Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, latest statement regarding the separation of church and state, embodies in it the inherent wish of the Religious right wing of the United States to chip away at and destroy the separation of church and state in America. His claim that the first Amendment only bars Congress from establishing a state religion belies the critical point that James Madison and others had in pointedly making the first sentence in our Bill of Rights about religion.
History bears witness to the problems that religious extremism has brought to the world. Countless wars, with the Crusades coming to mind, should cause a pause in our thinking, about connecting religion and politics. Wars over religion have cost many, many lives over whose religion is the right and proper religion, irrespective of what God would have to say about the issue. I have a feeling that killing each other over a religion is not what God, had in mind.
The move by the religious right to have a state religion is no different than a sect of the Muslim faith insisting on having a theocracy. The only difference is what brand of religion suits your fancy.
If you think the state of the world is turbulent now, can you imagine the United States if a state decided to name a religion, what a battle you would have? Would those of other faiths feel discriminated against and be forced to move from a state? All kinds of bad outcomes could come about as a result of disagreements over religion. It would not be long before the fabric of our union as a nation would be further frayed and damaged.
The right wing of fundamentalist religious thought refuses to see the contradiction in fighting ISIS over their wish to have a state religion and our right wing’s wish to have a religious state. The unwanted consequences over fighting over whose sect would dominate and whose Bible and whose interpretation of the Bible would rule could very well destroy one of the key facts that makes us a wonderful country our tolerance of different peoples and different religions.
The right wing’s historic revisionism would have you believe that the founders wanted each state to be sovereign and therefore have the right to establish their own religion for their state is just plain wrong and dangerous.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Everson, in 1947 was a proper one in which it was determined that religion was a private matter. A person’s faith and their beliefs or non-beliefs should be a personal matter between man and God. No government has the right to choose for the public which religion each citizen must follow. It is not the States’ business. Religious liberty is about choices. Government should not and must not interfere into what should be an individuals right to choose for themselves whether to be religious or not.
What the right wing of the Republican Party offers America is a tyranny of a minority. The minority being the beliefs of a certain segment of the Christian faith.
The Middle East offers a great example of what happens when religious extremism raises it’s ugly head. Death and destruction is the result of the tyranny that ISIS offers. Extremism in any form has no virtue.
So-called conservatives fail to acknowledge that when the Articles of Confederation were rejected and our Constitution was ratified each state gave up its sovereignty in exchange for a federal union of states that formed a nation. And with that rejection came not only our Constitution but our Bill of Rights that came with it. The free exercise of religion was established along with the Congressional prohibition against passing any laws establishing a national religion.
With our religious freedom, which separates us from many countries of the world, comes the fact that our country is home to all recognized religions of the world. It matters not that a person could be a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, A Muslim or a follower of any major religion. America is a home where you can practice your own faith.
Let us not be lured into any subtle nuances about a state’s right to name it’s own religion as THE RELIGION. Let us maintain what has been so successful and that is keeping a wall of separation between Church and State. In keeping faith with our founders, we will continue to ensure the religious liberty that we have long had and cherished.