Quotes About the Separation of Church and State

  1. James Madison, fourth president, 1809 to 1817
    1. "the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established."
      1. original intent, page 23.
  2. Thomas Jefferson
    1. "I consider the government of the United States [the federal government] as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.  This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion [the First Amendment], but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States [the 10th Amendment].  Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delegated to the general government.  It must then rest with the states. 
      1. Original intent, page 25.
      2. This meant that it was the federal government that could not establish religious institutions and government, but that the states could.  And they did!
        1. New Hampshire Constitution: "As morality and piety rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest security to government and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to do some objections.... therefore, to promote these important purposes, the people of this state have a right to empower, and do hereby fully in power, the legislature to authorize, from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within the state to make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality."  Original Intent, page 25
        2. Massachusetts Constitution:  "the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require... the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies political or religious societies, to make suitable provisions at their own expense for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality."     Original intent, p. 26.
        3.  Original North Carolina Constitution:  "the North Carolina Constitution similarly prohibited from office those who denied 'the truth of the Protestant religion' or who held 'religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the state.'  The word "Protestant" was later changed to "Christian."  Original intent, page 27
        4. Tennessee constitution of 1796, "a document created with the help of constitution signer William Blount."  "Article VIII, Section II.  No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of the state."

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.