In politics we trust

Anyone who has know me for any length of time knows that my two of my favorite topics to rant over are Politics and Religion, it will come as no surprise that US separation of powers is a topic that always brings a huge smile to my face.  From the partially informed outside looking in it provides all the contradictions and custom ‘V’ law issues you could ever want for a truly enjoyable argument, all that’s needed is a willing foil and a good bottle of red.

On the simple level I would like to know why Christmas is a public holiday when no other religious day is? Why the President is sworn in on the bible? Which God is being asked to bless America at the end of speeches? And is it always the same one?  By the same token if you are a ‘God fearing American’ do you all fear the same God?  On a day to day basis I take to assume that the God in question is Judeao Christian but even if this is true I still don’t know if he had a son of not.  These comparatively trivial questions pail in comparison to the way that I see religion, or more specifically the Christian Right is being allowed to influence national policy in a way that seems to contradict the very constitution they hold so dear.

These questions are new to me.  In England it is simple, the Queen is both the head of State and the head of the Church (With the Archbishop of Canterbury), in her coronation she declared to protect both institutions and decisions should be taken in the context of both. Counter intuitively though religion plays a far larger part in American politics than it ever does in the Britain.

As far as I can tell the power on the church in American politics boil down to the following truisms:

1) There are only 2 parties in US politics and one of them gets paid massive amounts of money from religious donors making them effectively a massive special interest group.

2) Like all special interest groups the church has passionate, motivated and single minded individuals that will always try to frame everything argument through their tinted eyes.

3) The nominees and elected officials nearly always have the same contextual thinking as the church and will therefore protect their agenda, therefore one side of every will always be pushing the churches position and the other will always have to argue against it.

What we have at the crux of the matter is the most powerful, best funded, most supported special interest group in the game, and like all special interest they more often than not will get their way.  They are so influential that it doesn’t even matter that they are a constitutionally banned influence.  Under the present system the reality is that there is no separation between church and state, so why does everyone keep pretending?

If you are going to maintain that the separation is an important frame work for America, then we must make sure that religion is no longer an acceptable argument in political discussion.  Religion has no place at State or National level on any issue that looks to exert the States power over its citizens.  The Church’s role is to speak to the individual with regards to their personal beliefs and religion and not to the citizen body at large.  Issue such as Abortion, Euthanasia, and Sex Education should all be debated at State and National levels but with no reference to God or the bible.   Further, School Prayer and such like should be taken off the table all together as all government funded institutions should be free from religion – fee paying faith based schools would naturally be allowed to enforce the will of the parents/students so would be able to choose.

Most importantly, no relation between religion and war must ever be drawn.  An individual Senator may use it as an influence to their personal reason as it would be impossible not to.  However, as a body they must find a cyclical casus belli to take to the people.  No war can ever be declared on religious grounds.  On the same grounds religious geo politic framing for international affairs, such as ‘Axis of Evil’ must also be banned.  If there is no religion context to Government then they have no position discussing Good and Evil.

Right now American is sitting on the fence over an issue that affects every decision it makes.  It is neither embracing religion as a contributing factor in its decision making nor is it rejecting religion as a government influence as was originally proscribed.  There is a pink elephant in the room that is polarizing an already divided nation, the damage is starting to show.

It is often forgotten that America is a young nation and therefore is subject to the choices of youth.  Most, if not all countries face the question of religion at some point.  Some nations must questions which religion or denomination will exert its power over the other, other times it is whether to accept its influence at all.  At the start of the Republic the Founding Fathers tried to avoid these questions by making American without religious persuasion, but the humanness of its citizens is making avoidance of the issue untenable.

It is time to decide.  Too many decisions are being made in name of a God that the United States does not constitutionally allow.  Either recognize your God, or stop using his name as a justification for your politically motivated, self serving actions that are destroying the dream of freedom.  Judgement shall come upon you and I have no doubt that you will be found wanting.

