Separation of Church and State

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by StarFire, Jan 6, 2003.

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  1. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    Very few people today, outside of fundamentalist Islam perhaps, would prefer religious doctrine to be a key player in governmental affairs, to dictate government. However, there's a good discussion to be had about government dictating religion.

    If it is cast out of the leading role, there are essentially two places for religion where government is concerned. The first is an unassuming role, where religion does not dictate government (though perhaps persons with religious convictions may) and government does not dictate religion (or personal religious observance). The second is a mutual isolation of the two, where any trace of government interaction with religion (and vice-versa) is crushed and obliterated.

    In both cases, government does not sponsor religion. But in the latter case, government goes out of its way to ban religion from any interaction with governmental affairs.

    I personally believe that government should be secular. Government should not dictate religion; government shouldn't even recognize religion as anything more than an organization of dogma and special interests (like the NRA and the ACLU, for example). Why set it apart? By setting it apart, isn't the government granting religion some undue weight? Some people swear by gift cards, some people swear by Bibles. Is Biblical dogma really so threatening that it deserves special federal note and restriction?

    If you can quote Descartes, Aristotle, and Archimedes in your federal cubicle and on the doorframes and monuments of your court house, you should be able to put something Biblical up there as well.

    Discuss.

    KK EDIT: Locked in favor of consolidating into a new thread.
  2. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    I personally believe that government should be secular. Government should not dictate religion; government shouldn't even recognize religion as anything more than an organization of dogma and special interests (like the NRA and the ACLU, for example). Why set it apart? By setting it apart, isn't the government granting religion some undue weight? Some people swear by gift cards, some people swear by Bibles. Is Biblical dogma really so threatening that it deserves special federal note and restriction?

    If you can quote Descartes, Aristotle, and Archimedes in your federal cubicle and on the doorframes and monuments of your court house, you should be able to put something Biblical up there as well.


    If it is a philosophical quote from the Bible(e.g. "Thou shall not kill"), I see nothing wrong with it. However, if it's a religious quote, such as "Accept Jesus Christ as your savior", I believe that should not be allowed.

    I know someone will try to bring this up, and I want to address it: Not all of the ten commandments are laws, and do not belong in a government building. Adultery is not illegal, disrespecting your parents is not illegal, and being atheist, humanist, or polytheist are not illegal.

    I foresee a heated arguement between Bubba and Scarlet.



  3. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    If it is a philosophical quote from the Bible(e.g. "Thou shall not kill"), I see nothing wrong with it. However if it's a religious quote, such as "Accept Jesus Christ as your savior", I believe that should not be allowed.

    Oh, I agree completely ... it's only common sense that any quotes reflect the positions of a secular government. It goes for all quotes, not just Biblical ones.


    I foresee a heated arguement between Bubba and Scarlet.

    You too? :p
  4. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    [face_laugh] @ Darth_Guy

    I think that church and state should be separated, but I think it is entirely impossible to separate "religion" from the government. You could argue the reason we have the laws against murder are because of the "religious influence." To get rid of any semblance of religious influence is to get rid of the government itself, because many many government laws (besides ones on like cabbage pricing and stuff) perhaps are not based on religious reasons but certainly share and/or agree with religious beliefs. (Thou shalt not steal/kill/etc.)
  5. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    Discussion, perhaps. But they know better than to start baiting each other or personalising things. Right?


    There are an awful lot of religion discussions on the first few pages right now. Are you sure that this discussion merits its own thread?
  6. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    To get rid of any semblance of religious influence is to get rid of the government itself, because many many government laws (besides ones on like cabbage pricing and stuff) perhaps are not based on religious reasons but certainly share and/or agree with religious beliefs. (Thou shalt not steal/kill/etc.)

    Stealing and killing were illegal in society before Christianity existed. I know that many government laws resemble religious philosophy, but not stealing/killing/etc. is almost universal.
  7. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    If you think new topics concerning religion could use a breather, Red-Seven, please feel free to lock this. I don't believe there has been a discussion on this particular subject recently, but I could be wrong.

    It's up to you. (duh :p)
  8. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    I was not speaking of Christianity. I was speaking of religion. And almost every religion has had laws forbidding stealing and killing (except for sacrifices, like the South American Indians, who had human sacrifices.) However, my point is, too many things in our government are also in religion, though the government laws may not be there specifically because of that. If you had total separation, then there would always be someone pointing to the old Testament and going "Thou shall not kill is 'religious' " and under the constitution or whatever we put it in, it would have to be taken out. And then there would be anarchy.
  9. TripleB Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 4
    If you actually read the politics of the time behind the "separation of church and state" back in 1960, you will see that very anti-catholic Supreme Court justices created it, out of fear that should JFK win the presidency, that somehow it will put the Vatican in control of the United States of America.

