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Author Topic: Separation of Church and State  (Read 1570 times)
no_leaf_clover
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« on: June 05, 2006, 22:57:35 »

Beth,

Maybe you've already commented on this elsewhere, but what do you think of the US in regards to separation of church and state? You think the two have been getting closer, or more separated, or what? I've seen policies going both ways, but don't follow that closely, and was wondering what your take on it is.
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cainam_nazier
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2006, 11:24:04 »

Me personally, I think overall there has not been much change since the states began.  It may be a little less only in the fact that there are more people who are not swayed by a persons spiritual beliefs in regards to their political views.  For the most part you can of any faith and hold an office with your religious views doing very little to put you in that post.  However I do see that there are some who will still vote or not vote for some based solely on their religious orientation.  But if you don't make that your political platform then many people will look past that.

I know that there has been a great deal of news lately about various groups looking to strict the word "god" from any and all legal and political texts.  Using the premise that encroaches on their religious freedom.  Really these people are waging a political war on Christianity.  That in itself I think is wrong.  I find it no different than when other religions in the past have tried to force their religion on others.  It is opposites sides of the same coin.

Oddly enough the idea of the separation of church and state is just that.  An idea.  There is no law that is binding to that, at least no federal law.  However there have been many advances using the 1st amendment as a basis.  However the first amendment only grants religious freedom, it does not state that there has to be that separation between government and the church.  Correct me if I am wrong but that little bit is in the pre-amble.  Which itself is not part of the laws that are the constitution.  

We do have other laws that prevent an outside body such as a church, individual, or corporation from directly influencing the political process.  Directly being the key word in that sentence.  Anyone and everyone can indirectly do so.  But to come right out and threaten and/or bribe political figures into taking certain actions is illegal.

There was an article I read on foxnews.com about a group that sued the state over a bible school funded by the state for inmates.  They claimed it was unconstitutional for the state to fund such a  program because it was a violation of the separation of church and state.  Also they made claims that inmates that were a part of this program were being given special privileges as a result.  The group that administers the program now has to pay back the state a little over one million dollars as a result of the judgment.  

Personally I see no problem with the program being funded by the state even though I do not believe in any one particular religion.  I do believe that if those inmates were getting special treatment as a result of being in the program then there in lies the problem.  And it is that which should be addressed.  I think restructuring it would have been better than canning it.

What many people who complain about programs like this don't see is that the government does not care what religion is doing it.  They will and do fund just about any organization that follows a religious credo.  That is one of the things that bugs me about hardcore atheists.  They are so up in arms about the government funding pr grams like that when they could in reality do the same thing.  They could very easily get funding and start a program where inmates get together and talk about why they don't believe in god.  

As usual I am beginning to ramble.

Just remember...It may be easier to tear some thing down than to build some thing up, but in the long run you don't get as much out of it.
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2006, 11:24:04 »

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Beth
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2006, 05:28:42 »

Quote from: no_leaf_clover
Beth,

Maybe you've already commented on this elsewhere, but what do you think of the US in regards to separation of church and state? You think the two have been getting closer, or more separated, or what? I've seen policies going both ways, but don't follow that closely, and was wondering what your take on it is.

Hey, no-leaf,

As everyone here should know by now, ‘my take’ on things is never a quick or easy answer! I am a woman that has to try to see the whole picture before I take a particular position regarding most all issues!

In the two-hundred years since our constitution was originally written, America has changed a great deal. In fact, it hardly resembles the same country at all; but some things take longer to change than others.

The First Amendment was originally written in a historical context that knew what it was like to live in a world where 'religious belief ruled all'.  They knew what it was like to live under the rule of a King, which through the divine right of kings, claimed direct and sole access, and unlimited blessing, of God Almighty. A great many things that infringed upon the basic liberties of the people were justified by the King, vis-à-vis "God."

The First Amendment was originally written to assure that the government would never be able to use religion as a power base to control the people of this land. Whether known to the founding fathers or not, this is always a danger, even if they wrote a constitutional amendment to prevent it.

