Separation of Church and State—A Grave Misunderstanding
American Pastors Network Explores This Long-Debated Subject on Stand in the Gap Today Radio Program
PHILADELPHIA—For decades, society has squabbled over the true meaning of “separation of church and state.” Does it mean no prayer in schools? No nativity scenes at government buildings? No Ten Commandments in courtrooms?
The American Pastors Network (APN, www.americanpastorsnetwork.net), of which the Tennessee Pastors Network (TNPN, www.tnpastors.net) is a state chapter, recently discussed this long-debated topic on its daily, live, one-hour radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” heard on more than 425 stations nationwide.
“We’ve all heard it. You can’t do that. That’s a violation of separation of church and state,” said Dave Kistler, one of the co-hosts of “Stand in the Gap Today.” “From prayer at public school functions to references to the name Jesus in military chaplains’ prayers, if some had their way, they’d end every reference to God, and especially Jesus, claiming that ALL such references are an egregious violation of the ‘separation of church and state’ principle.”
On the program, Kistler, who serves as the president of the North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN, www.ncpastors.net), a state chapter of APN, and co-host Gary Dull, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN, www.papastors.net), welcomed attorney David New, a legal and constitutional expert and Bible scholar. New is the author of “The Separation of Church and State for Beginners,” in which he explores the principle, where it came from and from it really means.
“Separation of church and state is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied concepts in the nation,” said APN president Sam Rohrer. “This idea has been the root cause of religion, faith and God’s presence being pushed out of our culture—and these actions have had detrimental effects on society.”
New told the radio hosts that conservative Christians make three errors when it comes to the separation of church and state:
- That separation of church and state appears in the Constitution (that phrase does not).
- That only Thomas Jefferson believed in the separation of church and state. (Jefferson had obvious and overt respect, even affection, for religion, though he is often criticized for being irreligious.)
- To think that this separation concept is bad for religious liberty (Jefferson assured Baptists during his time that this “wall of separation” would be positive, not to keep God out of government, but rather to keep government out of the affairs of the church.)
Listen to these audio clips for more on the separation of church and state discussion from “Stand in the Gap Today:”
- What is the difference between a theocracy and a theistic state?
- What was the “wall” Thomas Jefferson spoke about?
- How has the state benefited from the church throughout history?
- Did only Jefferson believe in the separation of church and state?
- Is the term “separation of church and state” in the Constitution?
- The three mistakes religious conservatives make about the separation of church and state
“Stand in the Gap Today” can also be heard live online from noon to 1 p.m. EST at the American Pastors Network website at the orange “Listen Live” button on the right-hand side of the webpage; find a station here.
The Tennessee Pastors Network encourages pastors to bring together biblical and constitutional principles in their sermons and provides resources to pastors throughout the state. For more information on TNPN, visit its web site at www.tnpastors.net or Facebook page.
TNPN is a group of biblically faithful clergy and church liaisons whose objective is to build a permanent infrastructure of like-minded clergy who affirm the authority of scripture, take seriously Jesus’ command to be the “salt and light” to the culture, encourage informed Christian thinking about contemporary social issues, examine public policy issues without politicizing their pulpits and engage their congregations in taking part in the political process on a non-partisan basis.
View the media page for APN here, which also details information about “Stand in the Gap.” For more information on APN, visit www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN’s Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors. Those interested in forming a chapter in their state may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.