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A reader writes … By Marc Manix

July 23, 2001

A few weeks ago Virginia Vindiola related the story of God's explanation for why He allowed school shootings — because "He is not allowed in public schools."

Then Wendy Wood wrote how our Founding Fathers meant for God to be an integral part of our government and schools. Miss Wood falsely represented our Founding Fathers in her letter and Miss Vindiola's letter is illogical. I find both of you to be not only to be completely wrong but full of false information.

I write not only to correct Miss Wood but to explain the importance of the separation of church and state.

Thomas Jefferson is one the most famous of our Founding Fathers; his face appears on Mount Rushmore. He played a key role in the revolutionary era and was the author of one of the greatest documents in our history — the Declaration of Independence. I have read this document many times, and nowhere can I find 27 Biblical violations, as Miss Wood claimed. Rather, I find a list of 27 usurpations by the British monarch. Nowhere in those 27 unsurpations are the words "God," "Jesus Christ," "Bible" or "Providence" mentioned.


Sure, maybe the non-specific acts listed by Jefferson are violations of different ideas, commandments or laws in the Bible, but Jefferson followed the ideology of John Locke in writing this document. Jefferson listed violations of natural law by the British monarch; violations against our "natural and unalienable rights." Jefferson was for separation of church and state and even coined that term when he wrote there should be "a wall of separation between church and state."

Miss Wood, for you to say Jefferson put the Bible in our schools as a light is a grave falsehood. This can be shown through his founding of the University of Virginia in the last years of his life. He founded this university on the idea it be separate from any type of religion. He first tried to change the College of William and Mary into the principal university of the state, but only if the college divested itself of all ties with the old Anglican religion. After the college declined, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Jefferson was not only in favor of this separation but was an activist for this idea.

Miss Wood, you claimed our country was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to separate God from government is to eliminate the reason this nation began. This nation began when immigrants came escaping religious persecution! The Church of England was the national religion in England and the colonists came to the New World to escape this and to find a place where God is separate from the government.

In George Washington's farewell address, he did say you cannot have national morality apart from religious principal, but this does not mean there should be religion in the government! Most religious principles are basically the same, because they are based on natural laws, the same natural laws John Locke described, that are written in our Declaration of Independence that we are endowed with at birth.

You quoted James Madison as saying, "We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all our heart." There is no evidence Madison ever said this or anything like it. The editors of the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia have been unable to verify that quote. Many religious right activists who used to cite it no longer do.

The argument of this separation was one of the main reasons Madison became involved with politics in the first place. He penned "The Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments." "Remonstrance" contains 15 reasons why state-supported religion is a bad idea.

Even during his presidency, Madison vetoed bills he believed violated this separation of church and state.

Public schools are part of the government, so church should be separate. To claim the school killings are due to the lack of religion in school is simply ludicrous. Sure, maybe if these murdering kids were involved with church they may not have committed these atrocious crimes.

But should they look for religion in schools? Of course not. They should look for religion in their community, or their parents should be blamed more than a school.

It is not politically correct, either, to put up the Ten Commandments in school. This is discriminatory to all other religions! It would be politically correct if you would acquiesce to having the Koran, Devil's Bible and a list of 10 reasons why atheists do not believe in God.

By putting up the Ten Commandments, you put Christianity on a pedestal above all religions, and this is blatant discrimination. People who regard Lucifer as a God are as much a part of a religion as Christians. Like it or not, you must accept this point of law. So if the Ten Commandments are put up in school, the Black Bible could be put up.

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