Boundaries between church and state ensure fairness, freedom

Catherine Grandorff

Catherine Grandorff

Perhaps it’s just my relative location, but lately, I’ve heard “founded as a Christian nation” rather a lot, whether from FOX/CNN news (I’m convinced they’re the same) or just some brainwashed shmuck. Despite popular nonsense, the founding fathers of the U.S. took painstaking care to keep their new government as secular as possible. After witnessing a corrupted system of interlocked church and state, where questioning the government was blasphemy, it’s little wonder why they and their supporters desired secularism.

The Bill of Rights maintains, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Treaty of Tripoli underlined this notion, stating clearly, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Endorsed by President John Adams, the treaty passed the Senate unanimously.

This was the 339th recorded Senate vote, but only the third unanimous vote in the Senate’s history. No record of any debate or dissent exists.

By refusing to mandate any particular religion, the founding fathers ensured U.S. citizens would not be prosecuted for their beliefs, as the state was to be secular in every sense. Imagine the outrage if our present day Senate would so strongly uphold a similar notion of freedom.

Despite how religion seems to flourish under these standards (84 percent of Americans consider religion a very important part of their lives-Gallup Polls), current studies show that though Americans may believe in religious liberty, there is growing support for blurring the line of church and state.

These views simply aren’t compatible, unless one thinks a religious government would protect the rights of religious minorities, which has always been the case in the past (the Roman Empire, the Inquisition, Islamic fundamentalists … ).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 52 percent of Americans value freedom of religion over all their other First Amendment rights. Eighty-three percent said they would not support a national religion, and 59 percent believe it’s important to understand others’ religious beliefs.

However, “Only 49 percent think keeping religion and government separate is either unnecessary or should be less strictly interpreted,” said the Times-Dispatch

To me, Americans are sending an extremely mixed message. They don’t want to separate church from state, but they want religious liberty. They don’t want a national religion, but they want the government to be involved in religious matters.

People need to connect the dots and realize separation of church and state assures religious equality for all, no matter their views of the cosmos, if they think that a man was born of a virgin and rose from the dead or that a tiny teapot orbits the earth. No matter if they have faith in reincarnation, no matter what.

Maintaining separation enables our government and public sector to act freely from agendas religious groups may have and supposedly do what is best for all citizens of all views. The “wall between church and state” so guarded by our forefathers must be allowed to stand with reverence in order to allow the beloved “freedom of religion” to continue to flourish as it has. And that, I believe, is exactly how George Washington, and not George W. Bush, would have it.

#1.883542:1309593895.jpg:grandorff,catherine.jn.jpg:Catherine Grandorff, Connect the Dots: