Separation of Church and State

So as we all know, yesterday was Easter. The high holy day on the Christian calendar (it’s true look it up).

Every Easter I head to my grandmother’s house and hang out with my family. We sit around the table and eat and drink (and drink some more). We exchange ideas and crack jokes on each other. If you can’t talk fast and loud then you are not going to be heard. After years of observing and years more of trying and failing, I am finally at a point now where I can get my two cents in. I feel like a minor league ball player who finally made it with a big league team.

One of the things I love about my family is that they don’t let their differentiating viewpoints separate them. They will disagree vehemently one second, then laugh and hug the next second. A good example of this is the ongoing battle between my uber-religious aunt and some of us lapse catholics in the family. She’ll always ask us when’s the last time we went to church, knowing full well we don’t know the answer. She’ll drop not so subtle hints, like mentioning us in prayer when blessing the food. She knows it annoys us on some level, but that is her way of getting at us. In return we always say borderline things that are borderline sacreligious to test her patience. Like yesterday we were a the table and I said to my cousin, “Man I sure don’t want to go to work tomorrow. Why couldn’t Jesus come back on a Monday?” My aunt laughed and then smacked me in the back of the head.

risen
Hey Jesus, could you maybe do me a solid and hit the snooze button till tomorrow.
Some of us don’t get a spring break. 

This is sort of the ebb and flow of things. We may not agree with eachother, but we have all been raised to appreciated a witty or intelligent statement. Regardless of whether or not we totally agree.

My favorite discussion yesterday centered around abortion. (Uh oh. I said the “A” word!) I am not sure how the discussion got started but it got heated pretty quickly. We had a few staunch pro-choicers here, a few anti-abortionists there, a few people in the middle. One of my cousins held that he is only pro-abortion in extreme cases such as ones that involve incest or rape. I sat back and watched as point after point was made and how skillfully each point was countered. 

Now I have heard many a discussion about abortion. This one was no less heated than many of the others I have witnessed. What amazed me about this discussion is that no matter what viewpoint was being argued, left, right, or in the middle, I could see merit to what was being said. So often this is not the case in discussions involving hot button issues such as these. It was thoroughly refreshing to see.

There was one question that was posed that I found particularly interesting. This is the question I will ask you all;

Does separation of church and state truly exist?

It really is an interesting question to pose. In my opinion the two are not as separate as they should be. At first I used the topic of abortion to illustrate how certain factions in our government try to base laws on religious beliefs, but I think an even better case can be made for gay rights. See abortion is considered by many to be murder. Whether this is right or wrong, it presents a very compelling argument. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of people against gay marriage use religious beliefs as the foundation of their argument. How can we claim separation of church and state when people are being denied rights based greatly on scripture? Does that sound right?

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115 comments

  1. not just denied rightso n scripture, but on a particular sects take on how scripture should interact with society, in fact.  I think that it’s a good point, and I agree – this is a case of the church overstepping its bounds by a bit.

  2. Because the Wall of Seperation between Church and State was made to protect the Church from the State. Many people think that this phrase is located somewhere in the Constitution. It isn’t, the First Amendment says that there shall be no establishment of a religion, nothing about keeping religious beliefs out of the government. The Danbury Baptists were worried that the government would dictate to them how they should worship. They wrote to Thomas Jefferson expressing their concerns. He wrote back and told them not to worry, that they were safe, because….there was a wall of seperation between church and state. If we look further back in History to the era of the Puritans and Pilgrims we can see the basis for this statement. The Pilgrims were a faction of people, in England, that were not part of the Church of England, because they worshipped differently, they were arrested, imprisoned and persecuted for their religious beliefs. They finally fled England, and went to Holland (a famous refuge for people fleeing oppression), there they were content to live, but they were worried that their children would be infected with the worldliness of Holland, so they left Holland and went to America, and there you have it.The Founding Fathers wanted to avoid this same problem, so they were adamant that there would be no established religion. However, there was absolutely nothing that said religious practices must be distanced from the State. Benjamin Franklin himself insisted that prayer be instituted during the Constitutional Convention.

  3. Interesting Easter at your house. My only observance of the holiday was a nice chunk of chocolate I ate for breakfast.I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state. I was before, too. Not a deep answer, but the best I can pull off this time of the morning.

  4. I would say that it does exist; but it’s a matter of the formal separation of those institutions, rather than the absence of personal religious beliefs in our elected representatives and others powers that be. 

  5. Having religion in the government isn’t a bad thing. So one Pres. is Christian and says that gay people can’t marry each other. Four years later, and Atheist Pres. is on board and says that they can. If the government works well some laws may never stand the test of time. 

  6. @Undercover_Librarian – That’s fine and dandy, but I bet you’d be the first to argue against allowing MUSLIM prayer to be instituted by the State, or BUDDHIST prayer, or WICCAN prayer, wouldn’t you?  Freedom goes both ways.  Learn to deal with it, or accept that YOU could be the one limited someday.

  7. The fact that people who vote against gay marriage do so on the basis of religion does not mean there is no separation of church and state.  A person can vote based on any personal reason they choose, religious or otherwise.  If proponents of gay marriage were prosecuted for “acting in an UnChristian manner” after proposing constitutional amendments in favor of gay marriage, THAT would be mixed church and state.   

