The expression “Separation of Church and State” has been often thrown around in mass media, schools and courts for the past few decades. But where it originates from and why do these words hold so much sway?
Separation of Church and State is a concept according to which there is a distance between the organized religion and the nation state. It means that the government does not interfere in church affairs and all the residents are free to profess any religion. However, the term “Separation of Church and State” never appears in the Constitution itself. This term basically comes from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist church promising that the government would not interfere in the church. These Baptist were afraid that the government would forbid them their worship of the Christian God so Jefferson wrote a letter claiming that the 1st Amendment would guarantee the right of choosing any religion without fear of the government.
But if the words do not explicitly appear in the Constitution, it does not mean that the concept they refer to is not guaranteed by it. For example, in one of the cases in 1947, the court stated "the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.’” (Hansen).
As the supreme court is an ultimate interpreter of the federal constitutional law, the Constitution was never a strict document, but rather, as Jefferson was convinced, a piece of wax which gets its shape in the judiciary hands. So, through the past two centuries the Supreme Court formed the Constitution in such a way that it definitely protects every religion and contain a clear separation of church and state even without these words being ever mentioned.
Hansen, Dale. “Yes There Is a Constitutional Separation of Church and State”. Huffpost Politics. Web. 21 September 2015.