Saturday 11 October 2003 - Filed under Essays
One of the most important concepts that we have in the United States of America is the separation of church and state.
One of the greatest thing about the United States of America is the separation of church and state. In theory, this was important to our founders because many immigrants escaped religious persecution by coming to the New World. Unfortunately, many of them were perfectly happy with religious persecution so long as it was them doing the persecuting. It took some very smart and forward thinking people to form as the basis or our country the notion that the separation of church and state is vital to a sustainable nation.
We see how important this is now with the current crisis in Afganistan and the Middle East. The Taliban clerics were the state, too. In Saudi Arabia it is a crime to convert to Christianity. We Americans can’t help but look on this as completely backwards ass. We highly value the notion that a person’s faith is their own and that civil matters are entirely separate. Certainly it is not only Muslims (and certainly it is not all Muslims) who favor this sort of dogma. Extremists in almost every religion see non-believers as infidels who must be converted or destroyed. I do not begrudge them their faith and I am outraged that they begrudge me mine. If there is anything we should have learned over the last bloody 4000 years it is that it is impossible to get everyone to agree on anything. It is certainly impossible to convert or kill all those who disagree with your faith. Give it up.
The notion of the separation of chuch and state is under constant attack in America by some religious people. To them, banning prayer in school or the ten commandments from government places makes no sense. They believe that many of the ills in society can be lessened by the appropriate emphasis of their religious morality. I beg these people to reconsider and I can use an example that drives the point home. If you believe that prayer should be allowed in school then you are supporting my right to lead the class in a Satanic prayer. You believe in my right to perform Wiccan ceremonies before the football game. Right? No, no, no, they rush to say. That is taking the concept to an illogical extreme, they say. Their reason, I presume, is somehow based on this notion that most people are not Satan worshipers or Wiccans. They are Judeo-Christians. To me, the flaw of this logic is so obvious. We are not a nation of Judeo-Christians! We, as a nation, allow all religions the same freedoms. You cannot assign to one religion freedoms you do not assign to all religions. This is a good thing and an important thing and is one of the really special things about the good ol’ U S of A. I won’t force you to be a Wiccan and you won’t force me to be a Christian. How can you possibly disagree with that?
I encourage all people to evangelize their faith in whatever ways they deem appropriate with the very strong exception of our public institutions. You do not believe in prayer in school unless you believe in ALL prayer in school, even the ones you deem evil and wrong. You do not believe in posting your religious documents if you do not believe in posting ALL religious documents. If you are very religious you should be more concerned about this, not less. You should not suffer as a minority and you should not persecute as a majority. Only in this way can we keep tragedies like the dumb-ass Taliban* from happening.
The other argument one often hears is that America is based on Judeo-Christian concepts. This may be true. The question is: should it be . Just because we say “so help me God” in court or have “In God We Trust” on our money, is that really an argument that our government should allow expression of Judeo-Christian values but not the values of other religions? Do you really think we have laws against murder because the Ten Commandments say thou shalt not kill? Remember, our founding fathers also had slaves and didn’t allow women to vote (or exercise many other rights). They were not perfect. They were wise enough to state clearly that the United States should not endorse a specific religion. They thought, I assume, that the concept of God was universal. It turns out that is not the case. Many people in this country are uncomfortable with this notion of a state-condoned god. They may be of different religions or no religion. Since religious freedom is constitutional protected, we don’t need a state sponsored god. Our state is secular and that is a good thing.
I personally believe that all states will reach this conclusion. Those that don’t will suffer unending violence until they do. Please be respectful and tolerant all of religions and faiths. Be tolerant of us with no faith. Thank you.
* Some may take the phrase “dumb-ass Taliban” to be hypocritical, as if I am not respecting their faith. It is not their faith I take issue with but the abusive political system they built around it. I encourage all Taliban to evangelize their faith in whatever manner they see fit, short of forcing us non-believers to take part in it. As I have stated, even when you have a vast religious majority it does not, in my opinion, give you any right to persecute those that disagree with you. The Taliban practiced systematic persecution of those they disagreed with and that makes them dumb asses. Q.E.D.
2003-10-11 » lolife