  8. @Undercover_Librarian – The phrase “separation of Church and State” was coined by Thomas Jefferson and was NOT to protect the church. It was to protect the Government from control of the Church as had been evidenced by European rulers and the stranglehold of the Catholic Church. To prevent controlling interest over the church by any leader was secondary to that. Jefferson, et. al knew full well that dictation of Church dogma by any one religion would cause persecution of any others. Church law could not, should not EVER decide what laws will be passed nor how they would be worded.

  9. I have mixed thoughts on this. On the one hand, when the people are constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of speech and press, freedom of association, et al. and given the power to choose their representatives and petition the government, they are also free to choose their representatives and what they petition the government for using whatever criteria they choose, even religious criteria. On the other hand, I don’t believe it to be wise to judge a person’s fitness for a secular office based upon religious criteria. (Note: non-religious people do this too when they reject a candidate for coming across as “too” religious rather than his/her stated positions.) But I also think it’s very foolish to try to use the power of the government to force one’s religious beliefs (or lack of beliefs), or to force one viewpoint out of the public discourse.

  10. you’ll have to ask the Supreme Court, Dave.  i mean, i could tell what they’d say, but it’s a semi-complicated answer, and i don’t want to have law school flashbacks.our families are similar, i think.  well, besides black people being all the same, anyway, you know.  yeah.  my extended family “prays” for me all the time.  i feel like it’s more of telling on my in front of God.  i hope He’s as displeased as i am.

  11. Whew. Easter. Manhattans. Wishing it were still Sunday.I honestly agree with you one this one Dave, and I’m not just saying that to be…uhh…Agreeable, or whatever the hell it is. If there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State, I don’t think that we have quite achieved that in this country. And the gay rights situation is the epitome of this.Now, I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing, or a good thing. But that’s not really what you’re asking, either.

  12. Seperation of church and state (the phrase doesn’t even appear in the comnstitution) actually meant seperating the government from the church. The church will always influence the state just like the atheists will always influence government. Church, is a body of people, which is what the world and government are also. right?

  13. In my opinion the two are not as separate as they should be…Bingo. You can certainly have an opinion, and you can voice it. But, when making laws, only reasonable arguments should be weighed, and not unquestionable appeals to “holy” books.  I LOVE the US Constitution. Unfortunately, in reality, it gets trampled on rather often by religious believers who wish to impose their ideas to the exclusion of others. Ironically, they claim they’re being martyred and call anyone who opposes their fascism “unpatriotic.”  Strange, eh?

  14. I think that the reason why so many people use religion as an argument is because it’s the easiest route. It’s the path of least resistant as this nation has a strong belief in God, still. They may not be regular worshippers but they’re still guided by a belief in a Judeo-Christian God.

  15. We definitely haven’t gotten to a full separation yet. Right now our government is so obviously favoring a certain religious party and it is getting in the way of innocent peoples rights.

  16. The phrase “separation of Church and State” implies that such a thing could ever exist, truly. What he meant, in context, was there should be no establishment of a Church, like the one in England that robbed so many of their right to free worship and expression. He wrote the letter in response to the Danbury Baptists, of Danbury, Connecticut, who were suffering persecution for their minority religious beliefs.It did not mean he believed the government would, or could even possibly, ever be completely free from the influences of people’s beliefs. Regardless of your definition of “religion,” the point remains that the fundamental beliefs of the people/legislature will ALWAYS be reflected in government and its policies. You can’t separate people’s beliefs from the state, as it were. Jefferson himself instituted a day of fasting and prayer, in 1774. In 1779, he decreed a day of “public and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to the Almighty God.” While he was president, Jefferson also signed numerous bills that funded the work of chaplains in the military and in Congress. Does this sound at all like the kind of “separation of Church and State” people are trying to effect today?Based on the context of his oft-misconstrued letter, and his later actions, Jefferson did not actually believe one should try to separate the very mention of God from state functions and policies. He was, in fact, stating that no one should be persecuted for doing so.All that said, Jefferson was reiterating that the Constitutional framers wrote the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”) because they didn’t want the government to favor one religion or denomination above the others, and in so doing, establish a state religion. He did NOT mean we should attempt to divorce religious convictions from the government; only that we should not persecute people of other religions.

  17. @Simbathe2nd – yes the church is just a body of people and the influence will always be there. But there is a line that should be respected. When the main opposition or justification for a law comes from religious scripture, I think this line has been passed. It’s the responsibility of our elected officials to uphold this separation and I think it is one that they have not carried out fully.@In_Reason_I_Trust –  I am not even making a statement to how reasonable referring to holy texts are. My statement is simply that it should not be a valid methodology in THIS government.

  18. @SecretNeverTold – I think the point I am trying to make lies more in your last paragraph. I am aware of the Danbury Baptists and I am also aware that religion was never intended to be entirely divorced from government. However if we are truly trying to strive for a governernment where one religion is not favored above others than how can we make laws that are almost purely based on a certain religion’s scripture? In this respect people are being persecuted for not believing as others do.

