Trump:Repeal Separation of Church and State

RNC Photo of Buttons
Caleb Turner, displays his Trump buttons during the 2016 RNC Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Credits: Matt Rourke/AP

Donald Trump said during his acceptance speech that he favors repeal of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which sets forth the principle of separation of church and state. Trump told convention goers that he believes the First Amendment restricts the ability of religious leaders to engage in political activity.

Trump is right. It does. And for good reasons.

The concept of separation of church and state grew out of the founders experiences with meddlesome English government dictating religious polity to the masses. So, to ensure that the citizens of the new country – United States of America – could worship as they saw fit, the framers of the constitution codified certain religious freedoms into its founding document.

The pertinent section reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…”

Trump couched his attack on the First Amendment in the language of protecting the evangelical community that has strongly backed his candidacy. A recent Pew poll has Trump receiving 78 percent of the evangelical vote. He argued that the religious status of evangelicals prevent them from exercising their other First Amendment right of expression.

I tend to disagree. The First Amendment further prohibits congress from enacting laws “… abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievance.”

In essence, the framers set up a parallel system of governance. A secular government, under the rule of law, contained in the constitution to govern the affairs of the people in their relationship to their government; and it allow the religious community to govern the people’s relationship to their deity, if any so choose to be governed by a deity.

While religious institutions are limited in their advocacy against government policy, their property is exempt from taxation. This tax exemption is no small matter in the separation of church and state debate. Churches would stand to lose this exempt status if Trump is successful in repealing the First Amendment. Church leaders should think long and hard before falling behind Trump’s proposal to give them the right to endorse candidates from the pulpit.

What is Trump after?

What Trump is really after, I think, is a way to legally ban Muslims from coming into the country and to legalize regular government raids on Mosques. Both practices are shunned by our current constitution. One of the founding principles of this country is that the people can worship any God of their choice or no God if they choose to have no God.

Also, ingrained in the First Amendment is that churches are not public property and therefore, the government must have permission, or a clear lawful purpose, to come onto the premises. Federal law enforcement officers could not make the regular sweeps of Mosques as Trump proposes, without repealing portions of the First Amendment.

Trump pledges to make America great again. The America Trump envisions would require an overhaul of its founding document, like repealing the doctrine of separation of church and state; and other constitutionally protected rights the founders extended to the first American citizens. This and other constitutional rights may not survive Trump’s vision of a greater America. Stay alert americans, there are 40-miles of rough road ahead.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at






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Published by Michael

Harold Michael Harvey is a Past President of The Gate City Bar Association and is the recipient of the Association’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award. He is the author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, and a two-time winner of Allvoices’ Political Pundit Prize. His work has appeared in Facing South, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Black Colleges Nines, and Medium.