church-and-state

The founding fathers wanted the separation of church and state put in place for many reasons, not the least of which is to protect our rights and freedoms. How important was it to them?  It’s addressed in the very first sentence of the very first Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Here some thoughts on the matter in the Founding Fathers own words.

Thomas Jefferson

“… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of Separation between Church and State.”

John Adams

“The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.”

George Washington

“We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, & in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining & holding the highest offices that are known in the United States.”

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”

James Madison

“The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.”

Is Separation under attack?

Ted Cruz made the following statements to a small group of evangelicals in New Hampshire, back when he was seeking the Presidency.

“I Will Make Public School Prayer Mandatory!”
He went on to explain how education starts with God and that his plan will increase test scores, stop (not reduce, but stop) teen pregnancy, and make America a better place. Is this a common view? Maybe not, but it is certainly not rare, especially among those who consider themselves Evangelicals and/or Conservative Republicans.

I know many good people that are very religious. As such, they see the Separation of Church and State as an affront to their beliefs. Most, however, have not really thought this through. The 1st Amendment actually protects those very freedoms. I know, it can be confusing – I had to research it and think it through myself. Here are some things I’ve learned.

Separation equals Religious Freedom.

Freedom of religion is also the Freedom from religion.  Under current law a parent can send their child to school without fearing the indoctrination of beliefs (even extreme views) that vary greatly from their own.  We must remember, in today’s increasingly diverse communities, allowing one religion essentially allows them all.

With separation you and your child are free to worship (or not) as you see fit. You don’t have to worry that teachings at home are being contradicted by teachers at school.  You can be assured that if a teacher holds views different than yours, they can’t legally interject those views into their lesson plans.

Separation equals Respect and Tolerance.

Separation facilitates respect and tolerance. The more we interject religious beliefs into secular settings the more we highlight our differences, which can negatively impact tolerance and acceptance.  Our children have the right (and need) to attend school without confronting multiple religious views.

Separation is logical and pragmatic, because:

  • Should religious studies and activities be required in a public school setting, (all religions, not just Christianity), little time would be left for traditional curriculum.
  • Some religious doctrines require specific writings that may be considered blasphemous by other faiths, creating conflict.
  • Non-Pious literature will come under increased scrutiny, with the likelihood that some (if not many) classic works will become censored or banned entirely.
  • The free flow of ideas would be stifled by the fear of infringing on the religious beliefs of others.
  • Talented (secular) teachers could leave (or never pursue) positions as teachers in public schools.

Separation protects our children.

In today’s world, where extremists seek to indoctrinate our children, isn’t it comforting to know that our school administrators are not required to wade through a sea of religious beliefs in search of those designed to harm? Separation of Church and State makes any such evil efforts stand out – Something we should all appreciate and protect.

Separation is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitutional!

As citizens we have the right to vote and the responsibility to be informed. To be informed we must allow the truth to change our beliefs. If, instead, we choose to accept rhetoric that supports our narrative over the truth, we are the very fools that threaten our nation.

The Separation of Church and State protects our religious liberties. Is it ironic that the individuals (or groups) that seek to take this liberty away claim to be strict Constitutionalist?

Required religious content or prayer in public schools will absolutely have unintended but also very negative implications. We must stand together and protect our rights and our children!

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