Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Separation of Church and State May God Bless the rest of us?

  1. Mar 21, 2005 #1

    SOS2008

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Separation of Church and State..."May God Bless"...the rest of us?

    In the wake of the 2004 election, last count was that the IRS was investigating 60 religious organizations for endorsing Bush from the pulpit. The mixing of religion in politics has become a much more serious problem then most Americans realize, because this number only represents organizations that were blatant enough to be caught (this time around). Other organizations advised congregations to support the candidate who represented what their religion stands for, though just as inappropriate, not to mention presumptuous. After all, one candidate may be against gay marriage and abortion, while the other is concerned about poverty, the elderly, health care, etc.--as if one can pick and choose "values." The reason why some Bush supporters were less willing to participate in exit polls was because many were block voting, which is illegal.

    With regard to separation of church and state: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." - the First Amendment, the courts have gone back and forth on the issue with the use of various tests (the Lemon Test, Endorsement Test, Coercion Test, and ceremonial deism or the History Test).

    The Coercion Test, which was advanced by Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1992:
    This immediately excludes the practice of prayer in school.

    The Endorsement Test, which emphasizes government neutrality is summarized by Justice Sandra Day O'Conner:
    Justice O'Connor continued that likewise "Disapproval sends the opposite message." If it wasn't for ceremonial deism (historical usage), the Endorsement Test would exclude everything else.

    Yes, the founding fathers were religious men (though some had illegitimate children, were ladies men, etc.). However the minting of all coins with "In God We Trust" was not approved until 1938, and it didn't appear on paper money until 1956. It was not until 1942 that Congress wrote the Pledge into law, with the words "under God" added later in 1954. Likewise the many and various public buildings in which the Ten Commandments are displayed were not built until more modern times, but the biggest problem with the Ten Commandments is which version to accept:
    Though legislative prayer dates back to 1774, it is conducted during Congressional sessions by a paid Chaplin, both of which are funded by tax dollars. While the use of tax dollars (e.g., also if applicable to holiday displays), and coercion are of most importance to me personally, one can see that the founding fathers were not responsible for establishing any of these things. Also, where is the compassionate sensitivity of Christians in this country? Some legal scholars like Steven Epstein question whether mere historical usage can truly continue to validate these practices:
    Epstein queries, "Would the average Christian or Jew seriously contend that this America of 2096 would not make them feel like outsiders in their own country?"

    Aside from prayer in school, and demands that creation be taught versus evolution (per tax-supported facilities/services), did you know churches checked with the IRS to see if they could pray for re-election of Bush? And then they boo-hooed because they weren't allowed to have crosses (crucifixes) at the presidential inauguration. Is the inauguration a "state" function? What part of separation of church and state don't they understand?

    Regarding recent debate about the Ten Commandments erected on the grounds of the Texas State Capital in 1961 (44 years ago) one argument is that of historical usage (laughable by standards of even our young country).

    Per the Americans United for Separation of Church and State web site: http://www.au.org/site/PageServer Other arguments being presented in the case per this article:
    Just to refresh your memory:
    1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
    3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
    4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    You can see how these commandments pertain to the American legal system.

    I know these people--they tell me their beliefs--they have signs on their office doors that read: God Bless America across the American flag. I drive a lot as a part of my job, but still, I challenge you to start looking around, and like me, you may notice the increasing amount of patriotic symbolism along with religious symbolism. There's a movement in our country to remove separation of church and state, and it has been growing stronger and stronger. If you don't want to believe it, don't believe it.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2005 #2

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    So now its illegal for a private organization to contribute money to a presidential campaign fund? Wow, you certainly are a tyrant. And anyone whos studied history knows theres no such thing as a seperation of church and state. It is nowhere in the Constitution or the Federalist papers and the only time it was mentioned was in a personal letter to a baptist church assuring them the government would not force them to worship a single religion. How you people turned this into "no person can show off any religious symbols in public" is absolutely beyond me. You are decieving people when you say it took 150 years for mentions of God to get on our currency when in fact, a standard system of currency took decades to create after our nation was founded. You've pretty much said all private citizens need to refrain from showing any religious promotion in their daily lives. That is equivalent to telling anti-war demonstrators or anti-tobacco demonstrators or anti-abortion demonstrators that they should not be allowed to protest in public. I find it funny that you seemingly somehow feel weakened by a flag saying "God bless America" or appauled by it yet i doubt you'd feel appauled by a demonstration on some street corner. Conversely if you showed your support of atheism through some symbol or went around telling people to be atheists, thats perfectly alright. That right is protected by teh Constitution. You can worship ro not worship whatever the hell you want to or not; that right is protected by the Constitution and was its original intent.

