Seperating Church from State

Discussion in 'Politics' started by LeBuick, Dec 16, 2006.

  1. LeBuick

    LeBuick
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    Our founding Fathers were known to have worship services in the chambers of the government buildings where they served daily. Jefferson, who is credited for writing the 1st Amendment which is the foundation of this separation, is said to have worshiped each Sunday in the capitol. Also, none of our founding fathers had objection when Ben Franklin suggested each session begin with a prayer.

    I wonder, like with the Bible, can we accurately interpret a Man's intent if we consider the Man's words without considering the times and conditions in which he wrote those words?

    Do we really expect the president of our nation to perform his political duties without ever letting his spiritual convictions influence his decisions?

    What would our modern society do to Lincoln political future for making statements like, "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom"?

    Can a Man truly separate his politics from his religion?
     
    #1 LeBuick, Dec 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2006
  2. KenH

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    Probably not, nor should he. But when it comes to government policy he cannot favor his particular religion over any other man's religion, nor harm another man's religion versus his own.

    It appears that the main debate in this country is over religious displays or prayers on taxpayer property. I do not consider such displays to be a part of government policy. Therefore, I see no problem with these displays being placed on taxpayer property as long as all religions have equal access to display on taxpayer property.
     
  3. LeBuick

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    Thanks Ken, and I think you hit the nail pretty good. But I also feel the president or any elected official will display his or her flavor of religion by default. It is not to exclude or offend others but it is more combining his life with his position.

    Ex. We would not expect a Jewish president to decorate the capitol tree or do the annual easter egg roll on the white house lawn. And he would be expected to do some Jewish things while in office (no sacrifices) as we all understood we elected a Jewish president.

    JFK had his Catholic Priest do his invocation. If I made president I would probably ask my pastor (you know what I mean) to do the prayer. I guess I see it as some fuddy duddies ruing the country for the rest of us.

    If you believe in animal rights then don't wear a fur. But don't get pissed at me for what I wear...
     
  4. TomMann

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    I look forward to that day when Christ will separate his Church from the State.......
     
  5. LeBuick

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    I'm kind of thinking there will be a government in heaven or it will be hard to fullfill this verse.

    Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
     
  6. Martin

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    ==Not to be picky, but Jefferson was not even in America when the first amendment was being written. He was in Paris until November of 1789, the wording of the first amendment, as concerning religion, was complete by September of 1789. While in Paris Jefferson worked through his good friend James Madison (via letters) to get a Bill of Rights passed. The version that was finally accepted, with some changes, was submitted by Fisher Aimes. As for Jefferson's view of religion and government I have come to think he was somewhat of a radical when compared to Washington and Adams. For example he would not, as they did, proclaim days of prayer (etc). Jefferson believed that religion was a private matter and that the government should simply stay out of it. As for Jefferson's personal religious views, well, they are certainly unorthodox. Jefferson's views are most in agreement with the Jesus Seminar. Dr Mohler, at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called Jefferson a post-modern before his time.

    ==Franklin was much more friendly to Christianity than Jefferson was but, and this is a big but, he was not orthodox in his views. For example, towards the end of his life, he wrote that he had doubts about the Divinity of Jesus Christ. However Franklin clearly believed in the importance of public religion (as did Washington and Adams). I believe that many of our founding fathers would be upset by the ACLU (etc) using their words to try and silence public religious expression. After all it was George Washington who said:

    "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness"

    ==No. You must understand the background and general history. It is important to examine the sitz im leben (setting in life) of the writing.

    ==No, it would unrealistic. A person's faith is at the heart of who they are. If their faith is a real faith they cannot seperate that from the rest of their life.

    ==The ACLU would not like many of our past presidents.
     
  7. Martin

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    If you want to study a man who believed in seperation of church and state, long before Jefferson, and who was a Bible believing Christian you should read about Roger Williams. Founder of Rhode Island and the first Baptist church on American soil. There are several good books out there about Williams. A very short (only 132 pgs of text) but good biography on Williams is written by religious historian Edwin Gaustad and is called "Roger Williams: Lives and Legacies". In fact Gaustad has written several books on Williams (Liberty of Conscience, etc) but this is the one you should get if you are wanting a quick read, a good introduction to Williams. While Williams came to hold some strange views about the church, and seperated himself from the Baptist church he help found, his views on the seperation of church and state are very good. In fact it was, in part, his views on this that got him kicked out of the Massachusetts Colony. Other than his view of the local church Williams was an orthodox, Calvinistic, Baptist.
     
  8. ktn4eg

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    It's my opinion that in this day and age that it's more of a desire by some folks to separate God from government....especially the God of the Bible.

    (BTW, Fox News has aired an interesting program "One Nation Under God" that contrasts what many of the Founding Fathers did with that of what the athiests and agnostics of our day would have us believe that the Founders were like.)
     
  9. StraightAndNarrow

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    The phrase "One nation under God" wasn't included in the pledge of allegiance until 1954. What does it have to do with the founding fathers?
     
  10. KenH

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    I think it is rather obvious that the program dealt with the concept, not the words of the pledge of allegiance.
     
  11. StraightAndNarrow

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    Then you're reading something into the pledge that isn't there. You could just as easily claim that the pledge meant to pledge allegiance to conservative America or to the America that only included landowners.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Some of them did, some did not.

    Actually, Jefferson was in France at the time. Certainly he had a major influence, but James Madison (with the urging and advice of Baptists like Isaac Backus) hammered out the details and made the case for the First Amendment.

