Monday, May 02, 2005

Targeting Church/State Separation

Dick Polman and the Seattle Times are catching on to the intentions of the religious right. Here's a quote from an article in yesterday's paper:
Religious conservatives, emboldened by President Bush's re-election and confident of their political clout, are not interested in merely overhauling the judiciary. Ideally, they are seeking a judiciary that would remove the wall of separation between church and state.

This ambition is stated clearly in numerous legal briefs on file at the Supreme Court in connection with a pending case; they seek removal of "a Berlin wall" that is "out of step with this nation's religious heritage." Their leaders argue in interviews that the church-state barrier is a "myth" invented by the high court in 1947, thanks to a twisted interpretation of our founding documents.

Religious conservatives are either unfamiliar with the efforts of Colonial Baptists, with Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance and with Jefferson's Act for Religious Liberty, or they are determined to obscure them.


Monk-in-Training said...

I posted this over on The Emmaus Theory, but I thought it would go here also. (

I think the cozying up of Church to State is very dangerous on the spiritual level. I am an avid historian, and I know of no era where the Church gained real political power that it's spirit wasn't almost immediately impoverished. There is something about real power that ruins the love and service that God's Kingdom must be.

For example, part of my vows tell me to ... seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself. Do those vested with politcal power actually do that, or does the temptation to wield it in a unChristlike manner over come them?

The other danger I see is that people become complacent, thinking that displaying the Ten Commandments (why not the Beatitudes?) or outlawing gambling, drinking, or some other sin will somehow, some way, roll back the Fall. I just don't see that as happening, not this side of the Kingdom.

Christe Fili Dei vivi, miserere nobis
(Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me)

Paul said...

From my blog to yours (from, "Faith in Politics" post, 4/16)


I think this is the manner in which faith constructively enters politics:

When it brings us personal strength and motivation.

When it moves us in a spirit of good will and humility to engage in respectful dialogue with others as full brothers, sisters, and equals.

When we recognize that God?s will is not something that we carry in our own hip pocket, but something that emerges in time as we constructively engage with the wider world.

In what sense should faith stay out of politics?

When it?s not faith. When it?s politics posing as faith by making use of a lot of God-talk. In particular:

When we identify the will of God with specific political agendas and platforms concerning which persons of good will may reasonably differ.

Even worse, when we identify it with specific planks in the platform.

Paul Martin, spiritualdiablog

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


Thanks for your post.

Your 4/16/05 blog deserves to be read in full. Here's a link.

Anonymous said...

Where does the Constitution say anything about a wall of separation of church and state? I know that it says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibitng the free exercise thereof...." Furthermore, does the author have proof of a desire by the "religious right" to establish a state religion? Seems like they want the state to stay out of dictating to churches.

Greek Shadow said...

The term wall in separating church and state is a concrete example of an abstract idea. You named the two clauses of the first amendment, do you understand them? The establishment clause prohibits the government from taking sides or endorsing any one religion over another. In essense it must remain nuetral. The second clause is called the Free exercise clause, which prohibits the government from interfering with the manner and method of people practicing their faith. There are exceptions, Human Sacrifice violates the law of Murder which takes precedent. You said all you want is the government to stay out of your ability to practice your beliefs. It will if you don't expect the government to promote or advertise for you. Putting the Ten Commandments in the Courthouse makes the government choose one religion over others, thus violating the establishment clause. The government does not forbid you as a private citizen from wearing that particular idol on your lapel, though I'm sure the God who forbids idol worship might object to making his commandments into a graven image. This is one example of how the moral mafia claims it is being victimized by governmental restriction when all the government is doing is keeping them from forcing their religion down the throat of people who would rather not swallow it.