Former Presidential Candidate: Separation of Church, State Does Not Mean Splitting God, Government

PeroutkaPASADENA, Md. — A former presidential candidate recently taught students at his Maryland-based Institute on the Constitution that separation of church and state does not mean removing God from the government.

Michael Peroutka, an attorney who also ran for president in 2004 with the Constitution Party, regularly teaches Christians about the biblical view of government—or as he also likes to call it, the American view.

Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution recently posted a video on his YouTube “American View” channel providing a clip of his teaching about the so-called “separation of church and state.”

“Separation of church and state is not separation of God and government,” those in attendance repeated aloud after the attorney, who is also running for city council in Anne Arundel, Maryland.

“[I]f they can get you to think that separation of church and state means you can’t talk about God in the public square, or before a legislative session, or before a football game or anyplace you want to talk about God,” Peroutka said, “If they can get you to separate there, then what they’ve done is kicked out the very first presupposition of American law and government, which was, there is a God [and] our rights come from Him.”

Peroutka was speaking of the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, in which the Founding Fathers declared that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” He stated that if Christians continue to shrink back every time secularists make a claim about the separation of church and state, then Americans will have no leg to stand on to prove their right to their rights.

“If they can intimidate you out of that,” Peroutka continued, “If everytime you say ‘God.’ and they say ‘Separation of church and state,’ and you go ‘Oh!’ and you back off of that, and you get intimidated and you back down and you don’t talk about God as the author of law and government, then they have kicked out the very foundation on which you could stand to argue that you have rights.”

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He repeated that if God has nothing to do with how to govern the people, then there is no sure foundation for any man’s assertion that a right is even a right.

“Because if there is no God and He’s not connected to government, then there’s no basis for you to claim that you even have rights, much less that you could defend them,” he stated.

“It’s so very important,” Peroutka said. “That [separation of church and state assertion] is a huge lie.”

The American idea of separation of church and state originates from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State,” Jefferson wrote.

The concept is now often used to decry public religious practices by civil officials, or instances of perceived government endorsement of religion.

A number of Founding Fathers spoke about God in their public speeches, and the Second Continental Congress of 1776 declared a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer among the people.

“[We] do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer, that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease His righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness,” the proclamation read.

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  • James Grimes

    He is correct on all points. It’s the haters who want to remove God from the public arena. Too bad, but they are wrong on all counts. God bless America, as He once did.

    Fellow Christians, continue to stand strong and disregard these haters and the sickness they spread.

    • Charles Montgomery

      I agree.

    • James Peter Montgomery Speed-K

      Fun fact:
      the USA was established to get away from oppressive Christianity from the UK

      • John Manuola

        That’s a new one. Did you learn that in your humanist run schools with your revisionist history books? How fun. I guess all those strong Christian men who helped form this country were all a bunch of God-hating secularists.

      • James Grimes

        Really? Is this your only contribution to this discussion? What is your point?

        • James Peter Montgomery Speed-K

          What you are saying and asking people to do is the exact reason why people left britan

          • James Grimes

            Not true. Please don’t twist our nation’s history to suit your agenda – whatever that may be.

          • James Peter Montgomery Speed-K

            “The prospect of religious persecution by authorities of the crown and the Church of England prompted a significant number of colonization efforts. People fleeing persecution by King Charles I were responsible for settling most of New England, and the Province of Maryland was founded in part to be a haven for Roman Catholics.”
            Its quite well published

          • James Grimes

            What am I asking people to do that you are so offended with? What have I said that you are taking issue with? BTW, it was the government who was persecuting Christians in England. Historical fact: the Church of England was the arm of the English government in religious affairs. The leadership of the church, the persecutors, we’re Christian in name only. The real Christians were forced out of England and established Christian – based colonies in the New World where biblical worship was free from government interference.

            I’m willing to bet that you weren’t allowed to learn that truth in the Liberal atheist school you had attended.

            Please reread the article and my comments again before you post another comment.

