Separation of Church and State

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

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  1. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    StarFire:
    The Supreme Court has ruled that this is not unconstitutional.

    What? Which case was this? Do you have a link?

    Government recognition of [a] God does not in any way establish a state religion,

    Not a specific one, but it establishes that the government does believe in *some* religion(s).

    nor does it discriminate against religions,

    It discriminates against any polytheistic religion, as well as atheism (if you consider that a religion).

    and neither does it interfere with any individual's practice of religion.

    No, it does not.

    Referring back to the first part of your sentence, when the government acknowledges God, the important thing is not which God, but that it acknowledges God. And government's not supposed to recognize an establishment of religion. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and any other religion are all "establishment of religions", are they not? And they all believe in God.

    So, by acknowledging God, the government is automatically acknowledging and I might even go so far as saying endorsing any number of religions. And that is unconstitutional. The government should not be recognizing ANY religion, or any religious terms. They should not be holding prayer sessions (during official sessions, anyway) or engraving the names of religious deity(ies) on our coins. Because that's recognizing religion(s).
  2. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    Vaderize your counter arguments seems to be that English is incapable of using God to mean anything excpet the Judeo Chrstian view.

    Why, oh why, oh why are people on this board so desperate to win arguments that they completely ignore what was said and try to attack the other person?

    My quote was "...in the US...". It has nothing to do with the english language, or any language, for that matter. Generally, when people fight politically in america over the role of religion in public life and politics, they are referring to christianity, or at the most, judeo-christianity. There is nothing inherently, overly, or covertly racist or "language-racist" in what I am trying to say. It was a simple statement of opinion. Stop labelling it. There is no hidden meaning-it means exactly what is says and has no bearing on anything other than the example at hand which I clearly elucidated. Thank you.

    However, since religions straddle language barriers to say that in a certain language a certain word can only be used by one religion is very narrowminded.

    I didn't say that, you did. Please don't put words in my mouth. I was referring only to politicians in america and the use of the word God. It has nothing to do with any other country or language

    Are Hindu couples not married because they weren't wed in a Christian ceremony?

    Again, you are not only twisting my words (deliberately, it seems), but you are taking one small statement and making mountains out of it. Politicians in the US generally politicize christianity; your above question is irrelevant to the conversation as far as I am concerned.

    Dinnertime.

    Peace,

    V-03
  3. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    What you're doing is pretending that the word can only have one meaning because people use it to refer to one thing.

    Stop me(heh) if I lose you.

    The word God is an English word, not a Judeo-Christian one.

    The word Jehovah refers to the Judeo-Christian view God almost exclusively.

    In English, the word Allah refers almost exclusively to the Muslim view of God, however, Allah is not the only way in English to refer to the Muslim view of God.

    God would also be acceptable.

    In Arabic however, Allah is not a word exclusive to the Muslim view of God, although not being versed in arabic I can't speak for the shades of it's meaning.

    The English language is blessed with a(n) plethora, multitude, surfeit, diversity, excess, surplus, oodle, profusion.... of synonyms. Many of the synonyms carry their own shades of meaning (excess vs. surplus) however the fact one person means something with a word does not limit that word to only that meaning.

    Therefore, even if every single politician who uses "God" is thinking Judeo Christian it doesn't make the word mean only Jehovah.

    Even though most might use "God" to refer to the Judeo-Christian view, the US is a melting pot and they have no exclusive right to the word.
  4. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    Kuna_Tiori: What? Which case was this? Do you have a link?

    Marsh v. Chambers


    StarFire: Government recognition of [a] God does not in any way establish a state religion,

    Kuna_Tiori: Not a specific one, but it establishes that the government does believe in *some* religion(s).


    Not true. Religion worships God, but religion is not the same as God. By recognizing God, government recognizes a deity which religion worships, but this does not mean it recognizes religion.


    It discriminates against any polytheistic religion, as well as atheism (if you consider that a religion).

