Friday, July 8, 2022

Separation of Church and State

One of the things the world keeps shouting when it tells you that you aren't supposed to vote your conscience as a Christian, because your conscience comes from God, is "separation of church and state!" The church, the world says, isn't supposed to influence the state. 

Never mind that the world celebrated the recent-ish election of a few Muslim Congresspersons as a great step forward for diversity. Hey world, Muslim Congresspersons vote their religious conscience the same way that Christian ones do.

Anyway, it's gotten so bad that the world has decided it's against the Constitution for any political body to come to any decision or agreement that might even incidentally line up with a Christian belief. When the Supreme Court, a body of legal experts chosen for their ability to interpret complicated matters of law, rendered a decision that abortion is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution, culture lost its mind and called them a bunch of religious nuts who were bent on destroying our country. 

Of course, not a single one person has pointed to anywhere in the Constitution that would disagree with the justices. There has not been a single legal expert who can demonstrate differently. There have been no talking heads. All of the talk has been about what a crushing blow this is to abortion "rights," when the decision is basically that no such right exists. The argument has been, "it exists because we have it, and that is enough." To the culture, this was not a legal decision based on external evidence, but a religious decision coming out of the perverse hearts of an appointed few...all because it was a decision that many Christians celebrated. (And admittedly, some, for the wrong reasons.) 

The point is - none of the talk was about the actual legal matters involved. All of the talk has been about religion. No one has stopped to consider or to talk about whether the decision is actually right

It's gotten so bad that it goes even further than this. When a week or so later, the Supreme Court ruled that a coach had the right to pray on the football field - by himself in a public space, an act that was not mandatory for his team to join him in any way, shape, or form - the culture lost its mind again. "Separation of church and state!" they shouted, claiming that because it was a public space - perhaps even a public school - acts of religion were forbidden.

So what the culture is saying is that they believe it should be illegal for you, as a Christian, to practice your religion where anyone else might possibly see you. Are we coming to a point where you aren't allowed to pray with your blinds open because it might offend your neighbor? That doesn't seem like such a stretch to the culture. 

Never mind, of course, that this decision was actually the First Amendment "freedom of religion" issue. Freedom of religion doesn't mean that I can only practice it where you approve. It means I can practice it wherever I want to; it is a fundamental part of my existence.

The world shouts "separation of church and state" and has expanded it to mean that there should be no church within the borders of the state, that the church doesn't have a right to exist in a political space. But that's not what this little clause in our founding documents means; it's not what it ever meant.

Remember, the colonists, the founding fathers, were running away from a state with an imposed religion - the people of England were forced to worship as the King saw fit. They were required to be Christians. What they didn't want was for America to become a place where religion was compulsory.

Fast forward two hundred plus years, and we're having conversations where the world is claiming this separation means the state can't let you be a Christian. 

That's not the same conversation. That's not what the document intended. That's not what the clause states. 

So no, separation of church and state doesn't mean that you don't get a vote. You do get a vote, and you should use it. Separation of church and state doesn't mean you're not allowed to pray in public. You are allowed to pray anywhere, as long as you don't force anyone else to join you (and God wouldn't like that, either, so....) Separation of church and state was meant to protect your freedom of religion, not hinder it. 

It is simply not the weapon the world is trying to make it. Thankfully, there are some - including some in high places - who still understand that.  

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