  19. @vanedave – They are in denial that their beliefs also fall into the same category of “fundamental beliefs that guide policies.” They also should not try to persecute others with their beliefs.The real sticky issue is when those “rights” and “beliefs” collide. When one sect feels that another sect’s right to exercise freely somehow infringes on their other basic human rights. That is what this boils down to, I think: We need to evaluate the ideal balance of church and state in terms of the basic Constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When one religion or religious sect, or UNreligious sect, starts infringing on THOSE basic rights, that is when we need to re-evaluate any policies that allow it.This is why people should not sling the term “persecution” around loosely, or the “rights” term. A lot of people like to define the term “rights” very liberally, to encompass all of their wants, and many also have no idea what it means to be truly persecuted for their beliefs or lack thereof.Does this make sense? It doesn’t mean we should demonize any religious sect, but should be vigilant about maintaining freedom for all when it does not prohibit or inhibit the First Amendment rights of others.Yeah?

  20. I think it is conveniently brought out by the state at certain times………like when you HAVE to tell the truth “so help me God”I can so see you getting smacked upside your head for that Monday remark lol

  21. @SecretNeverTold – I think we are in agreement if I am understanding this correctly. So let’s make this a bit more concrete. In the case of gay marriage, I do believe the term persecution applies and that they are being denied certain basic rights. This is all done very much based on religious beliefs. Now if more people were to present a case against gay marriage that did not involve “what god intended” I might be open to discussing why gay marriage is wrong, but too often this is not the case. This is at the crux of what I am trying to say. This is where upholding separation of church and state becomes so important.

  22. From a girl with 12 years of Catholic School and church every week, I have become very cynical of the Catolic Church.  We had a Proposal here in Michigan in regards to stem cell research.  The Catholic church threw TWO MILLION dollars against the proposal.  They are as political as they come. Sometimes I think that the Catholic Church can be compared to organized crime in terms of power that they hold and they are as hypocritical as any corrupt politican out there. 

  23. I like discussions at your house, then. If things get heated at my house, people don’t tend to cool off very quickly. Makes for uncomfortable go-betweens.

  24. @vanedave – First, a definition of persecution, to keep things in perspective: “a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs [or sexual orientation]” (Random House, brackets my own addition)In some cases, yes, I agree that GLBT community is being marginalized, and that measures ought to be taken to mitigate that. However, it cannot be entirely mitigated without beginning to infringe on the religious rights of certain sects:The Becket Fund pointed out the indirect consequences that would result from unfettered rights to gay marriage:”Based on this data, we conclude that if same-sex marriage is recognized by courts or legislatures, people and institutions who have conscientious objectionsto facilitating same-sex marriage will likely be sued under existinganti-discrimination laws–laws never intended for that purpose.Lawsuits will likely arise when religious people or religiousorganizations choose, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs,not to hire individuals in same-sex marriages, refuse to extend spousalbenefits to same-sex spouses, refuse to make their property or servicesavailable for same-sex marriage ceremonies or other events affirmingsame-sex marriage, or refuse to provide otherwise available housing tosame-sex couples. This wide-ranging conflict between governments andconscientious citizens would take years of litigation to resolve,assuming that it could be resolved.”The problem with this issue in particular is that we have to wield the direct consequences of denying GLBT’s equal marriage rights against the indirect consequences of granting them equal marriage rights. It’s hard for the religious sect to argue as effectively when the consequences they foresee are not immediately visible to the naked, undiscerning eye.I have not concluded what I think about this issue, but I am unlike many who presume it is a cut-and-dried issue of gay rights versus outright subjugation. I believe gays should be allowed hospital visitation rights, but they should probably not have the right to sue a pastor for refusing to marry them, against his religious convictions.So it’s pretty clear that there is a direct clash of actual rights between some in the religious community and some in the GLBT community. That’s why I have a hard time deciding what would be the right law, in a case like this. It’s at this point that I am tempted to let people make that call themselves democratically, with their votes, like they did in Iowa. And also like they did in California. Different conclusions, but neither more right or wrong than the other, in my (current, inconclusive) estimation.Either way, you have the consequences of implementing certain beliefs (religious or unreligious) and the influence their policies will have on others who disagree with those beliefs.To go back to Jefferson’s promise in the letter to the CT Baptists, it seems an argument could be made that, in a case like this, the religious rights are the ones we should protect, since that is the type of “people” Jefferson promised would not be subjugated. But then, under my own discussion terms, I classify “UNreligious” beliefs equally with religious ones. So that wouldn’t hold water, for me, methinks. We should protect all people’s convictions, when they don’t infringe on others’ rights. : )

  25. i believe in secularization.and i agree, church and state can be more separate. its not fair to deny some people rights because of what the scriptures say. by doing that, you are making one person not equal to another.which would contradict the declaration of independence.(?)which states that we were all created equal. good post

  26. Usually I’m all for seperation, except when it comes to Christian holidays! In Germany Easter means Friday and Monday off and two free weeks for school kids. 🙂

  27. Its supposed to exist, but it doesn’t. At least in America. And its far worse in some other places. Its awesome your family is that close. =]

  28. lol…that’s funny lolol….why couldn’t Jesus come back on a Monday lolol…that is true. Easter is always on the weekend and that’s not adequate enough celebration time. If he rose on Monday afternoon then we’d have an extra vacation day lol.

