America’s wise Founders saw that mixing religion with government power had caused centuries of European horror, and so they launched a historic breakthrough: the separation of church and state. This safeguard was locked into the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
However, an overwhelming majority of the states have holy preambles in their constitutions. Here are some examples:
Illinois declares that it is “grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.”
Maine says it adopted its Constitution “acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.”
Georgia states that it is “relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God.”
Colorado declares “profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.”
North Carolina says it is “grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations.”
Vermont praises “blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man.”
My own state of West Virginia says: “Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we the people of West Virginia … reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God.”
Et cetera, etc., etc.
Almost every state in America thumbs its nose at the separation of church and state in its constitutional preamble.
This column is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in the June-July 2014 issue of Free Inquiry.