GOVT 200 Assignment Instructions – Compare Three Important Documents
Read the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. Once you have read these founding documents and Jefferson’s letter, you will write a 2–3-page paper (double-spaced, 1-inch margins) in current APA format, comparing each of them. When comparing the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, pay particular attention to the themes apparent in both documents and comment on which document came first and why that is important.
You must also answer the question, “What do you think the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution thought about the separation of church and state or about the separation of God from government?”
Sample Answer -Compare U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802
The three documents that include declaration of independence, U.S. constitution, and the Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 were developed at different times in American history with intention of setting a foundation to the country’s legislation. Declaration of independence was signed in 1776, followed by the signing of the constitution in 1787 and eventually, Thomas letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. The main theme of declaration of independence document was to demonstrate that all humans are equal and no human had the power to oppress the other in any way. This document was used to set American’s colonies free from Great Britain ruling (The Monticello Classroom, 2007). The main theme of the constitution development which came second in the line was to establish the American’s fundamental laws and national government. It also focused on ensuring particular basic rights to the American citizens. The constitution’s basic rights assured basic individuals protections that include freedom of religion and speech (History.com, 2015). The Thomas Jefferson’ Letter theme was to thank the president for supporting the separation of the church and the state. According to the letter, there should still be a huge wall between the church and the state such that, those that worship are allowed to do so as guided by their religious beliefs and not based on the states definition (The Heritage Foundation, 2015).
The aspect of separation between the church and the state was not very well defined during the signing of the declaration of independence. However, the document clearly recognized the religious definition of equality as God had put it in the creation. American colonies had in their document condemned the Great Britain for assuming an upper hand in their life despite of being equal to them, based on creation. However, despite of this argument, the Americans did not consider slaves to have equal rights as other human beings. The constitution on the other hand defined the individuals’ right of religion. This implies that the government had limited the state interference to the manner in which one worships. Basically, the government is guided by legislative laws that are defined by the constitution and other acts passed in the parliament. On the other hand, the church is guided by the doctrines and laws of God as documented in the bible. In this regard, the church and the state may have conflict based on the right course to follow if they happen to be integrated.
Although the law of the country can be negotiated and adjusted as guided by the court and through other constitutional amendments, the laws of God remain static and its either one obeys or disobeys. Therefore, it would be hard to integrate the church and the state for the state will be limited in setting its rules and making critical decisions in its operation. This could have contributed to the need of separating church and the state. The fact that the state did not have the intention of freeing slaves and considering them equal to other American citizens could have also contributed to the separation of the church from the state. Moreover, being a number of religions or churches, it could have created a conflict when choosing the religion to prefer over the other (Doerr, n.d.).
The separation of the government and the God on the other hand was done since the government could not have managed the goodness of God in their operation. For instance, God created every one equal. However, the government did not wish to consider slaves equal to the rest of Americans. To them, they were just black people who were supposed to work for American. This benefited the country and the State and thus, thinking like God could have forced the government to free the slaves and ensure equal division of labor which was completely impossible to them. Therefore, the thinking of God had to be separated from the government ways of operation for Americans benefits.