          • Craig Reynolds

            “True Scotsman” argument – goes nowhere. Anyway, anyone can pray or praise anywhere they want, unless they’re endangering themselves and others in traffic. Of course, if you want coerced prayer, that’s another matter, and it promotes lying.

  • Reason2012

    (1) There is no such thing as “separation of church and state” in the Constitution. That phrase came from the time a Pastor wrote a letter to Jefferson expressing his fears that Jefferson would in some way restrict religious freedoms. In response to these fears, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter back to indicate that he would in no way restrict the freedom of religious expression because he saw a wall of separation between church and state.

    So actually the phrase means the exact opposite of what a few claim it means: it re-iterates the First Amendment, that government shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religious expression.

    (2) First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; And yet those who reject God demand the government establish its own denomination of Christianity with its own version of marriage. A violation of the First Amendment.

    (3) Congress/government also cannnot make a law prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    A school can decide to, for example, put up Ten Commandment displays and no one can force them not to.

    A school can decide NOT to put up Ten Commandment displays and no one can force them to.

    But in a Christian nation, the populace will be personally choosing to put up Ten Commandment displays often. Those that do not like this can start voting in a large number of people that believe differently and hope it changes.

    That’s liberty.

    That’s freedom.

    That’s the Constitution many died to create.

    That’s the United States of America.

    Start understanding the Constitution, the First Amendment and the lie about “separation to church and state” and take back our right to honor and worship God as people in positions of leadership personally choose and see fit to on a case by case basis.

    • James Grimes

      Thanks for a great presentation. It will be clear as day to those Believers who read it.

  • Gregory Peterson

    You might read Dr. Throckmorton on Mr. Peroutka. You would not mention that he’s a member of the racist, seditionist League of the South.

    • Pax Humana

      How about you read my middle fingers, you historical revisionist troll?

      • Gregory Peterson

        Historical revisionism? More like “intellectual integrity.”

        The League of the South is the League of Traitors and Bigots.

        As for your middle finger…well, I’m sure it amuses you greatly.

        • Pax Humana

          The words “intellectual integrity” and them, as well as morons like yourself, will NEVER belong in the same sentence, for ALL of you are on the take for Lucifer and his human minions that wish to rule the world, period, full stop.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Antidisestablishmenatarianism…who knew that word would ever apply to a 21st Century movement, not to mention one that’s the neo-confederate, white supremacist and seditionist movement that Mr. Peroutka represents.

    The First Amendment was written and ratified after May, 1776…in Dec. 1791, and not before, so his example is moot. It’s like saying that since slavery was legal in 1776, it still is regardless of the 13th Amendment.

    Not to mention that Rhode Island was founded with the concept of a “hedge” between church and state back in the 17th Century, so the idea has been kicking around America a lot longer than the First Amendment codification.

    Though Roger Williams had in mind keeping the state out of the church, while the 1st Amendment was more about keeping the church out of the state….though it keeps the state out of the church as well.

    • John Manuola

      When in doubt, throw around the race card. It automatically canonizes whatever you write afterwards in the minds of the leftists who read it. Not that what you write afterwards needs to make any sense. So long as you can get people frothing at the mouth over race, who gives a rip what you say afterwards.

      But hey, call me old-fashioned. I’ll take a shot at skipping past the BS and move on to the rest of your post.
      In case you didn’t know it, the Declaration of Independence is the law of the land. Yes, that’s right…the First Congress read it into the Congressio1nal Globe and it is part of the USC…which makes it LAW. And THAT happened after the Constitution was ratified. And I don’t know of a single thing in the Constitution which supersedes and/or contradicts as single aspect of the Dec. of Independence.

      Now, I’m not sure how you think that the Declaration of Independence is irrelevant having been written 15-20 years prior to the Constitution…but Rhode Island’s founding (which occurred 150 years earlier) IS relevant. But nonetheless, it honestly doesn’t matter. As religiously ‘tolerant’ as Roger Williams was (having kicked the Puritans out of RI), he had not trouble making sure that the Baptist Church of RI had much more influence over the colony than any other denomination. But even that is irrelevant. You see, up until the 1940s, the prevailing understanding of the First Amendment forbade the Federal Government from establishing a national church, it was well understood that it did not forbid individual states from establishing state churches. Which several did well into the 1800s.

