You’ve probably heard of Jefferson’s letter where he speaks of a wall of separation between church and state. You probably know that these words are not in the constitution of the United States or its amendments or in any other official document. That is true. You may not even concern yourselves over much with the fact that these words from the author of the first amendment were used by the supreme court until the McCarthyism of the 1950s as evidence of the intent of the first amendment and thus as an aid in interpreting it. However, here is the great lie, a huge and deliberate sin of omission of which you may be unaware.
Jefferson was reassuring Christians that they would be protected from other Christians and allowed to worship in their own way.
The letter was written by the then-president Thomas Jefferson, a non-Christian himself, to reassure the Danbury Baptists, devout Christians, that they would always be allowed to practice their religion free from state interference.
Funny, isn’t it? We’ve all heard the history that many of the Christians who came over were fleeing religious persecution and looking for a new land. Yet, we ignore the fact that these Christians were fleeing religious persecution from Christian nations. Most of Europe had official state religions. The Anglican church in England, the Catholic church in both France and Italy, etc.
So, as today’s Christians fight the teaching of science in schools, fight to put up ten commandments displays in courtrooms and post offices, fight to keep the repressive McCarthy era words “In God We Trust” on our money and “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, it is almost comical to realize that the ancestors of these Christians fought tooth and nail against religion in government. Or, it would be comical if it weren’t so damn scary.
So, as Christians, consider exactly what set of beliefs you find important. Do you find it important to participate in the rights of communion? Or, do you have an aversion to the literal cannibalism that comes from the literal transubstantiation of the wafer into the body of Christ? Do you feel it is important to worship at altars with statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and assorted saints? Or, do you consider worshiping at altars to be a form of idol worship or worship of graven images? Do you like church to be a solemn quiet ritual or do you prefer to worship over the television and support the likes of Meth and Man Ass Ted Haggard?
And, let’s not forget, this last view of Christianity in the evangelical mega church is far from a small and inconsequential group. The National Association of Evangelicals numbers their congregation at around 30 million people. Is this the Christianity you want in American politics? Perhaps yes. Perhaps this is your flavor of Christianity. But, even at 30 million people, that’s still a minority of the American population. So, which flavor of Christianity are we going to have in government?
This is the fear that the Danbury Baptists held and about which Jefferson was reassuring them.
They wanted to worship in their way. Whatever flavor of Christian you are reading this and wanting Christianity in government, you probably want to be allowed to worship in your particular way as well. Perhaps you like the ostentatious Catholic church with its world dominance hierarchy and pope to guide the way. Perhaps you merely like to sit quietly and reflect on Christ in your home. Perhaps you like a small and austere church. Perhaps you even believe that the cross as the implement of Christs death should not be used as a symbol of his religion. (The Mormons really do have that one right, in my opinion as a non-theist.) Perhaps you think all of the money going to buy limos for the preachers of mega churches is really doing God’s work. Perhaps you find it offensive and degrading to the millions who donate what little they have to make these preachers wealthier than one should ever be for doing God’s work.
It doesn’t matter where you fall on this spectrum of belief known generically as Christianity. If you want to worship as you do now, you must support the separation of church and state with all of your might, just as the founders wanting religious freedom did. And, if you are not Christian and are in the United States, you have even more incentive to fight for separation of church and state.
For those of us who are non-theists, we want what freedom we can get during our brief stay on this planet. But, for those of you who believe in an afterlife and believe you know the one true path to get to your sky cake, this is every bit as important as for us non-theists.
In fact, perhaps it is even more important to have your religious freedom. You believe your immortal soul is at stake!! You don’t want sky pie, sky cookies, or sky baklava by mistake. You want your sky cake! If you let religion into government, who knows? You might even end up with sky deep fried red bean ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce. (Mmm wait a minute. I want some of that!) Then where would you be?
So, I say to you that if you have been led by today’s religious and political leaders to believe that religion in government is a good thing, you really should think again. Use the brain you believe your God endowed you with. You know a lie when you hear one. It’s time to admit this lie is one and is extremely serious in its implications and its potential effects on your personal life and even the afterlife in which you believe and I do not.