Some people have a hard time accepting the separation of church and state. And for some reason, government officials and people who surely know better seem reluctant to make this clear to the public at large. In fact, such acts as adding the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance only add to the confusion.
Usually people don't want to accept this separation because they want badly to believe that America is a Christian nation. The fact that we are a democratic republic where people are free to believe whatever they choose is not good enough. On the one hand, these people say that we are a country where people are equal under the law, but on the other hand, they think we should be able to determine who people can marry based upon our religious beliefs. All this, of course, is because of what individuals have been taught in their homes. Shame on us.
Children should be taught in school from the first grade onward what form of government we have. Ultimately, this would eliminate the problem. Unfortunately, too many teachers prefer to go along with the fiction, in which case they only add to the problem. Many kids therefore believe they are not allowed to pray in school because evil people have put a stop to it. As a Christian, I have been instructed by the Scriptures to pray in my closet, so I find it confusing that people wish to pray in schools or other government-controlled arenas. I'm also confused as to why they expect non-Christians to live according to Christian doctrines. The fact that many of these people are being persuaded in their churches to believe these things is obvious.
Furthermore, when people talk about prayer in school, I am convinced they are only talking about Christian prayers. After all, Muslims pray five times a day. Would they be allowed to practice their religious freedom, too? In one town where I lived, children were excused to celebrate Christmas, but Jewish children were marked absent when they observed their religious holidays, and Christians didn't seem to find that unfair at all.
This confusion some people have about church and state has given opportunists the opening they need to use religion as a way of influencing political opinions. A person has to be very vigilant these days to make certain that events that are advertised as religious are, in fact, not political gatherings being held by groups who have a political agenda. Some groups are using religion as a way of assembling crowds to advance their political opinion.
Some politicians have no qualms about doing anything they can to get votes and to advance their agenda. Some people are still determined, for example, to get prayer back in the schools, and if they feel that the politician agrees with their point of view, they will buy whatever else he or she is selling. And politicians are aware of this.
It is unfortunate that some religious leaders don't realize or are oblivious to the fact that they are sometimes setting up the members of their churches to be pawns in the hands of unscrupulous politicians who only wish to serve their own self-interests.
We are a nation of laws, not a nation of faith. A person's religious beliefs should be a personal matter. This business of questioning a person's religious faith as a qualification for election to public office is way out of hand. These attempts to mix religion with politics reveal just another flaw in our failed effort to educate the populace.
Personally, I wouldn't like living in a theocracy where a person is required to adopt a specific religious faith. Just think how it would feel having a faith chosen for you before you were born.
Separation of church and state makes sense to me, and I'm glad that the founders were wise enough to put it in the Bill of Rights. Even so, we still have people who wish to bend our will to theirs. We can only imagine what it would be like without safeguards.
Politics can be addictive to people whom like to play games. Religion is serious business for a lot of us. Like oil and water, some things don't make a good mix.
In the case of religion and politics, separation is a good thing.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.