“Separation of Church and State.” These five simple words have altered law, policy and even our culture. They’ve changed the understanding of our Constitution and made their way into Supreme Court opinions.
People have heard them repeated in the news, from elected officials, and even in conversations with their neighbors. The phrase is so common, many believe its is in the U.S. Constitution. And even those who understand it isn’t, still refer to it as a type of “constitutional commitment,” as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor did recently in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer case.
Because of this phrase’s incredible impact on our country, it’s important to know where it came from, how it’s been distorted, and its proper understanding.