Hi, need to submit a 1000 words paper on the topic American History and The Seperation of Church and State. The separation of church and state is an issue that should not continue to be debated as this matter was settled nearly 300 years ago in this country and culture. However, subjects such as whether evolution should be taught in school continue to plague the American dialogue and, opposed to the intentions of the Founders, the political arena as well.
In founding the new nation, Thomas Jefferson, working on a bill for his own home state of Virginia, drafted the first document to expressly address the connection between church and state based on the ideas of Locke. “Taking this idea from Locke, Jefferson proposed that Virginia end all tax support of religion and recognize the natural right of all persons to believe as they wish.” (“Separating Church and State” 1997) The bill didn’t pass right away, but a reintroduction of it by James Madison while Jefferson was serving as ambassador to France saw acceptance and the first time in history that a government had acted to legally separate church and state. It was three years later, in 1789, when Madison proposed several amendments to the new Constitution that would further define the federal government’s restrictions as far as it pertained to religious beliefs. The very first of these amendments begins with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (“The Constitution”) Despite this, by the time Jefferson himself became president in 1801, the separation of church and state remained an issue of paperwork in many of the states, where laws regarding who could vote (only Christians in good standing), establishing religious holidays and holy days and enforcing taxes to support the Christian church were still enforced.