Sunday, December 28, 2008

Speaking of separation of church and state...

I've been working up this post in my mind for awhile and have decided to write it up. I feel like I must confess.....

I want to explain why the separation of church and state are so important to me. I am agnostic. I don't believe in one God per se. This doesn't mean that I am not spiritual or "religious". There are parts of all religions that I like and subscribe to those ideals. The Catholic religion is the one I have a hard time with. It just seems so hypocritical to me. But that is another post for another day.

I am not ashamed of how I feel. But, most people hear "agnostic" or "atheist" and think of the devil or that you are a bad person. I don't like to make that first impression on people. I have values and morals. I have good manners and my mother brought me up to have compassion for others and to do the right thing.

Talk about a group that gets left out like we are lepers. The GLBT group has nothing to complain about compared to us! Imagine the candidates running for office needing to prove how "church-going" they are. Imagine they always end a speech with "God Bless America" or else they are chastised. Just think how that comes across to my demographic group.

I should add that I have complete respect for anyone that believes in whatever you choose to believe in. I have never put someone down for believing in God, (whatever form that takes)... but I do have a problem if you impose those beliefs onto me. I have a problem when policies in this country that are supposed to be good for ALL Americans are made based on the Bible or any religious ideals, because then that doesn't represent everyone.

So honestly, all this talk about Rick Warren... Technically there shouldn't even be an Invocation or Benediction at the Inauguration, if there were true separation of church and state.

I'm sure my conservative readers aren't surprised. This would explain all of my "deviant" (read: pro-choice, pro gay marriage) views to them. I welcome a good debate about this... however it will not include the pro-choice or pro-life comments. I won't publish them. I'd like to have one post that doesn't boil down to that, since there is so much else to talk about.


Monkey Girl said...

Thanks for such a good post. Believe it or not I'm a very spiritual person. My husband and I have made an important decision years ago to teach our children that there isn't just 'one' religion. We celebrate many holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Deepvali, summer/winter solstice, Hari Raya, and many others. We treat these religious celebrations as cultural celebrations, the way I think all religions should be celebrated.
I grew up in a house that went to a non-denominational church every Sunday, however, my father's business was in many countries and we traveled frequently. My father took us to Buddhist shrines in Japan, Hindu temples in Indonesia, and Jewish temples in Germany and the Notre Dame in Paris. It showed me as a child that everywhere around world people were different, yet the same.
When we lived in Singapore I thought the Singaporean government handled it the best. EVERY RELIGIOUS holiday was a national holiday. No one religion was given priority over another. The children were taught in school about all cultural beliefs and the importance of tolerance.
The importance of the separation of church and state is PARAMOUNT, how else can we live and/be at peace?
I agree, there should be no benediction or prayer at the inauguration. Period. Just think how many wars could have been avoided if we(the people of the world) allowed people to believe in whatever they wanted? What a wonderful world it would be.

patrick said...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Both the free exercise clause and the establishment clause place restrictions on the government concerning laws they pass or interfering with religion. No restrictions are placed on religions except perhaps that a religious denomination cannot become the state religion.

The documentary evidence of the doctrinal Christian religion origin of this nation is voluminous. The Supreme Court thoroughly studied this issue, and in 1892 gave what is known as the Trinity Decision. In that decision the Supreme Court declared, "this is a Christian nation."

There is currently in this country a separation of church and state as is shown in the Constitution :-)

The phrase "wall of separation between the church and the state" was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802. His purpose in this letter was to assuage the fears of the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, and so he told them that this wall had been erected to protect them. The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church's business, not to keep the church out of the state's business.

Lynngreen said...

Great Post! As a Christian, I agree with you completely. I don't understand the lack of tolerance and sheer close mindedness of many who also identify themselves as Christians. Honestly, I think that they have missed the point.

I also teach my children about a wide variety of religions and points of views. I hope that as they grow older they will learn universal respect. We can learn so much through the study and respect of other, don't you think?

And I am increasingly concerned about this "line in the sand" that religious groups feel compelled to draw. Why are they so threatened by a discussion of leaving references to God out of government proceedings (i.e. the inaugaural address)?

A side note - I recently heard a segment on NPR about an address that the astronauts made on live television circa 1968. They read the first verses of Genesis to the nation. I couldn't believe it! Talk about exclusionary.

patrick said...

I don't understand the lack of tolerance and sheer close mindedness of many who also identify themselves as Christians. Honestly, I think that they have missed the point.

No one has to "put up with/tolerate " something that they do not agree with. Do you tolerate murder or rape?

And I am increasingly concerned about this "line in the sand" that religious groups feel compelled to draw. Why are they so threatened by a discussion of leaving references to God out of government proceedings (i.e. the inaugaural address)?

I guess you want to rewrite the "Pledge", re-mint our coins to take the phrase (In God we Trust) off, oh lets not forget the paper currency too?
Now in regards to the inauguration, prayer was added in 1933 along with poetry readings and music. I would think that if Asshole President Elect Obama did not want prayers at his inauguration he could exclude them--but it would seem that is not the case. Heck I say do away with swearing in the President with his hand on a Bible, if you do not have to do that in a court of law why should the President, right?

Jen said...

Patrick - I wasn't gonna publish your post b/c of the profanity.. so this is a warning.

But, I did want to say that I agree wholeheartedly that they shouldn't take their oath on the bible.

patrick said...


what do you suggest they take their oath on then? The Koran, Book of Mormon, Dictionary...what? Also if you have issues with "god" (term) then are you all for re-minting our currency or perhaps changing the pledge?

As to profanity...I was just using the same terminology that Monkey Girl likes to use to describe our current president.

patrick said...

Also I forgot to add Jen that there is a precedence for using a Bible for the swearing in...
April 30, 1789
George Washington
First Inauguration; precedents set include the phrase, "So help me God," and kissing the Bible after taking the oath.

Now if it was good enough for our first President why change things?

Jen said...

Patrick - Nothing I will say will be acceptable to you. I do believe that we should take "God" off the money and out of the pledge. In fact, originally god wasn't in it, they added that later.

Just because things were done one way, doesn't mean we can't change it.

I mean, people swearing on the bible, doesn't mean they won't lie.. otherwise there would never be a perjury charge ever.

I'm not gonna argue this to death.