This comes up all the time with making our kids say the Pledge of Allegiance using the word “God” or having “In God We Trust” in our courts, etc. What is the response?
The separation of church and state originated in the Bill of Rights, specifically the first amendment which provides:
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.
Through liberal interpretation this amendment has been expanded to the extent that even the mention of God or religion is prohibited all the way down to schools.
An interesting contrast is that Congress begins each session with a prayer.
I say that is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion
“Go read Quanta Cura”
Caesar(governments) are to obtain their code of conduct from God. So we know then that a government that abides by law can always be trusted for the allegiance of it’s people.
In this ideal we can see that a citizen who is rendering unto Caesar by default renders unto God.
The problem arises when Caesar feels he is above God and breaks his laws. In such a case we can see that blind allegiance was and is dangerous. This is because Caesar can choose to do wrong, which explains the mass movement of families migrating to other parts of the globe.
This is why the practice of swearing allegiance is wrong and doesn’t have God’s sanction. It finds it’s justification under the precept of swearing oaths in NT. If it is discouraged to swear an oath on the throne of God, how much more to a fallible nation.
If “In God we Trust” is ingrained into the constitution, then it would be wise for a nation to monitor oneself to ensure it isn’t going astray in this promise.
“That’s not what the Constitution says.”
I say, you’re right!
Religion is a very personal thing, and government is a very public institution. All of the taxpayers of the United States help support public schools, parks, and the like. Therefore it is unreasonable to ask them to support something that they fundamentally disagree with, such as having “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or even reciting it at all. It would be the same as having your local municipal government using your tax money to erect a statue of Buddha in the local park.
A phrase from a private letter of Thomas Jefferson which has somehow been confused with the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.
Many years ago, when I was required to say the Pledge, I refused to say the recent addition of ‘under God’ part, and was punished severely, in a public school. I did not belong the the local religious majority, nor did I wish to, at the tender age of 6 and 7, but I refused to play along, with no prompting from my parents or anyone else.
And I maintain that I was correct to do so, if this is indeed ‘The Land of the Free.’ I will never bow or surrender, save if I must lie to preserve the life of those I love, including myself, and our dignity.
This was my first thought. If someone does not even know what the Constitution says and doesn’t say, your wasting time.
I would ask what has changed this year to make this a problem. Prayer and religion has been allowed to be practiced in schools and government from the onset and always under the Constitution. If something has changed it is not the Constitution but the reader. Suddenly we think we know better than the founding fathers who saw no such conflict ? The are the ones that actually wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights. I think they know better what they meant.
As an advocate for separation of church and state, I want to make it clear that many of us make no reference to the Constitution when we talk about it. Besides, I don’t take the Constitution as “The Infallible Word of The Founding Fathers” any more than I consider the Bible as the infallible word of God.
Thomas Jefferson, at least, did see a problem with the integration of church and government, as seen in the letter that Tantum Ergo references.
Prayer has always been allowed in schools, and still is. Students and teachers are more than welcome to pray on their own time. Still, the argument that something has always been a certain way, and therefore it should continue, is a weak one.
I like the way this guy put it:
“In fact, it is fundamental, on the one hand, to insist on the distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the State towards them; and, on the other hand, to become more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to—among other things—the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society,”
When people cry “Separation of church and state!”, you say:
That doesn’t mean I have to drop my convictions at the voting booth.
Would it work better if we re-phrased that to say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?”
It depends on the point one is making. If one tries to appeal to Jeffersonian tradition or some other historical argument, then the past does silence those arguments. You are right that it is a weak argument when it comes to adapting to the current generation. For example, it does nothing for the belief that we have become so civilized that we no longer need God in our schools as they are bastions of peace, tolerance and learning.:rolleyes:
My argument is that it is broken, so a response of “Well it was good enough in the past,” doesn’t make any sense, because I’m not talking about how it was twenty or even a hundred years ago. I’m talking about how it is now.
That’s a different argument. Society does not need God or even religion to look toward for morality. Morality existed before religion, and there are numerous examples of religion acting against morality.
Morality existed before religion?
Source, please. Along with your definitions of both “morality” and “religion”.
Excuse me, I meant to say before Christianity, thank you for pointing that out and keeping me honest.
Take a look at Babylonian and Roman law (pre-Christ), Hammurabi’s Code and the Code of Ur-Nammu. These codified sets of laws, while not perfect, show a natural progression of humanity towards morality.
Asking me to define morality is quite a job, as philosopher’s have spent their careers trying to do that. I view morality as a basis on which to judge actions. Put extremely simply, actions that create suffering are immoral.
When people cry “Separation of church and state!”, I respond, “Diversity rules!”
Ironically Yours, Blade and Blood