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C is for Church and State

Posted by CommunitarianKevin , 04 January 2013 · 653 views

seperation of church state free exercise clause establishment clause liberal lies conservative combacks
So with my gift card to Barnes and Noble I bought a book called Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies. I figured it would be an interesting read. I do like to read things from both sides of the argument...I try to be as non-biased as possible. I think it will be interesting to hear their "comebacks" and maybe I will learn something in the process. The book is structured so that it has a "lie" for every letter of the alphabet. The first is Abortion. I figured it would be fun to do a blog entry for every argument evaluating their case and seeing if I agree. If you are interested in hearing my opinion on it, check back.

C is for Church and State

  This is a shorter chapter in the book but it is the topic I know the most about. My major area of study is the Evolution-Creationism controversy so it has led me to get very involved in religion in America and this debate in particular. Oddly enough I do sympathize with the conservatives when it comes to the crazy atheists. Some of them are just as bad as Christian Fundamentalists. However, the argument put forth in this book is very poorly constructed with skewed facts and ignorance/lies.  

Let’s start with what they got correct. Yes, it is true that the phrase “separation of church and state,” does not appear in the Constitution, but is a phrase that was first used by Thomas Jefferson and introduced in a court case. They are also correct with the statistics they give about religion in America, but that is where their argument falls apart. They correctly state that 85% of Americans consider themselves Christians. They are also correct that 4% describe themselves as atheists. This 4% is the key number. If I gave them the benefit of the doubt and took for granted that all of these atheists are the zealots they describe (which is clearly incorrect,) they are still only talking about 4% of the entire population, yet they attribute their argument to all, or the majority of Liberals. The fact of the matter is that the majority of Liberals are Christians, or at the very least, are not secular atheists. To paint Liberals as a bunch of atheists is clearly incorrect.

They then address the supposed claim that “Republicans and Conservatives are fascists and Nazis who are always imposing their Christian more values on others.” They counter this claims by saying atheists are the fascists Nazis. This is theme for the rest of the chapter. I expected more grown up argument than this…

They do address a partial truth that atheists cannot stand. That is the claim that America is, and was founded as, a Christian nation. Looking at the numbers, I find it very hard for one to make the argument that America is not currently a Christian nation. Nearly 85% of Americans consider themselves Christian. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. Where the truth gets skewed is the founding of the nation. They make a couple mistakes. First, they talk about the “Founding Fathers” as some all encompassing group of men that shared the same ideas. The reality is that the beliefs of the Founding Fathers ranged from Deist to different sects of Christianity. They did not have the same beliefs and they did not have the same views on the role of religion in government. To say that America was founded as a Christian nation would be incorrect because based on the beliefs of a number of the Founding Fathers, we would not consider them Christians. A more correct statement would be that America was founded as a Godly nation. It appears that every Founding Father, even that filthy atheist Thomas Paine, believed in a God.

What is key to understanding this is some study of philosophy and European history. The key point is that the Founding Fathers were products of the Enlightenment Era Philosophy. They were products of political theorists such as John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and others. It is no secret that the Bible was a major theme in Enlightenment thought and the idea of a supreme creator was the most common. To truly understand what the Founding Fathers intended, one must study Enlightenment Philosophy and European history. To argue that the Bible or God is mentioned and this is proof that we were founded as a Christian nation is simplistic and ignorant. It goes much deeper than that. Yes, many of the Founding Fathers were religious and thought religion was important but their main stance was that people should have the right to practice whichever religion they choose and to not be forced to believe in one over another by the state, as was their experience in Europe. The point is we were not founded as a Christian nation, rather a Godly one, which gives us freedom to believe whichever way we see fit.

Claim 4: “Separation of Church and State prohibits any mention of God in a public place.”

Anyone that tells you this (are you listening Liberals,) is wrong. There is nothing that prohibits the mention of God in the public square. It does not matter if it offends you, you are not granted the right to not be offended. The phrase “a Separation of Church and State” comes from the court case Everson v. Board of Education (it does have earlier roots to Jefferson but I will not address that here.) This phrase is a lesson in irony. The entire point of this court case was to oppression of Catholics by Protestants. Unfortunately for them, it has come around to bite them. What is more important than this phrase are the actual words of the Constitution, commonly known as the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. What it reads is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What this means is quite simple…

Establishment Clause-The state cannot sponsor or favor one religion over another.

Free Exercise Clause-A person has the right to practice whichever religion they choose and this cannot be oppressed.

These are statements about what the government cannot do and what people have the right to do. Nowhere does this ban religion from the public square. This leads to the single most annoying misconception…school prayer.

Contrary to popular belief PRAYER IS NOT BANNED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Anyone, of any religion has the right to pray or practice their religion. This is guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause. No one can tell you that you cannot pray in school. What has changed is that the prayer cannot be led by the school, a teacher, or another authority figured of the state. There is nothing stopping a student from passing out a Bible or asking others to pray with them. What is unconstitutional is when the prayer is lead by the school, which is a state institution. If anyone tells you that prayer is banned in schools, they are wrong.

Some clarification on the Establishment and Free Exercise Clause

The Free Exercise Clause does not give one the right to oppress others, or create laws based on their religious beliefs. Just because one believes, for religious reasons, that abortion is wrong or that marriage is between a man and a woman, does not give them the right to establish laws based on that. It is a personal belief which one can choose to live according to. When religious beliefs are used to pass laws, such as banning gay marriage, this is a violation of the Establishment Clause. Basing laws on a particular religion is favoring and promoting one religion over another. The Free Exercise Clause does not give one the right to force their religious beliefs on others. This will become obvious when the Supreme Court rules against the banning of gay marriage. This will happen in the near future because it is a clear violation of the plain words of the Establishment Clause and is also discrimination against a group of people.

Once again, I remind you that these are arguments against the secular atheists that are trying to get rid of Christianity in America and create a secular state…4% of the population. Liberal lies? Most Liberals are Christians. Their argument would be better if they did less name calling and more reading of the facts that they provided.

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