Next to the First Amendment, then-President Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 has perhaps come to represent the most popular understanding of religious freedom in the collective mind of America. Because of Jefferson’s “wall of separation” metaphor, some would like the letter to pass back into the shadow of obscurity under which it rested prior to the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education decision. Others rejoice that the letter provides the lens through which religion itself is defined and applied in contemporary America. Jefferson’s famous metaphor is important, but it is a star drawing into its orbit the comet of our short attention span.
separation of church and state
It turns out Louie Giglio won’t be giving the benediction at Obama’s second inauguration. Who will? Jack Jenkins is right: Minerva Carcaño, Otis Moss, Gary Hall and Brian McLaren are all fine options. Joanna Brooks is right, too: so are Pratima Dharm, Sharon Braus, Sanaa Nadim, Anapesi Kali and Valarie Kaur. Ed Kilgore suggests his own pastor, who’s related to Ron and Rand Paul. Sounds okay, too.
The phrase "separation between church and state" does not appear in the Constitution. Nor does the concept originate with Thomas Jefferson.
John F. Kennedy's famous Houston speech on church and state during the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he is right to find the speech theologically lame.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning ceremonies for the 9/11 anniversary without the participation of clergy. Jay Sekulow et al. think this is an attack on religion. Jim Wallis et al. are criticizing both sides of this debate and also calling for less criticism of others, or something like that.