The Separation of Church and State is Vital for the Integrity of Both

Today you might hear many Christians arguing that the separation of church and state was never intended by our founders. However, it is very clear that while the founders did not seem to be so concerned with a politician’s expression of faith or belief, they were quite clear about separating the role of the state from that of the Church. The first amendment to the Constitution, adopted as a requirement of its ratification, expressly states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

 The prolific quantity of quotes and sentiments of a religious and theological nature that are attributed to the various founders of our country, often in official communications, offer proof that the restriction of the government with regards to the establishment of religion has very little to do with the individual's expression of their own theological understanding, even if they were an agent of the state. The display of a monument engraved with the Ten Commandments, a nativity scene on the court house lawn at Christmas, a Menorah, or even a pentagram symbolizing some pagan ritual would have more than likely not caused much of a concern for our founders with regard to the establishment of a religion. They would have more than likely, and appropriately, simply viewed these activities as expressions of the local culture's identity.

Where the founders would have begun to appeal a first amendment encroachment would have been as soon as the physical resources of the state were used to fulfill the physical mandate of the Church. They would have recognized that this action as a dangerous infringement by the state upon the people’s right of self-determination. Founding father and second President John Adams is quoted as saying:

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

 

The constitution's limitation to provide a government for anything other than a moral and religious people can be attributed to the fact that it presupposes the elevation of a significant portion of the population to a level of self-sufficiency and freedom previously reserved only for Lords and Kings. It also assumes that these free people will provide for the needs of the poor in their own communities, as the Constitution not only fails to enumerate to the Federal Government any such power, but through the first amendment, expressly prohibits it from doing so.

The government that was established “by the people, of the people, and for the people” did so by putting the responsibility of the poor (from whom political power is derived) not into the hands of a power elite, but instead into the hands of the very people that historically this power was used to extort. The authority of the American government was vested into the people, not by a power enumerated in its Constitution, but instead by a power denied to the state. The people, not the state, were given the responsibility to care for the poor, and as a result also achieved the authority to be the law of the land by the very nature of this responsibility.

The separation of the church and the state is necessary to maintain liberty. Specifically it is the separation of the body that extends the arm of benevolence from the same body that flexes the arm of justice. In his teaching about giving to the poor, Jesus taught that one should not let your
left hand know what your right hand is doing; he also taught that the greatest among his followers would be those who became the least and best served others. Clearly he understood the nature of dependent transactions, and the dangers of allowing the power transfer inherent in these actions to be abused by combining them with the power of violent coercion. Thomas Jefferson also spoke of this danger, although his emphasis focused on loss of religious liberties, those liberties can only be lost by means of a state who has garnered undue authority by means of the inappropriate abdication to it of the church's role in benevolence.

"Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of not faith, undermine all our civil rights.  Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within the religion itself.  Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state, ' therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society." - Thomas Jefferson

The combination of these two powers into one body is a historically proven recipe for corrupt tyranny. It is a perversion of the proper identity of these two separate institutions. There is a reason why we use two different words to describe “church” and “state”, it is because they are different, with different and separate roles. The American founders also clearly understood the importance for the preservation of liberty in maintaining the integrity of these institutions and in barring the state from access to the political power that is derived from the care of the poor. Along with the idea of individual sovereignty, the concept of a government limited in it scope of power were fundamental principles to the identity of our Constitutional government.

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