Separation of church and state has been distorted
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A monument displaying the Ten Commandments at the Connellsville Area Junior High School is in the process of being removed from the school grounds at the request of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a parent represented by a Pittsburgh law firm ("Connellsville School to Move Now Veiled Tribute to Ten Commandments," Sept. 8). They assert that the monument is in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
Their claim primarily is based on a false interpretation of the constitutional requirements of "the separation of church and state." The Constitution in no way separates the religious life or morality of its citizens from their service to their country. Rather, the intention of the Constitution is to prevent a "church" or denomination or religious body from having any official status or control in the government.
Many of the colonists at our nation's founding came from European countries that had a state church. In those countries, the government had a part in approving the officers of the church, and the church had a part in determining the actions of the government. Our Founding Fathers sought complete separation from the control and authority of an organized church in the government of their nation. They wanted separation of "church" and state -- not separation of religious truth and morality from the state.
BRUCE C. STEWART
The writer is president-emeritus, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
First Published September 13, 2012 12:00 am