Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Separation of Church and State

Weighty issue, that one!

Colorado Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck thinks that the Constitution does not mandate a separation between church and state. He does, however, strongly believe that the government should not sanction a specific religion. So, if he believes that, what would he say if a government institution, like a county courthouse in Alabama, decided to display a sculpture that prominently featured the Ten Commandments? Is this not an expression of religious belief sanctioned by a government entity?

What about a local school board, populated 100% by Evangelical Christians, decided that all public high schools in its district would offer high school students courses in Bible study, under the guise of studying its "literature" or as a way to promote the concept of "intelligent design" as an equally valid alternative to evolution? Would not this be an example of a government entity promoting the teachings of a particular religion?

Our nation's founders, who descended from folks that escaped religious persecution and wanted freedom to express themselves as they saw fit, deliberately amended the Constitution to prohibit Congress from making any laws that established an official religion. This "establishment clause" has been interpreted, and supported, dozens of times to mean that there is no place for specific or non-specific religious expression in any government act. Government is secular; the alternative is Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or the Dark Ages in Europe. Enlightened societies all over the world want their governments to be religion-neutral, and we have enshrined that neutrality in our own Constitution. We have tolerated certain expressions -- such as on our currency or in our Pledge of Allegiance -- but even these can be interpreted as intrusions by the government in religion.

So, Ken Buck, be concerned all you want. But take one more step toward injecting religious expression in a government and find yourself in a heap of trouble.

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