You HAVE to separate Church and State

If you are going to have a pluralistic society, where you espouse the freedom of the individual to believe as they wish, you HAVE to take religion out of politics. Anyone who denies this is really just looking for a foothold for their particular belief system to gain ascendancy.

While this is an issue I’ve felt strongly about for some time, this particular post is in response to Willard “Mitt” Romney’s recent speech.

In his speech, ostensibly meant to resolve Evangelical Christian misgivings about voting for a Mormon, Mr. Romney cast the feet of this nation in the weighty blocks of Christian cement. The main stream media has primarily focused on his one overt theological reference, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”, they seem to give a free ride to the rest of his statements about religion:

“Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom…”

Yet, Willard “Mitt” Romney says that liberty is part of the “great moral inheritance” we hold in common. With the diversity of religious practices, history and theology, it might just be that liberty is an inheritance of our HUMANITY not our religions.

“I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”

Doesn’t this belie the following statement?

“Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

How can he be both true to his beliefs and at the same time prevent his beliefs from exerting influence on his decisions? Either you take the precepts of your faith as a foundation of your world view, or you don’t. If Willard had been president when John F. Kennedy was, would he have seen Black Americans as less than men as his church did? I think this is the crux of the issue. Either you cherry-pick your beliefs, as most of us do, and admit that you are intellectually and morally independent from your religion or you don’t. If you don’t, aren’t you just a pawn of whatever the leader(s) of your faith determine. You can’t have it both ways.

It is an intellectual and moral cop-out to say your political decisions are independent of your beliefs, clearly that is a load of crap. On the other hand, it is also a big steaming pile to claim that your hands are bound by your faith when every day you choose to follow aspects of your faith and not others. If nothing else, shouldn’t we expect intellectual honesty from our leaders?

What has managed to get the attention of the media is the obvious comparison to John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. While I think the comparison is necessary, most commentators miss the point. Which, I think, is “Why are we still talking about this?” It really points out how far we have NOT come.

“The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.

FACTOTEM:One nation under god” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance a little more than 50 years ago. The founders didn’t do that. Neither did they add “In God We Trust” to our currency. That happened around the Civil War and first appeared in 1864.

There was an easy quote for this post. Since Willard decided to lean so heavily on the founding fathers, so did I.

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own” – Thomas Jefferson ( Letter to H. Spafford, 1814 )


2 thoughts on “You HAVE to separate Church and State

  1. Hey, Icepick– found your link on Sigler’s website, and had no idea what the out campaign was, and not what I thought, either… so that was interesting.

    I will say this–and don’t freak out now– but I’m an Evangelical Christian (yes, the really evil kind) and I agree with everything you said on this post. The idea of any church reaching into the government scares many people, myself included, but the converse is also true: that when the church is intermingled with the state, both become corrupted.

    What I wonder is how you would take religion out of politics. Because if you are going to have politicians–and apparently we must–your own comment proves that to take religion out of politics, you would have to disqualify religious politicians, thereby leaving only candidates whose faith was atheism.


  2. Melanie,

    First, thanks for thinking enough of my post to comment!

    While you raise a good point and it might seem that I would only support non-religious politicians, I don’t think that is the only way. I’m sure that you and I both know many people whose judgment and character we respect regardless of thei religious affiliation or particular belief. I would propose that these people, for me at least, make their decisions based on reasoned understanding of problems. Bringing to bear all of the accumulated knowledge and understanding, not just the dogma of their particular religious system.

    I think the leader of a modern, heterogeneous, technologically advanced super power would be expected to make decisions on this basis.

    I expect most people cherry-pick their religion for those things that fit within their world view, as opposed to those I have a particular problem with who cherry-pick their world to fit their religious view.


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