  29. @Undercover_Librarian – // The Danbury Baptists were worried that the government would dictate to them how they should worship //That’s a bit incorrect. The Danbury Baptists were not fearful of the government, but rather the congregation of Danbury. As a religious minority, they were concerned about government-protected religious right of whorship.// Because the Wall of Seperation between Church and State was made to protect the Church from the State. //As highlighted in my note on your Danbury example, the purpose of “the wall” is more general: The protection of religious liberties– from the government, from other religions, and from each other.// The Founding Fathers wanted to avoid this same problem, so they were adamant that there would be no established religion. However, there was absolutely nothing that said religious practices must be distanced from the State. //Come on. You quote Jefferson. I can pull a handful of examples where Jefferson, aimed to seperate religious practices from the government. For instance, during his presidency, Jefferson refused to issue a Declaration of Thanksgiving on the grounds of seperation.

  30. @SecretNeverTold – // Technically, a private letter from Jefferson to a church congregation isn’t exactly law. Congress didn’t vote on that. :p //Yeah. The Supreme Court, though, interpret such texts to determine Founders’ intent?

  31. Franklin also said “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” And “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” Jefferson and most of the rest of them were staunch Deists at best, not exactly Christian. Separation of Church and State doesn’t worry me like it used to because the Church’s influence on the State is dwindling. People are slowly figuring out that their faith isn’t incompatible with political mediation, just like their faith isn’t incompatible with science. At least they need to start figuring that out, in order to maintain the credibility they’ve been losing for the last 2 or 3 hundred years. 

  32. Right? Why couldn’t He have come back on a Monday? No… I agree. For one, my everyday choices are based ENTIRELY on my “religion”. I’m Christian/Protestant… So we don’t exactly call it “religion” -_- And when we stopped going to church my life just hit rock bottom =( I’m better, though…

  33. It should. There is not only one religion in America. There are multiple multiple religions and to have Christian laws (like pro life and no gay marriage) apply to EVERYONE is wrong. I’m not saying that a Christian person should abandon their belief but I think that the government should be JUST government and religion should be a separate form or entertainment.

  34. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. There are many times when religious morality and our patriotic values disagree. For instance: gay marriage. I know everyone hates it when that topic is brought up, but it’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Sure, gay marriage is wrong biblically. But doesn’t our country promise “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” What right does our country have to say gay people can’t be happy? I won’t get into the details, but you see what I’m talking about. During the latest election, people were so caught up on the fac that Obama may or may not be a Christian that they forgot to look at the real issues. How many of our past leaders weren’t Christian? Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both deists, but no one knew or really cared at that point. Since then, there was the big uproar about Kennedy being Catholic. And now we have Obama, a man of Muslim descent who attends a Christian church. And the US is supposed to be founded on the separation of church and state. Bullshit. 

  35. If the founders did not intend for the church to influence the state then they would not have used the government to forward the gospel in the massive ways that they did. They also would not have had prayer in congress and wouldn’t have mentioned God during national addresses – which they did.  You can argue the whole “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” all you want,but it does NOT mean you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and you don’t deserve whatever you want.  Contrary to what some people seem to think is the truth, gay marriage is not and has never been a “basic right”.  If you are arguing you have the right to marry whomever you love, then there is absolutely no grounds to tell someone they cannot marry their dog if they love it.  The buck has to stop somewhere and there has the be standards and morals.  Without the church, without God and His word, there is no basis for morals other than what people THINK is right and wrong…..and we can all see how well we agree on that.

  36. No, I don’t feel that religion and state are separated. I live in the south, part of the “bible belt”, I had teachers that would preach in class, public school, but then I had others that would not allow anybody to speak the actual word “God” , “Jesus”, or any other religious deities I did not mention. But for the most part, religion is apart of our school system. My friend, who happened to be pagan, got kicked out of class because she was wearing a pentagram and refused to take it off. (personal opinion here, if she was not allowed to wear her religious sign, then every one wearing a cross or such should have to remove theirs.)okay, that’s my two cents, if anyone cares or if it even makes sense. 🙂 

  37. I really don’t think it’s just religious. One needs to first undermine where marriage came from, and the true definition of it. What defines marriage? Is it strictly a written document that seals two together? Then let the gays marry.But does marriage have in its deep definition the underlying characteristics of a family that had brought America together in the first place? Well, I don’t think we’ve heard of two moms or dads until now. Marriage, in my secular opinion, assuming religion is merely religion, was created by a conjoined (not physically) man and woman for the sake of bounded two parents of the same children together for certain benefits. It was therefore created for the man and woman, by the man and woman, of the men and women.If gays want to marry, let them call their own mutual bonds something else, maybe? Perhaps, Happy Friendship. Prolonged Bonds. Mutual Harmony. Togetherness. Anything. Just don’t try to jump on the marriage bandwagon.. Call it, co-habitation or something. Marriage has become too sacred. Too preserved over the years, at least enough to carry the beauties of American culture with it. Stop trying to change it to involving gays now, if you ask me.That’s just my 2 cents.

