Letters to the Editor

Letter: Church and state

Nathan Hamlin’s July 14 Guest Opinion contains references, but not truth. Hamlin writes, “The founders actually left the power to the states if they wanted to have a specific denomination of Christianity established in their state (Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Vol. IV, pp. 103-104, to Samuel Miller on Jan. 23, 1808).”

Jefferson’s exact language hardly supports Hamlin’s remarkable claim. Responding to the Rev. Miller’s proposal that the then-president “recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer,” Jefferson actually wrote, “I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.”

To twist “recommend a day of fasting and prayer” into “have a specific denomination of Christianity established in their state” is downright deceitful.

Paul D. Rolig, Boise

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