    I'm not aware of any polytheistic religion which does not also recognize some sort of ultimate deity. However, nowhere is God defined as a singular, conscious entity. Christianity recognizes God as a holy trinity, for example, yet Christians direct their worship to a single God. Most polytheistic religions give identities to different aspects of god, in a sense. Worshipping a whole does not mean you reject any of the parts--it means the opposite.


    So, by acknowledging God, the government is automatically acknowledging and I might even go so far as saying endorsing any number of religions.

    As I said earlier, God and religion are not the same, not even a little bit. Religion worships God, and clocks tell time. This does not mean that clocks are time. The two are completely distinct.
    By recognizing God, you're not automatically recognizing establishments of religion.
  5. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    Convincing argument. Yet religion and deity are inextricably linked. Are you saying that government can recognize one without the other?
  6. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    Well, that puts a different light on it. I thought you were pidgeonholing me before ;).

    Peace,

    V-03
  7. Spike_Spiegal Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2002
    star 5
    Yet religion and deity are inextricably linked. Are you saying that government can recognize one without the other?

    There are religions that do not recognize a deity.


    Anyway, farry makes a good point. Here's some more stuff on that.
  8. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    As I said earlier, God and religion are not the same, not even a little bit. Religion worships God, and clocks tell time. This does not mean that clocks are time. The two are completely distinct.

    But time is something universally recognized. God is not.
  9. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
  10. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    Yes, that certainly isn't any kind of biased site, right Jediflyer?

    "The Silence of the Liberals".... :D

    Peace,

    V-03
  11. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    But time is something universally recognized.

    Oh?

    :p


    God is not.

    Neither are human rights. Life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue happiness were recognized by the founders as rights of (almost) every man. These are alleged to be 'natural' rights, and the acceptance of this fact is one of the principles on which American government is founded.
    If these rights truly are natural, and not simply social inventions, than they obviously stem from something greater than social contracts. Whatever source you may personally assume that to be, if you think they exist at all, the Founders certainly believed in them.

    Or government is a secular government, so obviously it can't really be based on any religion. But the principle of our government rests on the proposition that something greater than the flesh and bones that is you and me exists. The simplest way to put it is 'God', however you may choose to define that.
  12. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Neither are human rights.

    True. But our rights are affirmed in the Constitution, the highest law of the land. The existence of God is not.


    But the principle of our government rests on the proposition that something greater than the flesh and bones that is you and me exists.

    Not necessarily. I could argue for human rights as the best way to promote the welfare of all people, without any concerns for where we came from or what may happen to us after death. If I am only interested in ensuring the best quality of life for myself and my children, I would certainly prefer a society where everyone is guaranteed certain rights, rather than gambling on the chance that I might be the strongest and best able to survive in a free-for-all.
  13. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    True. But our rights are affirmed in the Constitution, the highest law of the land. The existence of God is not.

    No... as far as rights go, the Constitution merely limits the power of the government, to prevent it from infringing on the rights of the people. It doesn't grant or affirm rights. The Founders made clear their positions on rights:
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


    Not necessarily. I could argue for human rights as the best way to promote the welfare of all people, without any concerns for where we came from or what may happen to us after death.

    Sure, but that's not what the Founders argued... Our government is not founded on artificial rights.
    To continue to quote from the Declaration of Independence:
    "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

    Governments are instituted to secure the natural rights of the governed. These natural rights don't belong only to Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus, or any religious sect. They transcend boundaries of gender, race, and ideology. How is it possible to accept the universal dominance of these rights because they're natural to the universe, and then immediately reject their source because, as it turns out, religion worships it? Recognizing God does not blur the separation of church and state... God (however you may choose to define that) is distinct from religion and also the premise for our republican government.
  14. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    I'm not saying it is not biased (it is, and I probably should have pointed that out), but the point is the same: The Supreme Court of the United States has the Ten Commandments on the building.

    I'd also like to say I agree with what Starfire has said in his last few posts.
  15. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    StarFire:
    Recognizing God does not blur the separation of church and state... God (however you may choose to define that) is distinct from religion and also the premise for our republican government.

