Last updated on: 10/5/2007 | Author:

Is the Principle of Separation of Church and State Mandated by the Constitution?

PRO (yes)


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in its Mar. 11, 2002 paper “The Establishment Clause and the Schools: a Legal Bulletin,” stated:

“It is one of the fundamental principles of the Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence that the Constitution forbids not only state practices that ‘aid one religion… or prefer one religion over another,’ but also those practices that ‘aid all religions’ and thus endorse or prefer religion over nonreligion.”

Mar. 11, 2002


The ACLU of Florida, in its 2006 informational paper on “Church and State,” wrote that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the constitution and that:

“The phrase ‘separation of powers,’ which describes the division of the government into executive, legislative and judicial branches, does not appear either nor do ‘the right to travel’ and ‘freedom of association.’ Yet all of these principles are implicit in the Constitution and have been recognized by the courts.”



Bill Morgan, Reverend, in Nov. 9, 1999 presentation for the “First Amendment Symposium: the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses,” sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Studies Program of the Georgia College & State University, stated that:

“Both the House of Representatives and Senate rejected several versions of the First Amendment that would have permitted non-preferential support for all religion. The founders intentionally barred all religious establishments. They left no room for a kind of ‘non-preferentialism’ in which government can aid religion if it helps all religions equally…

By the time the Constitution was fully drafted, many of its framers had come to believe strongly in ‘disestablishment.’ Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote in 1802 that phrase we have come to know so well, writing of ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’ In 1785, James Madison wrote that ‘religion is not helped by establishment, but is hurt by it.’ In 1791, the viewpoints of Madison and Jefferson were reflected in the Bill of Rights.”

Nov. 9, 1999

CON (no)


The First Amendment Center Online stated in a Dec. 10, 2004 overview of the Establishment Clause, posted on its website (accessed Dec. 10, 2004) that:

“The first of the First Amendment’s two religion clauses reads: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion’… Note that the clause is absolute. It allows no law. It is also noteworthy that the clause forbids more than the establishment of religion by the government. It forbids even laws respecting an establishment of religion…

In 1947 the Supreme Court held in Everson v. Board of Education that the establishment clause is one of the ‘liberties’ protected by the due-process clause. From that point on, all government action, whether at the federal, state, or local level, must abide by the restrictions of the establishment clause.”

Dec. 10, 2004


Joseph A. Zavaletta, Jr., JD, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, wrote in his 1998 paper “Original Intent and the Free Exercise of Religion,” published by the Early America Review that:

“The phrase, ‘separation of church and state’ is not found in the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, nor any of the notes from the Constitutional Convention… The primary occasion of the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ dates back to a letter written in 1802 from then President Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut…

However in 1947, the Supreme Court, in Everson v. Board of Education, used Jefferson’s Danbury letter as a pretext to disregard centuries of legal tradition in the common law, the Declaration of Independence, the writings of the founding fathers, the notes and records of the Constitutional Convention and over a century of American constitutional jurisprudence. With the stroke of a pen, the Court created a new ‘law’ by incorporating the Fourteenth Amendment (which dealt exclusively with specific State powers) with the First Amendment’s federal provision against an ‘establishment of religion.'”



The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) stated in its paper “The True Meaning of the First Amendment,” posted on its website (accessed June 27, 2006):

“To believe that the Constitution requires a total separation of church and state is to believe a lie. Nowhere in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or any other founding documents of this nation will one find the phrase so often used today, ‘separation of church and state’…

Significantly, the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ is not even mentioned in the Congressional Record from June 7 to September 25, 1789, the period that documents the months of discussions and debates of the 90 men who framed the First Amendment. Had separation been the intent of the First Amendment, it seems logical that the phrase would have been mentioned at least once.”

June 27, 2006


Mathew D. Staver, JD, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, wrote in his article “The Myth Behind ‘Separation of State,'” posted on Liberty Counsel’s website (accessed June 27, 2006) that:

“The ACLU and the liberal media have touted the phrase [‘separation of church and state’] so many times that most people believe the phrase is in the Constitution. Nowhere is [the metaphor of] ‘separation of church and state’ referenced in the Constitution…

The problem has arisen when the Supreme Court in 1947 erroneously picked up the metaphor and attempted to construct a constitutional principal (sic). While the metaphor understood in its proper context is useful, we might do well to heed the words of the United States Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist: ‘The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.'”

June 27, 2006


Pat Robertson, JD, Founder and Chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, said in a Nov. 1993 address to the American Center for Law and Justice:

“There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore.”

Nov. 1993