Monday, May 14, 2007

The Myth of Separation

One of my passions is to see truth come out. and one of my pet peeves is to see people being lied to. Growing up in public school, i realized a myth that has come about. a myth that church can have nothing to do w/ governmental issues and social issues. certain people want to say that in the Constitution, they're is a phrase calling for a "separation of church and state." In all actuality, there is no such phrase in the Constitution. Its just a little lie that the liberal media has been telling now for a few decades. I don't know about you, but i don't personally like being lied to.

In any case, sometime ago, i was trying to get in communication w/ Barry Lynn and American's United for the Separation of Church and State. And below are some email communications i had w/ a Lauren Smith from the AU. My initial correspondence w/ them was over the question of Barry Lynn being against the decision to teach 'Intelligent Design' (Theory of Creation) in the public school system. Which, considering the fact that Barry Lynn is a reverend in the United Church of Christ denomination, it surprised me that a person in his position would be AGAINST Creation being taught. None the less, i decided to get in contact w/ him.

Begin Email correspondence:

Lauren, Thanks for getting back to me. if you could, would you mind just answering some questions for me for Mr. Lynn (and feel free to answer them yourself). Briefly describe his personal testimony. Meaning, since he's a reverend, i'm assuming that He's a believer in Jesus, i would just like to know a little bit about his background. many of my class mates we're taken aback when we read the article and then found out that he was a reverend (assuming Christianity here). Does he believe in evolution himself? What are your views as far as what type of curriculm should be taught in schools? Moreso dealing with Science in particular. Because no matter what, a religion or a certain set of beliefs is to be taught. I mean, i sat through years Secular Humanism taught i was deeply offended that MY particular beliefs weren't conveyed. In your opinion, what is are some solutions to these generational problems we are facing. Issues like teen suicide, and teen pregnancy and family break down. Ever since 1962, we as a society have been kicking God out of our society. And like a gentleman, He's obliged and back out. And if you'll look at statistics, you'll see a very rapid decline in society. What does that tell you? What, in your opinion, is a solution? Now, in a way, i agree with you that we should definitely steer clear of a church run state. However, considering the Founding Father's faith in God and their reason for coming here, I don't think that they would have ever dreamed of as a society that we would be taking the measures we do. For instance, the Ten Commandments is not just a Christian document, but also a Jewish one as well. I don't think that having them in a court room, someone is going to get the impression that its government issued, as much as its a judges personal preference to display them. In any case, thanks for taking the time to read this. In my opinion, as a young adult who is currently in Bible school, it scares me to see how society and see the direction in which this country is headed. And though i partially agree that government shouldn't necessarily endorse religion, they also shouldn't try and shut it down. Thanks again for your time. Shawn

Subject: RE: Intelligent Design Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 14:56:28 -0500

