Separation of Church & State

Little White Church
How much longer until our churches are deemed illegal??

It all started with some well meaning church folk and a big hunk of cheese.

Let’s jump right into this controversial issue by stating as fact that “separation of church and state” as applied and attributed to The United States of America is a complete myth. That phrasing is never used in The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or any other official document. When Thomas Jefferson made a passing reference in a letter to “the wall of separation”, he was specifically referring to The 1st Amendment to The Constitution, which simply says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Of course it goes on to talk about the freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. But the part that we’re specifically concerned with is what’s commonly known as The Establishment Clause.

There are two things that jump out at me when I read The Establishment Clause. First, the main focus was anxiety about the federal government declaring an official religion. The people that came here from England had gone through a lot. Britain was a place that went back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism, depending on who was wearing the crown. The prevailing religious doctrine changed merely on the whim of a monarch, and the people had no choice in the matter. Not following the rules set forth by The King or Queen had dire consequences. The founders of the New World, what became The United States of America, wanted freedom to worship God the way they chose, not the way the government dictated. Secondly, the latter part, the part that seems to be so conveniently ignored these days, specifically says that the right to freely exercise this freedom to worship God shall not be prohibited. So why is it that our government, and more specifically The Supreme Court, has done nothing but try to prohibit (or at the very least inhibit) the free exercise of religion?

When did freedom of religion evolve into freedom from religion? We’ve become The United States of the Offended over the course of the past couple of decades. We get ourselves in an uproar over the irrelevant issues but fail to defend the most significant of our freedoms. The “separation” battle has gone so far that we have people fighting to eradicate any and all mentions of God, such as “In God We Trust” on our currency and the phrase “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. It’s insanity, and most certainly not what our Founding Fathers intended. They wanted the citizens of this country to decide for themselves how to worship God.

There is no disputing that nearly all the men that laid the foundation of this country were Godly men. They may have followed an assortment of doctrines, but generally speaking all believed in God. For the most part these gentlemen were deists or Unitarians. I will not go in depth on either subject, as I trust my readers’ ability to research such topics if they so choose, but suffice to say that our Founding Fathers believed in God even if they weren’t followers of Christ and were somewhat suspicious of organized religion and “church” as an earthly construct.

So if it can be agreed upon that men like Washington and Adams and Jefferson believed in God and that any philosophical departures were more dogma-centered, why then should God be eliminated from our daily lives?? Christians believe in God. Muslims believe in God. Jews believe in God. Even Eastern religions believe in God in some form, though they may define it differently than what is generally accepted in our hemisphere.

The only people who don’t seem to believe in God in any form are atheists. Depending on what source one chooses to rely on, atheists are about 10% of the U.S. population. Consider this…..about 7% of Americans are vegetarian, yet every town big and small has a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc. If someone is a vegetarian they simply don’t eat at those places. Or maybe the more tolerant among that group are able to sit in a restaurant and have lunch with a friend or co-worker who is consuming meat of some sort while they stick to fruits and veggies. Why can’t atheists practice this broadness of mind??

Now I know what some would say…..it’s easy to avoid meat because there are other choices on the menu, but this circumvention isn’t possible when it comes to God. I will concede the point only when it comes to money. Everyone, atheists and believers alike, must make use of the same currency that evokes the name of God. But this is where my indignation kicks in. First of all, it’s ONE thing. That’s it atheists?? That’s all you got?? Secondly, I once again reiterate that we are talking about 1o% of the population. We are a democratic society. And while that does mean that every vote theoretically counts, it also means that the majority rules. I am sick and tired of kowtowing to people who are outnumbered more than 10 to 1. Get over yourselves. If you’re in any kind of contest imaginable and you are over-matched by those odds, you lose. Life isn’t a Rocky movie. Not all underdogs are lovable and most really don’t stand a chance.

Why then have we gotten to the point in 21st century America where The Ten Commandments are not allowed to be displayed in a courthouse and employees are told to utilize the term “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?? The answer is easy: The Supreme Court. The Court’s job was meant to be interpretation of the law, but somehow it has evolved into actively making law, sometimes even superseding The Constitution. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the issue of separation of church and state. As previously stated, the only thing in the original documents that formed the framework of the country that even alludes to the issue at hand is the 1st Amendment to The Constitution, and we’ve already examined this so called Establishment Clause. It clearly was meant to prevent a national religion and ensure each individual’s right to worship God without government interference. However, The Supreme Court has taken it upon itself to loosely “interpret” this clause to justify all kinds of lunacy. In direct contradiction to what our esteemed forefathers meant to happen, religious freedom is being hindered, not supported.

