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 On the subject of Church / State Separation 
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Post On the subject of Church / State Separation
Recently, I've seen posts here & elsewhere with comments to the effect of "the U.S. was founded as a Christian country". That is contrary to everything I was taught as a school kid, where we were instructed that this country was founded on, amongst other things, the concept of religious freedom & a clear separation of church & state.

I do not dispute the religious beliefs of many of the framers of the constitution, nor do I dispute that many of our laws have great parallels to religious "morals" & doctrine. What I DO dispute is that the U.S. was intended to be a Christian country.

A reference that I've seen more than once to support the notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation is that our national motto is "In God We Trust". There is no disputing that either - but as far as I know that was not put forth or endorsed by the framers of the constitution. Nor does it specifically mention Christianity. My understanding: The motto was put on all paper currency by an Act of Congress in 1955. The phrase was chosen as our national motto by an Act of Congress in 1956. It first appeared on paper currency in 1957.

So what does everyone think? Are we a Christian country, or a secular country? Why, or why not?


May 25th, 2006, 8:49 am
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I think religion ultimately ties in with Democracy by defualt. Since the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian, that's ovbviously going to play a role in our legislation. If the voters are Christian, they're going to want aspects of the Christian faith made into laws. It's a natural presupposition. So can a democracy or a prosperous government successfully fully seperate church and state? Only, hypothetically, if the society doesn't accept church can there be a true seperation of church and state.
But still, we should make every attempt to do so.

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May 25th, 2006, 8:56 am
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The founders were very determined to set up a secular government. This was a natural extension of their fight against oppression and prejudice. On the other hand, the founders were also Christians. The relationship between Christianity and the state is multifaceted and it has evolved over time. The neo-con narrative about the US as a Christian country is a politically motivated attempt to simplify a complex history.

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May 25th, 2006, 12:50 pm
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Post Re: On the subject of Church / State Separation
illinoiseric wrote:
I do not dispute the religious beliefs of many of the framers of the constitution, nor do I dispute that many of our laws have great parallels to religious "morals" & doctrine. What I DO dispute is that the U.S. was intended to be a Christian country.


Quote:
Amendment I
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.


I think that the framers purpose of the 1st Amendment was to make sure that the government didn't support any specific religion. Therefore making the people follow one specific religion. As does the Middle East.

Although I do believe they were mostly Christian, they believed the only way that democracy will work is by following the ten commandments.
As for taking down any and every christian symbol, I think is dumb. I do not believe just because you have the ten commandments in a court house that the government is endorsing that belief. There wouldn't have been any put in there in the first place if it was breaking the 1st amendment.

It's a part of our heritage. If we forget where we came from then you'll end up with something that doesn't look anything like the original.
We know that the original works well. It's just the misuse and abuse that get's things out of wack.

People not wanting to stand on principle. The principles just so happen to be christian.


May 25th, 2006, 1:11 pm
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Post Re: On the subject of Church / State Separation
PT Bruiser wrote:
Although I do believe they were mostly Christian, they believed the only way that democracy will work is by following the ten commandments.

As for taking down any and every christian symbol, I think is dumb. I do not believe just because you have the ten commandments in a court house that the government is endorsing that belief. There wouldn't have been any put in there in the first place if it was breaking the 1st amendment.

It's a part of our heritage. If we forget where we came from then you'll end up with something that doesn't look anything like the original.
We know that the original works well. It's just the misuse and abuse that get's things out of wack.

People not wanting to stand on principle. The principles just so happen to be christian.


I don't think the 10 commandments have anything to do with our constitution or government at all. And IMO it isn't "dumb" to want to remove the 10 commandments from a courthouse or other government buildings. Maybe a better term than "dumb" would be "empathetic", or "equal", or "unbiased". I can see very clearly why some people might not want to stand on other people's version of principle. Just like you yourself might not be comfortable standing on some other religion's (e.g. insert another religion name here ... Amish? Hindu?) principles in a public building in your own country.

Why post "laws" there that aren't OUR country's laws anyway? The 10 commandments don't align with our laws at all - or most of them anyway (only a couple, like the ones about stealing & killing). If there are any references to Christianity at all in the constitution, I'd like to be enlightened & hear more about it.

I agree that religious freedom is part of our heritage, but the artifacts of a single religion? I don't know if I buy that as being a legitimate point. We inserted "under God" into the pledge in the last 50 years, along with the motto history I posted - to me, that isn't necessarily "heritage", but looks more like a revisionist attempt to spin our true heritage to be something it wasn't.

History Police: hat40.gif


May 25th, 2006, 2:31 pm
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Post Re: On the subject of Church / State Separation
illinoiseric wrote:
PT Bruiser wrote:
Although I do believe they were mostly Christian, they believed the only way that democracy will work is by following the ten commandments.

As for taking down any and every christian symbol, I think is dumb. I do not believe just because you have the ten commandments in a court house that the government is endorsing that belief. There wouldn't have been any put in there in the first place if it was breaking the 1st amendment.

It's a part of our heritage. If we forget where we came from then you'll end up with something that doesn't look anything like the original.
We know that the original works well. It's just the misuse and abuse that get's things out of wack.