Shawn, You are correct that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the text of the Constitution. It is the constitutional authority of our courts to determine the meaning of the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment Religion Clauses is often misunderstood. The Court has found that the First Amendment does indeed call for a separation of church and state. When courts are asked to determine whether a law or government action violates the Constitution, judges rely on precedent that has been informed by the words of the Founding Fathers. Separation of church and state is supported in our nation's history. Speeches, debates, letters and writings from the founding era contain many references to church-state separation and demonstrate that the Founders agreed that separation was essential to liberty. The essence of church state separation is captured in The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, one of Jefferson's most progressive and influential writings. In the Act, Jefferson wrote "no [person] shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever...nor shall he [or she] suffer on account of his [or her] religious opinions or beliefs. All [people] are free to profess and maintain their opinions in matters of religion or beliefs. That shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities...our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions." The liberty of conscience, and ultimately exercise, is now guaranteed in the First Amendment Religion Clauses. Jefferson used a metaphor for church-state separation in an 1802 letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptists. In his address, he wrote that the American people had "[built] a wall of separation between church and state." (In 1802, Jefferson was a year into his presidency; Jefferson was ambassador to France from 1784-1789. There is nothing in Jefferson's writings to suggest he supported unilateral separation of church and state. He clearly believed neither the church nor the government should meddle in the affairs of the other.) The phrase "separation of church and state" is a simple metaphor used to articulate the purpose of the Religion Clauses in every day vernacular. There are other metaphors for rights found in the Constitution. For example, the "right to a fair trial" is not found in the Constitution, but we consider it the keystone of our criminal justice system. The phrase is a metaphor describing eleven separate rights that must be protected in a "fair trial." Similarly, the presumption that the accused is "innocent until proven guilty" does not appear in the Constitution. I cannot imagine that anyone would dispute this fundamental right because the exact wording is absent from the Constitution. Given the prevalence of these and other metaphors for constitutional concepts, it is appropriate to speak of a "wall of separation between church and state" when describing the First Amendment Religion Clauses. Interpretation of the Religion Clauses has evolved over the years. The Supreme Court has reinterpreted the Establishment Clause over the years to protect an increasingly diverse religious population. In the landmark Establishment Clause case, Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black defined the First Amendment Religion Clauses to mean "at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion of tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion." The court has adjusted Justice Black's definition over the years, but the general principle of separation remains. Today, a law violates the Establishment Clause if it does not have a secular purpose, has the principal or primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion (the "reasonable observer test") or promotes excessive entanglement between church and state. In short, government must stay neutral on all matters of religion. This test does not strip religion from the public square; it just removes the authority of government from religious practice. Public buildings can still display generic holiday displays, governments can give vouchers to school children and public schools may teach about religion. Private citizens are always free to express their religious beliefs in the public forum; they just cannot seek government endorsement. I hope this answers your question. I understand your intent to speak with Rev. Lynn. However, AU is a busy organization and it is my job to receive and respond to all inquires. I am happy to discuss any church-state issue you are interested in.

Lauren Smith
Lauren S. Smith
Communications Department
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
518 C Street NE Washington, DC 20002
P: (202) 466-3234
F: (202) 466-2587

Hello Lauren,
thanks for returning my email. just some back ground information on me.... i grew up in the public school system. i was decently out spoken then about my relationship with Jesus, as am i today as well. and i guess that my school was more conservative than many others. considering i grew up in a pretty "conservative" part of the country (Lancaster, PA; just 2-3 hours north of DC). in any case, i got the THEORY of Evolution thrust down my throat quite a bit. while they didn't really see the need to touch on the THEORY of Creation. i mean, i know that that means they would've had to open a (dare i say it?) Bible in public. now i don't mind that evolution be taught. i really dont. but it only seems fair to teach Creation right along side it. i mean, i was offended every day in school. however, that doesn't mean i'm going to go running around suing everyone for every little thing. doing stuff like that just doesn't solve anything. 1. Where is the term "separation of church and state" in the Constitution exactly? from what i know about it, it was a recommendation from Thomas Jefferson while he was the ambassador to France i believe. and in a letter to the President at that time (i forget who he served under at the moment) he used the term "separation of church and state," but that was more so to protect the church from the state, not vice versa. but i've always just been wondering where exactly in the constitution this phrase that the liberal media likes to through around, is exactly. There is a lot more to all this, but i'd honestly really rather call and have a talk about all this. i'd also really like to talk to Mr. Lynn himself and hear more of what he's got to say. i don't want to have to but you in the middle of all this. And i'm sorry if the above comes across strong, but i'm a preacher at heart and i have a call on my life to preach the Word of God, so its what i do. but i honestly hope to be able to have an adult conversation with Mr. Lynn. So in any case, thanx for getting back to me and i hope to be hearing from ya'll soon.


End Email correspondence.

Obviously, i have a hard time agreeing w/ most of what they'd say here. I do agree however, that the church shouldn't necessarily rule government. That's called a Theocracy, and that was originally tried from the very beginning of our nation and it didn't work. However, 'religion' isn't something you just on a Sunday morning, its a lifestyle you live. so therefore, its not really possible for me to stop being who i am as a believer. So therefore, i don't like the idea of atheism being taught w/o theism being taught. its not fair.... my rights are being violated.

in any case, this sort of stuff is on my heart w/ a passion. thats why i like to get involved w/ this sort of stuff and present my ideas.


Gary Aknos said...

Check out Baryy Lynn is a hypocrite when it comes to separation of church and state... he wants to separate YOUR church from the state, but not his church, the United Church of Christ. He says he's "investigating" a deal between the state of connecticut and the UCC but, of course, he won't come out against his own church.

shawnman said...

Thanks Gary, i'll look into that sometime.