The Separation of Church and State: a Vital Principle of American Democracy

“The single greatest threat to church-state separation in America is the movement known as the Religious Right. Organizations and leaders representing this religio-political crusade seek to impose a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint on all Americans through government action.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

It’s often hard to tell if the mouthpieces of the Christian right are mentally ill, delusional or just plain obnoxious. I’m thinking it’s a combination of the three. To wit, the latest rant by James Robison posted by Right Wing Watch where he excoriates those who want to practice ‘sinful ways.’ Immorality and greed are just a couple of the ‘sinful ways’ he mentions. According to Robison, we immoral people are forcing our ways on him. He doesn’t much like that.

“Don’t force that rotten lifestyle on me and tell me it’s going to be the American way. Not as long as I’m breathing. Not as long as I’ve got a chance to stand up and turn the ship of state to safe harbor,” he says.

Mr. Robison is misguided on two major fronts. First, we sinful people are not forcing our lifestyles on him or any of his right-wing, ultra-religious Christian crazies that think they were chosen by God to “turn the ship of state to safe harbor.” In fact, just the opposite is true. It seems to me that the Christian crazies are working the political process to create a full-fledged theocracy in this country, which runs counter to what is actually the “American way.”

This is the American way: We are all free to choose whatever religion we want to believe in. Conversely, we are guaranteed freedom from religion, if that’s what we choose. Contrary to Robison’s assertion, America is not a Christian nation. Never was. We are all free to do what we want in the privacy of our own homes. In America, we are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and that means different things to different people. There is a separation between church and state because religion is private and has no place influencing politics and legislation.

In fact, in the January 2003 issue of Church & State magazine, Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, writes:

What the Religious Right doesn’t tell people, and what, tragically, many Americans apparently don’t know, is that when it comes to determining what the laws of the United States mean, the only document that matters is the Constitution. The Constitution, a completely secular document, contains no references to God, Jesus or Christianity. It says absolutely nothing about the United States being officially Christian. The Religious Right’s constant appeals to documents like the Declaration of Independence, which contains a deistic reference to “the Creator,” cloud the issue and make some people believe their rights spring from these other documents.

Robison follows the pattern of so many other Right-wing religions zealots in his assertion that we are Christian nation, and it works not only because they are effective at clouding the issue, but also because Americans are incredibly clueless about what is written in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. This ignorance helps their cause. The ultimate goal of right-wing Christians is to reshape our nation in a narrow, fundamentalist view. Not surprisingly, this not only involves promoting the errant notion that we are a Christian nation, but also attacking the value of science. The Christian right continuously refers to climate change and the energy crisis as hoaxes. They decry the theory of evolution and seek to teach ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ (which is nothing more than religion) in public schools.

Rob Boston, in a recent article on AlterNet, talks about the relationship between Americans and science:

We support science: While polls show some confusion over issues like evolution, most Americans are big fans of science and are quick to rally around the latest medical breakthroughs and cutting-edge technology. Many religious people in America long ago reconciled their faith with modern science. But the Religious Right remains stubbornly insistent that any science that conflicts with its literalist interpretation of the Bible must go. 

Some of the less-than-brilliant anti-science information Robison disseminates on his site is that “We will never run out of energy as long as freedom-loving people are led and energized by the God of all creation.” Further on in that same piece when speaking about over-regulation, Robison states that, “Excessive government control is tyranny.” This is an interesting concept, because it would then follow that the government’s War on Women – which most certainly is being engineered by right-wing Christians – falls into that category. Rational people agree that the government regulating women’s’ health care – like dictating that women cannot use contraception or choose to have an abortion – is more than a little excessive.

It is incumbent on all of us to make sure America keeps its secular focus. Religious freedom is something we are guaranteed in the Constitution, but the Constitution does not require Americans to worship. Likewise, the Constitution does not encourage our elected officials to form legislation based on the teachings of the Bible. The collusion between our politicians and the Christian right will not make us a stronger nation – as they would have you believe – but a weaker one.

Founding Father Factoid: One of the myths also promoted by the Christian right is that our founding fathers were God-fearing Christians. This is another untruth. Thomas Jefferson was a deist who had great disdain for organized religion, and did not believe in the ‘miracles’ written about in the Bible. George Washington was an Anglican who rarely made it through a full church service, generally leaving before communion. Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams were Unitarians, a religion that was then considered heretical. James Madison and James Monroe were Episcopalians.

Categories: Christian Nutcakes, Contraception, Religious Right, Separation of Church & State, Theocracy, War on Women, Women's Rights

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2 replies

  1. When I think of James Robison, I’m reminded of what Ben Franklin said in Poor Richard’s Almanac. “A fool and his money are soon parted.” I guess if people lost interest in his TV show the dollars would quit coming in. I think his rant translates to, “We have to keep ’em stupid and small minded.”

  2. Memphis, I’m pretty sure the people who pay attention to this Christian right-wing drivel ARE simple, stupid, and small minded. This kind of rabid fundamentalism is for people who can’t think for themselves on any level.

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