Separation of Church and State

When I was growing up, and following US Elections, I usually found that conservatives were well versed in the US Constitution when they wrote about politics. Now I notice Rick Santorum’s supporters, and indeed Rick Santorum himself when he said ‘the separation of Church and State makes him puke’ are showing their ignorance, by claiming that there is nothing in the US Constitution about the separation of Church and State. So here is a lesson for them:

The First Amendment to the US Constitution (and the first part of the Bill of Rights) says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Ratified December 15 1791

And if that isn’t the separation of Church and State, I don’t know what is and yes an Amendment to the Constitution is part of the Constitution and of course the right to bear arms is similarly embodied in an Amendment. Moreover, Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the Constitution commented:  ‘

‘I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.’

Now of course, I think this separation is not only good for the state, but also good for religion as nothing discredits religious faith more than a theocracy as post 1979 Iran demonstrates.

And in case anyone thinks this is a liberal position, here is the founder of modern American conservatism, Barry Goldwater in the US Senate on September 15 1981:

Well, I’ve spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the ‘Old Conservatism.’  And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.  The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.”  Insisted Goldwater, “Being a conservative in America traditionally has meant that one holds a deep, abiding respect for the Constitution.  We conservatives believe sincerely in the integrity of the Constitution.  We treasure the freedoms that document protects. . .  “By maintaining the separation of church and state,” he explained, “the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars . . .  Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers?  Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northem Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?”

Barry

And Thomas:


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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