Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why Some Christians don't believe in the Separation of Church and State

When Evangelical Christians distort the facts so that they can violate the constitutional guarantee of “separation of church and state”, they make the strongest argument for “separation of church and state”. The following are two current examples of such distortions.

The Navy decided not to renew the enlistment contract of one of its Chaplains. Two of the reasons given by the Navy were (1) the Chaplain wore his military uniform while holding a public political protest and (2) the Chaplain repeatedly proselytized at multi-denominational services. Military personnel are allowed to participate in political protests but must not do so while wearing their military uniform. When speaking to a multi-denominational group Chaplains are expected to refrain from proselytizing. Chaplains are expected to provide non-denominational spiritual support to all military personnel regardless of their own personal religious beliefs and those of the military personnel they advise.

All open military religious services shall be inclusive and respectful of all religious beliefs. Chaplains are allowed to encourage personnel to develop spiritually but they are expected to not recommend any one belief over another. A chaplain that can not comply with the regulations is not suitable for being a military chaplain and should instead evangelize as a civilian.

The chaplain who was released at the end of his contract has complained that the Navy tried to prevent him from praying publicly in the name of Jesus. Multiple religious action groups have come to the support of the chaplain. This story has received a lot of coverage in the media and the internet. The statements made by the chaplain and his supporters intentionally misrepresent the military’s reasons for releasing the chaplain.

In another example of distorting the truth, Evangelical Christians are hotly opposing a bill recently approved by the House which expands the definition of a Hate Crime and provides support to non-Federal jurisdictions in their prosecution of a Hate Crime only if an act of violence was committed. The Christian opponents are claiming that the writers of the bill will use it to prosecute Churches if they speak out against homosexuality. In reality, the opponents of the expanded Hate Crime bill want to exclude any law that would protect the rights of a homosexual. For that matter, they want to exclude any law that protects the rights of any person that acts or speaks in a manner that the Christians deem to be immoral. They can’t however make that charge directly because it would not be acceptable to the majority of Americans.

Why do these religious groups misrepresent the facts? They are, in my opinion, trying to change our laws by misrepresenting the Constitution and redefining, for their benefit, the definition of Separation of Church and State. They do not respect other religious beliefs and they intend to redefine our Constitution and our Laws such that it supports and complies only with their interpretation of the Christian Bible. In my opinion the proponents of Separation of Church and State are defending our Constitution not the other way around.

The Evangelical Christians’ objective is a Christian-based Government, Christian-based Laws and the abolishment of “Separation of Church and State”. If they were to succeed, federal, state and local legislators would have to enact laws to enforce Born Again Christian beliefs. Christian prayer would be required at all public functions while all non-Christian religions would be silenced. Laws would be created to enforce Christian morality. The mere existence of other religious groups would not be protected by the law. Schools would no longer teach evolution. Science education would be rewritten to comply with Creation as defined in the Christian Bible. All published writings would have to be approved by the Christian Leadership. Satanic books like the Harry Potter series of children books would no longer be legal. Christian censorship would control the content of television and the movies.

In short order, the United States of America would become a religious state where Evangelical Christianity would be the only legal religion and its beliefs would be the basis of all civil and criminal laws.

The Evangelical Christians exaggerate and misrepresent our current laws because Truth will not benefit their cause. They do not want you to know their true objective. It’s like politics, if you can’t win the constituent’s vote with the truth about your ideas and your performance, then lie about your opponent’s ideas and performance. They encourage us to believe that their opponents are trying to limit our freedoms while they would do more to limit freedom than any threat that America has had to endure.


karen said...

I think we need to be respectful of the beliefs of others. I don't want a "national" religion, of course I'd love it if everyone were a Jesus Freek like me! ;-) We can't escape the fact that this country was founded on the principles of God. Christianity was the "inventor" of public school. I'd like to see some respect, actually, for Christians because I think Christians are persecuted here, just like many other groups. Separation of church and state was intended to keep government out of religion, not religion out of government. I don't know the answer. Evangelical Christians scare me. I'm rambling of course. When I was on a school board for a charter school, they all sat there and told me that I couldn't pray with anyone, as they knew I was an elder. I told them that this was a free country, and I would pray on campus or off campus with anyone that requested it and they couldn't stop me. Of course, they couldn't. Tolerance has to go freely both directions. I guess I just don't see any threat of Christianity being the only legal religion. There is thankfully lots of tolerance here. Real Jesus Freeks don't condemn. The military folk you're talking about had no business breaking rules. They knew what they were commissioned to do. I've prayed with all kinds of folks of other beliefs, and we've managed just fine.

Joe said...

Karen, you stated that Christianity was the inventor of public schools. That’s true in early Europe when a “public school” was established by a church and only church members could attend that school. Later in England, “independent schools” were established and anybody that could afford the tuition could attend the school; they were not church schools. The first Public school in America was modeled after the English Independent School with the exception that it was publicly funded. It was not founded by a church but it was founded by a church leader. It was open to anybody regardless of religion and economic status.

I think the writers of the Constitution had the basic Christian tenets in mind when they drafted the constitution. However, there is ample evidence in my opinion that these men intended that the government and the church must be separate. It is explicitly stated that the government shall neither prefer nor prohibit any church. Many interpret the “separation of church and state” clause in the First Amendment as also requiring that the church not be involved in the government. I accept that interpretation. I believe that the church, not its members, should be neutral on politics.

For example, according to my interpretation and the U.S. law anybody can pray in school or in any public place; however, no public (government funded) school shall establish a prayer requirement.

I don’t see the persecution of Christians in the U.S. However, when the government defends the separation of church and state the Christians interpret that as anti-Christian. Some Christians consider such acts as the work of the devil. Often argued about is whether God should be mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance. Christians see this as anti-Christian and anti-American. They argue that removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance is an attempt to hide the “fact” that the United States of America was founded as a Christian country. In fact, the original Pledge of Allegiance did not include the words “under God”, which were added in the 1950’s after the Knights of Columbus petitioned Congress to do so. Christians have also attacked the removal of the “Ten Commandments” monument from Alabama judicial property as another attempt to erase our Christian founding. How many people know that the monument was installed without government approval by an Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice on one night in 2001? His act was unconstitutional and the removal of the monument is not anti-Christian.

You believe that we should respect all religions even though you would prefer that all would know and accept Jesus as their Savior. I agree and support your opinion. However, many Christians consider non-Christian religions as evil works of the devil. The Mormon Church is considered by some Christians to be an evil cult. You’ve probably heard that some Christians believe that the anti-Christ will be a Pope of the Catholic Church.

Kansas Bob said...

Hi Joe,

Nice blogsite - I like your SitePal talking widget - too bad it costs :(

About seperation, I don't remember it really being an issue when I was growing up ... JFK's catholicism seems to be the only time I remember it remotely coming up. I think that all of the ACLU/Seperation talk really surfaced when evangelical right wingers started to get involved in the American politcal process. Sleeping religious liberals got mad that that they were no longer in control and began to whine using the seperation argument.

I suspect that things will eventually even out - usually do.


Joe said...

Well Bob, I thought of my post as a Rant rather than a Whine but perhaps it's a little of both.

I was an Evangelical for a few years until my Liberal Christian tolerance ran out. The congregation of my old church raged constantly about "no school prayer" but less than 5 percent of the membership ever attended our weekly prayer meeting. Go figure!

Kansas Bob said...

Hi Joe,

Didn't think you were whining just saw many left-leaners whining when they lost the majority.

I thought of you when I read this in an email someone sent me:

"Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777."

Maybe that wall of seperation isn't as high as we think it is :)

Cheers, Bob