Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the founding fathers never intended to banish religion from government.
Scalia was speaking to students at the University of Virginia, a school founded by Thomas Jefferson.
It was Jefferson who wrote about the "separation of church and state" to a group of Baptists during his presidency.
Scalia added that Jefferson also wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
Both documents cite God as the source of human rights.
Scalia said the courts have invented clauses that forbid religion in the public square.
"When one of these judicially created abstractions comes up against a longstanding tradition, it is the abstraction -- not the tradition-- that must yield," he said.