Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

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The separation of church and state, as it is currently being practiced in the United States is unconsitutional. Why? The current implementation is an attempt to remove all references of religion from every aspect of the government, and from all public life. It is an attempt to relegate it to back rooms and private buildings, preferably out of site of any part of public life. Exaggeration? Nope. In Connellsville, Pennsylvania, the local school was sued over a display of the Ten Commandments, rather than waste money defending their rights (which is what these groups hope for) they acquiesced and voted to give the monument to a local church. The church planned on installing the monument on their property – case settled? Nope. It seems the Freedom from Religion Foundation found offense that the monument would still be visible to passing youth.

Briefly put, here is what the Constitution says about the interaction of government and religion:

1st Ammendment: 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.

For over 150 years this was universally understood as saying that, unlike the other goverments of the time (England, France, Spain, the Barbary nations, and the Ottoman Empire), the desire of the Constitutional Delegation was to not have a recognised state religion, hence part 1 of the clause: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. I would like to point out two words in this clause: Congress and law. It does not say anything about state, county, city, or other goverment authorities, only Congress, meaning Connellsville should be allowed to decide if it wants a public display of the Ten Commandments. Second, it says that Congress shall not make any laws establishing a religion, it does not say that Congress itself cannot have a display of the Ten Commandments, so long as they do not require any citizen to obey them. Yet, that is exactly what certain groups are attempting to do – completely remove religion from any aspect of public life.

The writers of the Constitution wanted to create a country where people of any religion could seek safety from persecution as well. Which is why the second part of the clause was created: or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Our government seems to forget about this part. It was placed in the Constitution thoughtfully, for a people to truly feel safe to practice their beliefs they must be free from an interfering government. They wanted people to feel free to practice their beliefs without a Big Brother watching over them, telling them how to pray, what rituals can and cannot be performed, etc. The American governments, at all levels (federal, state, county, local, school, etc.) are trying to tell people how they can demonstrate their religious beliefs by placing limits upon people. Where they can pray, where they can assemble, and how they can raise their children.

It is in this chapter that I will bring out instances where the government is, in my opinion, overreaching its’ given authority. This is being done to bring attention to this growing crisis in America, to warn those outside to be watchful in their own countries, and to, hopefully, get Americans to become involved and contact their representatives to right these wrongs.

 

The Modern Theologian

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