Should I insult your intelligence by reminding you that no such phrase exists in the Constitution? In fact, the First Amendment makes no mention of “separation,” “church,” or “state,” in any order or combination. The First Amendment puts no limit on religion at all. Instead, it limits the governments ability to interfere in religion, and permanently codifies our right to the “free exercise thereof.”
When Thomas Jefferson used the notorious phrase “Separation of Church and State” in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, he was describing a one-sided wall where the corruption of the Government could not infiltrate and infect the operations of the Church. He only chose those particular words because he was speaking to Baptists. He thought it might resonate with that crowd, considering the founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, had written 150 years earlier about the need for a “wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the World.”
So when the Supreme Court later used this letter to justify its legal opinion in Everson vs. Board of Education, it was really deciding case law based on part of a sentence written by a 17th century Baptist preacher.
Stellar work there, Your Honors.
Remember, the settlers were escaping a country that persecuted Catholics after King Henry VIII threw a hissy fit when the Pope wouldn’t change Canon Law to suit the king’s habit of divorcing and/or murdering his wives. The Crown was declared the “only supreme head of the Church in England,” and guys like Thomas More were summarily beheaded and chopped into pieces for refusing to recognize the king’s spiritual authority.
In other words, they were leaving a country where government had intruded on religion — not the other way around."