Separation of Church and State

Separation of Church and State: The first clause in the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

The term “separation of church and state” does not appear in the constitution, or even the 14th amendment. The ideology of the concept is, however, apparent.

While most of the framers of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence were believers, whether Christian or theist, it was never intended for America to be a Christian nation. Even so, we have had many strong Christian men in the White House and congress.

Should US be a Christian nation?

Some believe that America should be a “Christian” nation and would favor the creation of a Christian theocracy. Making the US look very much like the Islamic theocracies in the world today.

Religious rules would take precedent over the law. It would also mean government by a distinct minority, as less than 20 percent of Americans are “Christian” by a Biblical definition.

Many evangelicals question the truth of the Bible

We live in a time when even many evangelicals question on truth of the Bible, as traditional beliefs of their faith are swallowed up by social preferences. Those who support “Christian Nationalism” tend to be blue collar whites and republican.

Hidden underneath the religious jargon are concepts contrary to God: white supremacy, gerrymandering, voter suppression and the desire for segregation. Far right populist views are often fueled by religious rhetoric, which may sound like something on the surface, but has no meaning at all. It is certainly not based on Christian principles or the Bible.

No real debate on the separation of church and state

Since the pilgrims landed, there was no real debate over this issue, as most people in power were white and came from a Christian background of some kind. But as the country grew to be more diverse, and power was shared more equally, more opinions were interjected into the conversation. The idea of separation of powers really took root.

Today if you suggest that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” many would interpret that as freedom FROM religion. That just isn’t the case.

Religious believes have been watered down

A byproduct of diversity seems to be the natural watering down of religious beliefs. Evangelical churches, once known for “hell fire and brimstone,” have turned to flash praise bands and light shows on Sunday morning. Sermons are often crafted as to not offend the sensibilities of those who do not hold to Christian doctrine.

Here’s an interesting tidbit out of history to consider. Roger Williams, who was the founder of Rhode Island, suggested that the Christian church would only survive if there was a separation between the world and the church. He held that government would only corrupt the church.

Certainly, in the last few years in the US, there has been evidence to support his claim. Many politicians are hiding behind the Bible to promote their political agenda.

Thomas Jefferson understood the need for a separation of church and state

One of the nation’s founders, Thomas Jefferson, understood the struggle between following the teachings of the church and establishing the law of the land. Jefferson coined the metaphor “separation of church and state,”

In the early days, some of the colonies believed that government ought to be filtered with religious expression. That there needed to be a strong church. But which church? The Anglicans had a strong foothold in Virginia. The Anglican Church was a major force in Virginia at the time. Jefferson argued that the church should be “disestablished” as the established church. What about Catholics, Baptists, Methodists etc, how did they fit in?

Along with fellow Virginian James Madison, Jefferson asserted that state support for a certain religion was improper. However, some feared that this would take away protections for religious freedoms. Madison created a bill that included religious freedom.

The 14th Amendment establishes: 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 debate continues today

The debate continues today. Many MAGA republicans, for example, would favor Christian Nationalism. It would certainly light the fire for a serious debate of the 14th Amendment. It would also jeopardize religious freedoms of non-Christians.

America is drifting farther and farther away from the Bible in the name of Christian Nationalism and other movements. It could well be argued that a completely non-religious state is taking form. Politics will replace belief in God, and take all meaning and truth from religion. This way nobody is offended. Just God.