Total Separation of Church and State “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The first Amendment of the Bill of Rights within the Constitution and an amendment that comes with support, rejection, and controversy. The amendment was made because the forefathers didn’t want a bloodbath that had plagued most of the world. Since 1618, at least 23 million people have been killed during a war revolving around religion issues.
The wars have been fought over land, where separate countries claim a spot of land was promised to them, which is similar to the hostility that is going on between Israel and Palestine, and beliefs, like the Taliban and Syrian rebels attacking the United States Embassy’s because of a movie showing the face of the Islamic prophet Allah, and portraying him as a foolish, sexist pig. Many wars were fought “in the name of God”, which caused many men, women, and children to parish. When the forefathers came to North America, they didn’t want a repeat of the hostility.
Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state” in a letter to a political friend, and the phrase stuck, with James Madison saying, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe for centuries. ” Because of the senseless fighting in Europe, separation was widely celebrated. But for separation to work, it needs to be enforced and to be strict. Strict separation is desirable for several reasons.
First, it is a way of ensuring that we can all, as Americans, feel that it is “our” government, whatever our religion or lack of. If government becomes aligned with a particular religion or religions, those of other beliefs are made to feel like outsiders. The total separation of Church and State would benefit all citizens because it would end the persecution of non-religious persons. But, in the end, it comes down to one question: Can anyone prove that religion is a benefit to everyday life if it’s included in government? Since the founding of our country, the United States of America has been, mostly, Christian country with over two-thirds of the people belonging to Christianity, but that number is dropping. With the religious population dwindling down in the United States, the government should erect a wall of separation that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson envisioned. Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in the book Why Church and State Should Be Separate, “It seems to me that if we want our citizens to feel that the government is open for everyone – that it is their government – we need our government to be strictly secular. With the total separation of the church from all federal affairs, it would benefit the citizens of the United States of America from persecution on individual’s personal beliefs and ideals. Our forefathers came over to the Americas to escape the religious oppression of the King of England, and the Church. While holding onto their Christian beliefs, the forefathers decided that the land that would become the United States of America would be of religious freedom, so as not to repeat the atrocity of England during this time period.
Even though they tried, the oppression found itself on our shores, coming with a vengeance. In the past 50 years, the government has been adding religion into our country. On June 14th, 1954, president Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law a change to the Pledge of Allegiance by adding ‘Under God’. Two years later, Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” as our nation’s official motto, which also mandated the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. Eisenhower’s choices to add these religious statements showed that the government has ahold of the ideals that once plagued England.
This issue has been fought in many unsuccessful lawsuits trying to undo the damage done by Eisenhower. The biggest issue is a government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some. This belief counter acts everything that the country had worked to accomplish. According to the principle of the constitution regarding the separation of church and state, religion is a private matter, which has no place in the presence of government. As in every argument, there are two sides.
In this case, people say that we don’t need a wall of separation, that the church and state should become one, and that the United States should officially become a God fearing country, and that anyone who is not a Christian shouldn’t hold political offices. There’s a growing movement in which nonreligious persons are becoming more and more abundant, beginning to compare with the number of the Christians in the country, leading to a conflict that resembles the Crusades without all the violence.
All religion should be kept out of government buildings and any and every government acknowledgements of a God should be thrown out, respecting the citizens that are not religious. Throwing out the mention of religion could lead to some major changes within the government, which could benefit the country. The first reason to make this change is that it protects the nonreligious from unfair persecution. Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations.
Many Americans misunderstand the words “separation of church and state”, assuming that the law requires that public life must have nothing whatsoever to do with religion. The founders, by and large, were very much supportive of the role of religion in society, but they separated the ideas of society and government, leaving religion to play a role in society, not government. The separation of church and state is not meant to hinder religion, or to deny the role of religion in society or in our history.
The concept of “separation of church and state” applies to the actions of the government only. The second reason to make a change is that we will be able to tax the churches. In 1986, an estimate showed that all religious income for that year was approximately $100 billion, or about five times the income of the five largest corporations in the United States. All tax free. With the money that is made from churches, the country would be bringing in billions of dollars a year that we can use to help pay off the deficit, build more roads, make more jobs, and build more schools.
The third reason is that it’ll take the pressure off of public offices. When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1961, the public was scared that the Catholic Church would take over the country. President Kennedy quickly made public that he supported separation of church and state and that “no catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be catholic) how to act…” As President Kennedy believed in, the greatest way for our nation to flourish is without religion involved in politics.
Many politicians can’t be elected and lose to individuals that are not as qualified as they may have been. Religion is a very powerful tool, which we need to be careful on how we use it. Taking it out of government and federal affairs would greatly benefit the nation. The future of the United States of America is strong and prosperous as long as it adheres to the wishes of the forefathers and past presidents. Without religion, we shall strive. With religion, we will fall. In 1773, a Rev.
Isaac Backus, a prominent Baptist minister in New England, studied amongst his people that when “church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued. ” Looking at the ministers studies, it comes down to one final question: what will you choose; happy and separate, or mischievous and confounded together? With the non-religious growing in more and more numbers and their beliefs coming out, the world is noticing a change, a change for the better. The change is bringing down the level of hostility toward non-religious individuals, and with separation of the church and state becoming an even bigger issue in today’s world; it has become a topic which cannot be ignored any longer.