    I am unaware of this. Do you have a source for this information?

    Actually, they ignored him. They did not open the sessions with public prayer, although I'm sure a number of them prayed about their work very passionately at other times.

    I don't, nor do I try.

    Those who understand that the separation of church and state is based on the New Testament principle of the religious liberty inherent in the nature of the gospel of Christ don't have to separate their faith from their political views.
     
  13. fromtheright

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    LeBuick,

    Actually, IIRC, Hamilton objected, said he didn't think they had the funds to pay a chaplain, and, as Martin said, it was quietly ignored after that.
     
  14. Martin

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    ==Not only this, according to historians and his own later writings, James Madison opposed both military and congressional chaplains.

    "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?
    In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.
    The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor." -James Madison (1817). SOURCE
     
  15. LeBuick

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    Because the fouding fathers put Chaplains in both houses, isn't that a sign we are misunderstanding what was meant by separation?

    Sometimes quite speakes more than words. They pause the discussion long enough to let one guy object, they all look at each other and say, "anyway etc..." Doesn't this speak volumes to anyone but me that we (and our courts, our chief interpreters) are not correctly interpreting the intent of the founding fathers? We choose supreme court Justices based on their fundamental beliefs (dem or rep, pro life or against abortion). How is choosing a justice based on their fundamental belief assuring we are interpreting law and not rewriting laws by picking apart that which is already there?
     
  16. fromtheright

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    Martin,

    However, he did not oppose them until after he had left the Presidency IIRC. When Congressional chaplains were proposed in the First Congress he had no objection to them. Of course, the First Amendment was not yet in place but it was certainly anticipated (I don't recall if the BoR had been sent to the states at that point) by Madison by that point. If he opposed in principle "mixing government and religion" at that early stage it is puzzling to me he said nothing in opposition to this proposal at the time.


    LeBuick,

    I'm with you on the "separation" issue but you can't make an argument about intentions from the statement of one Founder whose proposal didn't even have enough support to draw a vote.

    I just want to avoid any confusion: the proposal Franklin made was for a chaplain to offer a prayer during the Federal Constitutional Convention, not in Congress.
     
  17. LeBuick

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    Thank you sir, I would hate to be guilty of the same thing I accuse the nation of which is clouding facts with opinion. GW was a mason. He was a Christian. The story is DC is designed to resemble the Masonic symbols. There are more of these truths than I could ever know but I don't see these actions as separation.
     
  18. StraightAndNarrow

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    George Washington and Religion
    Washington gives us little in his writings to indicate his personal religious beliefs. As noted by Franklin Steiner in "The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents" (1936), Washington commented on sermons only twice. In his writings, he never referred to "Jesus Christ." He attended church rarely, and did not take communion - though Martha did, requiring the family carriage to return back to the church to get her later.

    When trying to arrange for workmen in 1784 at Mount Vernon, Washington made clear that he would accept "Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists." Washington wrote Lafayette in 1787, "Being no bigot myself, I am disposed to indulge the professors of Christianity in the church that road to heaven which to them shall seem the most direct, plainest, easiest and least liable to exception."

    Clear evidence of his personal theology is lacking, even on his deathbed when he died a "death of civility" without expressions of Christian hope. His failure to document beliefs in conventional dogma, such as a life after death, is a clue that he may not qualify as a conventional Christian. Instead, Washington may be closer to a "warm deist" than a standard Anglican in colonial Virginia.

    He was complimentary to all groups and attended Quaker, German Reformed, and Roman Catholic services. In a world where religious differences often led to war, Washington was quite conscious of religious prejudice. However, he joked about it rather than exacerbated it. Washington once noted that he was unlikely to be affected by the German Reformed service he attended, because he did not understand a word of what was spoken.

    Washington was an inclusive, "big tent" political leader seeking support from the large numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers in Virginia, and even more groups on a national level. He did not enhance his standing in some areas by advocating support for a particular theology, and certainly did not identify "wedge issues" based on religious differences. Instead, in late 1775, Washington banned the Protestant celebration of the Pope's Day (a traditional mocking of the Catholic leader) by the Continental Army. He deplored the sectarian strife in Ireland, and wished the debate over Patrick Henry's General Assessment bill would "die an easy death."

    Washington was not anti-religion. Washington was not uninterested in religion. He was a military commander who struggled to motivate raw troops in the French and Indian War. He recognized that recruiting the militia in the western part of Virginia required accommodating the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, Baptists, and Dutch Reformed members in officially-Anglican Virginia. He was aware that religious beliefs were a fundamental part of the lives of his peers and of his soldiers. He knew that a moral basis for the American Revolution and the creation of a new society would motivate Americans to support his initiatives - and he knew that he would receive more support if he avoided discriminating against specific religious beliefs.

    http://www.virginiaplaces.org/religion/religiongw.html
     
  19. El_Guero

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    Great post!

     
  20. Martin

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    ==First I would point you to StraightAndNarrow's post (above) on this matter.

    Second. I don't label Washington as a deist, as is the scholarly tendency, however I would not be comfortable calling him a evangelical Christian either. Was Washington a Christian? In a social sense of the term, Yes. However I don't know that Washington ever gave signs of being a true born again Christian. The fact that he left church before communion, on communion Sundays, is a sign that he may not have been orthodox in his views. After all what true Christian would not desire to partake of the Lord's Table? It was certainly a strange practice for someone who some claim was a strong Christian. Will we see Washington in heaven? I honestly don't know. His personal religious views are very hard to figure out.
     

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