      As for your utter and complete misunderstanding of the intent of the Establishment Clause, nothing in the founding fathers’ writings would indicate that this clause had anything more to do than the government establishing one denomination over the others…or creating a place of special favor for one denomination over the others. Nowhere in any of their writings did they imply that the Clause was intended to remove religion from the public and political arenas. In fact, the actions of the early government would imply just the opposite.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Nonsense. The Declaration of Independence isn’t the law of the land, however vital it is in American history. Having something read into the Congressional Globe doesn’t make it a law.

        The founding of RI is relevant because it demonstrates that the concept of the separation of church and state was kicking around the English speaking colonies for awhile…that it wasn’t a novel thing in 1789.

        When you belong to, have been a leader, and defend a racist, neo-confederate organization as Mr. Peroutka does, it’s not “playing the race card” to note that when writing about it. It’s irresponsible not to report it.

        The Founding Fathers were a diverse bunch who didn’t all think alike. Nevertheless, the concept of established state religions made many of them uncomfortable, especially those with minority religious understandings, such as Unitarian/Deism.

        The Civil War and the post-war Amendments made the Bill of Rights more broadly protective of individual rights regardless of the level of government involved…though it took until the 1950s before they really started being enforced properly.

        • jmichael39

          In case your fuse blew before you were able to actually finish reading what I wrote…I didn’t JUST say it was read into the Congressional Globe. I said it was also incorporated in the United States Code (USC).

          Though some, like you, believe the Declaration is simply a statement of ideas that has no legal force whatsoever today. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Declaration has been repeatedly cited by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the fundamental law of the United States of America.

          The United States Code Annotated includes the Declaration of Independence under the heading ‘The Organic Laws of the United States of America’ along with the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance. Enabling acts frequently require states to adhere to the principles of the Declaration; in the Enabling Act of June 16, 1906, Congress authorized Oklahoma Territory to take steps to become a state. Section 3 provides that the Oklahoma Constitution ‘shall not be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States and the principles of the Declaration of Independence.’

          “The founding of RI is relevant because it demonstrates that the concept of the separation of church and state was kicking around the English speaking colonies for awhile…that it wasn’t a novel thing in 1789.” – It IS relevant in the sense that it showed exactly what they meant by “separation of church and state”…meaning that it was a two-fold concept of not advocating for a single denomination to be established as the church of the state AND that it advocated the expedient rejection of any government intrusion into the work of the church. It did NOT advocate for the exclusion of the religion from the public arena or from the political arena. As I said, I would gladly point out some of the hundreds of examples of how the founders and the original government viewed the inclusion of religion in the public square (including our government). That’s the sad part about all your ranting about removing religion from political influence. The founders NEVER advocated for that…and their actions prove it. It has only been since the advent of the activist courts of the 1940s and later that our courts have somehow interpreted the Establishment Clause to mean that we must exclude religion from anything having any connection to our government. No amendment to the Constitution ever accomplished that. No court cases prior to the 1940s accomplished that. Yet somehow, our Constitution was changed by the whim of nine activist judges to mean something it had never been interpreted to mean for the prior 175 years. Amazing!!

          “When you belong to, have been a leader, and defend a racist, neo-confederate organization as Mr. Peroutka does, it’s not “playing the race card” to note that when writing about it. It’s irresponsible not to report it.” — no, sir, what is irresponsible is making such accusations without even the feigned attempt to present any evidence that his man is a racist. You, sir, are the one with the responsibility to substantiate your accusations. I know in the eyes of many leftists, like yourself, the accusation is sufficient to convict a conservative…but until such time as the laws of logic are officially altered, you have a responsibility to prove your accusations.

          “The Founding Fathers were a diverse bunch who didn’t all think alike. Nevertheless, the concept of established state religions made many of them uncomfortable” — Well, I am certain that at least one or two founders were likely uncomfortable with states having the right to establish their own state religions, yet the preponderance of the founders agreed as such and the evidence of several states holding to such a choice remains as evidence of that fact.

