They struggle because it's not there.
If you're surprised by that statement and are now frantically web searching to prove me wrong...sorry. My intent isn't to make anyone feel foolish. Not by a long shot. The principle of separation of church and state is a classic example of two problems that I see have developed in our country.
First, we just don't know our own Constitution. What most people know about the very principles that are the foundation of our Nation they learned in a civics class in middle school. I refer back to my last post about our nation's history, and again I'm amazed at the level of apathy when it comes to people actually knowing the Constitution. If you were to limit yourself to knowing one critical item about the United States...shouldn't it go a little further than rote memorization of the Preamble?
Second, we again take what other pundits or talking heads say about the Constitution as fact without any effort on our part to check those facts. It is far too easy to pull up an actual copy of the U.S. Constitution online for more people not to be doing it. Let's go back to my example of separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers only saw a need to establish in the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The phrase separation of church and state is derived from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Dansbury Baptist in 1802 and was made public. In the letter, Jefferson contends:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
The concept has been expanded to what we have today through interpretation of the Constitution by our court system...to include the Supreme Court. That's why our children no longer pray in public schools. Don't blame it on our Founding Fathers...well, not all of them.
Just a quick sidebar. Thomas Jefferson was not a man of Christian faith as many people presume. Please check that fact out for yourself. The Jefferson Bible was his attempt to take all the teaching of Jesus he liked while eliminating the 'supernatural events' surrounding Christ (i.e. healing, miracles, Son of God, and oh yeah...the Resurrection).
This is just one example of how the principles of our Constitution (and National history) are being distorted and misrepresented, but only because We the People allow it to be. My post today is a plea that you not be complacent or apathetic about your Constitutional knowledge. I think it is crucial in today's political climate that we each know the scope of the Constitution and Amendments as they were written, ratified and adopted.
It's not nearly as complex as our ridiculous tax code...but a little more in depth than the Schoolhouse Rock lessons.
To be continued...(no, I'm not done yet)