Separation of church and state

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Biggin', Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Biggin'

    Biggin' New Member

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    Does any of this preacher nonsense / promoting / making fun of a candidate inside a church bother people who believe in this "separation"??
     
  2. invisibleman

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    I think that separation of church and state has to deal with prevention of church monopolizing and influencing state affairs. Like using one's faith and its practitioners in making laws benefitting them. And vice-versa. State affairs cannot just benefit for a single religious organization. All other religious faith organizations will have to benefit as well.

    I think that there were more separation of church and state offenses over this past National Day of Prayer and its theme. The theme was based in Christian faith and had a Biblical reference. (Why wasn't there other religions represented? And their religious texts quoted?) I thought that Americans would've seen that that was kind of a First Amendment disregard.
     
  3. MattBrick

    MattBrick Member

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    Churches or other religious institutions are not under cencorship by the government from discussing political and social concerns (as they are in some countries, particularly comunist states) or talking about candidates.
    If they use their church structure to try to influence elections, or promote one political group over another - which they are absolutlely free to do -
    they are however in jeopardy of loosing their tax exempt status in the United States.
     
    #3 MattBrick, Jun 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  4. invisibleman

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    Correctamundo.
     
  5. Biggin'

    Biggin' New Member

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    The house and senate have chaplains and start each session with a prayer...
     
  6. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    Well put... the "dumb America" thinks there should be ZERO religion in government, i.e. removing In God We Trust from coinage.

    You've got it semi-right here though, with the making laws benefiting them. For one in actuality, religious organizations are afforded a number of separate tax laws, and well as legal entity laws.
    [edited: to caveat that religious organizations are pretty much afforded the same tax/entity laws as any other non-profit institution in the US]

    Moreover, what "separation of church and state" was meant.

    At it's core is really freedom of religion (not being forced to practice, nor allowing one to be of a certain faith.. with in law [i.e. you can't have a religion that's believes you should yell 'fire' in a crowded theater]).

    Let's look at the original text, by Tommy Jefferson: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

    That all it is.

    Sorry if I'm offending anyone here... but when I see ppl screaming (usually ultra-libs) "separation!!! separation!!!!! I just *sigh* that we don't require minimal knowledge in order to vote. Seriously.
     
    #6 faceking, Jun 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  7. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    Furthermore, it has also meant that the "institutions" of church and state are to be kept separate.

    What is meant by that is we shouldn't have a "religious council" in government whom has authority.

    It doesn't mean (as stated above) that religions can have political opinions, nor that politicians cannot have religious beliefs or be tied heavily to a particular religion. They can CERTAINLY rule, legislate and so forth with their religious convictions in tow.... they just can't make religion into law.
     
    #7 faceking, Jun 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  8. MattBrick

    MattBrick Member

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    Interesting post. I think we should clarify for some of the readers here what the first ammendment is.

    When the US constitution was ratified, an immediate need was seen for stronger protection of civil liberties. These ammendments to the constitution that were passed, almost directly afterwards, after in 1791 were called the bill of rights.

    The first of these ammendments, among other things as it has been interpreted, establishes freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom to petition the government.

    The two clauses of the first ammendment, which I think you are reffering to, which speak about religion are the " Establishment Clause" and the "Free Excercise Clause".

    The first states that Congress shall not make any laws regarding the establishment of a (state) religion - as most other countries in the world then had (and still do have).
    The second states that Congress shall likewise not make any laws which infringe on (individual or collective) freedom to practice religion.

    So, in theory, what these clauses protect is every citizens freedom to practice his/her religion, any religion, or no religion.

    What it does not do is restrict the role of religion in public life, or seek limit the practice of religion individually or collectivley, or establish an atheistic state.

    So, no, a national day of prayer is ok. I don't think it was the case, as you mention, that a single religious organization was invited (such as the American Baptist convention, versus the Southern Baptist convention) or "benefitted" but that several participated.
    The national day of prayer is not something I know much about, so I'm not sure what the theme was.
    To answer your question as to why other religions did not participate, or why other religious texted were not quoted, again, I'm not certain.
    It is possible that some religious groups chose not to participate.

