It’s no surprise that GOPers are in love with the founding fathers to an almost unholy, idolatrous degree — consider the fact that the Wall Street Journal reports that powdered wig sales are up 100% this year — but like many things the GOP fervently embraces, they tend to pick and choose the aspects of the founding fathers’ ideas which fit neatly into their own agenda. Case in point, cafeteria conservative Ken Buck is quoted saying:
“I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal.”
Oh boy. First, separating religion and government is absolutely necessary to ensuring that the government doesn’t sanction one religion over another, second, while Buck is technically correct that the idea of separation of church and state is not directly in the constitution, he is failing to mention that one of his crushes, Thomas Jefferson, explained the concept in a letter to a Baptist group in 1802:
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
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. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Even Jefferson thought it was all semantics. In fact, many of the founding fathers were not Christian at all. Hell, Jefferson practiced Deism.
My advice to Buck? Listen to your ultimate “founding father”: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” It seems like He even agrees with Jefferson, and Jefferson doesn’t even believe in Him!