What About The Separation Of Church And State?

The separation of church and state is a frequently misunderstood concept.  Contrary to popular belief, the phrase does not appear in the United States Constitution, but in a personal letter by Thomas Jefferson.  The First Amendment of the Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  

Thus, the "separation of church and state" is rightly understood as government not establishing one religion, one set of beliefs or view of life as the religion of the nation, but instead exercising its responsibility to protect in law a multitude of beliefs, both religious and otherwise.  This means that government is responsible to create a just public order in which individuals and institutions are able to freely exercise their religious identities, as well as protecting the free exercise of those who claim beliefs not considered religious.

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