    Consider the following two examples:
    1)Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, their was a huge interfaith prayer gathering in Yankee's Stadium. Leaders from many, many religious groups in America participated, from Armenians to Methodist to Catholics & muslims. One participant was a Rev. Benke, president of the Atlantic (NY)district of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (a protestant church which is the state church in much of Europe and Scandinavia). There was kind of a firestrom about his participation however. He was faced with possible discipline by his denomination for taking part in the event.
    Apparently, their ministers are not allowed to officiate in religious services along side of clergy of other denominations/religions not in official fellowship with theirs. This is because it is thought, that if they did, it would seem as if, these religions were one in the same, and might be breaking certain biblical mandates over "fellowship". (This concept formerly governed the practice of other, more liberal Lutheran & reformed churches, as well as the Catholic and Orthodox churches)
    So, no, the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod, does not take part in eccumenical or state gatherings of this sort.

    2) New Jersey is an important center of Judaism, particularly the orthodox and hasidic branches. In one town recently, were orthodox Jews make up the majority, and Christians and others a small minority, there was a recent upset. The municipal clergy association, an eccumenical group involved in township affairs and advocacy among other things, formerly sponsered monthly events such as luncheons and choir festivals.
    This brought together Christians and Jews of many backgrounds and denominations. (One of their events I believe was praying at the flagpole)
    Recently though, all the orthodox and hasidic jews (apparently the majority of the membership) withdrew from the association. The group is open to all religious bodies in the township. One however offended all of the sensibilities of the more conservative Jewish groups. A "messianic Jewish" group blended their Jewish roots with born again Christian elements. It was fine, so said the Rabbis, for them to be Christians, but they couldn't also possibly be Jewish. One or the other.
    The situation came to a head, and "it was either us or them".
    Since the rules of the organization stated any clergy member was free to participate (and the messianic rabbi chose not to withdraw) all of the other Jewish groups withdrew themselves from the association, and no longer participate. (Which leaves a very small group according to the press.)

    I hope this helps.
    Have fun.
     
  9. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    Bingo. The next any of us feel like throwing out "separation of church and state" please refer to MattBrick's summation within his post. Public includes government.
    :usa:
     
  10. invisibleman

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    Ultra lib. I like that. Just as long you don't call me Conservative. :smile:

    I think that establishment of one religion does negate all others. What if the US currency had "In Allah, we trust." "In Joseph Smith, we trust." "In Shiva, we trust." "In L. Ron Hubbard, we trust." "In OPEC, we trust"? My answer would still be no.

    As Americans, you shouldn't have to be forced to believe in a religion. You can see what happens in these countries who have no church/ state separations. People who don't believe are ostracized, persecuted for their non beliefs and non conformity to that system.

    I don't consider America dumb. I think that we are sometimes asleep and unaware. Dumb? No. I think that Americans are being duped.

    I think Americans have truly forgotton how it is to be free. Free to think. Pursue your happiness while protecting others' right to their happiness apart from yours.

    Can you do what you feel in Conservatism? Can you think for yourself in Conservatism and without listening to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter? Can you actually have some original thoughts? I don't think so.

     
    #10 invisibleman, Jun 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  11. Phil Ayesho

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    And several of our founding fathers objected to this in the most stringent terms.

    The fact that Americans have a long history of not living up to the actual intent of the law is not a valid basis for disregarding the law.

    The problem is there are a lot of very pesky Christian in this country and a certain number of them get into office... or are willing to exploit the christian majority by pandering to their religious biases even though they know full well that the laws they try and pass are unconstitutional.

    The History of this nation is that of 200 years of slow progress in forcing ourselves to try and live up to the principles we agreed to at the beginning.

    For example.... MOST Americans would willingly censor SOME speech they don't like...
    It used to be endemic... but over the past two centuries we have come much closer to actually living the ideal of free speech....


    Technically... even ASKING a candidate their religious affiliation is a violation of the constitutional prohibition of a religious test for office...


    We still have yet to live up to that ideal.
     
  12. Phil Ayesho

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    Actually... NO that was not the intent. The government can not endorse any form of prayer. AT ALL... ( not that little things like constitutional law ever stop THIS administration from doing as they please)

    The founding fathers wrote extensively on what they meant by the first amendment and article 6...
    They characterized it as a "WALL of separation between church and state".

    They specifically stated that the U.S. government was NOT inspired by God nor any form of faith and was purely an artifact of reason.
    In a provisional treaty with Tripoli, Washington and Adams stated categorically that the United States is NOT a Christian nation and has NO aspect of any religious faith.

    This nation was created secular and intended to remain secular.

    In God we Trust was put on the money as the result of a long fight by religious zealots... as a way to shut them up... For most of US history it does not appear on the money.
    The term "under God" was INSERTED into the pledge of allegiance by Senator McCarthy in the early fifties. When anti-communist fear mongers tried to embrace "FAITH" as a key difference between the US and the 'godless communists' totally ignoring that OUR constitution states quite clearly that God has nothing to do with our governance.

