Saturday, February 19, 2005

Separation of church and state

Some readers of my blog might think that I believe there is no place for Jesus/Christianity in the United States, but they would be wrong. I believe Jesus must be preached in the public square because only God's power can change people. However, I do believe that a strong wall between church and state must exist for the protection of the Church. It is for this reason I find the Arkansas State House's vote not to affirm the separation of church and state very distressing.

I don't want to remove all religion from the public sphere. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." and most people see that as meaning that the State can't be involved in religion at all because they emphasize the "make no law" side of that phrase. Instead, if the "establishment of religion" is adopted as the focus, it becomes clear that the state should play no role in deciding which religion is the best, but allow all. This article is an excellent example of how that would work.

In rural Virginia, "a program, under which parents give written permission for their child to leave the school campus for non-denominational religious education, has been in existence in Staunton for more than 50 years." The state and religious groups work in cooperation to ensure students get both religious and secular education.

This is how the church and state should exist together in our pluralistic, democratic society.