What should 'Separation of Church and State' really look like?

As Catholics we have serious concerns about the government mandating laws on us or the Church which violate our morals such as contraception or abortion because these violate our first amendment right. As this issue heats up, I wonder what we should really advocate for. Consider:

Other religions believe things we are against such as divorce, polygamy.
Some traditions believe animals are sacred. Should government change regulations on the meat industry to respect their views?
Should prayer be allowed in schools? What about crosses or religious art on public land?
Should our Church be active in the political arena to advocate our religious views on issues such as gay rights, abortion, immigration, capital punishment? If so, should they stick to doctrine or can they express views that go beyond doctrine?
If government truly backed off all religious matters? Wouldn’t the phrase “it’s against my religion” be highly abused.
Does true religious freedom open the door for cults to form with all sorts of whaky views? Effectively a religious institution of any size could create its own society of laws which replace federal laws for its own members.
Can we realistically expect to achieve a system where church and state are truly separate? Would we really want to?

Your thoughts most welcome

Abortion is more than just a “religious view”, it is a human life being killed.

Where does this slipper slope of the government forcing things on us stop if we don’t take a stand?

The Founders set up a government that is based on Judeo-Christian principles. Other religions have freedom to worship here, but our government is based on Christianity. The State was to stay OUT of religion, not the other way around. The Founders knew that their structure would not survive without the morality of Christianity. That is why they enshrined religious rights in the Bill of Rights.

If we are a nation of laws, then everyone within the nation must submit to the laws of the nation, to the extent that they are federal and state laws that apply to everyone.

Exactly as it was written.

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.

Farewell address of George Washington, 1796:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Full text: avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp


Ed, forgive my flattery, but you are a gentleman and a scholar.

Thank you.


to me it would be like this:

The church does what it needs to but within reason. The gov takes care of what it needs to and stays out of the churches afairs and vice versa.

now thats just me and me only so

That would be my Church; the Anglicans we’re based on. The state Church of England. Not Lutherans or Catholics. But you do have freedom of worship.

Most of the founding fathers were deists, Anglicans, Quakers, and Unitarians. Not many Catholics amongst them :eek:

Pope Gelasius I (492-496) states that there are 2 swords to governing people

“The medieval metaphor of the Two Swords, first introduced by Pope Gelasius I (492-496), posited a unity of Christian society. It proclaimed that the two governments of sacerdotium and regnun, each with separate powers, were merely the spiritual and the temporal arms of a single Christian commonwealth. There was as yet no theory of church and state: the Church was not a State; it was the State, universal order, spiritual as well as moral. What we today know of as the state, the supreme civil authority, was merely the temporal arm, the police department if you will, of the Church. Every duality, however, is liable to be perceived as a dichotomy and it is not surprising that the later historical development of the West came to assume the character of a struggle between Church and State, a clash of the Two Swords. Ever since that fateful conflict, the modern man has lived in a binary world of antitheses and antinomies, dialectics and disputations, rifts and ruptures. Indeed, he either dreams of a Grand Theory that would restore the unity of his lost vision, or dreads this possibility!”

I have never understood this idea of separation of church and state. That is not what the Constitution says. It speaks of the establishment of religion as in Great Britain where Anglicanism is the state religion.

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