    Separation of Church and State is a sham and a lie, created by leftists to try to sever America's bond with God.
  10. Ariana Lang Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 10, 1999
    star 5
    Separation of church and state was created when the country was, because the founders had seen how the Vatican ruling the country/the king also being the religious leader simply didn't work. Plus, many of the founder's grandparents and great grandparents had been those that were prosecuted for their beliefs, and much of that was to honor them so that future generations would not be driven from this country.
  11. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    I think there's a degree of church-state separation that is mandated by the Constitution: there can't be a close relationship between the national government and a religious organization. The idea with Amendment I was to simply prevent an analogue to the Church of England.

    But, as I've said in the "In God We Trust" thread, I'm fairly ambivalent about the grey area between absolute secularism and the unconstitutional blending of church and state.

    The latter is clearly dangerous, but the former is equally absurd: taken to an extreme - as is being done - local governments couldn't tax churches or change traffic ordinances to protect churchgoers. We would have to, retroactively, remove the allusions to religion in our founding documents (including the Constitution itself) and we would have to change the names of cities like St. Louis and Los Angeles. (Not to mention the fact that our own governmental buildings mirror the architecture of Greek TEMPLES.)

    On one gray issue, I believe presidents and witnesses should have the right to swear on a Bible if they so choose.

    But what about "In God We Trust" on the coin and the Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama statehouse? I can see reasons both for AND against them, but I'm not really compelled to take one side or the other.
  12. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Separation of Church and State is a sham and a lie, created by leftists to try to sever America's bond with God.


    [face_laugh] That it may be but there is no 'bond' with god other than what religious folk say there is. Remember manifest destiny? That was the ultimate bond with god and that cost lots of lives. I'd say this 'bond' has been broken for a while.


    I'd also like to point out that Kennedy was a democrat, a leftist as you'd call it. So how could a leftist make a rule against a leftist? Does that make sense to you? I'd say Republicans would pull that kind of stunt. 'cause you all know how they would hate for us to break our bond with god. *eye roll*
  13. TheScarletBanner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4
    I don't know why you associate the separation of Church and State with leftists, TripleB. Maybe it's just that usual line that we're responsible for all the worlds ills? If you'd care to examine the facts, you'd realise that there are also MANY conservatives who favour Church and State separation.

    And if you're calling it a sham, then you're calling the principles, as envisioned by your Founding Fathers, of Americanism, a sham.

    James Madison,



    The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).
    Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov't in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).
    Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

    I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others. (Letter Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).



    There should be a total and utter separation of Church and State. The only time in which a Church should receive State funds is when it is carrying out a secular task, and its ability to do so outstrips any other organisation.

    The Church and State fulfill manifestly different roles. The Church is there to care for its congregation and to promote their dogma, and the State is there to protect the liberties and rights of the people. The two are mutually exclusive: you can't protect someone's right to befree from religion if you're simultaneously allowing Church to have a say in Government.

    Like Madison said in the bold part of the quote above, there are grey areas. Like the IGWT in coins, and the Pledge of Allegiance (which should be changed back, now the "communist threat" is gone). However, Madison believed that could be combatted by 'complete abstinence' of the State from Church matters, and vice-versa.

    To me it seems clear-cut. If you want to live in a place where the Christian Church is part of the State, move to my country, where the Queen, our head of State, is also the head of our Church. Or move to one of the numerous states that embrace Islam without shame. The State refusing to sponsor religion does not intrude on your personal rights, and if you think it will damage your religion by weakening it, then you obviously don't think your religion is good enough to attract people without State interference.

    Why take risks and allow a 'grey' area of Church/State separation, when it's easier to just drive a wedge between them entirely?

    EDIT:

    Oh, TripleB...

    "They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation
    of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution. It's a
    lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore."

    [Pat Robertson, The State, Columbia, South Carolina, Nov. 14, 1993]


    I THOUGHT I'd heard that somewh
  14. toochilled Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 2000
    star 5
    ''Separation of Church and State is a sham and a lie, created by leftists to try to sever America's bond with God''

    So, you are a fundamentalist Christian then?

    How would you feel if the US removed the seperation but instead of Catholocism instilled Islam as the religion of the State?

    Think about that and then think about how all the non-catholics feel.
  15. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    Nice find on the quote, TSB!
  16. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Hey! A reverend preaching abstinance! Go figure!! [face_laugh] Seriously, a great quote, and made even more powerful by the fact it was said by a religious figure.

    I'm glad to see someone finally sees and understands the need for a separation... my head was beginning to hurt for all the banging against the wall, fending off Christian double-standards!
  17. TheScarletBanner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4
    Um, the letter was TO the Reverend from James Madison, not BY the Reverend to James Madison.

    - Scarlet.
  18. TripleB Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 4
    I am no fundamentalist christian, just a christian.

    Read the opinions and the op ed pieces of the Supreme Court in 1960 when Separation of Church and State was first created (not in the 1700's like you all are saying) and you will see what the real motive was.
  19. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    ah, misinterpreted the names, since Madison was atop (followed by a coma which led me to believe he was the addressee) and the reverend below. Now I must despise the letter, as it was written by a politician! ;)

    Seriously, this doesn't change my view. My name-facts may be wrong, but I like the quote regardless.