    Also, what many anti-religious people can never seem to admit is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." means absolutely what it says it means. no LAW LAW LAW. No piece of paper can go through Congress and be signed by the President of the United States that promotes or protests against a religion/belief.
     
  4. Mar 21, 2005 #3

    SOS2008

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A quick response to the post above - Churches are allowed to endorse, pray for a candidate, etc. IF willing to give up tax exemption. If you don't agree with this, you need to take it up with the IRS.

    I deliberated on even posting this thread, because it is such an incendiary topic. So if I may make a suggestion -- Let's please try to keep debate on the following:

    1) Whether you have the right to believe as you choose and practice the religion of your choice. I believe I have these rights beyond question.

    2) My criteria for government endorsement of religion primarily is anything connected to government (tax supported) facilities/services, such as public schools, government buildings (e.g., state capital), government functions (elections, inaugurations, etc.), and so forth.

    I've stated this in another thread - The intent of separation of church and state is to provide freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion. Please explain to me how secular, Jewish, Islamic, etc. Americans can feel freedom FROM religion if their tax dollars are being spent on Christian displays or practices?

    Please tell me how your right to believe as you choose and to practice the religion of your choice per #1 is suppressed by not allowing religious content/practices according to the criteria noted in #2. Also I take the time to research and source, so please do likewise.

    Otherwise, I think we will see that responses are likely to support my case--that people either support removal of separation of church and state, or don't understand what separation of church and state means.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  5. Mar 21, 2005 #4

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well i agree #1 is one of the inalienable rights. #2 is also the correct way to look at things. No check stamped by the US Federal government should go towards a religous item/cause but if a judge wishes to use his own money to put up a cross inside his chambers, then so be it, his money, his right, his office. If i want to put a bumper sticker that says God Bless the USA on my car, its my right. Me placing that bumper sticker does not in any way force you into being a christian/jew/muslim.

    And you are missing a third option. You can have people who dont want a "seperation of church and state", agroup that doesnt know what a seperation of church and state means, PLUS a group who fully understands what the seperation of church and state means. Im part of the latter obviously according to my ego. Because what the 1st amendment at the most says that federal dollars will not go towards any religious causes. There is nothing there saying i cant wear a cross, or that i cant put up a picture of jesus in my office at the dmv, or that i cant pray inside a room at the welfare department or read the bible inside a court room (none of which i actually work at... im a student). These actions are not LAWS, i am not forced to put up/do such actions and should not be forced to stop such actions. I am not forcing people at the office to be christians/jewish/muslim either. If they see a picture of Jesus and think there is some sort of pressure to turn into a Christian, then that is just very unfortunate that their brain is wired in such a funny way.

    And you gotta admit... there is no actual seperation of church and state in the US Constitution nor the Federalist papers....
     
  6. Mar 21, 2005 #5

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Again, SOS, you're mixing two (three, really...) separate issues: separation of church and state and freedom of speech (and free exercise) are different issues. Endorsing a candidate from the pulpit is a freedom of speech issue, not a freedom of religion or separation of church and state issue. Replace the church in your example with any other non-profit organization (say, the NAACP, which was investigated last year for the same thing......) and the issue and outcome are the same.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  7. Mar 21, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    SOS, none of your opening post, except the last sentence addresses the issue at all. Though its not a bad summary of the establishment clause, it doesn't discuss at all the actual reason politicizing from the pulpit is illegal. If all you base this on is your perception (from the last paragraph) that others don't understand the issue, then all we can really do in this thread is to make sure you understand the issue - and also offer me up as an example of a type of person who *might* wear such a t-shirt (I'm not a slogan person though...). Otherwise, there really isn't anything to discuss.

