A confused Wisconsin lawmaker claims the separation of church and state is a complete fabrication.
Wisconsin Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, sent the following tweet earlier this week:
Labeled an “extremist” for this factual comment to a Dane County lefty who told me, “We ARE NOT a Christian nation.” pic.twitter.com/6j25SQqxnr
— Jesse Kremer (@JesseForWI) December 20, 2015
The tweet reads:
Labeled an “extremist” for this factual comment to a Dane County lefty who told me, “We ARE NOT a Christian nation.”
Attached to the tweet is an image of Kremer with the following text:
We are a Judeo-Christian country and separation of church and state is a complete fabrication
Kremer’s tweet is not “factual.” The U.S. is not a Christian nation, and the separation of church and state is not “a complete fabrication.”
While it is true that the words “separation of church and state” are not found in the U.S. Constitution, the sentiment and meaning behind the phrase is contained within the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
The actual phrase “separation of church and state” is derived from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper soon thereafter. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:
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.
However, given the nature of Kremer’s rhetoric, it is doubtful the lawmaker is familiar with the history pertaining to the U.S. Constitution and the separation of church and state.
The following is an excerpt of Kennedy’s historical address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, delivered 12 September 1960 at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas; an address in which Kennedy clearly and boldly reaffirmed the separation of church and state:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President — should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
Kremer is a religious extremist and a deeply flawed politician. Yet there can be no more certain proof of his intellectual incompetence than his failure to understand the simple fact that the separation of church and state is central to the U.S. Constitution and the secular values upon which this nation was founded.