Make no mistake: the First Amendment secures Americans’ right to the freedom of religion. The notion that it only secures freedom from religion is a novel and dangerous reinterpretation.
The history of this misinterpretation of the First Amendment begins with the construction of a fake legal principle in Everson v. Board of Education in 1947. Faced with a First Amendment designed to accommodate religious communities and to encourage religious expression, Justice Hugo Black reached for a phrase of Thomas Jefferson and claimed that the point of the First Amendment was to build a “wall of separation” between church and state. However, this use of Jefferson’s language is not only a misinterpretation of his intent but also violates policies he routinely pursued such as endorsing the use of federal funds to build churches and supporting Christian missionary work among Native Americans. Interestingly, the factual question in Everson was whether parents of religious school attendees could receive reimbursement for transportation costs to parochial schools. In approving the expenditure of public funds for such a purpose, the Court indicated that the wall had not been breached. Ever since, however, the misleading concept of “the wall” is regularly used by those who seek to purge religion from American society.
Arthur Goldbert, “The Urgency of Restoring the Biblical Values of America’s Founders”