Separation of Church and States was incorporated into U.S. policy primarily because of religious discrimination is the 1878 Reynolds decision which incorporated the phrase, "separation of church and state" into public awareness.
was a Mormon from Utah who had married more than one wife. Reynolds
argued that the First Amendment protections regarding religious freedom
allowed him to marry more than one wife. At the time there was a great
deal of concern that, like most original States of the Union, Utah would
adopt a State Sponsored Religion, Mormonism. Massachusetts
was the last of the original thirteen States to stop sponsoring a
religion in 1833. At the time of Federal Constitutional ratification
most of the States had State sponsored religions.
In order to
suppress the possibility of Mormonism becoming a State sponsored
religion in Utah, the Justices used circular logic and poor supporting
arguments in their opinion.
First, SCOTUS used a law, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" to make a law, "states can't establish a religion" that they were specifically forbidden from making.
SCOTUS used writings of Thomas Jefferson, an individual who was not
involved in the writing of the Federal Constitution, concerning the
Virgina State Constitution and a personal opinions of Thomas Jefferson
written in a personal letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.
this support means little to nothing for two reasons. The first is
that Jefferson was not involved in the Constitutional Debates recorded
in the Federalist Papers. The second is that the framers of the
constitution wrote the First Amendment while the States they represented
had State sponsored Religions and those States, Including Virginia, had
State sponsored religions at the time of ratification of the Federal
Constitution. We can assume, based on the lack of immediate response by
the Federal Government in forcing States to cease religious sponsorship
that there was no intent to prevent States from sponsoring religions.
All of the original States did eventually write religious freedom
clauses into their State Constitutions, and it is by these State
constitutions that State sponsored religion is forbidden.
Reynolds decision violates the Federal Constitution in two ways. First,
it employs circular logic and poor support to subvert the intentions of
the First Amendment. Second, it takes a power specifically reserved for
the individual States unto the Federal government, violating the Tenth
This was done specifically to prevent Utah from
establishing Mormonism as a State sponsored religion and as such the
decision violates the intentions of the founding fathers to establish a
nation of religious freedoms.
I won't address whether I think this
decision is morally right or wrong. My only point is that this is
illogical, illegal and deliberately discriminatory and firmly
establishes the influence religious beliefs, both discriminatory
religious beliefs and favorable bias.