          I Will Respond to Your Point About Post Civil War Amendments In the Next Post

        • jmichael39

          As regards to the post Civil War Amendments…particularly the 14th and 15th Amendments.

          The Bill of Rights was originally written to apply only to the actions of the federal government. The Fourteenth Amendment was the first to contain prohibitions on the actions of states.

          Soon after its ratification, the Supreme Court held in the Slaughterhouse Cases (1873) that the Fourteenth Amendment should be understood to apply only to the plight of former slaves and assuring their equal treatment under law. As time went on, however, the amendment was read more broadly and the doctrine of incorporation emerged.

          When the Supreme Court uses the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause or Due Process Clause to rule that a state law or policy has violated a Bill of Rights protection, it is said to have “incorporated” that protection. For example, the Court incorporated the Establishment Clause in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), freedom of speech inGitlow v. New York (1925), and freedom of the press inNear v. Minnesota (1931).

          Justice Hugo Black argued for “total incorporation,” or that the Fourteenth Amendment meant that all Bill of Rights protections now applied to the states. The Court, however, has used “selective incorporation,” applying some protections but not others. The Court has not applied the Seventh Amendment, for example, to the states.

          There is a good reason why the Courts have been selective and hesitant to summarily apply the 14th Amendment to state issues over the years. It was not written to incorporate the Bill of Rights into a states issue.

          Did the Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment (June 13, 1866) or the states that ratified it (July 9, 1868) intend that the Amendment incorporate, in whole or in part, the Bill of Rights? It is a telling indictment of the incorporation doctrine that nowhere in the Fourteenth Amendment does it say anything about incorporating any part of the Bill of Rights. The wisdom exercised by Chief Justice Marshall in Barron v. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (1833) should be followed here. In writing about the applicability of the Bill of Rights to the states, Marshall clearly explains why such was not the case:

          Had the framers of these amendments intended them to be limitations on the powers of the state governments, they would have imitated the framers of the original constitution, and have expressed that intention. Had congress engaged in the extraordinary occupation of improving the constitutions of the several states, by affording the people additional protection from the exercise of power by their own governments, in matters which concerned themselves alone, they would have declared this purpose in plain and intelligible language.

          It is inconceivable that if such a thing took place that such a significant doctrine as incorporation would be so veiled that it would take years before some Supreme Court judge discovered that there was such a thing.

          To take this further, and yet bring it back to the specific point of this thread and this article, let’s take a look at the Blaine Amendment which was proposed in 1875.

          We know from the opening line of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law”) that the Amendment applied only to the federal government. It is a fact of history that James Madison’s proposal in 1789 to extend to the states the freedom of speech and of the press was rejected by the Congress that gave us the Bill of Rights. When the Constitution refers to the states it clearly says so. For example, it says in Article I, sec. 9 of the Constitution that “no Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” That this only applies to the federal government is evident because in the next section it prohibits states from passing “any Bill of Attainder” or “ex post facto law.”

          This view of the Constitution prevailed even after the addition of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In 1875, which was several years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, an amendment to the Constitution was proposed in the House of Representatives by James G. Blaine (1830—1893), the speaker of the House from 1869 to 1875. Known as the Blaine Amendment, it reads:

          No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefore, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations.

          The Blaine Amendment passed in the House but not in the Senate so it was never sent to the states for ratification. The purpose of the amendment — to keep Catholic schools from receiving state funds — is irrelevant. What is relevant is the opening phrase, which should be compared with the opening phrase of the First Amendment:

          No state shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

          The wording of Blaine Amendment shows that the Congress at the time did not consider the First Amendment to be incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment. And if that bulwark of the Bill of Rights — the First Amendment — was not incorporated into Fourteenth Amendment, then neither was the Fifth Amendment or any of the others in the Bill of Rights. And such was the case until late into the nineteenth century.

          Now, I know, Gregory, that you have some very strong opinions on this matter. And it would be quite nice if, rather than simply opening your pie-hole and expressing your opinions, you attempted…to some degree or another…to substantiate your opinions with some facts.