    But isn't recognizing God by definition a form of religion? It's definitely dogma, which is really what religion is.

    You have to be religious to recognize that God, as he/she/it is defined, exists, and that he/she/it was the one responsible for human rights and what not.

    Besides which, the Declaration of Independence has little if any bearing on how our government works. We go by the Constitution, which actually enumerates our rights but (thankfully) does not elaborate on where these rights come from; they just are. Why do they have to come from some higher power? Why can't we, um, just MAKE THEM UP, and everyone agrees - like what really happened?
  16. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    But isn't recognizing God by definition a form of religion? It's definitely dogma, which is really what religion is.

    You have to be religious to recognize that God, as he/she/it is defined, exists, and that he/she/it was the one responsible for human rights and what not.


    I'm not religious, and I believe in God. And whose definition are we talking about? There are many, many different ones.


    Besides which, the Declaration of Independence has little if any bearing on how our government works.

    True. It's not a legal document.


    We go by the Constitution, which actually enumerates our rights but (thankfully) does not elaborate on where these rights come from; they just are.

    Now, the Constitution does not enumerate our rights. It merely restricts the government's ability to infringe upon those rights. The purpose of the Constitution, which runs parallel with the Founder's idea of government as written in the Declaration of Independence, reads:
    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    The Constitution is a guidebook on how government is supposed to run. It isn't a treatise on the nature of rights, but that doesn't change the fact that our government was founded on the principle of ensuring that everyone could practice their natural, God-given rights to the fullest practical extent possible.


    Why do they have to come from some higher power? Why can't we, um, just MAKE THEM UP, and everyone agrees - like what really happened?

    We can... it's what the UN does, as in the recent 'natural right' to a full night's sleep they 'discovered'. But then rights are really just worthless, aren't they? Arbitrary? We can make up rights to life, liberty, and property, and apply them to our form of government... but then who are we to complain when dictators like Kim Jong Il or Saddam Hussein brutally oppress their citizenry and fill up unmarked mass graves by the dozen? How can what they're doing be wrong if they, like us, just make up any rights they want? Morality would be a lie.
  17. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    StarFire:
    I'm not religious, and I believe in God. And whose definition are we talking about? There are many, many different ones.

    Well, let's just go with dictionary.com:

    re·li·gion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (r-ljn)
    n.

    1.
    a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    Thus, if God is defined as that "supernatural power or powers" in Definition #1a., as most people have defined him/her/it, then the acknowledgement of him/her/it is defined as religion.

    It isn't a treatise on the nature of rights, but that doesn't change the fact that our government was founded on the principle of ensuring that everyone could practice their natural, God-given rights to the fullest practical extent possible.

    No, but there is a section in the Constitution, called the Bill of Rights, that spells out our rights. It doesn't go into the background of those rights, but it does show them in their full glory.

    We can... it's what the UN does, as in the recent 'natural right' to a full night's sleep they 'discovered'. But then rights are really just worthless, aren't they? Arbitrary? We can make up rights to life, liberty, and property, and apply them to our form of government... but then who are we to complain when dictators like Kim Jong Il or Saddam Hussein brutally oppress their citizenry and fill up unmarked mass graves by the dozen? How can what they're doing be wrong if they, like us, just make up any rights they want? Morality would be a lie.

    Morality is already a lie. But that's for another discussion.

    The point is, we know for sure that many of the rights that the United States was founded upon were based on the teachings of various philosophers, like John Locke. There is little (if any) evidence that they were taught by God, especially since God has not been proven to exist, as far as I know. Therefore, any reverence to God is not only unconstitutional and unfair but also totally inappropriate.

    You're right in that rights would be totally arbitrary. But the fact is, the rights that we've come to accept were made up by human beings, and accepted by other human beings. Post proof that in reality God invented them and I'll retract that statement. And the Bible, being a fictional novel, does not count.
  18. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    I just had to post this here, because it is SO appropriate!

