…[t]he Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11, signed by John Adams
You know, I’ve been thinking a bit these days about the separation of church and state, and I see a problem that I’m not sure has been addressed properly. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution seems to separate church from state. However, this falls short of the mark. The Founding Fathers failed us miserably. They forgot to incorporate into the Bill of Rights a provision that separates state, from church. Preaching politics is a scourge upon our great nation.
It is clear that our governments are not permitted to establish a religion, nor are they permitted to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. Although, I am confident that certain native Americans who use peyote and snake-handling Pentecosts will feel that they have been shorted a constitutional amendment or two. Both religious practices have been outlawed. Soon to follow may be the Jewish tradition of circumcising eight-day-old male children, the bris milah.
But this is not the problem I write about here.
The problem is not governments’ attacks on religion, the problem, the real problem, is religions’ attacks on governments.
Of course, there are laws that attempt to limit political speech by religious entities, most notably the prohibition on tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entities from directly or indirectly endorsing a candidate or party. There are numerous ways around this, of course, such as the creation of another organization that, in turn forms a “political action committee” or PAC.
But, this is also not the problem that I am writing about.
I am writing about the audacity of so-called religious people who use religion as a tool in political speech, and those pathetic masses who listen. When Paul Ryan says that, if re-elected, Barak Obama will set the U.S. on a path that will compromise “those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great an exceptional nation in the first place,” he demonstrates at once, an abject misunderstanding of (1) what made this country “exceptional,” (2) the nature of Judeo-Christian values and, (3) where morals come from. (Hint: they don’t come from Genesis 19:31-36, for example; apparently Lot’s daughters did not have faith that, having saved them from Sodom, he would provide them with sperm donors, and chose to commit incest with their father in order to preserve his line.)
I have two friends, both of whom are quite devoted to their religion. As it happens, these women are Christian. And, as it happens, they have never preached politics. In fact, as prolific facebookers, they rail against such things. My two friends are, on the one hand, and in my opinion, insane to believe that Jesus is involved in their lives, and on the other hand, and not subject to opinion, clearly two of the brightest people on this planet for, among other reasons, their clear understanding of the concept of separating state from church.
Why can’t the rest of the country be like my friends? Why is it that, after almost 237 years, the United States is still too stupid to realize that the Founding Fathers saw religion as bad – as something to be removed from society except in the protected privacy of its own sphere – something that has absolutely no place in government.
But their efforts weren’t sufficient. They failed at protecting the rest of us from the obfuscated theocracy that is the United States of America.