Hey Chestertonians!

Two things.  First:

Dear Friends of the Seattle G. K. Chesterton Society,

Apologies for the previous announcement, which was prematurely sent!  Please delete it and refer to the information below, which has the correct date and other information!

We are happy to announce our first event of this new season, Thursday, October 24, at 7:30 PM at the UW Newman Center.  Dr Vincent Munoz of the University of Notre Dame will join us for an evening of discussion of the question:

Did the Founding Fathers intend to separate church from state?

Please see below for full details.  Please see also our full Events Calendar for more details pertaining to our 2012-2013 season.

The UW Newman Center is located at 4502 20th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105.  Please note that parking space at UW Newman Center is limited.  Commuters may park in the nearby N5 lot at the University, accessible via the north gate at NE 45th and Memorial Way.

We hope to see you this Thursday evening.   Please bring a friend!

Yours faithfully,
The Seattle G. K. Chesterton Society

Did the Founding Fathers Intend to Separate Church from State?

Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz
University of Notre Dame

Is “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? Can the Ten Commandments be posted on public property? Did the Founding Fathers intend to separate church from state or religion from politics? Dr. Muñoz will address these questions by exploring the church-state principles of James Madison, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and by explaining how the Founding Fathers might help us resolve contemporary church-state controversies.

Vincent Muñoz received his doctorate from Claremont Graduate School in 2001, and is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion and Public Life and Associate Professor of Law, at the University of Notre Dame. His recent research focuses on the theme of religious liberty and the American Constitution. His award-winning first book, God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson, is being followed by a sequel, and by a third book: Religious Liberty & American Constitutionalism.


I had the pleasure of visiting with Alyssa when I was out in Minneapolis. Any Catechism based on hockey is automatically awesome and good. Check it out.

"But what even are "normal circumstances?" Is it having one kid? Two kids? Three kids? ..."

“They Didn’t Get to Design our ..."
"Well we are never going to see eye to eye... By the way, I have ..."

“They Didn’t Get to Design our ..."
"I wish I could give this many hundred up-votes it deserves!"

Christianism vs. the Parable of the ..."
"I submitted the following over at Dave Armstrong's website "Biblical Evidence for Catholicism" and it ..."

Christianism vs. the Parable of the ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Guest

    Did the Founding Fathers intend to separate church from state or religion from politics?

    The more I think about it, the more I come to realize that post-moderns approach this matter with radically different assumptions than many of the Founding Generation. For the Founders, there was no question that citizens would be incapable of self-government if they did not cultivate the proper virtues necessary for a free people.

    So, the question for the Founders was, how do you best go about doing that? All of them seemed to recognize the importance of religion in the citizen’s life, since religion helped to inculcate and nurture those necessary virtues (and those virtues, in the West anyway, have been shaped, defined, and articulated within the context of Christian morality).

    You could establish a state church in order to help nurture these virtues, but that poses two risks: (1) It potentially threatens the health and integrity of the sanctioned church; if its interests and the state’s interests merge, then the sanctioned church can more easily fall victim to the whims of Caesar; and (2) It potentially threatens the religious health and integrity of the citizenry more generally; having a state-sanctioned church might sow resentment among religious groups that don’t have Caesar’s favor, thereby creating religious strife.

    All of these potential dangers would be bad for nurturing of the virtues in the people.

    But this is not how the post-modern thinks about this matter. Unlike the Founders, for the post-modern, it’s not about how best to go about preserving the virtues of the people. And that’s probably because the post-modern has no conception of virtue itself (paging Alasdair MacIntyre).

    For the post-modern, religion is, at best, a harmless thing that we “allow” people to engage in. At worst, it is deeply irrational, a source of perpetual danger, responsible for wars and death. Therefore, working from those assumptions, the modern secularist sees “separation of church and state” as simply a tool to “protect the people from religion.” And so, separation of church and state, although it originally referred to a vary narrow point, necessarily expands to include any hint of religion in public life.

    Again, this reveals that the Founders and post-moderns are working from very different assumptions. For the former, it was how best to cultivate the necessary virtues for a people capable of self-government, with religion being a key part of that. For the latter, it is how best to protect the people from the inherent irrationality of religion.

    The Framers struck the balance by not allowing any establishment of religion, but protecting the right of the people to the free exercise of religion: the assumption being that, in such an environment, religion would thrive, and consequently public virtue would thrive.

    But since the post-modern has no conception of virtue — and sees religion as inherently irrational and destructive, not as helping to preserve virtues necessary for self-government, as the Founders did — then he will necessarily aim at expelling religion from public life.

    • Guest

      Or maybe this is all wrong. This is an issue that I’m still thinking through…

  • James Kohn

    is there any news on the distribution of the Manalive movie?

    • chezami


  • Guest

    Can I blunder in here with an announcement for San Francisco Bay Area Chestertonians? We’re meeting on Wednesday, November 6th

    • Margaret

      Wow, that came out unusually awkwardly, even for me! 😀

      Trying again– Bay Area Chesterton Society. Wednesday, November 6th. Tremendous Trifles essays 3 &4. Country Gourmet in Sunnyvale. Clicking on my name should bring you to our little blog with the full announcement.

      Okay, I take it back, Disqus doesn’t work the way I thought it did. So– bayareachesterton.wordpress.com