    Forgive me for agreeing with your post, TSB. It won't happen again.
  20. TheScarletBanner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4
    Ok, let me tell you a little story, TripleB.

    A few hundred years ago, there existed this country called England. Now, England back then was quite oppressive, what with a powerful monarchy, state church and an above-the-law nobility which enforced extreme religious views. But there were some guys and gals who thought they could do a lot better, so they started to write their ideas down. These ideas, they were quite radical - they suggested that all people were equal, that people should be free to exercise their freedom as they wished, that there should be classlessness, and people should have the right to self-determination. Back then, they didn't get much attention, unfortunately, because Ol' England had seen the likes of these hotheads before, and they all ended up in the gallows, so who cares? But you see, these guys and gals were pretty persistent, so they exported their ideas to the New World, and created a Government which enshrined their wonderful ideas. Then, they all got together and wrote this document they called the Constitution, which meant that never again could a persons human rights be violated, that the Government would serve the people, and the Government would unfairly interfere in peoples lives. One part of this Constitution was called the Establishment Clause. It was a catchy little line, it went a little like this:


    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;


    Now, as I said, this was quite a while back. It was only December 15, 1791, when that particular Clause became part of the Constitution, the document, which, as I've said, and those guys and gals put into practice, was pretty radical in its time. Now, as years have passed, some people - all religious, strangely like the nobility back in Ol' England - have tried to pretend that catchy Clause wasn't there. In fact, they've gone as far as sticking their fingers in their ears and wailing that it doesn't exist, and, if it does, it was created very recently by the left-wing! Some even have suggested that it's a LIE and a scam to rob people of their religions! But you see, if these people had the ability to open their little peepers just a smidgeon and look back in history, they'd see that those hothead guys and gals died for their ideas, ensuring that they were never tampered with and continued to form the basis of the Government of the New World. And, funnily enough, these ideas are what makes them the BESTEST COUNTRY EVER! And one of those ideas was that there should be no State Church, nor should there be any interaction between the Church and the State.

    You see? Quite an interesting story. See, some of these guys and gals left us some stuff to read. One guy left quite a lot - in fact, he even came up with the idea of a wall between the Church and the State! This guy's name, quite a ring to it, I'm sure you'll agree, was Thomas Jefferson.


    Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State
    (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).


    Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle
    (letter to Robert Rush, 1813).


    ...(T)o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his con
  21. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    A distinction needs to be made between the legal concept of "separation of church and state" created by the previously cited Supreme Court decision 40 years ago and what is stated in the First Amendment-- "Congress shall make no law repecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

    The First Amendment is very specific on the subject, whereas the concept of "separation of church and state" has been interpreted to mean no contact whatsoever between religion and public institutions.

    The idea that a nativity scene at Christmas (or the use of the word Christmas itself) at a school constitutes an establishment of religion is certifiably ridiculous, yet the law has been so disfigured by "activists" that it that is now precisely how it is interpreted by many courts.

    EDIT-

    And one of those ideas was that there should be no State Church, nor should there be any interaction between the Church and the State.

    Right on the first score, dead wrong on the second. Jefferson did not write the Constitution, nor was his letter ratified into law by the citizens of the country. Only the First Amendment was, and all it says is "no state church".
  22. toochilled Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 2000
    star 5
    Well put Scarlet!

    And I also agree with you AJA, there has to be sense in this.
  23. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    The idea that a nativity scene at Christmas (or the use of the word Christmas itself) at a school constitutes an establishment of religion is certifiably ridiculous, yet the law has been so disfigured by "activists" that it that is now precisely how it is interpreted by many courts.

    Okay, AJA, let's break it down that way, then.

    Take the 1st Amendment as written(We all know what the Amendment says by now, so I won't repost it). When the name God (a unanimously agreed upon name/title of a religious icon) is used in conjunction with the government (such as "God Bless America", "In God we Trust", One nation under God", etc), that government has endorsed religion, which is exactly what it is NOT intended to do.

    They only way to disagree with that is to say that God is not a religious icon.

    So, taking your example of the nativity scene in the public school: The public school is funded by the government, who in turn is support by taxes given by the public. To allow a religious symbol, icon, etc in a place of learning funded by ALL American taxpayers is, in truth, not only advocating one religion over all others, but publicly sponsoring it. That is clearly a violation of the Separation of Church and State.

    There should be no religion (Christian, Islam, Hindi, Judaism, etc) in American government. That is what the country was founded on.

  24. TheScarletBanner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4
    That's entirely up to interperetation. I mean, 'respecting an establishment of religion' sounds, more like, to me, 'acknowleding/regarding religion in your laws.'

    - Scarlet.
  25. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    I posted this in another thread on another topic, but it's interesting here as well. This is from Abraham Lincoln's second inagural address:

    Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


    If the man gave that speech today, the ACLU would've got him before Booth.
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