News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 17, 2007

Stephanie Salter: An idea the founding fathers believed in: Separation of church and state

TERRE HAUTE — Quick quiz.

How many times does the U.S. Constitution mention God?

How many times does it talk about the Bible?

In what sections does it address Christianity?

The answers: None, none and none.

As for religion, as physicist Ellery Schempp recently observed, the Constitution “mentions religion just twice, and both times the word ‘no’ is attached.”

I met Schempp last month in Madison, Wis., and listened with keen ears to his speech to the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation convention. The national organization of state-and-church separationists honored him with its “Champion of the First Amendment” award.

(The group gave awards to several other folks, too, including best-selling author Christopher Hitchens and me. More on that another day, but everyone’s speech and information about the foundation are at

Schempp, now 66, is one of the most reasonable, sanguine and thoughtful people I’ve met in awhile. He is also an atheist, as were many of the 750 or so convention attendees. In addition to atheists there were agnostics, secularists, humanists, pagans and theists like me: people who practice a religious faith but do not want ours — or any religion — to be allowed to wreck one of the greatest things the United States has going for it.

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

That sentence is in the First Amendment to the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. The other reference to religion, as Schempp pointed out, is in Article VI, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

For an atheist, Schempp knows his Bible very well. (Come to think of it, he knows it better than many Christians I’ve run across.) He’s studied it along with the holy books of other faiths which, he likes to remind people, are viewed by the U.S. government as equally worthy of protection to exist.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Pope's Relic on Wheels Departs to Rome Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Today in History for April 17th Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast
NDN Video
Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Florida State Ends Top Of the 5th With Bizarre Play vs Jacksonville | ACC Must See Moment Kate Upton Loves Her Body, Every Part Of It Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010