Separation of Church and State

Seek First to Understand....

Thought experiment. Imagine you are a firm ... oh, Christian. You have moved to a country where they worship ... say, the sun. Your child is forced to recite a prayer every day that pays homage to the sun-god.

Now, would this make you happy? If this doesn't make you happy, why should you insist that other people's children have to pay homage to your God? Will your insistence make them believers? Will forcing something down their throats make them love Christianity?

I believe in God. I believe in a loving, compassionate God. I think prayer is of great benefit. However, there is a dangerous line where the State starts imposing its idea of religion on the people.

The Persecution of Those Who Don't Fit In

Do another thought experiment and imagine what it's like to be someone who doesn't fit in with the people around you.

Perhaps you've never experienced the terrible loneliness and pressure to conform. Perhaps you've never endured the jeers and teasing of children who know you are "different." Perhaps you've never seen the damage ostracism and xenophobia can wreak. But perhaps you have the compassion to be able to imagine it.

With the government sanctioning a particular religion ... who will suffer?

The Corruption of Religious Powers

Perhaps the religion the government promotes may start off being what you believe. But, because power breeds corruption, eventually it will probably no longer be what you believe at all. It would be a mask of so-called religion; a set of "laws" made by men in the name of God; a network of restrictions in the name of a Higher Power but in reality designed to keep people under control.

Think of it this way: throughout the ages, there have been times when the powerful religious authorities of the time said it was:

These were different religious authorities, in different times. But they all thought they were right, and everyone else was wrong. In most of these cases, the government walked hand-in-hand with the religious institutions, because it served their purposes. And the powers persecuted those who disagreed, and claimed to have their God or gods on their side!

C. S. Lewis, a dedicated Christian, wrote in 1955:

Does Forcing Religion Bear the Right Fruit?

Arguably the mass forced conversion of many is not a bad thing. I'm sure some could point to the forced conversion of people who, say, used to perform human sacrifice. But let's look at people in daily life, at the case examples around us.

Many atheists became hostile to religion because they saw too many fundamentalists beating up other people with the Bible. They saw intolerance, hatred, and bigotry among those who most loudly proclaimed the love of God. What example do we set if we try to force a religion upon someone who doesn't want it? I'm not talking about open dialogue, gentle persuasion, or "winning souls by example." I'm talking rules and regulations that insist people worship a certain way. How would you react if someone tried to impose a different religion on you?

And what about truth-seekers? The entire Protestant Church owes its existence to the efforts of people who wanted to purify the then-Church of its corruption. Surely, also, many people who died in the Spanish Inquisition were simply those who questioned the morality of killing and torturing so-called heretics. America was founded in part by those who wished to escape religious persecution. And a reminder to Christians: Jesus died because the religious leaders of the time hated the way he challenged their power and authority! It could be argued that the bigger, more powerful, and more bureaucratic a religious institution becomes, the further it tends to stray from God -- and woe to those who serve the real God, those who would question the human authorities!

I for one don't want to see that corruption happen in a nation dedicated to freedom. And I pray that the cup of corrupting power passes from the churches and other religious institutions.

The Blessing of Freedom....

The lack of governmental support for religion does not stop you!

You can teach your children to live true to your beliefs. You can pray for the salvation of many. You can ask God to bless our country. You can lead friends and family in prayer. You can start a company based on Christian or Jewish or whatever principles. You can talk to other people about religion and beliefs. You can make web sites proclaiming your beliefs. You can definitely live your beliefs to the fullest, reaching out to help the needy and suffering. You can even emphasize the need for teaching children some of the universal principles that most religions agree upon: kindness, charity, compassion, respect.

The lack of governmental support for religion helps you!

We have a nation -- the United States of America -- where you can largely worship as you please. The Separation of Church and State helps believers of a particular creed to worship and act without government interference. You are free to be a liberal, a fundamentalist, a Pentecostal, a Baptist, a Mormon, a Catholic, a Methodist, a Jew, a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Shinto, an agnostic, an atheist. No one else can stop you. No one else has the right to stop you.

In my opinion, this is a blessing.

Note: I have absolutely nothing against a minute of silence in schools. Nor do I object to school material teaching about religion in general, as long as it doesn't force one particular view upon people. Nor do I object to pointing out the Founding Fathers' beliefs. I certainly think teaching some universal morals and ethics is a good idea! I think religious groups should be able to use school premises after school hours. And if individuals want to organize unofficial religious groups -- so long as there is no coercion/ostracism of non-believers, nor an official stamp of condoning -- that's fine. In fact, I even believe the Columbine families should be able to display religious-themed tiles at the high school. I merely draw the line at the government promoting a particular religion. Much harm has come of it in the past, and more harm can come of it in the future.

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