People not wanting to stand on principle. The principles just so happen to be christian.


I don't think the 10 commandments have anything to do with our constitution or government at all. And IMO it isn't "dumb" to want to remove the 10 commandments from a courthouse or other government buildings. Maybe a better term than "dumb" would be "empathetic", or "equal", or "unbiased". I can see very clearly why some people might not want to stand on other people's version of principle. Just like you yourself might not be comfortable standing on some other religion's (e.g. insert another religion name here ... Amish? Hindu?) principles in a public building in your own country.

Why post "laws" there that aren't OUR country's laws anyway? The 10 commandments don't align with our laws at all - or most of them anyway (only a couple, like the ones about stealing & killing). If there are any references to Christianity at all in the constitution, I'd like to be enlightened & hear more about it.

I agree that religious freedom is part of our heritage, but the artifacts of a single religion? I don't know if I buy that as being a legitimate point. We inserted "under God" into the pledge in the last 50 years, along with the motto history I posted - to me, that isn't necessarily "heritage", but looks more like a revisionist attempt to spin our true heritage to be something it wasn't.

History Police: hat40.gif

Very nice post.
I agree.
la.gif

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May 25th, 2006, 2:59 pm
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Post Re: On the subject of Church / State Separation
illinoiseric wrote:
A reference that I've seen more than once to support the notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation is that our national motto is "In God We Trust".


Actually, our national motto is "E Pluribus Unum," which means "Out of many: one."

"In God We Trust" wasn't added to the U.S. currency until 1861, a result of a campaign by numerous Christians.

Also, as this one often comes up in this type of discussion, the phrase "One nation, under God" wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954 after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization and as a reaction to the communism of the USSR, which banned religion. 1954, of course, was around the time of the communist witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In God We Trust info source

Pledge History source

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May 25th, 2006, 6:13 pm
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I'm probably more sympathetic to concerns about separation than a lot of Christians, but I do think some on the other side tend to stretch "establishment" a bit far sometimes, too. Seems like some folks go around just looking for an opportunity to be offended. I can understand someone deciding not to believe and thus ignoring religion. I do not understand why some folks seem intent on rooting out religion wherever it may be found.

There's a difference, imo, between protecting minorities and favoring them. People of all faiths -- and NO faith -- need to be protected, but freedom OF religion =/= freedom FROM religion. Where does free expression end and establishment begin? That, I think, is the central question.


May 25th, 2006, 6:42 pm
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I was watching Penn and Teller's show "Bullshit" on showtime and learned something interesting. Did you know that thje Boyscouts of America is basically owned by the Mormon church? Not only are gays banned from the boyscouts, but so are athiests! Now this is all well and fine if the boyscouts were a privately funded organization, but they are also recieving government aid and funding. So basically our tax dollars are in part going towards an organization that shows a blantant bigotry towards anyone with a different faith then that of the god of christians, jews, and mormons. So much for seperation of church and state eh?

P.S. the Mormons didn't take over the BS's ontill the early 80's. it was a legitimate organization before that.

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May 30th, 2006, 4:41 am
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regularjoe12 wrote:
I was watching Penn and Teller's show "Bullshit" on showtime and learned something interesting. Did you know that thje Boyscouts of America is basically owned by the Mormon church? Not only are gays banned from the boyscouts, but so are athiests! Now this is all well and fine if the boyscouts were a privately funded organization, but they are also recieving government aid and funding. So basically our tax dollars are in part going towards an organization that shows a blantant bigotry towards anyone with a different faith then that of the god of christians, jews, and mormons. So much for seperation of church and state eh?

P.S. the Mormons didn't take over the BS's ontill the early 80's. it was a legitimate organization before that.


I always thought it was the Catholic Church that funded most of it. ???

I don't know if I would trust a comedy act to get my information from. :o

Quote:
The BSA has certain highly controversial policies which prohibit gays and atheists from participation in their organization. The BSA and its supporters argue that these policies are essential in its mission to "instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character". Critics contend that these policies amount to discrimination and bigotry.

The organization's right to set such policies has been upheld repeatedly by both state and federal courts. Moreover, in 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization which can set its own membership standards.


May 30th, 2006, 7:21 am
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Quote:
I don't know if I would trust a comedy act to get my information from.


Thats a fair staement but i challenge you to watch the show the decide on it's credabilities. (and yes 60% of funding comes from the Mormon church).

Quote:
The organization's right to set such policies has been upheld repeatedly by both state and federal courts. Moreover, in 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization which can set its own membership standards.


And like I said before, as a private organization it's all well and good that they pick and chose who is alowed. But my problem with it comes from the fact that they are recieving goverment aid. Mostly indirectly. They have free reign in Government buildings at little to no cost to them(their offices, ect.). they don't pay any kind of rent. They get free stays at national camping sites everywhere. Somehow they have managed to find a "grey area" and managed to stay a private organization but still get all the perks of being public. It's a bit of a double standard if you ask me.

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May 30th, 2006, 4:39 pm
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