Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Church/State Wall of Separation

If growing up Baptist did nothing else to develop my faith, it marked me forever as a staunch advocate of keeping religion and politics in separate compartments. Over the years my understandings of both have changed, but the notion of keeping them separate has not. I could bore the reader for pages with arguments, but I will stick with a few recent instances of faith gone awry to make my point.

Representative Bill Sali of Idaho voiced objections to a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate by Keith Ellison, Muslim convert from Minnesota.

Last month, the U.S. Senate was opened for the first time ever with a Hindu prayer. Although the event generated little outrage on Capitol Hill, Representative Bill Sali (R-Idaho) is one member of Congress who believes the prayer should have never been allowed.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

I won't go to the trouble to comment further about this incident. Res ipsa loquitur .

Barbara O'Brien and Dave Neiwert have forensics reports at their sites.

Yesterday I came across this on C-SPAN's Book TV.

Michael Weinstein argues that Christianity is forced on cadets attending the U.S. Air Force Academy. Calling upon his experience, the experiences of his children, and first hand accounts from others, Mr. Weinstein explains how he thinks evangelical Christianity is forced on our military. He also details accounts of religious persecution purportedly suffered by cadets who may not believe evangelical Christian principles.

Michael Weinstein is the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He is an attorney and has served as a Judge Advocate for the Air Force. He also served in the Executive Office of the President for three years during the Reagan Administration.

He makes a powerful point. And he is an in-your-face opponent of anyone who would advance a religious agenda by the use of political or military power. This is a trend that has been going on for ten years (pay attention: same title, same idea, different author, printed ten years ago) and seems to be getting stronger with the passing of time. His most recent target is Christian Embassy, a world-class organized melding of faith, politics and military influence. I don't know whether to be embarrassed, angry or scared. This video is worth a moment of your time. Decide for yourself, but I find it repellant. This is NOT what Christianity is about.

►Finally (for today) this is what Thomas Jefferson had to say about expressions of faith in the context of government business.

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

As the flames of religious extremism get higher and hotter, I want to be remembered as one of the people who tried hard to stop the madness.

1 comment:

FreeThinker said...

Thanks for doing your part in standing against the madness ... I'm with ya!