I fear that this is a Pandora’s Box that we will never be able to get under control. Things like eliminating prayer in school have stretched beyond the school day to the point where invocations are no longer allowed at events like graduations and football games. Christmas trees aren’t allowed anywhere near government buildings. The mere mention of God or allusions to anything remotely religious in any type of public setting seems to create a paranoid hysteria, albeit among a decided minority. Of course, as was mentioned, our society seems to bend over backward to please these vocal fringe groups, and therein lies the problem.

Whatever happens, however far we spiral downward into the abyss of Godlessness, just know that it wasn’t supposed to be this way, no matter what anyone says.

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5 thoughts on “Separation of Church & State

  1. Separation of church and state from Roger Williams such as adultery and not keep sabbath my be considered sinful but not criminal and murder for example is both. Said Puritans should not encode sin into civil law. That is my understanding. I never have been able to clearly define for myself how far people of faith should bring their values and beliefs into secular politics. I suppose that is impossible if we have integrity. But since Jesus attracts by conversion so must Christians and we should spend less time in the state house and more time in the meeting house or in missionary work. Do you want Islamic values of Hindu values encoded into law here? Probably not so how can we demand that our Christan value be encoded? That separation of church and state must continue to be an umbrella to keep every one out of the rain. Jesus never went to the Roman Senate or before the Pharisees or Sadducees to get laws passed. If we are men of conscience fewer laws will be needed.

      1. I would like to continue the discussion. Do you have particular questions that may help clarify what I am saying? I really don’t propose finite answers as I am still trying to figure out the balance between Christian activism and not imposing these values on others with different views. That is the stream of consciousness.

  2. This sentence:

    “Separation of church and state from Roger Williams such as adultery and not keep sabbath my be considered sinful but not criminal and murder for example is both”

    Huh??

    And this:

    “Do you want Islamic values of Hindu values encoded into law here? Probably not so how can we demand that our Christan value be encoded?”

    No, I do not want Hindu or Islamic values to influence our laws. But what I do want is the freedom to say “Merry Christmas” or pray during a graduation ceremony or utter the name of Jesus without the PC police getting offended over every little thing. The Constitution guarantees me the right of freely exercising my religion, and I feel like that right is infringed upon more & more every day.

  3. Yes you are right. It seems like people of faith are ridiculed by that PC and Hollywood culture.And they will continue do be vocal but you should not feel your rights are being infringed upon. Sadly these people have not been chosen or refuse to chose to avail themselves of the invitation of Jesus to be restored and healed and the glorious joy of being led and fortified by the Holy Spirit. I don’t see how our freedom to express things is limited, however. Christians may pray in school but it cannot be part of the morning exercises because that would be state sponsorship. I could understand the objection of a nativity scene at city hall because that would be state sponsorship but you can set one up at your home as you decorate house for Christmas. It is a little harder for me to understand objection to posting 10 Commandments as that is cross-cultural despite origin but I suppose it’s Jewish origin and the suggestion it is from God would appear to be state sponsorship of Judaism and belief in God. That is inappropriate. It may be as objectionable to some people as is the display of the confederate flag to African Americans at govt or private places or the display of the swastika at govt or private places for Jews.The reference to Roger Williams 1600’s is that fellow Puritans codified criminal law and religious law. They came for freedom but also to create a theocracy of church rule. Non believers or those not in full compliance were fined, tortured, and banished. That is what happens when no separation of church and state. Baptists and Quakers and Catholics were severely persecuted. So adultery was a sin AND crime there. Williams suggested that it may be condemned as a sin but should not be punishable as a civil crime.I think that is the focal point of separation. Of course I am angered that the stores and commercials don’t say merry Christmas, but happy holidays but I am not angered if the reference other religious holidays by name so why can’t they reciprocate with tolerance? . You can do Christian missionary work without hindrance. You can set up Christian homeless shelter and food bank and have that freedom because it is not govt sponsored. You may enjoy The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, David L. Holmes, Oxford University Press, 2006. You may enjoy theology blog “Parchment and Pen” or “Pen and Parchment.” My blog is cartoons and silly funny stuff. Invite your visit. In Christ, I remain…..

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