The Necessary Separation of Church and State in America Essay

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The Necessary Separation of Church and State in America

On January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut in which he stated:

“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 & State.”

(Jefferson,1802, Letter to Danbury
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When the original 13 colonies were established in what came to be the United States of America, the goal of the British government was to expand on its resources for trade materials and manufactured goods. Because the colonies were young and not established firmly, there were labor shortages and many of the first colonists died of starvation. In an effort to remedy the shortage, the British government sent indentured servants to work in the colonies until their debts had been repaid. Among the indentured servants and military members sent to the colonies by the government, were a large number of citizens who were seeking freedom from persecution due to differing religious and political beliefs. By the time Thomas Jefferson wrote the Danbury Letter, the country had begun growing in a direction that differed from their British history.

Thomas Jefferson’s intent in establishing the wall of separation between church and state was not to eliminate religion from the new society, but to protect the integrity and purity of religion as practiced by its citizens. This protection offered by the separation of church and state has provided a foundation of strength and opportunity gained through understanding and learning

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