Thomas Jefferson wrote that phrase "separation of church and state" in a letter about a church's concern against gov't intervention with the church. He himself wrote that we are "endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights."
Therefore, faith in a Deity DID influence his public policy statement known as the Declaration of Independence. The Bible WAS an influence in our Constitution --because people raised on the book believed in freedom and rights but not licentiousness to do any Biblically defined sins which are bad for the society --sins that were considered morally wrong for generations of culture with Christian influence. They would never have said that if you don't think adultery or stealing or aborting are wrong, you may do them under our laws.
Early Americans believed in religious freedom --for the sake of the people who had been long oppressed under state churches. These people had not been oppressed by law in their desire to sin, but in their desire to worship freely, departing from the doctrines (not the morality) of the established state church. Cromwell, in England, e.g. had prohibited celebrating Christmas for a time.
For years, we had "blue laws" of restrictions on Sunday (no commerce) --because most of the nation believed in the 10 commandments --that a day should be held apart for God --"Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." Today we say that since we aren't under the LAW but under GRACE, strictness about sabbath commerce is inconsistent with the NT --also because Jesus Himself weakened the extreme Jewish restrictions on the sabbath -saying "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
TJ was on the D.C school board which had the Bible, Common book of prayer, and the Isaac Watts Hymnal on the text book list. School days were started with prayer for a couple centuries at least in the U.S.
The way we interpret church-state separation today is not the way TJ interpreted it. He would have agreed that Ohare-murray's son should not have to participate in an opening day school prayer (which exception the school agreed to, i think) --but he would never have said that the prayers were illegal, which is what the boy's mother wanted--because he believed in religious freedom and majority rule with minority rights--even in schools. He wouldn't have liked deferring to the minority in a school district in order to outlaw the relgious freedom of the majority.
He saw the good of religious faith in a society. He said, "Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?"
Schools in those days would celebrate Christmas religiously with pageants telling the ancient story of the virgin birth. And the ACLU wasn't then skulking about the music teachers to scare them away from singing religious music.
I know that TJ didn't personally believe in the miraculous of the Bible --his error. After all, he wasn't there at the time; the writers were. ARrogance on his part to assume that God couldn't do what the Bible says He did --all through his relationship with mankind starting with the creation of Adam and Eve, the miracle of Sarah and Abraham's baby in their old age, which baby was the first child of promise and a forefather of the whole Jewish nation/people group, whose child would have the 12 sons as beginners of the 12 tribes).
TJ would not have believed in the miracle of Elijah and the firey altar in the contest with the Baal worshippers whose altar would not ignite, and Elijah did get the Lord to raise a widow's only son from the dead --the miracles, virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus and the miracles of the early apostles, and the miraculous conversion of Saul to St. Paul. True stories. The writers believed them --and there were many of these writers telling one cohesive story about a God who loves us and has standards of righteousness (including family values) toward which we should aspire --a God who has provided salvation through Christ's perfection instead of our own.
TJ, however, may have fathered a child through his slave --whom he did not have the courage to free and marry. So I don't think you really want to champion his Deistic views. A braver Christian man would have fought slavery and freed his own slaves and not had sex with one to whom he was not married--Geo. Washington DID free his slaves, as i recall.
Revisionist historians like to say Geo. Washington had an affair with a neighbor on the basis of some flattery in a letter to that former neighbor. The flattery wasn't sexual in nature --and there was no reason to read into it an affair or infatuation--such flattery was the courtesy of the day. LIke the church usher who greets me warmly on Sundays and says, "You look beautiful today, Mrs.____" He means no romantic interest. And I assure you, beauty was in the eye of the beholder. Such was the flattery of the neighbor in Geo W's letter --out of which the revisionists made an affair. Observers in Geo W's day called him a man of prayer and devout Christian faith, active in his church's business.
It was Bible believers who led in abolition of slavery, in England and in U.s. See Amazing Grace at Spring Meadows theater.
Freedom from the Bible's standards is a dangerous thing --allowing us to advocate and celebrate all sorts of sin --to our personal, family, national, and eternal detriment.
As Geo. Washington put it, "The smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained." 1st Inaugural Address.
How can liberals then say that we are not a religiously founded nation??? given that statement was in our first president's first inaugural address?