Comparing The Founding Documents and Jefferson’s Letter

The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and Thomas Jefferson’s Letter are the three most essential documents in American history. The three offer religious and political foundations for the United States. The Declaration of Independence was the first document to be released in 1776. This signified the end of British colonization and transition to new dawn to the Americans. Then there was the United States Constitution release in 1778. This marked the beginning of self-governance among the American people. The constitution acted as the foundation of laws that governed the independent country (National Archives, n.d.). Lastly was the release of Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. The letter was a reaction to the government stands regarding the separation of church and the state (Loc.gov, 1998).

Read also Comparison Paper – Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Thomas Jefferson’s Letter

Equality was the main theme in the Declaration of Independence. The document focused on convincing the British colony that what they were doing (colonizing Americans) was against God’s laws. By acting as American masters, the British were exceeding the biblical boundary that preaches about human equality (U.S. History, 1999). Based on the document, all humans are equal in God’s eyes since they were all created by God’s image as demonstrated in Genesis 1:27. The Declaration of Independence paved the way for the development of the U.S. Constitution, as it marked the end of British Governance in America. America had to establish guidelines to be able to form its government and enhance self-governance. The constitution’s main theme was the formation of the new U.S. government and the bills of rights (Constitute Project, 2019).

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Similar to the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution also focused on human treatment by those in the leadership; human rights and fairness. The constitution declared various freedoms that the government was willing to give to its citizens including the freedom of worship, and freedom of press, and freedom of speech. The two documents also demonstrated the importance of respecting other humans and following biblical laws while governing the country. However, unlike in the Declaration of Independence where Americans quoted equality to push the British to grant them independence, they refused to use the same principle or biblical worldview to release its African slaves. This demonstrated double standards in the newly found American government. It was clear that the government would only employ biblical law selectively; only what favors them. This was a clear variation between God’s law and the country’s law. Based on this analysis, it is clear that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were ready to respect God’s laws fully in governance, and hence no intention of separating the church and the state. However, the signers of the U.S. constitutions were not willing to embrace all God’s laws. The preferred the separation of state and the church and hence the separation of the two laws (Constitute Project, 2019). While the laws of God were universal and applicable to all, government law could be twisted to benefit the ruling class. 

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Jefferson’s letter demonstrated his appreciation to the government for the separation of the state and the church. Just as the United States gained its independence from the British colony, the church had gained its independence from the state and its constant control. It was a clear indication that the state did not want to interfere with church affairs and it never expected interference from the church (Loc.gov, 1998). Although it was celebratory to the church, this was a clear illustration that the state was not ready to follow the laws of God fully, as indicated in the refusal to release its African slaves, on human equality ground. Although the constitution has declared human freedom through what was regarded as basic rights, it also demonstrated partiality in the application of God’s law in governance. The church was given the freedom to employ God’s laws fully the church and state separation. However, through the same separation of the state and the church, the government embraced a new way of governance where it refused to fully commit to the same standards as the church in the application of God’s laws in governance.

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