Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Right and Left Wings Misuse Jefferson

Jefferson and the Wall of Separation

I have expressed my dismay earlier at how both extremes and lily-livers in the middle get it wrong on the separation of church and state. I opened the Rome News-Tribune today to find an article by Dr. Gregory Tomlin of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Jefferson and the "Wall of Separation" that does a good job of explaining Jefferson's words and practice on this topic. While I believe the larger populations of Catholics, Mormons, Jews, agnostics, atheists, Muslims, and others among us requires a greater separation of church and state than our founders practiced, it is patently absurd to use the Jefferson "wall" as an excuse to pretend religion doesn't exist or to deny or ignore the importance of the Judeo-Christian tradition to our history. Read Tomlin's complete article here. Here's a teaser:
In the debate on separation of church and state, scholars from all sides have employed Thomas Jefferson in their arsenals, some citing his willingness to attend prayer services in federal buildings and others citing his contempt for organized religion and his opposition to the state's interference in his own religious thought life.

But ... one should not judge the matter of Jefferson's opinions on religion or church-state separation before testing his thoughts, rather than the thoughts of men 200 years removed from his life and work.

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