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#1 Jan 10 2013 at 4:03 PM Rating: Good
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IDrownFish of the Seven Seas wrote:
To be fair, a lot of people don't believe that the country should have a separation of Church and State. The Constitution says that Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and has little things here or there which can be read as "You can't deny someone their rights because of their religion," but nowhere does it say that Church and State have to be completely separate. So you have things like the President leading an annual Easter prayer session.

That said, at this point the Supreme Court has essentially made the Separation of Church and State a thing. Basically, the government is not allowed to promote any one religion over others (there's a lot of other requirements too, as it's a very very fine line, but that's the gist of it). From a legal standpoint, the Courts usually try to keep the two separate. But a lot of people these days still believe that Church and State should be unified. They point to the history of the United States frequently, claiming that the Courts have misinterpreted the founding fathers' intentions. For example, in the Declaration of Independence, (which really doesn't hold a lot of legal weight, but is useful for trying to interpret the founding fathers' intentions) they refer to a "Creator" and "Nature's God". One of the most famous written lines in history reads:

The Declaration of Independence wrote:
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.

The phrase "endowed by their Creator" is pretty obviously religious in nature, though the phrase never appears in the Constitution.

Basically, the whole Separation of Church and State is a relatively modern occurrence, and there's a lot of people (notably the Right) that feel the founding fathers' intentions were not to separate the government and religion so. These same people often feel that a God-fearing, Christian nation is what will set us on the path to happiness, and these are often the people that wouldn't vote for an Atheist president.

Oh my God I'm becoming gbaji.

Not trying to be contrary here, it's just working out that way.

The original colonists came here to escape religious persecution. The founding fathers - well, Thomas Jefferson - made certain that the Constitution made it clear that everyone could worship in their own way, without interference from the government. Remember, at the time there were countries that were adopting certain religions as the One (Church of England, anyone?).

The fact that the Declaration of Independence refers to a creator is not a contradiction, because the colonists were religious men, for the most part. It was because of their religious beliefs, and their ancestors' persecution, that they crafted the establishment clause.

So, the establishment clause simply states that the federal government cannot pass any law that favors one religion over another. If it did, that law would certainly have some effect on the "establishment of religion" and "the free exercise" of another. The thing is, what does "favoring" mean? If you want to be a strict constructionist, then what does "respecting an establishment of religion" mean?

A lot of people take the view of the fable about the camel and the tent, and draw a bright line with religion on one side and government on the other. Most support their position by saying "it may favor my religion today, but what happens tomorrow?".

As you can see, the separation of church and state is a doctrine that actually protects those people who are constantly attacking it! Their religion may be in the majority today, but who knows what the future holds.

"the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
Hermann Goering, April 1946.
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