What did our founders mean by the separation of church and state?

Although the separation of church and state is never mentioned in our founding documents, how did the founders feel about religion and God?

Today, there are many misconceptions about what they believed and how they felt.

It is said our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. is this true?

The ten commandments of the Christain bible are the basis of our laws. In those days, most people went to church and worshiped on a somewhat regular basis. The country at that time was mainly settled by people from England. The Church of England was theAnglican church.

Most, if not all religions and beliefs, American Indian, Hindu, Aborigine, Maya, all had a code of behavior like the ten commandments, and most follow the same principles as the Christian religion, so all beliefs are similar in that respect. But, the fact remains, the founders were brought up, for the most part asChristians. That doesn’t mean they wanted to exclude all other religious beliefs from enjoying the freedom they sought.

During the American Revolution, the colonists received help and financial assistance from the Jewish community and the Iroquois Indian nation also offered much help and advice. It was a team effort.

The only schools available in colonial America were church schools, hence anyone who went to school and received a formal education would have received it from a church school, so they would have been educated in the Christian religion. Religion and God was a very important part of their life.

Were the founders all died in the wool, born again Christians who believed that Jesus was their Savior and he would save them from their sins?

Of course not, their beliefs were  varied and many changed their minds as to what they believed over their lifetime. As we learn and grow throughout life, we should adapt and change our beliefs according to what we learn, that is what life is all about.

The did believe in freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. There is a big difference.

They believed, especially Thomas Jefferson, that we should display and discuss our religious beliefs on the public square. He believed all sides should be given an opportunity to discuss and believe what they wanted without any interference from government.

photo of the Rising sun Inn

The Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg Virginia

It was the ministers of the day that insisted on the separation of church and state. They realized that a government that could dictate what and how we believe and gave us those rights could also take them away. They insisted the government stay out of it and let the citizens decide the correct way to proceed.

The government has no right to say we can’t have a religious display on public property. That property belongs to the citizens, not the government. Contrary to what’s happening today, you don’t want the government telling you how to worship, where to worship, or when to worship.

When Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, he insisted that studying religion was a requirement and made sure professors from different religions were on the staff to provide such education.

At one time, church services were held in the  Capitol building, rotating weekly between the different religions that desired to participate.

In Thomas Jefferson’s home state, Virginia, church services were also held in the state capitol under the same protocol.


So, yes, most , if not all of the founders were of the Christain religion, but just like today, they all had a different opinion about what they believed.

They never said everyone had to believe as they did, quite the contrary. Most, if not all believed we should be free to worship as we please, and where we please, and how we please.

More importantly, they followed a more eclectic belief, a belief in universal truths, free from religious dogma, they believed in the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.

They believed that the people were more capable of governing their lives than someone in government, they believed people should be free to do and worship as they please, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.

If you are offended by what some else says, does or believes, then it is you that has the problem. We can all believe as we want, we don’t have to fight about it.

a lutheran church against a sunny blue sky.

What is meant by the separation of church and state?


The author has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.

Your comments are welcome

Published by Gary Wonning