1984 April 9

U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Begins


An official U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican (officially the Holy See) began on this day. The U.S. had maintained some relations with the Vatican for many years, but had never had an Ambassador. Many American protestant leaders and civil libertarians opposed having an Ambassador, arguing that it gave a special status to one religious group and thereby violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. See, for example, the controversy over the nomination of Gen. Mark W. Clark by President Harry Truman on October 20, 1951. (Clark withdrew his name because of the controversy.)

The Supreme Court embraced the concept of a “wall of separation” between church and state in the landmark decision Everson v. Board of Education on February 10, 1947.

Read: Jeremy Gunn and John Witte, No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty (2012)

Learn more about separation of church and state: https://www.au.org/

Learn about the Religion Clauses at the First Amendment Center:


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