Reclaiming the Phrase “Church & State”

There are many out there that enjoy using the phrase “separation between Church and State” when it applies to Christianity in schools, the work place and/or government. However, it may surprise those individuals to know that this concept has no basis in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights. In fact, this quote originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist association dated January 1, 1802. This letter reads as follows:

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, and 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 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.

As one can see from this letter, which is commonly misused, Thomas Jefferson was actually trying to assuage the concerns of the congregation by assuring them that the government would “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof.” This was a letter intended to reiterate the government’s policy of not infringing on the practice of the Christian faith. The phrase “separation between Church and State” was never intended to be used to assert that Christ should be removed from every aspect of a Christian’s life except when in the pew.

Therefore, as devout Christians we are reclaiming this phrase and will soon be launching a podcast called “Church & State.” This podcast will provide a narrative on today’s political climate from a scriptural perspective. Concurrently, this blog will serve as a compendium for the “Church & State” podcast.  It will primarily contain correlating articles and relevant scriptures which accompany the respective podcasts. However, we will also periodically post current event articles.