I saw a piece on the news this morning about a politician who made an unannounced appearance at a “worship conference” to read some scripture and pray for the nation. Not surprisingly, there were protesters outside with gay pride flags (any time God is mentioned people start to get defensive), and a lot of people with “separation of church and state” signs, demanding for this particular politician to resign… they said it was “a blatant disregard for the constitution and everything this nation is founded on”.
Now, I’m not stupid, I know that most of our founding fathers weren’t evangelical Christians… they didn’t listen to Focus on the Family radio shows or Billy Graham sermons and they had no idea what the 700 Club was all about… I don’t blame folks today for trying to keep a lot of those fundamentalist nut jobs from turning the country into a giant Promise Keepers rally. …but I do have a problem with people who paint a picket sign before they take the time to know what they’re “standing up” for. SO, let’s take a quick trip back to high school Principles of Federal Government class (you know, the one you had to pass in order to graduate?) and look at what the U.S. Constitution actually has to say about this whole “separation of church and state” business. Grab your copy of The U.S. Constitution and lets take a look. You’ll actually need to flip all the way past the actual constitution to the fabled First Amendment… all 45 words of it. If you don’t have a copy, I’ve added it below, with the relevant portion in bold and italics.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
…yep, that’s it. You may notice that the words “separation of church and state” aren’t actually used in there… anywhere. The idea that politics and faith can’t cross isn’t actually in there either… All the first amendment says is that the government can not tell you what to believe… that’s it. There’s no official State Religion, you can believe what you want. it never says we can’t have the ten commandments on a courthouse wall. It never says a politician can’t lead a worship convention. It never says creation cannot be taught in public schools. It never says kids can’t pray. It doesn’t say we can’t have a sculpture of Moses on the Supreme Court building (yes, we do have one there) ALL it says is nobody can force you into a religion.
It seems to me that these picket sign theologians want us to believe that the First Amendment intended for all politicians to be complete Atheists everywhere but in their own homes… but then again, that’s a religion too I guess…
Maybe people need to make fewer picket signs. No matter what you believe, I think we can all agree that our nation needs all the help it can get.