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Posted on February 18, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I need to read more thoroughly later but I just want to make the one point that the idea of “separation of church and state” was made not to eliminate God or Faith in the general sense, but to remove the influence of certain sects over the government. And remember that at the time ALL recognized religions in America were Christian. And most of the things that the Government still does which may seem unfair (like the Christmas holiday) are just tradition. And most people don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious way anymore, it is more and more a secular day.

    On a personal level, this is my belief and not meant to offend- but I think that God had a careful hand in the formation of this country and its Government, and to remove Him from it is disrespectful and dangerous. I believe in God and appreciate any support (even from the Government) that I can get for that in this ever atheistic world.

    • Firstly thank you for your comments, feed back is always appreciated especially when it is of an opinion different to my own.

      It must be said that I largely agree with the comments you are making especially with regards to the fact that religion was a factor in the shaping of the nation this is especially true when you look at the contextual language. I would argue however that that religion under constitutional inference is to remain in the hearts and minds of the individual and not become a State tool. That is to say, if person X makes a decision he or she must make a decision based on all influences in their lives, and yes that may include religion. The government however is not an individual and must take a more objective position based solely on the influences it recognizes. By not stating a single religion as being the religion of government that same government cannot be swayed by the argument of any single religion. Until such a time as the government declares itself to be a Christian nation it should not be influenced by religious argument. It is for this reason that I indicated that a Senator considering voting for war may form his/her personal opinion in a religious context, but must make an alternate case when making a decision as a representative body. Effectively I am saying that while a Senator can be a man of God, the Senate as a body is atheist and shall remain so until there are no more separation of powers.

      Like you I also believe in God, and as an Englishman I have no trouble in England’s Government making a decision based in part of a Christian doctrine, indeed I personally feel that Christian values are amongst the greatest influences a decision can be made on. After all who wouldn’t want a government to rule its people with peace, love, harmony and forgiveness as its cornerstones? My point however is that as a result of separation of powers the US is unable to do this, and yet there are groups that are trying to circumnavigate the constitution to make religion an influencing factor. I would argue that either make an amendment or stop the practice, at the moment America is trying to have it both ways and it is only serving to divide the country further.

      My question to you is: As a Christian American should America become a recognized Christian nation as England and most of Europe have, or should it keep the separation of powers?

  2. I would just like to add that around the time of the creation of the constitution, the majority of the founders were not Christians. They were deists. This is a very large distinction. Deists believe that the universe had a creator, but that their creator did not concern itself with the daily lives of human beings, and did not directly communicate with humans. This is vastly different then the Christian faith. James Madison, the founder of the constitution, was not a Christian, nor was Jefferson, or Adams.

    As such, nowhere in the Constitution do we have a single mention of Christianity, God, Jesus, or any Supreme Being. The only references to religion in our constitution are actually exclusionary (1st amendment, and article 6). Freedom to practice any religion, including the ability to not practice a religion, was the goal of the founders.

    A lot of the religious ideology and speech in this nation was added during the 1950s during the communist scare. Communists were (and still are) seen as being “god-less”, and a threat. Thus an infusion of religious iconography began as a correlation to American patriotism. And political struggle often occurs along with religious influence. For example, “In God We Trust” was added to paper currency during the 50s Red scare, as was “under god” to the pledge of allegiance during this time.

  3. In my ignorance I certainly had no idea the Founding Farther’s were Deists, and agree that would certainly explain the many of the ideas found in the constitution. I know very little about Deists thinking and would welcome further knowledge of how the principles where corrupted and how we came to our current position.

    I would however say that it appears on first reading that the distinction is one that had to argued and reaffirmed even in the early days of the republic.

    ‘As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.’

    This was an Article from the 1796 treaty of Tripoli written by Washington and signed by Adams. Interestingly it was to reassure a Muslim nation that American is not founded on Christian principles… it makes you wonder just how far from the constitution America has really strayed. Would the White House today still make this clarification to the Muslim nations of the world in order to avoid a holy war?

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