Separation of Church and State
The First Amendment reads in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;".
At the time, this was pretty clearly meant that there would be no single Federal Church (like the Church of England), and that the Federal Government would be forbidden from interfering with the States and communities enforcing whatever religion they wanted. What it did not mean is that there would be a clear separation of Church and State or Local Government -- just strictly the Federal Government could not put one religion above the others. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled that anyone would use the 1A to restrict religious practices, in school or anywhere else for that matter. A decade later, Jefferson had wrote the line called "the Separation Clause" in a private letter, but even that didn't mean what progressives later pretended: at the time of the writing, and long after, States had official religions, Prayers were done in Congress and Courts, and no one had problems with prayers in School. In fact, the government's first Holiday was Thanksgiving whose purpose was specifically required "...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
So you can argue that you WANT the Separation of Church and state, or that a few rulings over the years by the Supreme's help reinforce that. As long as you're not dishonest enough to imply that was the Original Intent, which is most certainly was not.
Q: Where in the constitution is the "separation clause"?
A: It exists only as a figment of imagination (mostly an invention of 20th century progressives).
The closest it comes is that Jefferson mentioned "separation of church and state", but it doesn't mean what you think it means, and certainly doesn't exist in the Constitution. And if it does exist as the Establishment Clause (which isn't the same thing), it doesn't mean what you think it means.
- If it meant no state, municipality and government office could respect and honor religion, then how do you explain religious texts and carvings on most federal buildings? Or that most of the founding fathers freely talked about God, or said prayers before or during public speeches? How were states allowed to have state religions, as existed at the time of the constitution? Or we allowed there to be religious communities? How could we begin congress and many government proceedings with prayers? "In God we Trust" is on our money, and so on.
- The imagined "separation clause" meaning that you couldn't have prayer in school, or any religious displays at all, is a 20th century invention of progressives, and it's only attachment to history is in an alternate reality. The real idea in the establishment clause, meant that the federal government could not obstruct the free practice of religion (including prayer in government offices/meetings) -- not that it MUST do so for all government (federal, state and local) buildings. In other words, if a community wanted prayer in school, they could have it. If they wanted to carve crosses or the 10 commandments, they could do so, they could lead official speeches with references to their God/way of prayer and the fed could not interfere -- not that it would.
- Why would people who just had a revolution from a country because the government was telling them what to do (down to encroaching on what religion they practiced), establish a new federal government that got to tell them that they couldn't practice ANY religion during the service to government? It makes no sense, and certainly isn't how they ran things for their lifetimes. That re-invented fiction came about with progressive revisionism.
So being an originalist/constitutionalist (and minor history buff), until we amend the constitution, I stick with what the Constitution meant when written (it's a contract and dead document -- and you can't revise a contract without getting all sides to agree), not what some want to imagine it should have meant. Whether I'm an atheist or not.
So again, public displays of religion don't offend me as much as folks that want to imagine away other people's liberties because their re-imagination better fits their own selfish political agendas. And until we amend the law of the law, I'm going to stick with most tolerant interpretation of it (which is a community is free to put up religious monuments if it wants), not the most intolerant one (that you must suffocate religion in deference to the intolerance of atheists, muslims or folks overly sensitive to the history/traditions this country was founded on).