    Many on the boards here (and even out in the Real World) have said that our nation is one that is built on Christian foundations. They say the Founding fathers (most of them, anyway) were Christian, and therefor the country they helped create is Christian. They say that the Declaration of Independence specifically mentions God, and the US Constitution says nothing about a true Separation between Church and State.

    Red-Seven posted a link to a great article that illustrates how this religious assertion is not accurate. The link is:
    Article in Liberty Magazine
    Here is an excerpt:
    In his Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788), John Adams wrote: "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

    . . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."


    I also especially like this quote from the article, regarding the Treaty of Triploi:
    The treaty is quite clear in stating that the United States government is not founded upon Christianity. Unlike the Declaration of Independence, this treaty represented U.S. law, as do all treaties, according to the Constitution (see Article VI, sec. 2).



  19. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    For those of you who don't believe in a complete separation of church and state, tell me: Why should there be any interaction?

    Does the government need God to give it authority? How different is that from the monarchs of old who claimed their divine right to the throne? Can't authority be given by the people?

    Does the government need to acknowledge the major religion(s) of its people? Why? Won't the actions of the people be enough of a demonstration of their faith? Why would we need "In God We Trust" on our money if we already said it every time we spent it? (Or perhaps a better question, why proclaim it if it isn't true?)

    Can the government acknowledge a deity without dienfranchising those who don't believe in that deity?

    Can it acknowledge God without leaning - even slightly - toward theocracy?
  20. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    womberty, authority can and should be derived from the people and their rights, but from whence do we get our rights? Anything other than God would, I think, be weak by comparison.


    Can the government acknowledge a deity without dienfranchising those who don't believe in that deity?

    Yes, obviously. Our coins have inscribed, "In God We Trust," and yet atheists can still vote.

    This seems like a thoughtful question, but reality already answers it.


    Can it acknowledge God without leaning - even slightly - toward theocracy?

    Again, yes: we already prove it can be done.
  21. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    The Spartans, Greeks (non-spartan), and Romans were weak?
  22. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Again, yes: we already prove it can be done.

    However, we are a few small steps away from downward spiral. God doesn't belong in government. If we as a nation are arguing about, and we are, then it has not worked.

    Did you read Red-Seven's link, Bubba?


  23. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    womberty, authority can and should be derived from the people and their rights, but from whence do we get our rights? Anything other than God would, I think, be weak by comparison.

    Man-made rights may be weak, but they're the best we've got. If I have to depend on a God for my rights, I'm going to worry a bit about whose God is giving them out...


    Can the government acknowledge a deity without dienfranchising those who don't believe in that deity?

    Yes, obviously. Our coins have inscribed, "In God We Trust," and yet atheists can still vote.


    But they don't get free advertising space on the national currency. Or is this a "rule of the majority" thing: the majority gets to define who we are?


    Can it acknowledge God without leaning - even slightly - toward theocracy?

    Again, yes: we already prove it can be done.


    Oh yeah? We have plenty of laws that are more in keeping with theocratic principles than the spirit of individual equality.


    Even if you don't think it pollutes the system of individual rights and equality, is there any good reason for the government to be taking sides when it comes to religion? What would be wrong with a government that refuses to either affirm or deny the existence of any deity?
  24. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    Bubba_the_Genius:
    authority can and should be derived from the people and their rights, but from whence do we get our rights? Anything other than God would, I think, be weak by comparison.

    Well, we can always tell the truth: a bunch of old dead white guys made them up, and everyone else went along with it.

    Yes, I agree it might not be as impressive as religious dogma. But it's the plain and honest truth, wouldn't you say?

    To say that they came from God is a lie or at best a half-truth because there is no scientific evidence that God delivered human rights (or that he/she/it/they even exist(s)). It's a possibility that God (should he/she/it/they exist(s)) came up with our rights and implanted them into John Locke's brain, but it hasn't been proven (yet). Of course, if you have any evidence to the contrary I'd be happy to be corrected.
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