Thomas Jefferson Writes 'Separation of Church and State' Letter – Jan. 1, 1802
This week marks the anniversary of when President Thomas Jefferson sent out a piece of correspondence that continues to invoke divisive debate in the United States.
In a letter to the Danbury Baptists based in the state of Connecticut, Jefferson explained that the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause created "a wall of separation between Church & State."
"Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties," added Jefferson.
Long after Jefferson died, his letter has been a rallying cry for activists seeking to remove religious items from the government sphere, including manger scenes, Ten Commandments displays, Bible classes, and the teaching of Creationism.