Friday, December 02, 2005

Separation of Church and State

Today's Rant is about Separation of Church and State. What exactly was the intent of this concept and how big is the gray area that divides this issue?

First off, Separation of Church and State is not found in the Constitution. Supposedly, the earliest person in North America to advocate the separation of church and state appears to have been Roger Williams, a religious reformer who founded not only the first Baptist Church on this continent, but also the colony of Rhode Island, where he hoped to find greater religious freedom than among the Puritans he left behind in Boston. Contrary to what many believe, we even owe to him the words "wall of separation," rather than to Thomas Jefferson (

When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World. ("Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered," The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, Volume 1, page 108 (1644))

This statement (whoever said it.some say Jefferson, others say Williams) speaks about the "wall" not necessarily in both directions. Many argue that it was put this way to be one-directional; its purpose was to protect the church from the state. With this, they argue that the church, however, was free to teach the people Biblical values. ( I disagree with this statement because it does not speak of changing the wilderness or expanding, in essence, the garden of the church.

The American people knew what would happen if the State established the Church like in England. Even though it was not recent history to them, they knew that England went so far as forbidding worship in private homes and sponsoring all church activities and keeping people under strict dictates. They were forced to go to the state established church and do things that were contrary to their conscience. No other churches were allowed, and mandatory attendance of the established church was compelled under the Conventicle Act of 1665. Failure to comply would result in imprisonment and torture.

While those that argue that the people did not want freedom from religion, but freedom of religion are those people who state that, "The only real reason to separate the church from the state would be to instill a new morality and establish a new system of beliefs. Our founding fathers were God-fearing men who understood that for a country to stand it must have a solid foundation; the Bible was the source of this foundation. They believed that God's ways were much higher than Man's ways and held firmly that the Bible was the absolute standard of truth and used the Bible as a source to form our government." ( Well if that is true, then what about Muslims, Buddhists, etc. that are Americans? What about those who believe the 'holy book' is the Koran, The Analects, Veda, etc.? How can you truly have freedom of religion if the religion that embeds our government in based on one particular faith?

Without a doubt, the religious undertones found in our government today are Christian-based. Considering the founders of the Constitution were mainly Christian, it is reasonable to understand why we see this in our government. However, times have changed significantly over the centuries. America has become an amazing 'melting pot' of cultures and religion. Should we not take it upon ourselves to respect everyone's beliefs and conform to a universal standard? And what about atheists? Do we not respect their beliefs? Some would say we'll they are not a religion and therefore dismiss them, but nonetheless, that is discrimination and hypocracy at its 'ugliest.'

Note: No matter your beliefs, we as a society should learn to be excepting of other beliefs. If we still thought like our "Founding Fathers" then blacks would still be sitting at the back of the bus and women would still be home barefoot and pregnant. I live in Florida so I still see a lot of this.

There is so much more to this topic that I plan to touch upon in the next rant so stay tuned...

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