Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson



Jefferson apparently originated the phrase, "WALL of separation
between Church and State," in the letter to the Danbury Baptists.

"Believing... that religion is a matter which lies solely between
man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith
or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach
actions only, and 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 and State." --
Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802.  ME 16:281

The complete letter from which the above is taken may be viewed at:
Letter from Danbury Baptist Association and Jefferson's Reply

Others spoke of the separation of church and state besides Jefferson,

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever
from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of
Europe with blood for centuries." --James Madison

(I do not have the citation of a source for the Madison quote.)

At 02:39 PM 6/3/98 EDT, you wrote:

>I heard a news snippet about the reconstruction of Jefferson's letter
>he writes of the "wall of separation" but cannot find any further
>Can you guide me?
>Martin Zitter

I just now received this information via email.  This is all I know about it:


Thought you would be interested in what the Christian Coalition has said
about the Danbury Baptist letter and, today, are claiming that Thomas
Jefferson's phrase, "'wall of separation' between church and state was
written to mollify a political constituancy.  Jefferson actually allowed
religious worship inside Federal buildings and was an opponent of any
state interference with religious expression."

This was all issued in the Christian Coalition's most recent press
release.  They are so desperate to get the Religious Freedom
passed in tomorrow's vote in the House, that they've resorted to
out disinformation.


As they say, The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The
religious clergy are STILL trying to gain influence in government.
Jefferson was a strict opponent of any state PROMOTION of religious

Best wishes,

Eyler Coates


Jefferson's Danbury letter has been cited favorably by the
Court many times.  In its 1879 Reynolds vs. U.S. decision the
high court said Jefferson's observations 'may be accepted almost
as an
authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First]
Amendment.'  In the court's 1947 Everson v. Board of Education
decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote, 'In the words of Thomas
the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended
erect a wall of separation between church and state.'  It is only
recent times that separation has come under attack by judges in
federal court system who oppose separation of church and state."
   Robert Boston, Why The Religious Right is Wrong About
of Church & State (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1993), p. 221


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