This is an election year. Every election year, a big discussion comes up about how a candidate feels about religious faith. Then there is a plurality of citizens that are offended by this. “Separation of church and state!” they cry. “Don’t mix religion and politics!” Are they right? Are they wrong? I don’t totally know…but here’s what I think…
First, let me ask you an honest question. Can you tell me where in the Constitution of the United States, the Bill Of Rights, or even the Declaration Of Independence, that we find the statement about the separation of church and state? Go ahead…take a minute…look it up…google it….or just click here===>CLICK ME …and then make sure to come back here. Okay, now that you’ve maybe read at least a few paragraphs of that page, now let’s continue. What’s pretty obvious about the issue is that it wasn’t intended to prevent people’s faith-based beliefs from being part of the discussion in our political or governmental context. It was, in part, to prevent the government from regulating religion or making people pay into a certain religious institution. It was also, seemingly, to prevent the religious establishments from forcing themselves into people’s lives. To recap, let me give a concise answer to the question I asked. The answer is nowhere. Nowhere in our founding documents do the words, “separation of church and state,” occur. Additionally, the idea was to prevent institutionally forced conformity from a legal level, as well as prevention from governing officials dictating to the religious establishment what they could or could not believe and/or do.
Now, let’s consider our current context. On a societal level, we’ve taken this thought process much further than the obvious limitations with which it was originally constructed. We’ve taken it to a level in which individuals are told to compartmentalize their political beliefs differently from their religious beliefs….unless they are atheistic in their position…which is actually also a “faith”-based position due to it being empirically unprovable. Here’s my opinion on this idea. It’s unconstitutional to ask someone to separate their religious ideologies from their worldview, which will be what determines their political viewpoints. It’s also impossible. It’s totally impossible to separate what someone thinks about spiritual things from how they flesh that out in life. It’s also totally unfair to tell a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or a Mormon to leave their faith at the door while allowing an atheist or an agnostic to have free reign. Perhaps these aren’t classified as “religions” but they are worldviews that are constructed based on their understanding of or belief about the transcendent.
Truly, if we really believe something, then it will affect all areas of our lives…including our political ideologies. Interestingly, the “tolerance” movement is generally against this type of thinking. It seems to me that they think it is intolerant to allow religious worldviews into the discussion. What’s really interesting about that is how intolerant it is. I don’t say any of this in anger. I actually say it from a place of bewilderment…scratching my head…wondering how so many people are missing the inconsistency with the thought processes that are being pushed upon our society.
On the flipside of this discussion…there are many within various religious institutions that appear to want to establish religious rule. This also would be against our foundations…as well as against Christianity. I can’t speak for all the different belief systems in our culture, but what I can say is that Christ never intended for us to force rules or doctrines upon people. Those within our ranks that believe that they should militantly march forward with the Gospel…they don’t understand the Gospel…because if they did…they would never think of it as an assault weapon, but a story and a plan of redemption and rescue instead.
In the “land of the free,” should not all opinions and beliefs be allowed to stand up for public scrutiny in order to allow for consideration regarding our most important decisions? Should we not “tolerate” discussion from all points of view?
I’ll tell you what I think the problem is…it’s twofold. One side is intellectual pride…and the other is intellectual apathy and/or lethargy. We either think we have all the answers and therefore don’t listen to others or we are too lazy or unconcerned to listen to others.
We are better than this aren’t we? Can we not “reason together?” In a culture that touts itself as “open-minded,” why are we so closed off to certain points of view? Let’s be truly open-minded, non-antagonistic, and respectful to one another…let’s listen to one another. I have my beliefs, you have yours, and we both have our vote…and it should be that way all the way to the top. That’s my opinion anyway.
Image taken from: http://www.shomreitorah.org/2016/05/10/religion-politics-in-your-synagogue/