  38. @RedHairedCelt – Check your facts, seeing as how Jefferson’s letter was in response to a Letter written to him by the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut in response to raids by militia. This phrase was to protect the church and all religions from control by the state. and in response to the general question. No, in the sense that America uses the phrase today.  A person is entitled to his beliefs, and if that person is in a position of power he or she may vote their beliefs. It’s what every American citizen does during any given election. they vote based on their beliefs, so why would those they elect not be able to  vote based on their beliefs.

  39. People are religious and those people vote.  People are going to vote in line with their religion and choose leaders who will protect their religion and values.  So as long as there is religion and religious people are allowed to vote, leaders will cater to voters (and their own beliefs) and influence our laws and government accordingly.

  40. @huginn – Before you do, make sure to read this. Just stumbled across it in some research I was doing. It’s the Statute for Religious Freedom that Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, submitted to his legislature. It really, really sheds a lot of light on his truest feelings about religious freedom — a lot more eloquently than the “wall of separation” does. Why don’t these people pull THIS out instead of the damn letter to the Danbury Baptists? It’s way better, and more convincing.Now having to juxtapose that with his policies and bills as both governor and president, and the impossibility of divorcing beliefs from policy…tricky. Thing is, he declared days of fasting and prayer as governor, apparently, but was adamantly opposed to doing such a thing as president. Apparently he viewed state government and its relationship to religion differently than he did federal government’s relationship to it. OH! And check out this gem. More context for the Danbury letter than I’ve ever seen in one place, and from a credible source!I’m sorry, I can’t stop myself, haha.But yeah, you will LOVE that statute. It’s beautiful, and I think I agree with it almost wholly.

  41. Separation of Church and State was designed to keep the state out of church and not the opposite. It is very apparent in the constitution that its writers designed the it to be based on religious principles. But they did not want the government to take over the church like it did in Europe. But as time goes on, morals decline and the separation of church and state is redefined by religion hating bigots to limit the religious freedom this country was founded on.

  42. Separation of church and state?Maybe in other countries, but not in a theocracy like America.It’s time to get the WASPs out of power, or time to get the fuck out of here. 

  43. It isn’t there enough. See: marriage restrictions, abortion, science* (ie stem cell and cloning).Government should govern agnostically, not theisticly or athiesticly. This seems to be what people don’t grasp.

  44. what are you really asking here?  it sounds like you’re saying that any law having (only) a religious basis should be thrown out strictly because it came from religion.  however, if this religious view is shared by the majority, then what you propose in that case is that we completely discard democracy?  that definitely doesn’t sound right.

  45. I don’t really agree that gay marriage is a matter of the separation of church and state. It’s not as though there’s a particular religious organization exerting undue influence over the goings-on of the government or vice versa. This is more a question of the role of government. Is government supposed to do what’s best for the people or what the people want? Both of those things are nearly impossible to gauge, but they’re still important. In this case, there’s a majority using the government as it’s means of enforcing a societal norm that is to their liking. The fact that much of the discrepency is of a religious nature is irrelevant because this can happen for anything, and besides that, the matter isn’t as clear-cut as Christians versus gays; there’s a lot of overlap.There are a lot of potential issues that could pop up to infringe on the separation of church and state, but this isn’t one of them.

  46. @peterpriesthood – That’s a good point, but it’s also moot. Once the separation of church and state has been broken, it rapidly becomes impossible to distinguish between the church having too much control over the government and the government having too much control over the church because they’re the same entity. And that’s bad for everyone.

  47. An important topic to be sure, but from what I have studied and this is not only my Christians beliefs, the seperation of Church and State, was created not to protect the state but to protect the church!In Christs LoveMichelle~

  48. it doesnt exist when the senate says a group prayer before every meeting and like you said, abortion issues and creationism vs evolution. christianity doesnt like to be shut out, so they try to exist politically, scientifically, and religiously. its kind of pathetic.

  49. HEY DAVE! I am back. I enjoyed this blog. I think I would like your family. I would probably be the uber religious aunt mentioning you in prayer and smacking you on the head. :)As for separation of church and state, I agree with UndercoverLibrarian. Most people don’t understand (and I was one of them until recently) that it was instituted to protect the Church from undue influence of the State, not the other way around.More than that, however, I think the thing your blog proved that when there is love and respect, differences are OK. There isn’t much love nor respect in government, and that’s why there’s so many ugly fights.I think it’s cool that you were able to sit back and see the validity to several viewpoints on abortion. While it’s easy to live in a black and white world, most of life is actually lived in the gray. 🙂

  50. PS: If you look at just about every law ever made in our country, you will see some moral or religious basis for it, whether it comes from the Tao, the Bible, the Koran, whatever. (Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. etc.)

  51. Easter sounds awesome at your family’s!  I agree that Church and State are not as separate as they should be.  I’m pro-choice. I think there would be far less abortions if people were taught responsible sexual behavior.

