Separation of church and state
"The separation of church and state is a concept and philosophy in modern thought and practice, whereby the structures of state or national government are proposed as needing to be separate from those of religious institutions. The concept has long been a topic of political debate throughout history." -- [W]
This separation has grown into a significant ongoing issue in the United States.
On one side is the "Establishment Clause" of the US Constitution's First Amendment which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". While somewhat ambiguously worded, this has been generally taken to mean that the government may not take any actions that deliberately favor one religion over another.
On the other side, there has been a strong, generally authoritarian cultural movement to "include [the Christian] God" in daily life, and to "put God back" into various arenas from which religion had generally been excluded. Supporters, especially on the religious right, claim that the US is a Christian nation, often backing up this claim with revisionist history and quotes from early US historical documents taken out of context.
Points for Discussion
- How is it bad if God is excluded? How is it bad if God is included? Does "including God" include all religions, or are some disqualified as being pagan, heathen, etc.?
- Why should an atheist feel excluded, or even threatened, when God is mentioned? (see discussion page for more)
- It is often claimed that the US is a Christian nation, and the separation of church and state was a later invention or at least imposed against the wishes of the US founding fathers.
- Gateways to Better Education is an organization promoting the insertion of religious education within public school classrooms in the United States
|Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said (emphasis added):|
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.
- Wikipedia: | separation of church and state | First Amendment to the United States Constitution |
- Conservapedia: as of 2008-01-09, begins with language clearly intended to push anti-Separation buttons in religious conservatives
- 2007-10-02 Critical Mass: Bishops Advise Supreme Court On The Laws Of God by Rob Boston
- 2007-09-20 A Lesson on Why Liberals Worship Separation of Church and State (see also: Rush Limbaugh)
- 2007-09-14 Russian Roulette: Orthodox Church Leaders Seek Influence Over Public Schools by Rob Boston: "One of the most foolish arguments the Religious Right uses against church-state separation is that the concept is communistic."
- 2006-11-12 Public school teacher tells class: "You belong in hell": an example of why separation is important
- 2005-12-?? why the mail is no longer delivered on Sunday by Susan Jacoby: some history on separation of church and state in the US
- highlights and commentary by Arthur Silber
- TruthMapping: Should there be a division between church and state?