While the First Amendment definitely provides 'protection for the people of America’ from having the government institute an official ‘State Religion’, the First Amendment does not ‘protect the government’ from being infiltrated by the extremely religious-minded.  

Religion is POWER; humanity’s self-granted possession of the will of God. As long as the reasoning faculties of believers are held hostage by their religions, the tenets of their religion will always play a key role in every decision that they make. This has been the case in America for the past two-hundred plus years and applies to both the voters and those they elect into office.

Fundamentalist Christians are using the First Amendment to their advantage, and to a certain extent it is certainly their right. But in a true separation between church and state, the state should have no say in religion – and likewise, religion should have no say in the state.  While fundamentalists Christians enjoy the benefits of the former, alas, the State has not enjoyed the same benefit.  

This is what the founding fathers had no way of foreseeing, that is, that a government of the people, by the people and for the people could once again be controlled by a particular religion because ‘the people’ would make it to be the case.

Fortunately, for the religious, it has protection from the government. Unfortunately, for the non-religious, there is no protection from the religious!

Today, attempts are being made to bastardize the first clause of the First Amendment into becoming a blanket protection for the religious to do as they choose. The First Amendment is not a blank check for religion to monopolize the ethical and moral norms of this country.

The First Amendment has already been used to create a tax-free status for all churches and religiously affiliated organizations. This is a major flaw in the system: many churches preach politics from the pulpit and yet billions of dollars of tithing goes ‘untaxed’ every year. Other business entities have to pay taxes, but not the religious ‘businesses’ – and Religion Is Big Business. Tax-free exemption for a private religious business monopoly, that has proven its power in the political realm, is NOT a separation of Church and State, and is in my opinion, a violation of the very law that they use to procure such an advantage.

And it’s just getting worse! With Fundamentalist Christians wanting to teach Creationism as an alternative theory along side of Evolution in federally funded public schools, as well as the issue of prayer in public schools, and then the big brouhaha that erupted during the month of December over whether saying “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” was a violation of the First Amendment – well, the whole situation is way out of hand!

What the Christian Majority does not seem to understand, is that there is a HUGE difference between freedom of religion and of religion having a monopoly over dictating 'what freedom is - and is not'.  

The current president used, in both elections, his religion as a major mobilizing tool to bring in the vote for him. Even if voters disagreed about some of his positions, or prior actions, his being a Protestant Christian carried a lot of weight in his supporters’ decision to vote for him (as opposed to John Kerry being a Catholic.)  

This administration is trying to use religion to control the basic freedoms that this country was founded to create and protect -- as well as to attack and attempt to destroy all beliefs that stand in contrast with Christianity. This president has even said that “God tells him what to do.” This is a very serious situation, and could have horrific consequences.  

So, ironically, the very same issues that the founding men and women of this country were trying to liberate themselves from, are the same issues we still face today. The 'master' has changed but the 'slaves' are still not free. So, what can we do about it?

Well, there is no longer a habitable country for people seeking freedom from religious tyranny to flee to! -- so there must be an alternative plan.

What is needed to address this issue today is another amendment to the Bill of Rights that leaves the First Amendment in place, but adds another that better fits American life in the 21st century.

Here it the First Amendment as it now reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is the new amendment that I propose in complement to the First:

In maintaining respect of the First Amendment to this Constitution, and in order to protect the assurance of a free country, with full liberties for its entire people, all branches of the federal government and federally funded entities shall be free of religious influence, religious monopoly, and religious prejudice. Because religion has proven itself to be a potential threat to the assurance of a free country with full liberties for all, it shall be treated as any other entity as regards treason and sedition, whether it be an individual in the name of a religion, or a group associated with a religion. Further, all churches and religiously affiliated organizations shall no longer enjoy the benefits of having a tax-free status, and will, from this day forward, pay full tax liability on all income in the same manner as all other for-profit entities according to this country’s tax code.  

~Beth
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