Yes, I know the "wall of separation" is not written in the Constitution in those exact words. And yes, we have been discussing , even arguing, this issue for more than two centuries. The issues have historical precedent back through the English Common Law not to mention the historical religious/civil conflicts of numerous nations and peoples. I just can't say it better than Jefferson did:
I acknowledge that civic morality and law have their basis in religion as I even concede that people with no religion can still be moral citizens.To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.GentlemenThe 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. 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.Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802. [emphasis added]
I don't know how to get this across other than to keep repeating it - the one common principle at the foundation of nearly all religions applicable to our civic institutions is the all-encompassing, universal Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do to you. I don't think it just or fair or even religious to call that idea some form of evil secularism when it requires us all to treat each and every one of us with respect as our Union strives to be more perfect for We the People - all of us regardless of any particular religious belief or practice.
It is not easy. It requires a lot of work. And there are a lot of competing demands and conflicts of understanding on these issues. I just think Jefferson and our current President come much closer to it than the Republican candidates who are off by more than a few cubits.
Yet even Newt got one thing right recently:
"This is up to God and the American people," Gingrich said.Thank Heavens!