    Madison and Jefferson strongly protested even the inclusion of chaplains in the military, and the opening of congress with prayers.



    Sorry folks... if you are really an American , then you should support the constitution.

    It protects YOUR right to chant whatever magic spell gets you thru the day.

    And it allows no place for such mumbo jumbo in governance.



    As we become increasingly reliant and dependent upon ever more sophisticated science and technology just to survive... it becomes exponentially more dangerous for us to base our political decision making on any delusional belief in sky daddies and magical fogs.


    I don't give a damn what any one believes.... the only thing that matters is what they can demonstrate to be true.

    We need a political future based upon the same kind of reasoning and evidentiary argument that gave us the telephone, airplanes, and the sure for polio.

    The government should not spend any money on ANY program that can not be shown to work as intended.

    The road to hell , and national collapse, is paved with good intentions.
     
  13. Bbucko

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    I think that the OP was trying to ask to what degree one's religiosity is a requirement to a proper candidacy for POTUS, not so much constitutional issues as addressed in the 1st Amendment.

    It's a very legitimate question: to what degree is faith a requirement, to what degree is it a burden, and which faith is considered legit?

    We've only had one president who wasn't Protestant Christian, and his Catholicism was very much an issue in the 1960 campaign, although he still won, obviously.

    Call me "prejudiced" (though I'm not), but the likelihood of a Jew or Muslim elected to the highest office of the US is practically nil, at least for the foreseeable future. Ditto but even more so for an Atheist.

    Hindus and Buddhists would also be considered unelectable. The percentage of the electorate who considers the US to be a Christian nation is just too vast.

    And clearly, being a devout Christian (at least one who attends services regularly) is one of the essential requirements in order to be considered a worthy candidate for President. It's become a litmus test.

    But how devout is enough, and when does it become too much?

    Romney's Mormonism (remember all that talk about his underwear?) was at least as much a factor in his flip-flopping in undermining his candidacy, in my opinion. There was even serious discussion as to exactly "how Christian" a Mormon actually is (!) among conservative pundits.

    Am I the only one who remembers that John Kerry was denied the sacrament for his pro-choice stance?

    Reagan was by all historical references, an indifferent churchgoer, and Carter was a devout Southern Baptist. But somehow the PR spin worked it out that Reagan was a more suitable candidate for the newly-empowered Christian right (the Moral Majority ring any bells?) and, as I've written elsewhere here, God became a Republican.

    NB: this is not to say that Reagan wasn't a stronger candidate. Carter was a terrible president, much as I admire his humanitarian work that came later. But aligning Fundamentalist Christianity and the Republican party started in 1980, and the support of Falwell et al became crucial to any Republican's pretensions of electibility.

    GWB was the high-water mark in this promiscuous intermixing of religiosity and political favorability, and, thankfully, I see signs that secular Republicans are shaking off, or at least beginning to distance themselves from, the extreme Christian elements within their party.

    They loathe McCain, for instance. But he's been photographed with Rev Hagee. I wonder if a trip to Bob Jones University will or will not happen between now and November?

    Many urban Black churches, in a (misguided) attempt to empower their congregations, take extreme views. This doesn't surprise me. Socially disenfranchised folk grab what they can to help find justice and meaning in their lives, which are frequently devoid of either.

    Understanding their anger and frustration doesn't mean that I agree with them. But I find Wright's vitriol no different from Robertson's or Hagee's or (the now dead) Falwell. Even if their substance differs, the tone remains oddly similar, as do their themes.
     
  14. invisibleman

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    There are some actual U.S Constitution scholars on LPSG. I am totally impressed.

    Bravo Phil. Bravo!!!!
     
  15. D_Cyprius Slapwilly

    D_Cyprius Slapwilly New Member

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    The separation was intended by the founders to prevent the church from monopolizing influence over the state, but also (one of the few things Mike Huckabee talked about that I agree with) to prevent the state from monopolizing influence over the church. That's exactly why the uber-socially-conservative puritans and separatists came here in the first place, and that's why the founders believed in the separation. Considering the fact that barely any of them believed in the same God, I find it hard to believe that Thomas Jefferson, a man who wrote his own Bible because he didn't like the original, would be one to advocate the state's support of any religion.

    I'm no such advocate because I don't really care, but it is at least a small fact to point out that In God We Trust didn't appear on any coins until the 1860's. It wasn't until 1956 that we adopted the phrase as out motto (which was mainly a propaganda campaign against the "atheist Soviets" during the Cold War - basically a way to win over the hearts and minds of other religious countries to our side). It wasn't until the next year that it appeared on paper money.

