The separation of church and state?

Posted on January 12, 2012

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One of my friends has quite a debate going on Facebook about religion, and the separation of church and state came up. It interested me.

Marion County Commissioners’ meetings start with a blessing by religious leaders in town. This is a government agency. It blew my mind! I mean, the popular opinion is that if there is a wall between church and state, then no religion can seep into any of our government entities, correct? Our governments are supposed to stay completely sterilized and secular, right?

Actually, after doing just the slightest bit of digging, I found out that I might be mistaken. In the First Amendment it states,

“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.”

Yes….”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Now, wouldn’t that mean that all the laws that have been made banning religion from schools, courthouses, etc, can be seen as unconstitutional?

The words “separation of church and state” do not even exist in the Constitution.

This also goes the other way: the separation affords churches protections that some may see as prejudice. For example, this week the Supreme Court ruled that church and state separation extended to religious schools. This goes directly against the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 that reads,

“The CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability.”

Now, what is your take on this? Sweden enacted a separation of church and state law in 2000. From what I can find, with the exception of some Supreme Court cases that set a precedent based on the words of Thomas Jefferson centuries ago, there is no real law that completely separates church from state.

Should that happen in the United States? Is there still a reason to separate church from state, or are there plenty of laws and other things guarding this country from ever becoming a theocracy? Should churches and religious schools be able to discriminate against employees because of their religion?

What do you think?

Sidenote: Please point out if I am wrong. I haven’t done a lot of research on this subject, and I would like to know more.

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