Air Date: July 4, 2011
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Peter Lillback
The phrase, “Separation of church and state” can be found nowhere in the Constitution. In fact, one has to go to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to find anything close to separation where it says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof.” In spite of this, critics of Christianity continue to reinterpret this phrase in a way that the founders never intended.
Dr. Lillback is the President of Providence Forum, President of Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Senior Pastor of Proclamation Presbyterian Church. He is also the author of several books including the one that is the focus of this Crosstalk entitled: Wall of Misconception: Does the Separation of Church and State Mean the Separation of God and Government.
Dr. Lillback notes that the idea that there should be a separation between church and state is not a bad idea. The questions we should be asking include: What should it be like? Where did this idea come from?
It doesn’t come from the Constitution. The metaphor was given birth when Thomas Jefferson wrote a private letter to a group of Baptists who were concerned that the government might be looking at establishing a church that would take away their religious liberty.
Over the years, as the Supreme Court has wrestled with religious issues, Jefferson’s wall metaphor has been used to interpret the First Amendment. We are now to the point where the court has said that this wall must be high and impregnable, keeping church and state absolutely separate.
Dr. Lillback explains why he believes the separation of church and state relates more to a fence than a wall, he explains the historical context of the Pledge of Allegiance, the relationship between religion and morality, what “enlightenment” really means, and other great facts concerning the church/state intentions of our founders
NOTE: This program first aired December 12, 2007.