To Thomas Jefferson it was self-evident that religious institutions or sects could not establish, constitute, or have authority in the new American government, nor could government establish religion. When arguing his position, Jefferson sometimes used the carefully worded phrase "ingraft into the machine of government" confirming his concern about those artful clerics or religious extremists who would first inject their religious ideology "into the machine of government" providing them a strategic position to later establish
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showed last 75 words of 3901 total
God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and 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 and State."
* Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802. ME 16:281