  52. Your family sounds a lot like mine. I usually say something about positive energy and the universe just to muck them up. They roll their eyes or say “I knew you were gonna say that.” And the discussion keeps rolling forward. We laugh a lot.As for your question, the term was intended to protect the church from government interference. It’s just two gigantic institutions trying to guard their power without either becoming bigger than the other I guess. I used to care about this quite a bit more when I was very religious. Now it just pisses me off. I try to stay away from arguments about abortion and gay marriage because I know that such deeply ingrained ideas will never be dispelled in a conversation no matter how persuasively you argue your case. It’s like trying to convince a redneck that predjudice is wrong. We’ve been fighting that for generations. I think attitudes are changing – I see it – but it’s from one generation to the next. Look how long that’s taken and the things you are talking about are comparatively new concepts. True freedom cannot exist alongside ignorance. Unfortunately, there will always be stupid people. The only hope is that one day, we won’t allow them govern us.

  53. I want to start with a disclaimer that my comment is something I am learning and stretching right now. My opinion on this issue is in no way, shape, or form completely developed. Forgive me if it is not completely educated.I am a Christian. I try to love Jesus more and more every day. I watch my step and try hard to follow the rules set out before us (Christians) by the bible. I, however, am not against separation of Church and State. I don’t believe that Christians should impose their rules and morals on non-Christians. How can you expect someone to follow the rules of something they don’t claim to be a part of. Isn’t us trying to make non-Christians adhere to our rules the same as when the Jews tried to make the Gentiles adhere to their rules. I understand there were different circumstances, but it still applies in a lot of ways. Our goal as Christians should be to show non-believers how much Jesus loves them and wants them to be a part of his kingdom. Only after they come to know Christ and accept his sacrifice do we help and encourage them in following the rules. While the rules are important, the relationship is even more so. The relationship must come first.

  54. @sweetNsour_dreamer – well I am glad to hear you are better.@future_starving_artist –  That is a very good point about the uproar over Obama’s religion. In truth it all boils down to politics. Many American politicians have always used Christianity to gain a leg up. Until this practice is abandoned, true separation cannot occur.@seedsower – she has quick hands.@MacaveliMC –  The Church is a group of people. The church is not God. Who’s to say one church has it right and another doesn’t? So your church feels that it’s appropriate to compare gay people to dogs. Does that mean that should be a valid comparison to everyone else? @NowAndForeverTonight – you are right. That is a pretty blatant double standard.@Beastybob – How sacred is marriage really? I don’t think it has been as preserved as you say it has. Half of marriages end up in divorce. People can get married no matter what their motives be. Whether it be for love, or money, or obligation. This is a sacred institution? Marriage is only as sacred as the couple getting married makes it. I bet you there are many gay couples who would respect this more just because they would not take it for granted. Also it doesn’t really matter if marriage was founded by a man and woman or not. Let me ask you this. When the democratic system was founded in this country women were not allowed to vote. Neither were people of color. Does that make it right? Does that mean we shouldn’t have changed those laws too?@KnowingHimm – Because it goes against what the Supreme Court voted into our constitution. If they believe in it so much they should have the constitution ammended instead of going against it.@SecretNeverTold –  I think I might have to write a follow-up today. I’ll tag you.

  55. @Michellereneewrites4Christ – Separation of church and state has evolved over the years to mean exactly what it states. Church should be one entity and the state should be another. It is not meant to “protect” one entity more than the other, it is just that they are not to become intertwined.@weedorwildflower – See that is why I can mess with you. You got the point of the blog. Most people completely bypassed it.@weedorwildflower – You know my uncle made the same point. What I told him was I have no problem with thou shalt not kill being the inspiration for a law so long as you can provide me some the non-religious application to that law. It would be unfair for me to tell an atheist not to kill someone because God says so.@Kalligenia – Totally agree. I think this is Obama’s stance on it as well. Trying to educate parents and children alike.@A___Beautiful___Disaster – I am gonna do a follow up to this today. I want to address why separation of church and state was implemented in a bit more depth.@beckahwantsahug – You may still be learning, but you are way further along than so many. Very, very good comment.

  56. @vanedave – so you’re saying that personal beliefs don’t matter? anyway, “certain factions in our government try to base laws on religious beliefs”. Ponder this, if laws were not based on some religious belief what would they be based on? Are humans inherently good? Are they moral? Do they have a sense of right and wrong? now to complicate that further, what or who is deciding what is right and what is wrong? Each person cannot have a personal belief in this matter or their would be chaos, and there is overwhelming evidence that this world would not survive if not for religious laws, as seen by the greed, violence, murder. I also suggest you visit some other countries that actually have a state “religion”, or “church” and then come back and tell us how horrible it is with our “religious” freedom here.

  57. @KnowingHimm – you totally misconstrued my words. I never said things were horrible here. Why do you feel it necessary to exaggerate my standpoint. I will concede that many laws may be inspired by religious beliefs. A good example might be thou shalt not kill. Now is making murder illegal correct because it is in the bible, or because it is wrong to kill another man? Just because what is religious and what is right overlaps sometimes does not make it the case 100 percent of the time.

