Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Separation of what and what?

What do folks mean by "separation of church and state"?

Thomas Jefferson first wrote these words to the Danbury Baptists as assurance that a state religion would not be created, and each American would be able to worship in the manner of their choosing:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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." (Read it in its entirety on the Library of Congress website.)

Sadly, Jefferson's statement of religious freedom has become a statement of religious oppression, in essence: "Americans, check your religion at the door. Religious Americans must stop being religious when they express their opinions about American law!"

This is the opposite of what Jefferson presented.

It is unconstitutional to prohibit the free exercise of religion at any time, including when people vote. We all take our identity and experiences--and our resultant worldview--to the polls. There is nothing more American than the right of each individual to vote or opine their conscience.


Fr. Francis Zanger (medically -retired chaplain) said...

Re: Separation of Church & State

The exception that proves the rule is the hundreds of military (and federal prison) chaplains, all ordained clergy nominated by their denominations, and paid by the taxpayers to provide religious services and support for members of their own faith groups while supporting and facilitating all other faiths on their religious observance. [On one "boomer" that I served as chaplain, I had five 'Lay Leaders' representing five diverse faith groups-- when I rode her, in addition to my Eucharist, I attended brief services led by a Roman Catholic ensign, a Baptist chief petty officer, and by Mormon and a Wiccan petty officers. The last two had only 3-4 attendees, but the chaplain's role is to support and facilitate everybody's faith preferences, whether we like or approve of them or not.

Which means the taxpayers were paying me to preach (without my bosses being allowed to tell me what I could or couldn't say from the pulpit!), while yet being open to the government's violating the chaplain's Constitutional right not to have to support religions antithetical to my own.

The ironies abound.

Bob said...

Hello. I looked at this topic in a more literalist (though still Christian) view on my own blog. BTW, I came across your blog while looking into the Daniel Fast.