From the mounting discussion on the airways and the internet, it is obvious that most people, including many self avowed columnists for prestigious daily newspapers, have no idea what separation of church and state means nor how it should be applied. For a detailed discussion, see Religion on the Campaign Trail.
The first article below outline five religious leaders who understood what separation meant and who fought to achieve it.
The second article points out the hypocrisy of those who recently jumped on the bandwagon bemoaning the administrations war on religion. It points out all the Catholic Church’s messages that the current crop of candidates seem to turn a deaf ear to. This is addition to the fact that the proposed rules under the Affordable Health Care Act are basically the same ones that the bishops have been living with for the last decade and have said nothing.
Over the years, atheists, agnostics and skeptics of organized religion have taken a lot of high-profile stands in favor of the separation of church and state. Many Jews have been active in this area as well, and these days the ranks of church-state defenders are being augmented by Pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and other religious minorities.
But we shouldn’t overlook the many members of the Christian clergy who have buttressed the church-state wall and those who still do so today. In fact, we might not have that wall at all if it weren’t for them.
With that thought in mind, here are five preachers whose support for church-state separation is beyond dispute.
1) Roger Williams: The founder of Rhode Island was an iconoclastic preacher who absolutely hated the idea of combining church and state.
2) John Leland: This fiery Baptist cleric and friend of Thomas Jefferson’s holds a unique distinction in American history: He helped smash state-established churches in three states.
3) Isaac Backus: Would you be willing to go to prison for your right of conscience? Isaac Backus was. A resident of Connecticut, Backus was a colonial-era Congregationalist minister who grew weary of that denomination’s official standing with the state.
4) Martin Luther King Jr: King will always be best known for his leadership of the civil rights movement. His support for church-state separation is less well known but important.
5) J.M. Dawson: To a lot of people today, the term “Southern Baptist minister” conjures up an image of a red-faced cleric bashing gays, demanding prayer in schools and insisting that dinosaurs traveled on Noah’s Ark.
Unquestionably, secularists have done great work standing up for the church-state wall and the complete religious and philosophical freedom it brings us. But they should never forget their allies in the clergy. Without them, that wall might be missing a considerable number of bricks. Read the entire article.
The right wing Republican politicians who have been denouncing the requirement that female employees have access to birth control as part of their health benefits as an attack on religious freedom completely ignore the church teachings they don’t agree with. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.
1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq
2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans
3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations
4. The US Conference of Bishops has urged that the federal minimum wage be increased,