Has anything been more politicized and skewed then the founder’s idea about separating church and state?
Prayer in school? Sorry, we must separate church and state. Teaching intelligent design along with evolution? Can’t do it. We must separate church from state. A copy of the ten commandments on public display? Nope. We must separate church and state. A nativity scene on public property? Absolutely not. We must separate church and state.
Last year I was asked to participate in a local school’s graduation ceremony by presenting an “inspirational” message. But, oh by the way, I could not use the word “God” or make any direct references to him. The reason? We must separate church and state.
Now I am not hysterical about any of these issues. Banning prayer from schools? How can that really be accomplished anyway? Anyone can pray at anytime- anywhere- including school. But this church and state deal- and I am a long way from being an expert on constitutional law- it just seems to me that it is now being used in ways the founders never anticipated or intended.
A couple of observations:
- I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that the original motive behind the separation of church and state had to do with protecting our country from coming under the influence of ONE church tradition. Remember they had British roots where the Church of England ruled and European connections where the Catholic Church reigned supreme. So they shaped the separation of church and state ideal to prevent a single church monopoly from overly influencing the process of democratic governing. As a result they created the atmosphere of religious choice and freedom we have traditionally enjoyed.
- The idea of removing all Christian teaching, symbols and practices from schools was completely foriegn to the founders. Practically all schools, colleges and universities then were started and supported by churches and were- in fact- religious institutions. Prayer in school then was not controversial, it was the norm. The founders were among those who had the ten commandments engraved in public buildings. Again, they were not trying to escape the influence of Christianity- just the influence of one, single church.
My guess is that they would never have been able to imagine what has happened with their separation of church and state concept. They were about creating a union where all kinds of diverse thinking could co-exist and flourish without oppression.
Somehow, someway this goal is slipping away. The skewing of their idea of separating church and state is just but one example of that.
P.S. I love my country and I love God and his church. But I do realize that God does not need America to accomplish his will. America is only “God’s country” as long as we honor him. Over the centuries he has worked through all kinds of people and nations- and his kingdom has actually flourished in some of the very worst and most immoral cultures in history. So, while I lament that our American culture is now “post-Christian”, I am confident that God’s will is being done even if I cannot mention him in a speech at school.