Through the years, I have served as a TV producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries (where I am still employed). I have covered so many stories related to discrimination against Christians because of the supposed separation of church and state. Our new book shows that the separation of the institution of the church from the institution of the state, properly understood, is a biblical concept and was promoted by some of our founding fathers, including Jefferson and Madison. However, today’s “separation of church and state” is often defined in such ways as to essentially mean “state-sanctioned atheism”—something none of the founders would countenance, including Jefferson. Groups like the ACLU actively promote the “state-sanctioned atheism” version of the separation of church and state.
And so, a few years ago, I interviewed an African-American woman who was kicked off a public bus in the pouring rain in the Pacific Northwest. Even though she was pregnant, she had to walk home in the driving rain. She said by the time she got home, she felt like a drowned rat. Why was she kicked off the bus? Because she was telling another passenger (who was interested) about her church. The bus driver said you can’t talk about God because it is city property. Get off the bus.
I remember another story where a girl got an F on a history paper she wrote in her public high school. Initially she had permission to write about Jesus of Nazareth, but then the teacher changed her mind and disallowed it—while permitting other students to write about subjects related to other religions or the occult. And this discrimination was done because of the supposed separation of church and state.
One time in the 1990s a judge in Texas said to a group of ministers sponsoring a baccalaureate service that if any of them prayed in the name of Jesus at that service, he would have them arrested, thrown in jail for a minimum of 6 months. The judge said, “You will wish you died as a child by the time this court gets through with you.” This is not what the founders intended—certainly not Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.
Suppose the worst report about Jefferson’s faith were true. What then? Well, then he would have missed heaven. That was his loss. Meanwhile, it’s still a fact that when he was a young man he did apparently believe in the Christian faith; and, as we’ll see, he articulated principles of religious freedom based on Jesus, “the holy author of our religion”—even if he later softened his stance on that point.
Furthermore, it’s critical to understand that even if he personally did not embrace Christ, His atoning death for sinners, His resurrection, the Trinity, the inspiration of the Bible, etc., a Judeo-Christian worldview provided the overall framework for Jefferson’s well-articulated ideas, which are predicated on a theistic worldview. (For example, we can’t have unalienable rights granted by a Creator, if there is no Creator.) From all the things attributed to Jefferson, you would think he was not a Christian, even in the most loose definition of one. The late atheistic journalist, Christopher Hitchens, makes these claims with little uproar, while a claim of Jefferson to be a Christian generates intense reactions. You would also think he lacked a Christian worldview. That touches on one of the most important points of this book. His views on religious freedom and on God-given rights grow out of the Christian tradition. Without Christianity, there would be no Jefferson, even if Jefferson himself rejected some tenets of the faith.