Jefferson Quotation

David W. New david_new at msn.com
Wed Sep 22 08:06:45 PDT 2004


Please accept my apology. I may not have made my point clear. My point was that the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the Jefferson of "1779" as the correct source for his views concerning the separation of church and state. The case I cited made this point very clear. Thus, the Supreme Court reads Jefferson's Danbury letter and his "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" (Bill No. 82) together in order to interpret his views concerning the separation of church and state. Since the McGowan case, the Supreme Court has not changed in this matter.  I only wish the Court paid a bit more attention to Jefferson's Sabbath Law as well (Bill No. 84) in order to define his views of the separation of church and state.
David W. New, Esq. 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: David E. Guinn 
  To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics 
  Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 10:20 AM
  Subject: Re: Jefferson Quotation


    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: David W. New 

    Interestingly, the U.S. Supreme Court looks to Bill No. 82, "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" in order to understand the First Amendment and the separation of church and state. See McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 at 437 (1961). Jefferson's Sabbath law was Bill No. 84. Bill No. 84 was proposed at the same time as Bill No. 82. These facts are fatal to any suggestion that Jefferson changed his mind concerning the separation of church and state later on, etc. etc. David W. New, Esq.

  I'm not sure I understand how an SC opinion written in 1961 can in any way be deemed dispositive as to Jefferson's state of mind at any point in history--much less that an endorsement of his Bill No. 82 says anything about his attitudes 10 to 20 years later.  The SC is hardly an unbiased fount of historical fact.  Clearly in his letter to the Danbury Baptists Jefferson expressed the idea of social and ideological change in regards to religion and the state.  Indeed he was enamored of revolution, claiming it was necessary every 20 (?) years.  That hardly supports the suggestion that he was a fixed ideologue about the nature of church-state relations.  (Madison certainly wasn't, who, for example, later regretted voting for the Congressional chaplain.)

    ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: David E. Guinn 
      To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics 
      Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 6:21 PM
      Subject: Re: Jefferson Quotation


      True at the time, but Jefferson clearly altered his thinking from the time he attempted to enact his bills on religion in Virginia to the time of his presidency where he refused to order days of thanksgiving and wrote his famous letter to the Baptists.
        ----- Original Message ----- 
        From: David W. New 
        To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics 
        Cc: RJLipkin at aol.com 
        Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 2:29 PM
        Subject: Re: Jefferson Quotation


        In 1779, Thomas Jefferson personally wrote a Sabbath law for Virginia. See The Paper of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 2., pg. 555.published by Princeton University Press. See "A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers." Madison was able to get Jefferson's Sabbath Law passed on November 26, 1786. Six months later Madison was in Philadelphia attending the constitutional convention. Apparently, Jefferson believed that religion should influence government law and policy. David W. New, Attorney at Law.
          ----- Original Message ----- 
          From: RJLipkin at aol.com 
          To: religionlaw at lists.ucla.edu 
          Cc: RJLipkin at aol.com 
          Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 2:18 PM
          Subject: Re: Jefferson Quotation


          In a message dated 9/21/2004 9:31:12 AM Eastern Standard Time, mstern at ajcongress.org writes:
            But what could Jefferson have meant by denying he sought a government
            without religion? How would he have allowed religion to manifest itself in
            government?

                  Wouldn't this depend upon what Dr. William Linn meant by "a government without religion"?  Speculating on the meaning of this locution, it seems the following possibilities exist: (1) Jefferson sought a government where law was not derived from religious morality, but rather through the use of commonly accepted ideas (including religious ones) subjected to (and revised by) the critical scruitiny or reason. (2) Jefferson was a decided atheist and wished to divest government of anything smacking of religious concepts or values. (3) Jefferson sought to exclude particular religions, or the majority religion, from influencing government decisions. (4) Jefferson sought to exclude religious people from government, and (5) Jefferson believed in a sharp distinction between religious morality and secular morality.   

                  From my incomplete study of Jefferson, only (1) strikes me as potentially true. What are some other possibilities?

          Bobby


          Robert Justin Lipkin
          Professor of Law
          Widener University School of Law
          Delaware


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