Protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church
Freethought Radio

Answers To:

"What Do You Know About
The Separation of State and Church?"

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Correct answers appear below in blue type.

1. The U.S. Constitution says that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, based on the sovereign authority of God

  1. in the First Amendment
  2. in Section VI
  3. in the Preamble
  4. nowhere. Our nation was founded as a secular government, based on the authority of "We, the People," not a god, king, or dictator.

2. How many times does the word "God" appear in the U.S. Constitution?

  1. 0. The U.S. Constitution is a godless document.
  2. 1
  3. 3
  4. 6

3. How many times does the Declaration of Independence refer to Christianity or Jesus?

  1. 0. There is no mention of Jesus, Christ, Christianity, religious persecution, or religious freedom in the Declaration of Independence.
  2. 1
  3. 3
  4. 8

4. The US Constitution guarantees religious liberty for

  1. Christians
  2. all religions
  3. atheists & agnostics
  4. all of the above. Religious liberty is meaningless unless we all have it. Freedom From Religion Foundation president Anne Gaylor says, "There can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent."

5. Where did the separation of church and state originate?

  1. France
  2. Soviet Union
  3. United States of America. The U.S.A. was the first nation in history to separate church and state.
  4. Nazi Germany

6. What does the First Amendment say about religion?

  1. nothing
  2. the US is founded upon Christian principles
  3. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise. The First Amendment begins with these words:
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . ." The two clauses are referred to, respectively, as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.
  4. that there is no national religion, but each state may set up its own religious practices

7. The phrase "wall of separation between church and state" originated with

  1. the Soviet constitution
  2. a dissenting opinion by former Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter
  3. a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson. President Thomas Jefferson coined this phrase in a carefully crafted letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut in 1802. It has since been widely picked up and invoked in major Supreme Court decisions.
  4. a speech by President Ulysses S. Grant

8. Which early colonies practiced freedom of religion?

  1. the Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts
  2. the colony in Virginia
  3. Roger Williams' Providence settlement
    Trick question! Roger Williams' Providence settlement founded in 1636 expressly guaranteed religious freedom. However, the Pilgrims originally were a tolerant people, when they founded Plymouth in 1620. By 1691, the Pilgrims had adopted the theocratic, intolerant Calvinism of the Puritans, who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628. The Puritans came to this land expressly to establish a bible commonwealth, and banished "heretics" and dissenters. In Virginia, heresy was a capital offense punishable by death by burning. Quakers were particularly persecuted. People who were not orthodox Christians were not legally protected, could be denied civil rights and jailed. The founders of the new nation of the United States of America, conversant with extreme religious intolerance and violence in the several colonies, were determined to put an end to it. That is why they established state/church separation.
  4. all of them

9. The Puritans escaped religious persecution and, in their own colony, allowed religious freedom for

  1. everyone
  2. all Christians
  3. Puritans only. Puritans (Congregational Calvinists) only were allowed. Even practicing Puritans were held to strict litmus tests. (The Puritans loved religious freedom so much that they kept it all to themselves.)
  4. Puritans and Anglicans

10. ". . . the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; . . ."

Where does this phrase appear?

  1. The U.S. Communist party platform
  2. A speech by Abraham Lincoln
  3. American Jewish Congress
  4. U.S. treaty signed by President Adams. In 1797 the United States entered into a treaty with Tripoli, in which it was declared:
    "As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity [sic] of Musselmen . . . it is declared . . . that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." This treaty was written under Washington's presidency, and it was ratified by Congress under John Adams, signed by Adams.

