible in many ways, from mandatory chapel attendance to the abundant school-sponsored mission programs in the U.S. and abroad, the school’s religious character resides primarily in its faculty.

The result, in 2002 to 2005, was a small civil war inside the university that centered on President Robert B. Sloan Jr., the man whose vision Baylor 2012 had been. Sloan declined to comment for this story.

The primary issue was the wrenching change in the faculty, both in the insistence on research and publication and in the often confusing new religious standards, which many interpreted as a doctrinal litmus test. Prospective teachers were grilled about their Christian convictions, and the existing faculty was split into “A” and “B” groups, separating the newly favored “research” types from the teachers. Sloan was soon at war with both his faculty and his alumni association; he received two votes of “no confidence” and resigned under fire in 2005.

For a while, it seemed that what the many skeptics had said was true: Baylor could never be both Christian and a great academic institution.

Then something interesting happened.

Slowly, quietly, the main precepts of the 2012 plan began to take hold. The number of faculty with degrees from top-flight research institutions rose substantially, as did their rate of publication. In departments like sociology, Baylor managed to land world-class faculty members who were also Christians.

In 2002, the number of faculty articles in major publications was 202; by 2008 that number had risen to 496. Scholarly citations soared, too, as did external grants for research, the number of doctoral programs (rising from 14 to 20) and enrollment in those programs (up 32 percent). Student SAT scores have risen 50 points in the last 10 years, while undergraduate applications rose stunningly from 7,431 in 2002 to 34,224 in 2010.

Baylor’s biggest challenge is finding talented Christian faculty members. For many academics, the prospect of being asked about their religion in interviews is not an appealing one.

“It’s difficult, and you have to work very hard at recruiting,” says Kevin Pinney, associate professor of chemistry and a leading cancer researcher. “It is not always easy to find people without offending them. They can even have strong Christianity and still not want to be asked about it.”

“We are learning patience,” says the school’s provost, Elizabeth Davis. “We require faith commitment, research excellence and teaching excellence. The pool gets smaller when you put ‘excellent’ in front of each of those words.” Still, Davis, Starr and other leaders are convinced that Baylor can attract the faculty it needs.

Plans require money
This is the world Starr is entering as he begins his tenure as president.

Compared with the wars of the mid-2000s, it is largely a world at peace, at least for the moment. But it is also desperately in need of money if it is ever to have a real chance of carrying off its grand plans. The most conspicuous failure of Baylor 2012 was the school’s inability to substantially increase its endowment.

Money is needed to fund faculty research, to keep fast-rising tuition down, to reduce Baylor’s student-faculty ratio and to build more buildings, fulfilling the goal of having 50 percent of students reside on campus.

The biggest of these issues is tuition, which at Baylor, as at other institutions, has risen steeply over the last decade. It was no coincidence that in Starr’s inaugural address in September he called for a major campaign to raise scholarship money.

“Fundraising is a huge part of my job,” says Starr. “If I don’t succeed at that, I am a colossal failure. But I think that the uniqueness of the Baylor experiment will bear very abundant fruit in terms of people even without Baylor connections wanting to see Baylor succeed. I am counting on it. You have to try, of course, to deepen the mission of the university. But then you have to go out and build.”

Thus Starr’s days have been stacked with meetings and appearances with all manner of university constituents. He lives in a brick house with wide columns on the campus, and he and his wife, Alice, who is as gregarious as he is, have already become fixtures around Baylor.

When asked what a typical day is like, he says: “Well, tonight I have to be at a dinner and then a lecture and then two basketball games. That’s the ‘encouragement’ part. But I also need to make sure that I am doing something every day on the fundraising front. Today we had meetings on the scholarship initiative. Where are we? How do we get the faculty and staff energized?”

For all of its efforts, Baylor remains both undercapitalized and unable to improve in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. And there are very real limits on how many outside grants – one of the main measures of a research university – it can expect to get.

Starr, meanwhile, is nothing but optimistic.

“It’s a great ambition,” he says. “One of the great things about the vision of 2012 is it envisions a community where we love one another and forgive one another. We have all fallen short of that as a goal, but that is wonderful to have as a stated ideal. We can just talk in those terms, and that is very liberating.”

The Separation of Church and State

The Separation of Church and State

David Barton – 01/2001 | http://www.wallbuilders.com/
In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

The election of Jefferson – America’s first Anti-Federalist President – elated many Baptists since that denomination, by-and-large, was also strongly Anti-Federalist. This political disposition of the Baptists was understandable, for from the early settlement of Rhode Island in the 1630s to the time of the federal Constitution in the 1780s, the Baptists had often found themselves suffering from the centralization of power.

Consequently, now having a President who not only had championed the rights of Baptists in Virginia but who also had advocated clear limits on the centralization of government powers, the Danbury Baptists wrote Jefferson a letter of praise on October 7, 1801, telling him:

Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity . . . to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States. . . . [W]e have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which He bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you. . . . And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator. [1]

However, in that same letter of congratulations, the Baptists also expressed to Jefferson their grave concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment, including of its guarantee for “the free exercise of religion”:

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. . . . [T]herefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. [2]

In short, the inclusion of protection for the “free exercise of religion” in the constitution suggested to the Danbury Baptists that the right of religious expression was government-given (thus alienable) rather than God-given (hence inalienable), and that therefore the government might someday attempt to regulate religious expression. This was a possibility to which they strenuously objected-unless, as they had explained, someone’s religious practice caused him to “work ill to his neighbor.”

