Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep Religion Out of Government?

Have you entered the fray about the National Day of Prayer?

As I listen to the wrangling about "separation of church and state" I am concerned for a major fallacy that seems to be the foundation of many folk's arguments (see USA Today and Comments on Franklin Graham's editorial in the Washington Post). The fallacy is that there is somehow the ability to separate religion from government. I believe this is impossible and not the concern of the authors and ratifiers of the first amendment.

Religion is really the cosmological and functional world view system one believes. We all have at least a functional world view system. If we didn't we couldn't operate in life. To be human is to have a world view, an understanding of our purpose and the general principles by which we live. Every human being has some sort of world view, from the most devout Christian to the most convinced agnostic to the most sincere pantheist. And, every government conceived by man operates under some religious assumptions.

So let's stop making the nonsense statement that we can separate religion from government. That's like saying we can separate breathing from being alive - we simply can't both be alive and not breath. Neither can we be alive and not be religious in some way. We can not have government and not have some religion shaping it.

I seems clear that the point the founding fathers were after was to keep the federal government from preferring a particular denomination or religious institution over another. They never meant to separate a belief in a supreme being from the foundation of our country. To do so unravels the very fabric of our government, a government predicated on a firm belief in a God who has created all men equal and endowed them with certain inalienable rights, a government reliant on a common and cohesive belief in a Supreme Judge. Without such an assumption the rest of what is asserted in the Declaration of Independence and all the founding documents comes undone.

So let's stop the nonsense understanding of "separation of church and state" as keeping "religion" out of government. Let's instead honor the wisdom of our founding fathers by seeking to be careful to not prefer one religious denomination or institution over another while maintaining a firm and foundational belief in a Supreme Being who has granted us and sustained for us the privilege of a just and representative government. We will sooner or later lose this privilege if we fail to honor the wisdom of our forefathers. 

A Government-sponsored non-partisan interfaith Theistic National Day of Prayer acknowledging our need for the help of the Supreme Being is not only constitutional but quintessential to our nation.

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