Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thomas Jefferson

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 should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
In short, Jefferson was assuring the members of the Danbury Baptist association that the government would not interfere in the religious beliefs of the people, only in the actions that people might take. As Jefferson says, religion is a matter between a person and God, and not the domain of government. And while the government has not always lived up to this, there is no mistaking the ideal conveyed here: Religion and Government should not mix. Period.