This article asserts that the church-state separation interpretation of Establishment Clause history is simply wrong. The framers were focused on the first five words of the amendment, which read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .” The original Establishment Clause was a guarantee that the federal government would not interfere in state regulation of religion-whatever form that state regulation took. Rather than enacting the Establishment Clause to mandate a separation of church and state, the framers adopted the clause to protect divergent state practices-including state establishment of religion, which continued in several states after the Establishment Clause was enacted. As Thomas Jefferson himself later acknowledged, the Establishment Clause had much in common with the Tenth Amendment, which also protected states' rights from federal interference.
David E. Steinberg,
The Myth of Church-State Separation,
59 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol59/iss4/7