The Puritans and the Division of Church and State
If the Puritans had gotten their way, religion would play a much larger role in lawmaking these days. Want to know more? Watch the video for all the DOCAS deets. (And yes, we're turning it into an acronym.)
|Social Studies||U.S. History|
|U.S. History||Colonial America: 1600-1754|
But do you know what doesn't go together?
According to our Founding Fathers… the church and the state.
In the United States government, these two entities are kept apart, destined never to
…kind of like Romeo and Juliet, but without the making out. Or the suicide.
One group that strongly disagreed with the separation of church and state was the Puritans.
These radical English Protestants who helped to settle New England believed that laws should
be shaped by religion. The separation of church and state is enshrined
in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Not the Second, or the Fifth, or the Tenth. The First.
Thomas Jefferson and his bros must have thought keeping religion out of government was pretty
darn important. However… the Puritans were Christians, and
so were the Founding Fathers.
Sure, the Puritans might have burned teenage girls at the stake and given their children
names like Cotton…
…but they and the Founding Fathers shared a Christian understanding of the world.
As this Christian worldview certainly played a part in the formation of the new American
…why shouldn't religion play a bigger, broader role in the creation of the law?
Maybe the real answer lies somewhere between the two opposing viewpoints…
People who are religious are likely tempted to draw on their faith when making laws.
However, legislators should not allow their religious beliefs to get in the way of fair
and unbiased law-making.
Many religions value things like peace and justice as tenets of faith.
These values, broadly speaking, have a role in government.
Narrow laws tied to a particular religion, however, do not.
The Puritans have been dead and gone for three hundred years…
…because who wants to be a part of a religious group that lights people on fire when it gets
Even so, the debate about the separation of church and state still pops up sometimes.
Mostly on Fox News.
What do you think?
Does the separation between church and state need to make like a tree and leave…
…or is this one division that should stay… divided?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.