“Separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution!

Recently this tired argument got trotted out in /r/libertarian, by someone who is supposedly a libertarian and a proclaimed Constitutionalist.  At one point he stated that it didn’t matter what we thought, all that matter was what was in the Constitution.  So here’s my reply, can we lay this tripe to rest now, please?

Yes, it is the Constitution that matters. And the Constitution is clear in regards to those matters. And while the phrase “separation of church and state” does not exist in the Constitution, the intent is there. The phrase is merely a shorthand for the intent that is in the document.

Want to know what other phrases aren’t in the Constitution yet we don’t have bullshit semantic arguments over the intent being in the Constitution?

State’s Rights.

Inalienable rights.

Separation of powers.

Checks and balances.

Each of those phrases have come to describe the intent laid down in the Constitution but appear nowhere in the Constitution. Yet you’d be a damn fool to argue that the Constitution doesn’t have any of those things simply because the phrase doesn’t appear within it.

So, yes, there is a separation of church and state. It is right there in the First Amendment. The problem is most people remember the whole “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” part but utterly forget what comes before between.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

That is church/state separation. Just as state’s rights refers to the 10th, inalienable rights refers to pretty much most of the Bill of Rights. Separation of powers and checks and balances refers to Articles I, II and III and how they interact respectively.


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