A few weeks ago you published a letter from a fellow, an engineer, I believe, who said that the words “separation of church and state” do not exist in our founding documents and he then went on to say that “freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.”

He is correct in the first instance, woefully wrong in the second. Freedom of religion and freedom from it are two sides of the same coin; we cannot enjoy one without the other.

Separation of church and state is a concept that our framers understood well. John Locke wrote and spoke of it in the 17th century. Thomas Jefferson understood it well, and that is why the words God, Jesus, Christianity and the Bible appear nowhere in our founding documents.

James Madison (Jefferson’s protege) summed it up best in an 1803 letter opposing the use of government land upon which to build churches.

“The purpose of separation of Church and State is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

Look at every nonsecular nation on our planet today and their soil is being soaked with blood over conflicts that boil down to this: my God, or my religion, is better than yours.

I have a question to ask Mr. Engineer and other like-minded souls. I enlisted in the Army in 1970, as did my father before me in 1942; different wars, same reason for us. I am my father’s son.

My question is: Why do you believe that my Constitution of my United States of America that I swore an oath to defend does not grant me the absolute right of freedom from religion — yours or anyone else’s?

One final comment and it’s anecdotal, therefore I don’t know for certain its accuracy. John F. Kennedy is reported to have said this at a dinner meeting in the White House not long after he took office when he was entertaining some of the best minds of his time.

“Gentlemen, this is the greatest gathering of intellect this room has ever seen; except for when Thomas Jefferson was dining alone.”

Arthur Tolar

business owner

Baton Rouge