Commentary: The history behind separation of church and state

The truth of American history was that it was the churches that were politically active. The churches were driving the rebellions against kings in the name of religious liberty. History, if the truth be known, records that it took over 700 years and five documents giving us our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

The first of those documents, the 1100 Charter of Liberties, is where we get our understanding of the principle of separation of church and state. A king, in 1100, declared that if the government is in your church it’s an evil and oppressive government. He made a promise in the 1100 Charter of Liberties that government would no longer be evil and oppressive, and the very first promise he makes, which is not even in the list of 14 promises — it’s in the preamble — says, “I, through fear of God and the love I have toward you all, in the first place make the holy church of God free, … .” Just 100 years later the people, now making demands of kings through the Magna Carta, [the latter document] says that the English church shall be free from government intrusion and shall have her rights entire and her liberties inviolate, meaning the government can’t dictate to the church; that’s what separation of church and state has meant for hundreds of years. The government has no business in your church!

It has only been since our most recent fraction of history that we have started to believe that separation of church and state means that God has no business in public conversation. That is our revision of a time-tested, blood-bought principle, creating a falsehood that is simply not true! It’s only because we don’t teach our history.

From 1639-1640, the people fought for religious liberty in the church, led by a Jenny Geddes who got so sick of hearing the government’s authority from her pastor’s mouth in the pulpit, she stands up in the middle of church and picks up her stool and throws it at the pulpit, screaming things like “hirelings of government, rather than men of God.” This spreads throughout Scotland and the entire kingdom, beginning the bishop wars where the people are fighting for religious liberty in the church, against the king’s appointed bishops, who were placed in the church to enforce the king’s law.

We have James II in 1688, trying to dictate to the churches what they can and cannot say, in the disguise of religious liberty. James II issuing his Declaration of Indulgence, saying, I will no longer make you be a member of the Church of England; you can have religious liberty now, you can have church anywhere you want, anytime you want, with any pastor and preach anything you want, on one condition: before you have church, you must inform the king where you’ll be meeting, when you’ll be meeting, who will be preaching, what will be said, and you will promise that you will never say anything bad about the king in church. In 1688, they realized that’s not religious liberty, yet, in 2015, we call that a 501(c)(3).

James II’s kingly decree is no different from our 501(c)(3) today, so, what’s the difference between 1688 and 2015? In 1688, the bishops, pastors and the head of the churches stood up to the king and said we will not comply with your dictate and we’ll preach whatever we want anyway because we’ve had a promise since 1100 that you’ll not be in our church, and guess what? We also know that if you’re in our church, that makes you an evil and oppressive government, and you’re worthy of rebellion, and that’s exactly what happens.

Because of this decree and the king’s enforcement of the decree, the Glorious Revolution of 1689 erupts. James II gets so scared that he’s going to lose his head, he hops on his horse and rides away, fleeing the kingdom. We get a King and a Queen, William and Mary of Orange. We get the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which, quite ironically, requires the King and the Court to take a pledge to shun all foreign influence from the kingdom, all foreign influence will now be shunned.

I wish we would’ve taken that little bit of history and wisdom. Perhaps if we’re going to have an Article V Convention, that’s an Amendment to the Constitution that we can support, an oath of office that says there will be no foreign law and no foreign influence in our Constitutional Republic! We need to discuss a little bit more those things that the American Culture and Faith Institute have discerned from their survey (God’s People Want To Know) because the people of the churches are screaming and the pastors are too worried about their 501(c)(3)money, too worried about making people mad in the pew and losing their tithe. Idolatry has overcome our churches!

Robert Duff

Smyrna

Editor’s note: Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code defines non-profit organizations that not only are exempt from paying taxes on their receipts used for defined purposes, but also, contributors to them may claim deductions for their contributions to these organizations if they have a net tax liability, itemize deductions rather than take standard deductions and are not subject to the Minimum Alternative Tax. Among other regulations, such tax-exempt organizations may not advocate for or against candidates for public office.

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