Why This Study Matters

In addition to scholarly questions of the modern image of Jefferson on religion in public life, co-author Jerry Newcombe notes that through the years, as a producer for Coral Ridge Ministries (now D. James Kennedy Ministries), he has covered so many stories related to discrimination against Christians because of the flawed perspective of separation of church and state. As we will see later, the separation of the institution of the church from the institution of the state, properly understood, is a biblical concept and was promoted by many Christians and several of our founding fathers, including Jefferson and Madison. However, today’s “separation of church and state” is often defined as separation of religion and state. It’s often defined in such ways as to essentially mean “state-sanctioned atheism”—something very different from what the founders advocated. Groups like the ACLU actively promote the “state-sanctioned atheism” version of the separation of church and state.

And so, a few years ago, Jerry 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 in effect, “You can’t talk about God [because it is city property]. Get off the bus!” By misreading Jefferson, the city official (in this case, the bus driver) kicked the lady off the bus because of “the separation of church and state.” It isn’t just to the back of the bus for the Christians—it’s get off the bus. Jefferson would be appalled at this abuse and twisting of what he believed. So would the founding fathers.

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