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Library Of Congress Curator Backs Off Jefferson Paper.

A curator at the Library of Congress who issued a paper minimizing the importance of Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state" metaphor has retreated from some of his claims.

James Hutson, chief of the Library's manuscript division, released the paper last June to kickoff an LOC An Loc (Vietnamese: An Lộc) is a small town in southern Vietnam, located approximately 90 km north of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with a population of 15,000. The town became famous during the Vietnam War, as the location of a major battle in 1972.  exhibit titled "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic." In the essay, Hutson charged that Jefferson's famous 1802 missive to the Danbury, Conn., Baptist Association in which Jefferson spoke favorably of the "wall," was merely an attempt to respond to his political enemies, not make a statement about fundamental constitutional principles.

Jefferson wrote the famous letter on Jan. 1, 1802. In it he observed, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people An American people may be:
  • any nation or ethnic group of the Americas
  • see Demographics of North America
  • see Demographics of South America
 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."

Hutson's views are at sharp odds with most Jefferson scholars. On July 29 two dozen church-state, religion and Jefferson scholars, led by University of Richmond Professor Emeritus Robert S Robert, Henry Martyn 1837-1923.

American army engineer and parliamentary authority. He designed the defenses for Washington, D.C., during the Civil War and later wrote Robert's Rules of Order (1876).

Noun 1.
. Alley and Prof. Robert M. O'Neil of the law school of the University of Virginia, issued a paper rebutting Hutson's conclusions. The scholars called on the Library of Congress to cease presenting Hutson's conclusions as settled fact.

Several Religious Right groups, including the Christian Coalition Christian Coalition, organization founded to advance the agenda of political and social conservatives, mostly comprised of evangelical Protestant Republicans, and to preserve what it deems traditional American values. , the Family Research Council and Focus on the Fan-lily (FOF FOF Fund of Funds (umbrella fund)
FOF Focus on the Family (religious organization)
FOF Frets On Fire (game)
FOF Feast of Fools
FOF Front Office Football
), seized on Hutson's original paper, citing it as "proof' that Jefferson never meant to erect a wall of separation between church and state. Last October a photo of Hutson along with a glowing article about his claims appeared in FOF's Citizen magazine.

On Jan. 5 Hutson appeared at the Freedom Forum World Center in Arlington, Va., where he read a revised version Revised Version
A British and American revision of the King James Version of the Bible, completed in 1885.

Revised Version
 of the paper backing off from some of his claims. The Freedom Forum's web-based publication free! reported that Hutson called his paper "casually written" and conceded that he is not a religious liberty expert. He also said he wanted to quell quell  
tr.v. quelled, quell·ing, quells
1. To put down forcibly; suppress: Police quelled the riot.

 the "unfortunate sideshow See Windows SideShow. " his paper has sparked.

"My view of the wall of separation ... is that it is impenetrable im·pen·e·tra·ble  
1. Impossible to penetrate or enter: an impenetrable fortress.

2. Impossible to understand; incomprehensible: impenetrable jargon.
, but punctuated by checkpoints, allowing religion to pass through ... provided that it treats everyone equally who wanted to come along," Hutson said.

Alley and Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green attended the Jan. 5 event and challenged Hutson's conclusions. Green, who recently completed a doctorate in church-state studies, told Hutson that he had failed to take Jefferson's entire thinking on churchstate separation into account.

Green pointed out that Jefferson's actions and his other writings prove beyond a doubt that he was a strong supporter of the separation of church and state
See also: .
Separation of church and state is a political and legal doctrine which states that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent of one another.
. "Thomas Jefferson personally labored to end state-established religion in Virginia," Green told Church & State. "He regarded religious freedom and church-state separation in Virginia as one of his major accomplishments, more important even than serving as president for eight years."

Continued Green, "Hutson's analysis of the Danbury letter is deeply flawed. But he is equally mistaken in trying to determine Jefferson's philosophy on the basis of one document. To really assess Jefferson's views on church and state, you must examine his life's actions and writings. Any honest examination of this material leaves no doubt that Jefferson stood foursquare in favor of the separation of religion and government."
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Publication:Church & State
Date:Feb 1, 1999
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