  58. It’s far from humanly possible to extract the man’s church from the government.  It would be very difficult to go to work and expect your own private views regarding right and wrong to be excluded.  Granted, the ability to do so may be expected and much more professional, but the fact that the United States was founded under God, you cannot hold much of an argument for the separation of church and state in the terms of extracting church from state but rather state from church.  Although common history denounces undercover librarians findings, it does make sense.  The idea that this country was founded under one God is reason enough for me to believe that the presence of church in the state is well appreciated.  And yes, possibly the change from a christian dominated government to that of a buddhist may be difficult but not impossible.  And also at radicalrambling, even if the state instituted other types of prayers, wiccan buddhist what not, it would be ok.  Why would the chrisitian community have to say otherwise?  As long as the government doesn’t force it upon the people.  They don’t force christian prayer, so why should they force another?  Just as much as church is present in the state, it may not be dictatorial as you may fear.  I realize that this comment is far spread and inchorent at best.  And the argument is weak as well… to be honest….I just woke up.  And I’m late for class.

  59. @grammarboy – Obama is a huge exception – a smart politican that happened to engage young voters and be running against a party that did terrible for 8 years. Look around in our senate chambers. And while I fully exaggerated in saying that we’re a theocracy, it does disturb me that members of the Abrahamic faiths write most of our social policy. 

  60. I completely understand what you are talking about.  I have said similar things for quite a while now.  I think the fundamental problem with gay rights and marriage is that marriage is a religious institution that is recognized by the state.  So that makes it blatantly obvious that church and state arent seperate!   (Make marriage religious only.  No more marriages are legally recognized.  Now call it something else and open it up to any 2 people who choose to enter the union.  Problem solved! )

  61. First of all, you need to define what “separation of church and state” means.  People have all different kinds of definitions of that phrase.  But if you believe any law passed that is the result of people’s religious beliefs is a violation of “separation of church and state”, then I would say, no, in a democracy/republic, that cannot exist unless there was absolutely no church/religious establishment.  Because religious people vote, there will be religiously based laws passed.  However, the problem is that “separation of church and state” is not anywhere in the Constitution.  It’s just a vague idea that we try to govern ourselves by.  

  62. I’m a big believer in separation of church and state, and no, I don’t think the two are separated as much as they should be.

  63. @SecretNeverTold – ” He did NOT mean we should attempt to divorce religious convictions from the government; only that we should not persecute people of other religions.”No, but we’re allowed to persecute people of other sexual orientations, correct?

  64. “How can we claim separation of church and state when people are beingdenied rights based greatly on scripture? Does that sound right?”No, it doesn’t sound right.  Especially since the “church” referred to here is not exactly a bastion of tolerance.If there’s no separation of church and state, I’d rather live in a country where Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) isn’t the dominant religion.  I wonder what non-separation would look like in a Buddhist country…

  65. There should be no separation!!!!!!!!! Does God not rule all,did He not send Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.  As for gay marriages,not really for them. However Pastors/Ministers should teach on the subject of homosexuality. It is just another sin like the rest of them. God does not categorize sin, He does address it in Romans 8. You cannot raise a storm about the marriages if you are not preaching it in the pulpit. To help them understand. Okay some of the gay people say they were born that way. All of us was shapen in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us(Psalms 51:5). All fall short of the Glory of God. The point is you try to move away from sin one at a time. With the help of the Holy Ghost, yes Holy Ghost aka Holy Spirit.The best way to handle this is always with LOVE.

  66. @thinkin_up_dreams – I was not trying to imply that, although I do realize my hit-and-run comment may have seemed to. Sorry about that. No, but I do recommend you read all of my comments to get a better understanding of how I view the complicated interplay between groups and their respective rights. It’s not so easy as either side is trying to claim, and I think that is the point of Dave’s blog. And my comments, as you will find, if you read them.

  67. What I’ve always found interesting is that neither the word “separation” nor the word “church” appear even once in the entire Constitution.I can understand why people feel strongly about both sides of the argument.  It’s wrong to assume that “religion” is only a private thing that will never affect a person’s public life, the way they vote, etc.  Yet, having a combination of faith that’s being forced upon people by a government is scary to some (and not what Jesus ever wanted, IMO).The actual separation was supposed to be a way to keep government from interfering with the way people worship and express themselves.  It’s actually working the opposite way when you look at frivolous lawsuits that want to attack any mention of God at all (in a song, the Pledge of Allegiance, printed on money, setting up a Nativity scene on your own property, etc).The church, on the other hand, is supposed to have an effect on society (rather than being shoved aside and marginalized).  Jesus described the world in an interesting way.  It needs to be salted and preserved.  Take the salt away (believers), and things would start to decay at a rapid rate.  Not everyone would agree with me on that, but I’ve found it to be true.With regard to something like abortion, the reason I can’t stand it is because it’s hardly ever used in the way it’s represented during political debates (only for rape and incest or as a last resort).  When women are having 2, 3, 4 or more of these procedures, and using tax money to pay for them, I think it’s a sign that our society no longer puts a high value on life, and sees abortion more as a form of contraception.Just my 2 cents.

