Sunday, June 15, 2008

Separation between Church and State: Still a Good Idea

Politics and religion have always been intermeshed in this country, but in recent years this enmeshment has accelerated greatly. Two factors contributing to this have been the conservative Republicans building a base that was dependent upon significant participation by the Christian evangelical movement in America, and the struggle regarding a woman's right, or lack thereof, to have an abortion.

The issue in the 2008 presidential election year couldn't be clearer. In a recent article in the New York Times, Timothy Egan pointed out that, "Romney who declared this year that ‘freedom requires religion,’ and Mike Huckabee, who called himself a "Christian leader" advocated the amending of the Constitution to follow Biblical principles. Both men are being touted as running mates for McCain." Huckabee's proposal to amend the Constitution to follow Biblical principles is the precise reason what the First Amendment was written to prevent. Surely Huckabee is aware that there are Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and many others of different faiths that do not adhere to "Biblical principles." Jefferson and Madison would have been appalled by the notion that freedom requires religion and a proposal to amend the Constitution to follow Biblical principles.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states, "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."

The precise meaning of this statement has been argued over for the last 200 years. At issue, is the attempt to discern what was in the minds of the founding fathers when this amendment was included. In his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, Thomas Jefferson stated, "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 eternal separation between Church and State.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan stated that "Government was the problem not the solution," and became president because the people bought into his notion of less government rather than more. Present-day conservatives have strayed far from Reagan's conservative notions of government and are proposing government intervention into areas of our lives long held private.


Dana said...

I became a Republican when "Ronny" was in office - there has been no one even remotely close to him since.

Neil Benson said...

I have had very few hits on this post,apparently separation of church and state is not of interest and/or concern to people. "Ronnie" new what a conservative was, as opposed to the current administration which never heard of the concept of "the government that governs best governs least."