Jefferson understood their concern; it was also his own. In fact, he made numerous declarations about the constitutional inability of the federal government to regulate, restrict, or interfere with religious expression. For example:

[N]o power over the freedom of religion . . . [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Kentucky Resolution, 1798 [3]

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. Second Inaugural Address, 1805 [4]

[O]ur excellent Constitution . . . has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1808 [5]

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions . . . or exercises. Letter to Samuel Millar, 1808 [6]

Jefferson believed that the government was to be powerless to interfere with religious expressions for a very simple reason: he had long witnessed the unhealthy tendency of government to encroach upon the free exercise of religion. As he explained to Noah Webster:

It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . . . and which experience has nevertheless proved they [the government] will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion. [7]

Thomas Jefferson had no intention of allowing the government to limit, restrict, regulate, or interfere with public religious practices. He believed, along with the other Founders, that the First Amendment had been enacted only to prevent the federal establishment of a national denomination – a fact he made clear in a letter to fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Rush:

Benjamin Rush

[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly. [8]

Jefferson had committed himself as President to pursuing the purpose of the First Amendment: preventing the “establishment of a particular form of Christianity” by the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, or any other denomination.

Since this was Jefferson’s view concerning religious expression, in his short and polite reply to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, he assured them that they need not fear; that the free exercise of religion would never be interfered with by the federal government. As he explained:

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. . . . Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and 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 and 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 and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem. [9]

Jefferson’s reference to “natural rights” invoked an important legal phrase which was part of the rhetoric of that day and which reaffirmed his belief that religious liberties were inalienable rights. While the phrase “natural rights” communicated much to people then, to most citizens today those words mean little.

By definition, “natural rights” included “that which the Books of the Law and the Gospel do contain.” [10] That is, “natural rights” incorporated what God Himself had guaranteed to man in the Scriptures. Thus, when Jefferson assured the Baptists that by following their “natural rights” they would violate no social duty, he was affirming to them that the free exercise of religion was their inalienable God-given right and therefore was protected from federal regulation or interference.

So clearly did Jefferson understand the Source of America’s inalienable rights that he even doubted whether America could survive if we ever lost that knowledge. He queried:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? [11]

Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the Author and Source of our rights and that the government, therefore, was to be prevented from interference with those rights. Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.

Earlier courts long understood Jefferson’s intent. In fact, when Jefferson’s letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947 Everson case – the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today’s Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson’s entire letter and then concluded:

Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson’s letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. (emphasis added) [12]

That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson’s intent for “separation of church and state”:

[T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State. [13]

With this even the Baptists had agreed; for while wanting to see the government prohibited from interfering with or limiting religious activities, they also had declared it a legitimate function of government “to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

That Court, therefore, and others (for example, Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People), identified actions into which – if perpetrated in the name of religion – the government did have legitimate reason to intrude. Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc.

Such acts, even if perpetrated in the name of religion, would be stopped by the government since, as the Court had explained, they were “subversive of good order” and were “overt acts against peace.” However, the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in “the Books of the Law and the Gospel” – whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, public acknowledgements of God, etc.

Jefferson's Danbury letter

Therefore, if Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, let its context be clearly given – as in previous years. Furthermore, earlier Courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter – words clearly divorced from their context – have become the sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.

For example, in addition to his other statements previously noted, Jefferson also declared that the “power to prescribe any religious exercise. . . . must rest with the States” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, the federal courts ignore this succinct declaration and choose rather to misuse his separation phrase to strike down scores of State laws which encourage or facilitate public religious expressions. Such rulings against State laws are a direct violation of the words and intent of the very one from whom the courts claim to derive their policy.

One further note should be made about the now infamous “separation” dogma. The Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, record the months of discussions and debates of the ninety Founding Fathers who framed the First Amendment. Significantly, not only was Thomas Jefferson not one of those ninety who framed the First Amendment, but also, during those debates not one of those ninety Framers ever mentioned the phrase “separation of church and state.” It seems logical that if this had been the intent for the First Amendment – as is so frequently asserted-then at least one of those ninety who framed the Amendment would have mentioned that phrase; none did.

In summary, the “separation” phrase so frequently invoked today was rarely mentioned by any of the Founders; and even Jefferson’s explanation of his phrase is diametrically opposed to the manner in which courts apply it today. “Separation of church and state” currently means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant.

Read more at WallBuilders.com….

1. Letter of October 7, 1801, from Danbury (CT) Baptist Association to Thomas Jefferson, from the Thomas Jefferson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. (Return)

2. Id. (Return)

3. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, John P. Foley, editor (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), p. 977; see also Documents of American History, Henry S. Cummager, editor (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948), p. 179. (Return)

4. Annals of the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1852, Eighth Congress, Second Session, p. 78, March 4, 1805; see also James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805. (Return)

5. Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805. (Return)

6. Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830), Vol. IV, pp. 103-104, to the Rev. Samuel Millar on January 23, 1808. (Return)

7. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 112-113, to Noah Webster on December 4, 1790. (Return)

8. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. III, p. 441, to Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800. (Return)

9. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802. (Return)

10. Richard Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker (Oxford: University Press, 1845), Vol. I, p. 207. (Return)

11. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), Query XVIII, p. 237. (Return)

12. Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U. S. 145, 164 (1878). (Return)

13. Reynolds at 163. (Return)