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Have you ever read it?

Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists?

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

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. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature

Answer Question

Asked by Crissy1213 at 9:26 PM on Jan. 31, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

Level 17 (4,121 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & 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 & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

    Th Jefferson
    Jan. 1. 1802.

    Answer by Crissy1213 at 9:26 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • Yep, it was referring to keeping the government out of religion, not religion out of the government... Keeping our government from imposing a particular religion that all must observe & follow. It has been wrongly used to take God out of schools, God out of the work place & basically trying to ban all Christians from uttering the name of God or Jesus anywhere except in our own private homes.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:46 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • Anon :46 is correct in her statement that "it was referring to keeping the government out of religion, not religion out of the government". However, I don't agree that it's been used to take God out of schools, etc. The problem lies in the way God is being invoked, i.e., wanting to post the (biblical, Christian) Ten Commandments in courthouses, or leading students in (Christian) prayer. These examples can be (rightly, in my opinion) construed to mean that these government institutions are advocating Christianity over other religions, which is exactly what Jefferson wanted to avoid.

    Answer by DragonRiderMD at 10:08 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • Religion in schools can force a specific denomination on the entire group of students whose families might practice a different belief. That is why I don't think it is good to have religion or prayers or Bible studies in Public Schools. If I were Muslim or Jewish, I would not want my children in a school that insists Christianity is the only true church, for example. I saw too much of that in Florida when my daughter was in school in first grade and her teacher made it a rule that every student bring a Bible to class and read from it for the first 15 minutes of class every day. Not fair.

    Answer by Lindalu2 at 10:13 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • I totally agree with anon :46.
    Lindalu, was it not possible for a student of another religion to bring their equivalent of a Bible? I see nothing wrong with that. And if the family happens to be atheist, could the child not read a book rather than the Bible?
    Our public school district has a religious education class. Parents must sign a permission form for the child to attend the class, which is held in a mobile classroom. When I was in the class, it was predominantly Christian. Today, with my children attending, it is not as Biblically based as I would like, but I do understand that there are a lot more children of different faiths today than there used to be.

    Answer by 29again at 10:35 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • I think this has to top the list of things being taken out of context!

    When this country was founded the faith was primarily Christian, so therefore evolved around Christian teachings. I have no problem with faith in schools. I think the world would be a better place if we knew more about other faiths. Praying to God should not be a problem for those that practice one of the top 3 faiths in the world. Atheist students or students from a different faith could opt out or have their own.

    As a Christian I would prefer more Christian teachings, but I am certainly not opposed to other faiths AS LONG AS THEY AREN'T TEACHING KIDS TO KILL THE INFIDELS.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 11:07 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • There are places that include religion in their educational curriculum, they're called parochial schools and folks have the option and freedom of using those schools. Public school have too much other information to teach and expectations to meet in the school day. Further, there are far too many different denominations that would need to be presented/included/covered/pandered to. Why should the schools meet the religious expectation of family A if they could not assure the same for ALL families? If you want YOUR child to have religion in their school day, exercise your right and open your pocketbook or homeschool and control your child's entire educational experience.


    Answer by Sisteract at 11:08 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • I can't help but wonder what Jefferson would have thought. I would be willing to "bet the ranch" that he would have worded it differently leaving no room to question it.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 11:09 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • You could easily make room in the classroom for some faith based teaching and a morning prayer....simply remove some of the federally mandated crap that already clutters up the day.

    Many of us don't have a parochial school within driving distance. My closest is 70 mountain miles...almost 2 hours one way in the summer....the road is often closed in the winter because of heavy snows. Why homeschool when I pay taxes for education.

    You wouldn't have to work around denominations. Build your faith studies or even prayer around the worlds 3 primary faiths..all of which recognize God...Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Atheists can simply opt out and if you have a population of other faiths you can easily include those. We aren't talking about total indoctrination here..we're talking a prayer and the opportunity to learn an overview of different faiths.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 11:42 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • no matter what, religion has NO place in government. period.

    Answer by sati769leigh at 4:18 AM on Feb. 1, 2010

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