San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Alleged Separation Of Church And State

How many times have you heard some God-hating pagan declare that the Constitution of the United States mandates a "strict separation between church and state?"  On the other hand, how many times have you heard some air-headed Evangelical declare that the founding fathers were all "Christians who founded a Christian state?"  Both parties are terribly wrong in their assessment of the history of this sad land.  Today I would like to focus upon the separation of church and state error.
Donna Orlandi of Arvada, Colorado, wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post last week in which she weighed in with her opinion on the Kim Davis affair.  Allow me to quote Donna in full, "I couldn't agree more with your editorial.  The US Constitution clearly states separation of church and state.  You can believe anything you want, but that belief cannot nullify the Constitution.  If you hold a government position, you are hired to do a job for the government.  You have no business bringing religion into your job.  The Bible ("Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's") and the Constitution both state that church and state shall be separate.  If anyone holding a government position cannot do this, they need to find employment elsewhere, preferably in a religious institution."  Let's consider Donna's ignorant and hateful comments for a while today.
Donna is dead wrong about the Constitution.  Nowhere in the document are the words "separation of church and state" to be found, despite her adamant assertion that the Constitution "clearly states" it.  Bethany Blankley of Christianpost.com writes, "Contrary to popular belief, the phrase 'separation of church and state' is not in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, not one of the ninety Founding Fathers stated, argued for or against, or even referred to such a phrase when they debated for months about the specific words to use when writing the First Amendment. Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789 reveal that none of these men, including Thomas Jefferson, ever used the phrase, 'separation of church and state.' One advocacy group claims, 'courts have said that church-state separation IS found in the U.S. Constitution, and what the Declaration of Independence says or doesn't say is irrelevant to legal discussions because it's not a governance document.'  Two of the three parts of this claim are false. The phrase, 'separation of church and state' is not written in either the First of the Fourteenth Amendment.    Rather, these Amendments explicitly state that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from nationalizing any religion, from creating a national church, and from favoring one religion over another.  Two clauses comprise the Religious Clause of the First Amendment:
  • The Establishment Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . ." and,
  • The Free Exercise Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…"
The U.S. Supreme Court first cited the phrase, 'wall of separation between church and state,' in 1947 (Everson v. Board of Educ. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 15-16) from a well-known concept expressed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.  While the Supreme Court did rule that a 'wall of separation between church and state' exists, they did so based upon seven words from one personal letter rather than from the Constitution. As a result, the Supreme Court created an erroneous precedent, ruling that law could be created from a personal letter instead of the Constitution."
I find it amusing that although everyone is happy to use the phrase, nobody ever defines the concept of a wall of separation between church and state.  The phrase is not intuitively obvious.  It is clearly a metaphor.  What does it really mean?  God-haters use it to defend their infantile view that God has no opinion about what the law of the land should be.  They want men to be free to create their own laws.  They want men to be able to call evil good, as they have done in the case of the Supreme Court of Joker's decision to bless homosexual behavior.  Most importantly, they want God to be kept out of the public square.  In doing so they are behaving consistently with their God-hating natures so they should be commended for their consistency.  Their consistency, however, will not keep them out of the Lake of Fire.
Even when Jefferson used the phrase he rather obviously did it simply to support the two clauses of the First Amendment cited above.  Jefferson, along with the great majority of the signers of the Constitution, did not want a state sponsored Church nor did he want to prohibit the practice of various religious groups.  As he once famously said, as long as a religious group did not "pick my pocket or break my leg" they should be "free to believe in 20 gods if they want to."   Most of the founding fathers were Deists and they wanted to keep the government from creating a State Church that would run about persecuting nonbelievers, including themselves.  It was never their intention to declare that no person is permitted to speak in the public square if the message being spoken is motivated by closely held beliefs that can be described as being "religious."
Donna, and all of the others who use the phrase "separation of church and state," do so while suppressing the truth that they have a religion of their own.  If Donna was consistent on this point she would forbid herself to speak in the public square as well.  Donna is adamant that "you have no business bringing religion into your job" but she has a religion that she brings to her job everyday.  It is not a question as to whether or not people will be influenced by their religious beliefs.  The question is really about the content of those religious beliefs.  Donna, and all others like her, worships the State.  She practices the sacrament of voting and she calls for the State to bless her marital unions.  She prays to the State when she writes her Congressmen and she rejoices with great joy when the State creates laws that give her what she wants, especially when what she wants consists of the money of the evil "rich" people who populate the top 49% of the income population.  Make no mistake, Donna is highly religious and her religious views are the source of all of her comments.  Donna wants to keep the Christian Church out of her government god's domain because they are diametrically opposed.  The God of the Bible hates the government of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika and worshipers of the SDA government hate the God of the Bible.  Donna may try and pretend that she is morally neutral, and, sadly, many Evangelicals will grant her that position, but there is no neutrality in the war for the public square.  Everyone either loves God or hates God.  Conversely, everyone either loves the State or hates the State.  There is no middle ground.  As a side note...I don't think it is necessary to point out that there is really no war going on.  The government worshipers have won the war.  They won it long ago.  The SDA is a post-Christian country. 
Donna concludes her diatribe against the God of the Bible by pretending to be a theologian herself.  Like all arm-chair theologians she is utterly clueless as she makes proudly confident pronouncements about what God allegedly believes about her and civil government.  Donna believes that the Bible says that civil government and the Church must be separate.  In support of her position she quotes the oft-abused verse where Jesus informs the disciples that they should "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's."  If she had spent any time examining the context of that passage she would have discovered that Jesus was not discussing the doctrine of the separation of Church and State at all.  Jesus had been asked if it was lawful, according to biblical law, to pay a particular tax to Rome.  Jewish zealots wanted Him to deny the lawfulness of the tax and thereby trap Him in an alleged infraction against Rome.  Once He could be accused of a crime against Rome they could have Him executed, or at least that was their hope.  Jesus miraculously paid the tax (by withdrawing a coin from the mouth of a fish) and then informed His disciples that both civil government and the Church have a right to tax their subjects.  Both institutions have a right to 10% of the income of their members.  What Jesus declared in that one simple sentence was the propriety of civil taxation, the immorality of civil taxation in excess of 10%, the moral necessity of the tithe and the sinfulness of not tithing.  As is always the case, those lessons are lost on Donna and all others who love to quote Jesus in ignorance.

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