Dangerous Fallout from Misreading Jefferson

Ideas have consequences. As we show in our book, Doubting Thomas, the Supreme Court in 1947 misread Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. They made that misinterpretation the key arbiter of church-state relations. This has not only done much to discriminate against the Christian religion, which helped play a key role in the founding of America. This has actually caused blood to spill. There have been dozens of school shootings, with hundreds of people (mostly fellow students) killed in this country. These shootings began in the 1990s and continue this day.

I’ll never forget what an Alabama black pastor said to me one time when I interviewed him about Judge Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments judge. He said, “All across America people should stand with Judge Moore about the Ten Commandments. Why? Because when they took prayer out of school, you didn’t hear about kids killing each other, about them bringing dope to school, shooting the teachers, you didn’t hear about that. You see what I’m saying? That’s what’s wrong. We need more God-fearing.”[1]

After the Columbine massacre, Darryl Scott, father of a slain student, testified to Congress:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,

your words are empty air.

You’ve stripped away our heritage,

you’ve outlawed simple prayer.

Now gunshots fill our classrooms and

precious children die.

You seek for answers everywhere,

and ask the question “why?”

You regulate restrictive laws

through legislative creed.

And yet you fail to understand

that God is what we need.[2]

It’s time to stop misreading Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. More lives may yet be at stake. It is ironic that the founding father who fought so hard for religious freedom should be the one in whose name it is being taken away.

[1] D. James Kennedy, The ACLU Vs. Judge Roy Moore (Ft. Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1998), a video.

[2] Darryl Scott, “Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Crime,” U.S. Congress, May 27, 1999 in D. James Kennedy, Violence in the Schoolyard (Ft. Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1999), a video.

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