Should Christians support the separation of church and state? An interview with Mark David Hall, author of “Did America Have a Christian Founding?”

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The Supreme Court of the United States. Stock photo.

In early 2020, Denison Forum interviewed Mark David Hall, author of Did America Have a Christian Founding?: Separating Modern Myth from Historical Truth

As Matthew J. Franck wrote, Hall’s book is “a fresh look at the very real extent to which Christian thought and belief played a vital role in the making of our country.”

Hall is the Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University. He is also associated faculty at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University and senior fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.

The following questions and answers are excerpted from our longer interview with Hall (which you can listen to below). They have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Should Christians support the separation of church and state?

In 1947, the US Supreme Court issued a decision where they said the first amendment to the US Constitution—the establishment clause, specifically—creates a wall of separation between church and state. And this wall has been used to attack religious liberty provisions, aid to private religious schools, and all sorts of things. 

What I argue in the book is that, in one respect, all Christians support a separation of church and state. The church and the state are separate institutions. We don’t want the state running the church, and we don’t want the church as an institution running the state. 

However, with that said, there’s absolutely no reason, from a constitutional perspective, to think that people of faith cannot speak into the political system, work through their legislatures, or try to bring about good public policy—whether we’re talking about the abolitionist movement, or the civil rights movement, or the pro-life movement. These…

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