Psalm 33:10-12 “The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.  The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

January 1, 1802 is the date that President Jefferson wrote his letter of response to the Danbury Baptists, creating the popularly known and misunderstood phrase “separation of church and state.”  Over time, his words have been taken far out of context, distantly deviating and drastically diverging from the constitutional direction that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  President Jefferson and the Founding Fathers never intended for religious influence to be absent from governmental endeavors nor excluded from it.  In fact, just the opposite.

Maybe the strongest proof of Jefferson’s intent comes from what he did two days after writing that oft-twisted phrase.  He went to church … at the U.S. Capitol.  Shortly after the Capitol opened its doors in 1800, the House of Representatives Chamber was used as the venue for Christian worship services every Sunday, and Jefferson was a regular parishioner.  This Founding Father had no problem with the People’s House being used as a House of Worship.  In fact, when asked about his church attendance at the Capitol, Jefferson responded with the following:

“No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion – nor can be.  The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.” 

As American Christian citizens in the New Year, may we be undeterred by our national deviation from a godly heritage.  Instead, may we give faithful church attendance the sanction of our example.  May we give godliness the sanction of our example.  May we give participation in the governmental process the sanction of our example.  May we give the spreading of the gospel of Christ the sanction of our example. 

And in this pivotal year, may we give daily prayer for our nation and our leaders the sanction of our example.