There are a number of subjects that have been, and continue to stay in the news of late. One of them is the ongoing debate over the separation of church and State. This is one I have been reticent to tackle in any way shape or form due to the nature of the combatants involved in the dispute. But, a recent discussion between colleagues has somewhat changed my mind on the subject and I have found that I do have something I wish to add to the debate. It may not be new to the forum but it is a viewpoint seldom seen in the debate.
Forces on both sides of this conflict are constantly arguing about whether this is a nation of Christians or a Secular nation. Not being a Judeo-Christian sort by any stretch of the imagination, I am seldom swayed by the Judeo-Christian arguments. As someone who is also not an Atheist, (a "religion" in its own right in my view), I am also not swayed by many of their arguments, either. As a matter of course, neither party to the dispute manages to sway me in any fashion, whatsoever. It may be because I am coming at this from a totally different point of view that I see a major problem for the players in this game of political distraction.
Let's take a look at the argument. Judeo-Christian folks argue that the Founders were Christians and said in some of their writings that we were indeed a Nation of people who embraced Christianity. The other side argues that there should be no State acceptance or promotion of any one religion to the exclusion of others. And they are both correct. And wrong, at the same time.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why my Christian friends would wish the State to promote their beliefs, by placing copies of the Judeo-Christian 10 Commandments in taxpayer funded locations. I cannot believe that they wish their children to be allowed, or even encouraged to pray in government schools. Why my Judeo-Christian friends continue to involve themselves, (in their capacity as religious people), in the affairs of the State beggars my comprehension. The Judeo-Christian bible is rife with tales of what happens when people go about bothering the scribes, lords, ladies and kings in the name of their God. It never ends well.
For the last few years I have heard, time and again, that Christians are being persecuted. Well, there is some small truth to that. When they travel to foreign lands as missionaries and start messing with the locals...it happens. But, those poor souls knew that going into the game, martyrdom is sometimes part of the package. Domestically, there is no persecution tendered towards Christians from any other religion, (different sects do tend to non-violent persecution of each other). But, the Government persecutes all religions to some extent in their quest for control of the masses and their re-education towards Socialism. But that is to be expected..that is what happens when humans are given the power of life and death over other people.
But it seems that many, indeed most, Judeo-Christian sects have willingly given themselves over to the control of the State. In their efforts to avoid unfair taxation, (which a true separation of church and State would ensure) they have handed the control of their Churches, Synagogues and Temples over to the very people they were trying to escape from, by submitting themselves to specific types of taxation. Pastors, priests, rabbi's and priestesses all approach the altar of Government as beggars, pleading to be freed from the chains of taxation and readily accept new chains and stronger chains for their "tax exempt" status. When church run schools bow to the will of the State and submit to the standards of the Government they, once again, place themselves and their children into the hands of the State. Private church run schools? Hardly.
So why, I must ask, are you so surprised when Federal, state or local agents break down your doors and force you to submit to their will? Can there be any surprise when your protesters are cuffed, arrested and frog-marched to the paddy wagon for exercising their Rights to Free Speech? Or perhaps it is a surprise when they send tanks and agents to your church and burn it down, along with most of your pastors, parishioners and their children (and your fellows in the religious community say naught)?
Judeo-Christian sects in this country should be leading the battle to insure a true separation of Church and the State. A true separation that would lend itself to unprecedented levels of religious freedom; free from the chains of taxation, normal bureaucratic surveillance, State interference and doctrinal obedience to the State, a separation which would insure your right to worship as your Gods wish without interference from the State, and the assurance that you, and not the State, are capable of determining what is best for your children and your family where your faith is concerned.
Instead, many of the Judeo-Christian sects spend large amounts of time, money and effort attempting to secure a public place for their idols. Whether it is a crucifix in a public setting or sets of stone tablets on State run properties. One cannot help but wonder who they are truly trying to please. Themselves? Their god or gods? Or the State?
Attempting to convert the State is like trying to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and annoy the pig to no end. Those of us who've lived on farms know that eventually Porky is going to bite you. Hard. The State, the Founders and its adherents decided back in the days of Presidents Jefferson and Adams that America was not a Christian nation. And they ratified their decision to make sure that it stuck, (for those who do not believe it I would point you to the Treaty of Tripoli, copies of which can be found online at the Library of Congress). So, these folks are longtime secularists. It is best not to annoy them too much-they tend to shoot first, then burn second. Questions are only asked in closed committee.
If they are attempting to please their deity, well...that is a two edged sword, isn't it? When do a crucifix and a set of stone tablets cease to be objects of veneration and become idols? I would not presume to answer for the many and varied theologians out there, but I would hazard a guess that when these symbols start to appear in the evening news and on television with frightening regularity they are fast on their way to becoming idols, which are forbidden, (by the tablet on the left).
That leaves us with the first choice. They are trying to please themselves. Are thousands of basically good people indulging themselves in some strange rite to gain ascendance over their fellows? Or, as I see them so often accused of, attempting to plant the seeds of an American Theocracy? Or do they truly believe that placing idols in public will change the people around them and influence the State in some manner? I cannot say. But, I fear they are attracting the attention of a many headed beast that could suddenly lash out and do a great deal of harm, not just to the Judeo-Christian communities but to people of the many other religions.
The State has decided that it shall be a Secular entity. It has taken this decision for its own reasons and we had better respect that, for to do otherwise imperils not only ourselves, but our families, friends, communities and spiritual congregations. If some people fear persecution at the hands of the State you really have to wonder why they keep rattling the cage of this particular beast. Leave it alone and maybe...just maybe, we'll all manage to remain free and worshipful people for just a while longer. But, if you keep beating on the bars of the cage with your placards....don't be surprised when you get bit.
A church in Pasadena, California has recently been bitten by the feds for exercising their 1st Amendment right of free speech. Now, they're being threatened by the IRS for speaking out for peace and against war. Am I surprised? Nope. When you play with a devil, it invariably makes the rules.