Saturday, October 10, 2009

Separation of Church and State?

I awoke this morning early with these thoughts running through my mind. This is a few hours later and I feel like putting them into words. I feel that God put them there, so I am just writing them down.

I have been struggling for a really long time with my thoughts on "if America is really a Christian Nation". I have mixed feelings about this and am pretty sure I don't have it figured out exactly. I am torn between scriptures that talk about a people or nations who turn to God and God blesses that nation, versus knowing that we are all children of God and God loves us all on an individual basis, regardless of what country we live in. I am torn because I believe that both are true. I think that God can bless "peoples" or "nations" who operate more in line with how he would have us treat one another universally, and I think that he God can withhold universal blessings upon a nation or peoples, but bless an individual within that group. But this isn't my main thought ...

I think we are at a point in American History when we have to determine whether or not we are a secular nation (which is what is seemingly happening) or are we a christian nation (a nation that basis its morals, laws and customs upon Christianity). I'm not sure that originally we were intended to be a "Christian" nation. Most of the references that I have seen to early founders of this country, the United States, have lots of references to God, A Supreme Being, or the Creator. It appears the founders were for the most part deists - or believers in God. I haven't come across alot of information detailing references to Jesus Christ. So I draw the conclusion that God (and His guidance and blessings) were a central part of the founding fathers thought processes, hence a Godly nation, but not a Christian nation so too speak. I cannot find where God was left out of the equation in the formation and fundamentals of this country.

So onto Separation of Church and State. This phrase gets tossed out everytime there is an issue where God or Christianity or someone's personal beliefs gets attention in the public arena. It, the phrase "Separation of Church and State" has taken on a whole new meaning, and a life of its own, in our modern culture. It appears that the definers of words and phrases have won the debate, as it is no longer used in its historical context. To set the matter straight - I have no issue with the concept of Separation of Church and State. And its not in the constitution by the way. I don't think "the Church" should set policy for "the State". If you know your history about England and the Church of England and the founding fathers, you understand the relevance of my statement. The Official Organized Church had too much power in the Government/Monarchy and they governed badly and denied people the option to worship as they wished. Meaning, you had to be a member of their Organized Church. And this was enforced by the State. So the separation clause ensured this would not happen again... so we could be Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, whatever.


Separation of Church and State now means that God is totally removed from the public sector. No more prayers at football games, bibles at school, 10 commandments on public courthouse lawns, no more crosses displayed on public lands. Now I try not to to be cynical and am fairly reasonable, but who cares if if there is a cross commemorating the dead on a battlefied. I would not care if muslim monuments or jewish stars of david were erected either. And both of these, by the way, believe in a supreme being, God, as well. I fear, that the very thing the founding fathers were trying to prevent, is happening anyway, only in reverse. That the State, not the Church, is interjecting itself into our spiritual beliefs. Public or private prayer is a manisfestation of ones faith. No one is forcing anyone else to pray. If I am in Tehran, and a muslim prayer is offered, and I am not forced to participate, I do not care. I understand its a Muslim country, meaning that a majority of its inhabitants are Islamic and that is there foundation and custom.

So my question is "are we a Christian Nation". I think probably not. Are we a nation that believes in God? Yes. Have been since the beginning. We even have prayers to God in the Senate. Prayers and religious leaders at Presidential swearing in ceremonies. Is the Church telling the State what to do? I don't see that it is. Is the State telling the Church what to do? Well, its getting dangerously close. A majority of Americans call themselves Christian. Thats great. Some are buddhist and some are muslim and some are agnostic and some are aetheist. The State isn't telling you you have to attend the Official Church of America (Southern Baptist I think - thats a joke). So we have separation of church and state. I'm glad we have it. I don't want a particular chuch or the state telling me when, where and how to worship.

I also don't want the same State telling me I can't, when,where and how. I would like to see our National Heritage stay in place, with our recognition that the nation was founded in a belief in God. That the founders were Deists, and that recognition of a sovereign and almighty creator in the public sector is fine. I also think its okay if someone displays the 10 commandments or prays to God in the public sector. Its not a "Christian" thing, the 10 commandments came from God. The founders and the Congress each pray to God during sessions. The church isn't saying you have to do this - hence it is a separate thing. And its rightly separate. We do this because its an expression of our faith. Our belief systems. Our traditions in the recognition of a higher authority. By displaying the 10 commandments in a courtroom, the State is just affirming the heritage passed down from the inception of this country. And just what part of the 10 commandments are Christian? None.

Our expression of faith is not to separated from our daily lives, whether christian, muslim, jewish, whatever. The phrase is "Separation of Church and State", not "Separation of God and State". I think the issue needs more exploration before we declare ourselves secular with no reference to God at all. I feel there may be some credence to the relationship between Nation's behaviors and God's Blessings. Haven't gotten that all sorted through in my mind yet, but thats the Word. ~npp