11. By an Act of Congress, U.S. currency has carried the motto "In God We Trust" since

  1. the very beginning
  2. 1862
  3. 1914
  4. 1957. In 1955, Congress passed a law requiring that "In God We Trust" appear on all U.S. coins and currency. The first paper currency with the motto appeared in 1957. This was right after the McCarthy era, during the early Cold War, when no congressperson would dare be seen voting against "God." "In God We Trust" did appear occasionally on a few coins, starting with a 2-cent piece in the 1860s, in an attempt (it is surmised) to put "God" on the side of the north during the Civil War. In 1956, an Act of Congress adopted "In God We Trust" as a national motto. The original motto, "E Pluribus Unum" ("out of many, [come] one,") celebrating plurality, still appears on the Presidential Seal and on some paper currency.

12. The Pledge of Allegiance, first published in 1892, has included the words "under God" since

  1. 1892
  2. 1914
  3. 1942
  4. 1954. As with "In God We Trust," "under God" is also a Johnny-come-lately. It was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy era. The original pledge was first published on September 8, 1892 in the magazine "Youth's Companion" with no reference to a deity.

13. Who made the following statement?

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people."

  1. Pat Robertson
  2. Abraham Lincoln
  3. Adolf Hitler. April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.
  4. Rev. Jerry Falwell

14. In 1890, bible reading was outlawed from Wisconsin schools. Who was responsible?

  1. a Lutheran family
  2. a Roman Catholic family. A Roman Catholic family objected to the exclusive use of the Protestant King James Version of the bible. The court barred all bible reading from Wisconsin public schools. [State ex rel. Weiss vs. District Board, 76 Wisc. 177 (1890)]. Catholicism was a small minority in 19th-century America. It is usually minority groups who need the protection of the Bill of Rights.
  3. an atheist family
  4. a Jewish family

15. The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed student-initiated prayers at high-school football games in 2000. Who were the plaintiffs in that lawsuit?

  1. Roman Catholic and Mormon families. The Texas lawsuit was taken by a Catholic family and a Mormon family who had children who were being harassed by the born-again majority in the public schools.
  2. two Jewish families
  3. a Unitarian (agnostic) family
  4. an atheist organization

16. According to the "Lemon test," in order to be constitutional, a law or public act must:

  1. have a secular purpose
  2. have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion
  3. not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion
  4. all of the above. The 3-pronged Lemon test (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971, which dealt with public aid to private schools) has almost consistently been utilized by the Supreme Court since the early 1970s. ALL THREE prongs of the test must be satisfied.

17. All American Presidents have been practicing Christians


False. John Adams, John Q. Adams, Millard Fillmore and William H. Taft were Unitarians*. Jefferson was a Deist/Freethinker. Harrison, Johnson, Grant and Hayes were not members of a church. Lincoln was a Deist. Etc. (*Although some Unitarians of that time considered themselves "Christians," they rejected the Trinity and other doctrines that most Christians today consider essential.)

18. The U.S. Constitution says there shall be no religious test for public office

True. Article VI:

" . . . but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."


19. John Adams declared Christmas to be a national holiday


False. Christmas was outlawed in some colonies. December 25 was approved as a federal holiday in June 1870. (See: Notice the wording designates the date as "the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas day," so saying that "Christmas is a federal holiday" is not quite accurate as to intent. Even the name of the Act doesn't say the word "Christmas." According to From Christmas in America: A History by Penne L. Restad, (pages 104 and 96), "Louisiana was the first to declare it an official holiday. In 1837, it designated December 25 along with January 1, January 8, February 22, July 4, Sundays, and Good Friday as 'Day[s] of public rest and days of grace.' . . . Arkansas passed a similar law . . . in 1838."

20. A president, being sworn in, is required to place a hand on the Holy Bible and say "so help me, God."


False. The oath of office does not mention a deity or the bible:

"Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.' " [U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1] This is the only oath given in the Constitution, and it is entirely secular.

21. Since the First Amendment deals with "Congress," states are free to advance religion if they wish.


False. The 14th Amendment makes the entire Bill of Rights applicable to the states. The first Supreme Court case to declare a state's religious practices illegal under the 14th Amendment was the McCollum case (1948) which removed religious instruction from the public schools.

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