Thursday, September 11, 2008

Matters of Church and State (Reposted with Permission)

Lori has an awesome post up on her myspace page. I wanted to repost it here in hopes of a wider distribution.

As feeble as my understanding of how the government and politics work, I am desperately trying to educate myself, especially in the issues that directly influence and affect me and my family. There is one classic buzz-phrase that I have been acquainted with my whole life, and that is, "Separation between church and state". As a kid, this term was used to entice fear of the impending Sunday laws...a time when the government would tell us when we had to go to church and, essentially, if we didn't abide, we'd be hunted down and....

During the past year I have mostly shed the remaining charred skin of those beliefs and cleaned up my belief system. However, the phrase "Separation between church of state" still grabs my attention, but for a differently reason now. Instead of fearing that the "correct Sabbath", ( the Seventh Day Adventist belief of worshiping on Saturday, a distinct and core value and that sets them apart and makes them feel that they are Biblically "correct" and contain more "truth" than other religions ) was going to be the end of my time on earth, I now am interested in protecting myself from the conservative, fundamental Christian sect that wants to make their religious views and values into law.

Frightening, isn't it? I mean, if you tend to be sensitive to my attacks on fundamentalism, just step back and try to put yourself into a a free thinker, liberal, or non-religious persons' shoes. What if the government wanted to make animal sacrifice a required family practice? Or, circumcision of women imposed on all baby girls? Radical, yes, but taking away a young rape victim's right to end a pregnancy when she is incapable of caring for a child because someone believes that her act of an abortion is "sin" is also disturbing. In the case of government, choice is always best, no matter what YOU believe.
In the book Parenting Beyond Belief-- On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, edited by Dale McGowan, Dr. Ed Buckner makes 4 very strong points as to the logic behind the Separation of Church and State.

1.) "Not all U.S. Citizens hold the same opinions on religion and on imporatant matters related to religion (like whether there is a God and, if so, what god's nature is; or, how or when or whether to worship God; or what God says to us about how to live). Everyone thinks her or she is right when it comes to relgion. But, not all citizens have the same beliefs on the important religious matters."

2.) "Human judgement is imprefect. For Cathlolics, the Popes is sometimes considered an exception with regard to officala matters of doctrine, but even Catholics, like all the rest of us, don't believe that human voters and human legeslators always know what God wants us to do. The Bible is quite clear on this point: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Mt 7:1) Most other books held sacred by followers of different religions also make this clear. The question is not whether God's judgement is perfect--only whether man's is. "

3.) " Relgious truth cannot be determined by votes or by force. In the United States, neither a majority of citizens nor the government acting on the majority's behalf can make relgious decisions for individuals. Anyone who might disagree with this idea should consider this question: If a nationwide vote were taken this fall, and 99 percent of U.S. voters disagreed with you on a religious matter, would that change your mind? If 99 percent of the citizens wanted this country to adopt Catholicism or Methodidsm or Islam or atheism (***though please note that atheism is NOT a relgion***) as the "Right" relgious point of view, would you accept ther decision? Woud that convince you? And it's not just the voting, it's the law itself, the power of government, in question here. One need only consider the poor guy in Afghanistan who was almost convicted and put to death in 2006 for the "crime" of chaning his religious beliefs. "

4.) " Freedom, especially religious liberty, is worth having and protecting."

To touch on a side issue, it is for these reasons that teaching Creationism, or excuse me, Intelligent Design, in public schools is kind of against our country's idea of keeping religion out of schools. Creation is not a science based theory. It is a folk myth taken from the modern religion of Christianity. If that makes you uncomfortable, it is probably because this is a religious issue, and a core religious believe to conservative Christians, making my point about it being a religious and not belonging in the classroom, especially the science classroom very strong.

When the elections roll around, though we are given so few options, and voting for someone requires a leap of faith in their character, please consider what makes us free, not what makes us more moral by someone else's standards. You can still have your morals and be free. But, taking away freedom is not a very moral thing to do.


Iron Soul said...

Isn't Lori a great writer?

I think I'd like to add that the mind set that seeks to restrict others freedom, and force conformity with their own views is often motivated by fear. Fear of things that are different, fear of things they don't understand. They say they want to protect society from immorality, but really they want to protect their own closed minds from having deal with contradictory information.

Reverted said...

...e.g. Prop 8 (and its various incarnations in other states)...