Speaking to an audience at the Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt on June 26, 2022 — two days before the primary election — House Rep. Lauren Boebert called for America to become a theocracy, a system of government in which the church directs the government.
Strutting back and forth across the stage like a televangelist, Boebert told the audience,
“The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our founding fathers intended it. And I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk. That’s not the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like what they say.”
Boebert was referring to historic correspondence between the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut and President Thomas Jefferson.
On October 7, 1801, the Baptists wrote Thomas Jefferson saying they were concerned that the U.S. Constitution wasn’t clear enough on the subject of religion. The Baptists interpreted the Constitution as meaning religious privileges were essentially a favor granted by the government, and not an inalienable right. The Baptists sought clarification from Jefferson on this.
Jefferson wrote the Baptists back on January 1, 1802, clarifying that religion is a matter “solely between a Man and his God.” Jefferson said “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions,” and said,
“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.”
Jefferson’s letter clarified the founders’ intent that religion and government should be kept strictly separate — as though separated by a wall — and that government should not mandate or endorse any religion. His message was that Americans can engage in their own religious beliefs free from government interference. Thus his letter made it clear that the founders’ intent was that America have a secular (nonreligious) government.
The opposite of a secular government is a theocracy, a system of government in which religious priests rule over the people in the name of God or gods. Theocracies around the world today include Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Yemen, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, all Islamic. In Saudi Arabia, anyone caught promoting any religion than Islam is subject to strict punishment up to and including the death penalty. In Iran, being an atheist or promoting any religion other than Islam is punishable by death for men, and life in prison for women.
Not so in the U.S.
In the U.S., government does not mandate religions, or force religion on others.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The words “separation of church and state” are not in the First Amendment, but the wording of the Amendment has long been interpreted to mean that in the U.S., religion shall be kept distinctly separate from government. It was a groundbreaking idea at the time, and has long been the tenet that has set America apart from other countries around the world — the assurance that all citizens are entitled to enjoy their religion free from government interference, and the corollary, that government will be free from religious influence.
In short, our secular government is one of the unique things that makes America truly great.
Rep. Boebert is advocating the opposite — a religious government run that rules over everyone and everything, no matter how it oppresses people who don’t belong to that religion.
This is fundamentally an unAmerican idea, more suited to Afghanistan, Iran or Saudi Arabia..