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August 17, 2009


Eric Page

I always thought that the separation of Church and State was because the founding fathers had just fled from a lack of religious freedom at the hands of their government. So the separation was meant to keep the government out of religion, not the other way around. This is pretty obvious because of how often God is mentioned in things like out National motto (In God We Trust) and the pledge of allegiance (...one Nation, under God). Anyway, I know that wasn't the main point of the story but I've seen many people use that as leverage to get religion out of the places they don't want it.


Come now Eric, surely you don't think the founding fathers made the national motto as "In God We Trust", and wrote "under God" in the pledge do you?

Derek Kirk

Both of those little extras went mainstream government in the 1950s. They had everything to do with the paranoid Cold War climate and nothing to do with our 'founding fathers'. It was more about being overtly distinct from the 'godless' Communists than anything else.

I think evangelicals get confused about separation of church and state. I remember in the 80s and 90s when everybody was worked up about getting prayer into or out of schools. People were appalled that administrators could no longer lead prayers in school, but can you imagine what it would've been like if they'd led anything but the most conservative, midwestern-style prayer?

What if the principle of the middle school used the PA to chant Buddhist mantras, or if classes were interrupted for daily calls to prayer? Those students who wish to participate unroll their prayer rugs and bow to Mecca; those who don't just keep quiet ... The people getting worked up about this issue only wanted prayer in school if it was a prayer to the god they endorsed.

What I mean is, separating church and state is more about keeping church out of government than keeping government out of churches. Honestly, as long as you pay your taxes and don't broach political topics from the pulpit, the government leaves churches alone. Shouldn't churches do the same and keep their fingers (and rhetoric) out of government?

I know I'm veering pretty far from the topic of John's post, but I think it's worth checking ourselves before we whole-heartedly welcome religious rhetoric from those who govern us. Be skeptical, even critical, of it. I am extremely wary of politicians who talk about Jesus too much.

Eric Page

Oops. I never came back to see other comments until now. Maybe it's too late to respond, but I will anyways.

Andy, of course the founding fathers didn't write any of those. But the fact that they are there is evidence of which direction separation of church and state was supposed to run. If it was supposed to be to "keep anything religious out of anything Government", how did they get there?

Although it's true that "In God We Trust" didn't because the official motto until the 1950's, it was being used on money in the 1860's. Even thought this was several decades after the US was founded, I think the sentiment was still close to that of the founding fathers

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