The Corner

Church and State

Peter, I’m not *quite* so bad as you think. Let a hundred Christmas trees bloom (on public ground)! Let the Pledge of Allegiance stay amended! In his review of the Allen book, George Will refers to the very incident you mention: “Two days after Jefferson wrote his letter endorsing a “wall of separation” between church and state, he attended, as he occasionally did, religious services in the House of Representatives. Jefferson was an observant yet unbelieving Anglican/Episcopalian throughout his public life. This was a statesmanlike accommodation of the public’s strong preference, which then as now was for religion to have ample space in the public square.”   That gets it dead right. The notion of “observant yet unbelieving Anglican”, incidentally, is one of England’s great contributions to civilization.   And then, also from Will, we have this: In 1953, the year before “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared July 4 a day of “penance and prayer.” That day he fished in the morning, golfed in the afternoon and played bridge in the evening.   Good man, Ike.

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