Archive for July 2010

There’s a Wall Between Church and State, Not a One-Way Street


“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 & State.” – Thomas Jefferson (in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists explaining the intent of the First Amendment)

The founding fathers built a wall between Church and State, not a one-way street in which the religious and their ideology can influence the government.  In order to know why the fundamentalist Christians who believe the latter are wrong, it is important to have a basic understanding of Virginia history.  In 1786, one year before the Constitution was written, Patrick Henry, one of the more radical founders that also happened to be opposed to replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, submitted a proposal to the Virginia legislature to have the colony publicly fund the teaching of Christianity in public schools.  Patrick Henry’s proposal was dismissed and instead Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was passed and signed into Virginia law.  The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom barred tax support for religious institutions, prohibited religious tests for public office, and was the foundation for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

If you happen to be one of the fundamentalist Christians I mentioned earlier, let this sink in.  Patrick Henry proposed to have the state endorse Christianity by having it used as a tool of indoctrination within public schools and Thomas Jefferson instead wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was then adopted into the Constitution as the basis for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This situation right here perfectly describes how some of the founding fathers felt about religious interference with government.  They did not want it!


Voting with Religion Undermines Our Freedom Of/From Religion


“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”

“Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God’s law, on the Ten Commandments. No apologies.”

“When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we’ll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed.”

“There is going to be war, [and Christians may be called to] take up the sword to overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them.”

– Randall Terry (Operation Rescue)

Religion is a personal endeavor and by being such, followers are completely free to subjugate themselves, and only themselves, to the creeds, codes, and dogmas that they deem to be true.  The moment religious citizens begin voting on proposition and legislation with their religious dogma, worshiping with their vote, they are voting against one of the very principles our nation was founded upon, our freedom of and from religion. It is a road to theocracy and we here in the United States have been walking down this road for decades.   This might sound confusing and contradictory to you; “How can voting with my religion be violating our principle of freedom of religion?  Doesn’t freedom of religion give me that right?”  The answer to both is no.  I may be opposed to homosexuality (I’m not, this is for sake of argument) for religious reasons but if I were to seek some sort of legislation criminalizing the act it would not be sufficient for me to point to my holy text or proclaim it to be God’s will.  I would have to explain why homosexuality violates some principle that anyone of any background and faith (or lack of) would be able to understand and agree upon.

Politics is the attempt to reach a consensus or agreement on issues and this is dependent upon topics being open for debate and susceptible to reason.  It is compromise.  At the most fundamental levels, religion does not allow for compromise.  Compromise within religion is amount to heresy.  If God issues an edict, his followers are expected to comply regardless of the consequences they might face here in society.  When people vote with their religion and win, they inject their religious principle into the government.  When enough religious principle and ideology has been injected into the government, a theocracy is born.  In a theocracy, a certain religious viewpoint is given endorsement, minimizing the value of all other religious viewpoints making the adherents of the newly minimized religious viewpoints outsiders and potentially, depending upon the specifics, criminals.  Does this sound like freedom of and from religion?

I have a few questions for those of you who disagree with me…What if your religion was not the majority and legislation was passed that somehow affected your freedom to worship the way you see fit?  Would you still be okay with it?  Doesn’t secularism seem a much more rational approach for the government to take?