    First, the 1st Amendment:

    The 1st Amendment...
    ...contains 3 separate clauses semi-relevant here. They are:

    The Establishment Clause: This clause prevents the Federal Government (and via the 14th amendment, the state governments) from establishing a state religion or, more generally, from endorsing/supporting (or, conversely, punishing) any specific religion in any way over any other. This clause is what is being referred to when talking about "separation of church and state".

    The Free Exercise Clause: This clause is the "freedom of religion" clause. Its what guarantees us the right to worship any religion we choose (or none at all).

    The Free Speech Clause: Self evident. Caveat: depending on the wording of your murder threat t-shirt in the other thread, it may be considered an overt threat, and such threats are not protected free speech.

    Some discussion of these clauses can be found HERE.

    HERE is a reference to the NAACP example I gave in my previous post. Strangely, news articles don't seem to explain the issue (should I be surprised?), but it is discussed in numberous BLOGS. The issue is freedom of speech.

    "Freedom from religion" is actually a relatively new concept that scholars don't generally accept as being intended by the founders. But the USSC (for 30 years or so) is currently making decisions that way, so it is - de facto - the way it is.

    SOS, some of your other allegations (block voting), I won't comment on unless you can substantiate them.

    Now, me: I'm a christian who is barely hanging on to christianity. I'll probably go to church on Easter, and the last time I went was Christmas. But I say "God bless you" when people sneeze and if there is a God, I hope he blesses everything that's important to me, including my country. I certainly hope he would approve of the US - its only natural for a religious person to seek approval for everything important in their lives, just as a child seeks approval from their parents for everything important in their lives. I don't own any t-shirt with any slogan, but I like the song, so still - I am an example that directly contradicts your position. I am an ardent defender of separation of church and state (see below).

    Now, that said, there are religious people who would do away with separation of church and state (my boss), but you cannot identify which is which via the t-shirt they are wearing.

    Not correct, as discussed above. Though the founders didn't originate the phrase, the phrase was invented (not really sure by who) to paraphrase the establishment clause. Lets not side-track this discussion with an irrelevancy: even if you don't like the words "separation of church and state", you still need to deal with the establishment clause.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  8. Mar 21, 2005 #7
    So now its illegal for a private organization to contribute money to a presidential campaign fund? Wow, you certainly are a tyrant.

    The rules have changed regarding how much anyone can donate, and how they may donate.

    And anyone whos studied history knows theres no such thing as a seperation of church and state.

    The founders of this nation, really tried to get this one right, after escaping state mandated religion, in Europe, they wanted no part of it here.



    How you people turned this into "no person can show off any religious symbols in public" is absolutely beyond me.

    We didn't turn it into that, The Government may not show preference to one religion, over another, and may not officially display religious symbols, implying a defacto state religion.


    You are decieving people when you say it took 150 years for mentions of God to get on our currency when in fact, a standard system of currency took decades to create after our nation was founded.

    No, no deception, the fifties was hard on civil rights, and the constitution, in general. The erosion of our personal rights got a kick start in the fifties, with the outlawing and demonization of many systems of belief, and social dialogue.

    You've pretty much said all private citizens need to refrain from showing any religious promotion in their daily lives.

    No, he pretty much, didn't say that.


    That is equivalent to telling anti-war demonstrators or anti-tobacco demonstrators or anti-abortion demonstrators that they should not be allowed to protest in public.

    Those rights are being severely curtailed, as new crowd control weapons, designed to inflict harmless but excruciating pain, and some so poorly tested as to be possibly quite harmful, are paraded at Defense trade shows, and make the news. Then there is the absolute curtailment, as was witnessed at the time of the political conventions last year.


    I find it funny that you seemingly somehow feel weakened by a flag saying "God bless America" or appauled by it yet i doubt you'd feel appauled by a demonstration on some street corner.

    I don't find your projections funny at all, but in a few years, you might become an adept spin master, but for now, it is easy to dissect this. I don't understand your sense of humor, I will admit that, but that only.


