Fred Thompson Botches Script on Separation of Church and State

Americans United for Separation of Church and State find that Fred Thompson, despite being a lawyer (and playing one on television) misunderstands the Supreme Court’s rulings on separation of church and state:

In a recent speech to the Council for National Policy (CNP), former U.S. senator and presidential possibility Fred Thompson showed a remarkable misunderstanding of the Supreme Court’s church-state rulings.

Thompson chided the federal courts for overreaching their bounds and for distorting the intent of the Constitution.

“Our founders,” Thompson said, “established an independent federal judiciary to decide cases, not social policy. Yet more and more that is exactly what it is doing. Roe v. Wade is a classic example. And nowhere is it more apparent than with regard to the issue of church and state.

“Many federal judges,” he continued, “seem intent on eliminating God from the public schools and the public square in ways that would astound our founding fathers. We never know when a five-to-four Supreme Court decision will uphold them. They ignore the fact that the founders were protecting the church from the state and not the other way around.”

Now, Thompson is a lawyer — and he plays a lawyer on television (NBC’s “Law & Order”) — but he seems to have missed constitutional law class. Maybe he was studying acting that semester.

Here are the facts: There are no federal judges who are trying to “eliminate God” from the public schools or the public square. The Supreme Court’s decisions on religion and public education simply say that parents, not politicians or educators, get to decide what prayers children learn and what holy scriptures they study devotionally.

That’s keeping government out of our personal lives, a concept that ought to resonate with real conservatives as well as liberals. Far from being astounded, Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would be thrilled that the country is upholding freedom of conscience.

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