Steven Moen, Minot
There has been a huge outcry from the left claiming "Separation of Church and State" lately especially over the letter read in the Catholic church about voting biblical principles this election.
Many people are under the misconception that "Separation of church and state" is in the constitution but it's not. It comes from a private letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists concerning the establishment of a state church funded by taxpayers like the Congregational church was prior to the Revolutionary War. Jefferson reassured them that this would not happen in fact he wrote there would be a wall of separation between the church and the state.
The constitution is silent on religion but the first amendment speaks of it when it states "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, (no taxpayer funded church), nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In other words it won't tell the churches what they can or cannot preach from the pulpit.
This went on fine until Lyndon Johnson, then a senator from Texas, in 1954 inserted a clause in the IRS tax code saying that any tax-exempt charity cannot engage in any political activity. This can in the aftermath of a couple of secular nonprofit groups actively campaigned against him in Texas and he didn't like it and included churches just to make sure this didn't happen to him again.
The churches dutifully went along with this as who wants to mess with the IRS and the political parties at the time were pretty much a horse apiece on moral issues.
A lot has changed since then and the Catholic Church and others much to their credit have decided that speaking out on Biblical principles is worth the wrath of the IRS.
It reminds me of a young pastor named Martin who at a government referendum on religion had a chance to address the leader of the country where he told him "I'm not worried about the soul of the church, because Jesus Christ will take care of His church, but I am worried about the soul of the country." To which Adolf Hitler told Martin Niemoller "As for the soul of Germany, you leave that to me!" Hitler went on to lead Germany to destruction and Niemoller ended up in a concentration camp and the rest is history. I wonder if we are witnessing the early stages of history repeating itself because those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.