    Conversely if you showed your support of atheism through some symbol or went around telling people to be atheists, thats perfectly alright. That right is protected by teh Constitution. You can worship ro not worship whatever the hell you want to or not; that right is protected by the Constitution and was its original intent.

    [I]The intent of the constitution, was that religion is a private matter, in the eyes of government, and the United States will never have a religion, nor discriminate for or against religion.


    Also, what many anti-religious people can never seem to admit is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." means absolutely what it says it means. no LAW LAW LAW. No piece of paper can go through Congress and be signed by the President of the United States that promotes or protests against a religion/belief.

    What many religious people can never seem to admit, is that being non-religious is not being anti-religious, and that protecting our religious or non religious rights, is not anti-religious or anti-athiest. Yet our nation is in the middle of the biggest anti-religious push, ever in the pursuit of Muslim men. They way they have it set up now, one Muslim male picked up and terrorized by interrogators, can say anything against any other Muslim male, and that man can be picked up anywhere, and taken anywhere on this earth, and treated anyway interrogators in that setting feel. So, any Muslim male is in danger in this nation, regardless of his guilt or innocence, simply that he is Muslim, makes him suspect. This is gross religious discrimination, and it is happening now. When that man, or woman, goes to court, and a federal judge, proudly displays his Cross in chambers, or his Star of David, then captives of a different religion may have good information that their pleas will fall on highly prejudiced ears. If they went into an athiests court, it might fare much better for them.

    The problem with the pledge of allegiance is that it is to a symbol, then it moves on to one nation, and then religious dominance theme, and then lastly it moves on to liberty, justice and freedom for all, after the religious dominance.
     
  9. Mar 21, 2005 #8

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Please reread, Dayle, that isn't the issue at all. Private has nothing to do with it: its about being non-profit.
    That's a pretty empty statement: Substantiate it. The phrase came from somewhere and is not an arbitrary one.

    Dayle, where the rest of your post from? Some of it looks like quotes, but none of it appears in this thread.

    HERE is a surprisingly good discussion of the historical origin of "separation of church and state". I say surprising, because it is from a christian website, but it does not contradict the view generally accepted by both lawyers and historians. Incidentally, the phrase originated from Jefferson in 1802 and the context is quite speicific - he applies the phrase to the 1st amendment directly, using it in the same sentence as he quotes the first amendment:
    Sorry guys, that's a pretty straightforward historical fact.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  10. Mar 21, 2005 #9
    My comments are bold and italicized, the rest of the comments are are post number two of the thread, just dissected and commented upon. If it helps you differentiate, my stuff is spell-checked.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  11. Mar 21, 2005 #10

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The entire premise of the argument does not support this conclusion. Mixing of patriotic and religious symbolism, as long as it is not state-sponsored (in other words, you're not being handed a t-shirt as you enter a courthouse, and your Congressional representatives haven't mailed them to you), is fully within the rights of the individual to express his/her religious views within the context of freedom of speech.

    While I do not disagree that there are people who would like to blur the separation of church and state, that people are choosing to display symbols mixing patriotic and religious symbolism is not de facto evidence that they are one of the people who wishes to blur those lines. That you have some friends who claim that is their intent cannot be generalized to the entire population. There are a lot of people in the country who share similar religious beliefs, and thus might choose to display those symbols. The increasing display of these signs and symbols is not because of a movement to blur the distinction of church and state, but because there has been a flurry of people who have been reminded of their patriotism since 9/11 or who have jumped on the patriotism bandwagon. There has been an increase in display of patriotic symbols without religious symbols too. As long as they are being displayed on their own private property or carried on their person, it is their right to do so.
     
  12. Mar 21, 2005 #11

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Sorry, misunderstood - it helps if you actually set it off with quotes and cite the person's name.
     
  13. Mar 21, 2005 #12

    SOS2008

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    With regard to separation of church and state versus different variables involved in freedom of speech, I feel I discussed this to exhaustion in the previous thread.

    As for any correlation between religious/patriotic propaganda and separation of church and state movements, I've reiterated that this is a personal belief again in the original post of this thread as follows:
    It is true that this is not a scientifically-controlled study, however I know first hand that people, including my own very religious and large family, believe the U.S. is a Christian nation and as such there should be no separation of church and state. I have made this clear, and would like to know if/how you can prove there is no correlation between the propaganda and desire to remove separation of church and state.

