Religion is embedded in U.S. history
Hopefully, it isn’t too late to add a few relevant truths to the recent cover story, “Politics and the pulpit” (SDN Feb. 8) and its discussion of the relationship between church and state. The article started with a quote from a local pastor asserting a popular untruth, “There is a clear boundary, and it has been violated at times.” If the pastor were talking of the religion of the Secular Morality, he would’ve been right, but no, he was talking about religions that have the disadvantage of having a readily identifiable God at the head. Secular Morality, no less a religion than Christianity, has the advantage of answering to no God. Therefore, the Secular Moralists have free reign to impose their religion because it is not as obvious to the rest of us that theirs is a religion, too. But I digress.Apparently, it can’t be repeated often enough that the phrase, “separation of church and state” appear nowhere in the constitution. It seems the farther we get from the space in time when the constitution was written the more the Secular Moralists know what the founders really meant.What is in the constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is what became of James Madison’s original proposed amendment which read, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, abridged.” What is important to understand is the first amendment protects against the establishment of a federal religion. This is why Madison’s original amendment wouldn’t do – it threatened the already established state religions. Many of our founding fathers spoke of the role of religion in our constitutional republic, but there is not space to quote them all. “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible,” said George Washington.John Adams famously declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Patrick Henry said, “… Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed … so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.” Sadly, the constitution has been diluted by the never lawfully ratified 14th, 16th and 17th amendments and our church leaders have surrendered the freedom of religion in order to preserve their tax-exempt status. We must decide that if we are to have separation of church and state, do we recognize that the definition of religion needs to be expanded to include the church of the secular morality, or better yet, allow the free expression of all religions, even Christianity.
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