    Also, "Under God" was not included in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954. For the same reasons, of course.
     
  16. JustAsking

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    Yes that is right. Sometimes it is a Muslim prayer.
     
  17. invisibleman

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    And sometimes, (what the Conservative media doesn't want you to know...) they start off an occasional session with Madonna's, "Like A Prayer". :smile:
     
  18. FuzzyKen

    FuzzyKen New Member

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    These days most conservative candidates tout their religious convictions within their political campaigns and advertising. In spite of the ability of many individuals pushing particular religious agendas, anyone thinking that a tax exempt status will be jeopardized is dreaming when you have the religious right investigating itself.

    The late Jerry Falwell and the "moral majority" funnelled money in incredible quantities into the coffers of ultra-conservative candidates who were extreme beyond belief.

    The idea is not only "Freedom of Religion", the point being missed is that it is also "Freedom FROM Religion" if the person held religious beliefs (or lack of them) to qualify them as an athiest, based on the attitude of the religious right, they should have no rights at all.

    The United States is a melting pot of different religions. Christianity, (which has descendents such as Jahova's Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventis) are all here and in numbers. Judiasm, Buddhism, Islam, are here too. The problem is that the Christian "Fundy's" tend to believe that none of the rest count. I have heard "Fundy's" refer to the Mormons and Jehova's Witnesses as "cults", never even classifying them as religious belief systems.

    When this country came into being the predominating religion indeed was Christianity, even though many coming to this country were coming here to escape religious opression, the religious people got their tentacles in quickly and that is how references to the Judeo-Christian religions appear on currency.

    Today, I believe that the world has changed and to protect all viewpoints and all religions we must remove favoritism to any single religion or religious viewpoint.

    If one studies what is being attempted in various school systems to incorporate Christian belief systems in a manner that is "compulsory" those in disagreement with separation might think twice.

    I was raised in a Christian religion and have held those beliefs for myself, but, I respect the right of others to have differing views from mine on this subject. Many Christians do not respect others. It is for that reason that I personally pulled away from many churches over the years.

    I think that the best example I can give of the viewpoint that is indoctrinated into many "fundys" is this:

    I asked a "fundy" I was unfortunately related to:

    If a tribe in Africa is undescovered and a member of that tribe dies where does his soul go. According to "her" that soul automatically goes to hell because that tribesman is "unsaved" and has not discovered "Jesus". The fact that the tribesman had never had contact with white men or the opportunity to decide in her opinion made no difference.

    Some years ago, I watched a really sick old F**K from Gravette Arkansas answer a letter to a 6-year-old child when her puppy died. The old cretin sat on the air and answered this letter telling this child that her puppy was not human, and because it was not human, it could not know Jesus, therefore it's soul was condemned to burn in the fires of hell eternally.

    I don't care what the senile old ass believed, what he said was not something you tell a six-year-old child who just lost her favorite pet. This is, in my opinion a sin in and of itself.

    Remember that the money now being poured into the political arenas from the Christian religious right does NOT come from people who believe in common sense, it instead comes from individuals and religious organizations who want to remove freedoms and belief systems to impose their own.

    Follow the money.............

    If you trace the money behind most of the "anti-gay" legislation you will find that it started with the religious right and a stack of "dummy corporations" formed to hide the real source.

    Right now "gay marriage" is a hot topic. Most of the religious right has repeatedly sponsored legislation to "re-criminalize" homosexual behavior. It usually fails because of changing belief systems recognized by the judicial system.

    When it fails, the legal experts are criticised by the "religious right" simply because they do not understand the ramifications of discrimination from a legal point of view.

    The entire legal system is based on legal precedent. If you open up one kind of descrimination and "codify" it, it can be used as a precedent to bring forth and legalize a different form of descrimination.

    The traps on these issues go on and on. Politically nobody wants to touch the issue simply because they do not want to go on record stating that in order to prevent other kinds of descrimination they have to say yes to gay "marriage".

    Sorry, I go down as being FOR as much separation as we can get. The common sense coming from the religious right is sadly, based on a world of hatred, single beliefs and misinformation.
     
  19. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    No offense, but way too long a post.
    Much less ZERO factual evidence. Quit worrying about Christianity, they are no longer Religion Enemy#1 in the US.
     
  20. 1BiGG1

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    ThatÂ’s not true!

    George Washington was not a Christian
    Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian
    John Adams was not a Christian
    Abraham Lincoln was not a Christian
     
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