    In any event, the horse has been beaten to death on all these points and it's become ridiculous.
     
  14. Mar 21, 2005 #13

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    What propaganda? All I can say is that I have no more or less evidence than you do - but I'd just point out that if this were a major issue (wanting to scrap the establishment clause), you'd expect to see religious leaders trying to make it a major issue. And the fact is, there is no such movement.

    In any case, I agree: you have your perception and there really isn't anything to discuss in it.
     
  15. Mar 21, 2005 #14

    cronxeh

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Personally I dont want to see the President of my country publically saying anything religious, supporting any one religion or even mentioning word 'god' in any of his speeches. It is ignorant of other people's absence of believes, and nothing more but a political plea for support of religious nutjobs in this country.

    The last 2 elections were a sham and I'm ashamed to have been sitting there on election night and waiting for results to come in - as I look at myself from side now upon these times I realize how stupid this whole thing was and how fooled we got, once again
     
  16. Mar 21, 2005 #15

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    In Norway, we have a state religion, which means (among other things) that the bishops are appointed by the government.

    We have had a raging debate over the appointment of the new bishop for Oslo :
    The previous (extremely popular) bishop (a former top politician for the Agrarian Party) was a staunch supporter of gay rights, and the Christian Conservatives (led by our priest, the prime minister) were determined to appoint a "conservative" bishop.
    (It was considered scandalous that he has opposed the ordination of gay priests who were openly living in a same-sex relationship)
    By threatening to leave the ruling coalition, the C.C's trumped their candidate through..

    Well, this was rather off-topic, but I thought the whole process rather entertaining..
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  17. Mar 21, 2005 #16

    SOS2008

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I used the word propaganda per the Webster definition: "any widespread promotion of particular ideas, doctrines, etc." in that I believe people who support removal of separation of church and state (or who may be well-intentioned but sadly uninformed) are the same people who display "God Bless America" stickers etc., (and I think you know some of these people too). The information you added is very good--thank you--and I wouldn't mind borrowing some of your "engineer qualities." :smile:

    With regard to the establishment clause, I'm not sure why religious leaders would need to try to scrap this--why not just try to remove separation of church and state by demanding creation be taught in schools, and to have the Ten Commandments displayed on state capital grounds, etc. as they are doing? Religious leaders are fighting the IRS rules, and as far as checks and balances and current efforts by Frist, et al, to try to change the senate rule regarding "filibuster" opposition, thus clearing a path to tamper with the Judicial branch for religious purposes, how can you say there is no movement?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2005
  18. Mar 21, 2005 #17

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Those things make the newspapers, but isn't that an indication of how widespread of an issue it is not? Plane crashes are big news while car accidents are not, yet a thousand times more people die in car accidents - same reason applies. There have been perhaps a dozen school districts to make an issue out of creationism in the past decade - a dozen out of what, a hundred thousand? I don't consider that widespread, and there certainly isn't any coordination between those districts: its just a handful of nuts who happened to get elected to the school board.
     
  19. Mar 21, 2005 #18
    Creationist pamphlets at the Grand Canyon, sold by the US Forest Service... handful of nuts got elected to national office. A handful of nuts a day, is a good practice to prevent cardiac disease, its no way to run a country. Wacka wacka wacka.
     
  20. Mar 23, 2005 #19

    SOS2008

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    So there's nothing unusual going on. No Big Brother kind of things, no fundamentalist movement, nothing like that. Here's what I posted in the Terri Shiavo thread:
    Beginning with the war in Iraq, to the Patriot Act, to the religious right-wing agenda: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength." –The three slogans engraved in the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's book "1984." - Who wants to wait and find out who's right or wrong about a movement?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2005
  21. Mar 23, 2005 #20

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't see a connection between the Patriot act, Terry Schaivo, or the Iraq war and the establishment claue. Please explain.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Separation of Church and State May God Bless the rest of us?
  1. Church-State Separation (Replies: 19)

Loading...