|

In Whose God Do We Trust?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Bill of Rights, Amendment 1

The very first phrase in the Bill of Rights deals with separating religion from government. The founding fathers were well aware of the problems caused by the intolerance between the different religious groups of early settlers who practiced the same persecution of the various sects that they fled to America to escape. In their wisdom, the framers who set out to define the principles of American democracy, with the very first stroke of quill on parchment, established a secular government.

James Madison drafted the First Amendment. He felt strongly that religion must be left to each person's conscience. He was specific in clarifying his view on having government remain separated from religious doctrine when he said, "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?"

Madison's prediction appears to be correct since today it is predominantly Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians who are currently attempting to use political clout to push forward their particular agenda of beliefs by demanding creationism be taught in place of, or at the very least alongside of evolution in school science courses, and wanting to make homosexuality illegal.

Another issue being debated is whether or not the Ten Commandments should be posted in courthouses. There is a group of Christians who claim they rightfully belong there because our system of law is derived from them. To make such a statement shows either an ignorance of the Ten Commandments or an ignorance of the law. The commandments include: honoring God, not making idols, not taking God's name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath holy. These are not laws. If they were they would be in direct violation of the Constitution which says Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. While parents hope their children will honor them, it isn't against the law if they don't. Adultery may be looked upon by most people as immoral, but one can't have a cheating spouse arrested because it isn't against the law. Coveting or desiring another man's wife or his goods isn't illegal and in some instances may be a motivation to succeed in order to be able to have similar goods. Creating that desire is the basis for most advertising. Killing is not always against the law in cases of self defense or justifiable homicide. Bearing false witness or lying is only against the law in specific instances such as perjury or if it causes damages. That leaves us with "Thou shall not steal", but if the amount stolen is less than $500 the law calls that petty theft and it's only a misdemeanor.

I think it's clear that United States law is not in any way based on the Ten Commandments, which are based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead and given to the Jews by Moses, who coincidentally just happened to be raised as an Egyptian prince.

The essence of freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. The United States has the most diversity of religions of any country in history. The government serves equally, all the people of all religions as well as atheists and agnostics. It can only do that by remaining secular.

For those Christians who need more than the Constitution to justify separation of church and state, I would refer them to a biblical quote from Jesus in Mark 12:17, Matt. 22:21 or Luke 20:25 . "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."

It's a matter of a place for everything and everything in its place. The place for the secular is in our government and in our courts. The place for religion is in your church, in your home and in your heart.

2-28-05