It occurs to me that there's no evidence that Jefferson
intended separation of church and state
to outlaw school prayer
or nativity scenes
(although, for the record, I'm opposed to both). It seems more likely that he meant to separate
the church and state in a more literal way. At that time, Christian leaders had an official role in the government, or vice versa
. In Great Britain
, for example, a number of Anglican bishop
s still have the right to vote on legislature as a result of their seats in the House of Lords
. The French Estates-General
gave the Catholic clergy
one-third of the voting power. At the same time, government leaders had control over their churches--the Queen
is still official head of the Anglican church, and in Jefferson's time the kings of France, Austria, and Spain could veto the election of a Pope
they didn't like.
Is there any evidence that Jefferson intended to separate the church and state beyond the extent of keeping these intertwinings of religious and government office from being established in the United States?