Rep. Lauren Boebert Calls Separation of Church and State 'Junk,' Says Church Should Direct Government

The Colorado official claimed during a church service Sunday that separating church and state isn't in the Constitution, a misleading statement that overlooks guarantees in the First Amendment

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks at a House Second Amendment Caucus press conference at the U.S. Capitol on June 08, 2022 in Washington, DC
Rep. Lauren Boebert. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Two days before her primary election, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, 35, preached to churchgoers at an event, "The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church."

"I'm tired of this separation of church and state junk. This is not in the Constitution, it was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like what they say it does," she told the Colorado Springs crowd on Sunday.

Boebert's claim that separation of church and state is not written in the U.S. Constitution overlooks judicial interpretations of the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Legal scholars, government officials and the Supreme Court have upheld this clause as establishing what people refer to as the "separation of church and state."

The "stinking letter" Boebert alludes to is Founding Father Thomas Jefferson's correspondence with the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In his letter, Jefferson, a central figure in establishing the U.S. government, wrote that the First Amendment built "a wall of separation between Church & State."

In 1947, Jefferson's terminology was famously incorporated in Justice Hugo Black's majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education, which stated, "In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.' [...] The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable."

On Tuesday evening, Boebert won her primary election in Colorado's Third Congressional District. According to The Associated Press, Boebert took over 65% of the votes against opponent Don Coram, losing only one county.

Boebert is one of 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to certifying the electoral vote count after the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She has been at the center of several controversies since she began her term in office in January 2021.

On Monday, Boebert thanked former President Donald Trump for the "massive victories for religious liberty, Second Amendment rights, and the pro-life movement" that came out of Supreme Court decisions over the past week.

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