  68. @vanedave – True, but the church is influenced by God.  That being said, I didn’t say one church has it right and another doesn’t, but there does have to be a standard of moral, and without a God to influence government, there is absolutely no reason for any morals other than, like I said, whatever each of us THINKS is right or wrong.  And at that point society falls apart fairly quickly.  I wouldn’t compare a human to a dog, which is why I support marriage between a man and a woman.  The idea that we can start expanding it, and that gay marriage is a “basic right” creates a situtation in which there is no logical reason why a human can’t marry a dog since, with the institution of gay marriage, we are saying you can marry whomever you love, instead of keeping the logical, obvious, and natural definition of marriage which is between a man and a woman.  It is literally redifining marriage, there is no way around that. And I can’t say I support it because of the flloodgates it opens.  So please don’t try and twist my words and say I’m comparing gays to dogs, look at the argument and the logic I’m using, then we can have an actual debate.

  69. I wish the separation of church and state was used more often. And I wish people would stop saying that it “isn’t real”.If it “wasn’t real”, we would be praying in public schools, no?

  70. About abortion, The first breath of life is a soul that will be judged. I know that judging is wrong so this point has ended. About church I can honestly say that where I stand between the state and right to be free in a country that only chooses what freedom may reign is a choice that only voters may change.I can tellyou this, State will always have a majority vote on rights, The only way that you and me and the free world could ever change this is if the devil was knocking on society door . How many churches would be full at this point. Give to Ceaser what is Ceasers and know in my heart that the ways of this world are ending. You make your own choice it is very difficult.

  71. Separation of Church and State doesn’t exist in reality, and as people have stated so far in this post, the consitution doesn’t actually say it should.  However…it WAS implied.  By saying that the government couldn’t interfere with religious freedom, it was also stating that the government and the making of laws MUST be free of religious intent…if not, then any religious decision in government could go against another religion and therefore become unconstitutional.  For example: say there’s a church that believes in ONLY same sex marriage.  Any law prohibiting same sex marriage would be interfering with that churches freedom, and therefore be unconstitutional.  Lets remember that when our government was established it was an age of new ideas, of Enlightenment, of REASON, and the U.S. Constitution was designed around many of these ideas…a major one of which happened to be separation of church and state.  So simply put: there was supposed to be a separation of church and state, but the church managed to weasle it’s way back in :-/

  72. it’s definitely not as divided as it should be. people are denied rights purely because “it says it’s wrong in the bible”. times change. it shouldn’t be “this is wrong because it says so in the bible” it should be “is it ethical (or moral) to deny these rights, regardless of what the bible says?” the US doesn’t have a national religion because we’re the land of opportunity. how can we live up to that if we deny rights to people based on the bible?

  73. The problem is that it involves marriage, which has always been a joint religious and political/legal institution (and not merely in our culture, but it practically every human culture known).Until we agree as a society on a way to seperate the legal aspects, governed by our national officials which cannot and should not be dictated by solely religious concerns (as opposed to concerns which clearly address our interests as a society, as even the most permissive of judicial opinions so far recognizes is a factor in the abortion issue, to return to your initial example), and which should be in that respect equal, from the religious aspects of the ceremony (and in which, let us not forget, we are garunteed the right to hold and follow as our consciences dictate so long as we do not infringe on others’ similar rights), the issue won’t be resolved.

  74. a perfect separation is impossible.  The church is in the country, so their are country laws and regulations that the church must abide (tax, property, non-profit, health code, etc…) but then there are places they shouldn’t over lap.  A government should not be able to tell a belief structure what type of person(s) they must hire.  If they do, they’re infringing on that belief’s structure’s right to believe and act accordingly.  Now if the belief structure demands actions that harm another person (e.g. radical Islam/terrorism) then the government should be allowed to defend and protect the innocent.  but if the government forgets to protect and defend the innocent or helpless, then the people who claim to keep watch over our souls (the church) should call the government to account.  There needs to be a balance.Now if the innocent/helpless in question is an unborn child, I would expect the church to champion the cause and demand that the government outlaw actions that equate the value of life with the level of convenience it presents or doesn’t present.  (For those who will immediately counter with rape and incest arguments, I must agree that those are horrible, worng things.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  Abortion is not the appropriate response; adoption would be better… and it would end a cycle of wrong decisions and be morally satisfactory.)

  75. While church dogma or law should not be the ENTIRE basis of law of a country, it helps to share the morals seen in most systems of faith. Obviously, you should not be able to decide as a citizen who gets to die. I wonder what views that are not seen in religions around the world would be accepted into law without these relion-based laws?

  76. The whole gay marriage argument is just.. null. I like how you used the term “denied rights”. I am nearly positive you used it to mean they are not being treated equally. Which happens to be false. But it is true they are being denied something. But nothing more than I, as a straight man, am being denied. Gay people have all the same rights as heterosexuals. Hetero’s have no extra priviledges. Gay people have every right to marry who ever they so choose, as long as it is someone of the opposite sex. That is the same right that hetero people have. Hetero people have absolutely no right to marry someone of the same sex. Oh by the way, neither do gay people. So really… gay people are not being denied any rights that straight people aren’t also being denied of. Gay people just want EXTRA rights. More rights than they ALREADY have. Which is ok. The USA was founded because the colonists had rights, yes, but they wanted MORE rights. So long as they stop calling it inequality.

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