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Q: Separation of Church and State ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Separation of Church and State
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: cwd-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 16 Dec 2004 10:14 PST
Expires: 15 Jan 2005 10:14 PST
Question ID: 443499
What is the point of the separation of church and state?  What is its
benefit, either in the Iraqi constitution or in our own country?  Some
atheists say they feel marginalized when they see Christmas
decorations, but what other point is there to it?

Thank you.
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
Answered By: mwalcoff-ga on 24 Dec 2004 09:10 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

This is an opinion question, so I suppose you're looking for the
arguments in favor of separation. Here is what Americans United for
Separation of Church and State says about the matter:

1) Separation is good for religion. 
"Freedom and competition are good for religion. When houses of worship
are dependent on government for support, religion loses its vitality.
In America, religious groups rely on voluntary contributions. This
policy makes them more robust.

"Church-state separation also guarantees the right of religious groups
to speak out on issues of justice, ethics and morality. In countries
where religion receives tax support, clergy usually are wary of
criticizing the government. After all, they don?t want to bite the
hand that feeds them! Because religious groups in America are truly
independent, they feel no such constraints. They are free to try to
persuade other Americans toward their perspective."

2) Separation is "good for families."
"Thanks to the separation of church and state, you are in complete
control of the religious upbringing of your children. Government
institutions, including the public school system, are not permitted to
coerce your children to adopt new and different religions."

3) Separation is good for taxpayers, since you don't have to pay any
money to support churches.

4) Separation is "good for America."
"The United States has been spared the worst excesses of
inter-religious conflict. The Balkans, Northern Ireland, the Middle
East and other regions have been torn apart by religious violence that
sometimes has gone on for centuries. Americans have been spared most
of this tension, thanks to our wise policy of church-state

Source: AUCS, "America's Legacy of Religious Liberty,"

In 1785, James Madison listed 15 reasons why he was in favor of
separation. Among them were that faith must come from reason, not
coercion; that it is wrong to make someone pay to support a sect he is
not a member of; that civil officials are not competent to handle
religious matters; that Christianity flourishes in oppostion to, not
collaboration with, civil authority; that official status corrupts
religion; that it would discourage immigration; and that it would
create conflict.

Source: Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious
Assessments," AUCS,

It's interesting to note that Madison even opposed legislative
chaplains, something we take for granted nowadays.

I hope this answer meets your needs. If not, please request clarification.

Search strategy:
separation church state
cwd-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Excellent response.  Thank you very much.  I had been to Americans
United's site, but hadn't found anything this concise and
comprehensive.  Thanks!

Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
From: pugwashjw-ga on 16 Dec 2004 12:21 PST
Hi CWD, There is no doubt as to whether church and state should be
separated. They should be. My justification in stating that is the
example that Jesus set for us, as recorded in the Bible. The Jewish
religious leaders of Jesus' day, knew from their own holy writings [
over 1500 years] that the arrival of their "Messiah" was imminent, [
prophecies of Daniel] and they expected someone to save them from the
oppressive rulership of the Romans [ Pontius Pilate was a Roman
Governor of Judea, Herod was the Jewish King, but took orders from
Pilate] Jesus himself made no effort whatsoever to gain any sort of
political power, but simply preached " The Good News of the Kingdom".
This " Kingdom" was a future heavenly arrangement, organized by God
Himself, where wickedness would be done away with and there will be
endless peace [ Psalm 37] This Kingdom is still future.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Apostle Peter
tried to protect Him which resulted in the cutting off of an ear of
one of the arresting group [Matthew 26;51]. Jesus told Peter that he,
Peter, had done the wrong thing and Jesus miraculously healed the
injured man [ verse 52].
But the definitive verse is 53. "Or do you think that I cannot appeal
to my Father [God] to support me at this moment more than twelve
legions of angels?
Jesus clearly separated spiritual and political matters.
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
From: neilzero-ga on 16 Dec 2004 18:57 PST
I don't like profanitiy, violence, graphic sex nor, most of the modern
music, But I don't expect others to do without these things in public
to accomodate me. Why should you expect me to keep my religion in a
closet.  Fair is fair. Reasonable compromises are best for most
everyone. The founding fathers were conserned that the USA might adopt
an official church whose doctrines were inforced by policemeen and
judges. People should be free to express their religios views in
public just as we are free to say which movie and TV stars we prefer. 
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
From: kriswrite-ga on 17 Dec 2004 09:19 PST
Well, then you get into the debate about what "separation of church
and state" means. Originally, this was interpreted to mean that the
government wouldn't force any particular religion onto the people; for
example, the government wouldn't say, "This is a Catholic nation."
It's only been within fairly recent years that "separation of church
and state" has been interpreted to mean the bannishing of, for
example, Christmas trees.

Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State
From: scubajim-ga on 17 Dec 2004 11:39 PST
It doesn't say in the Constitition that there is a seperation of Chruch and 
State.  That is an intepreatation of on of the Founding Father's
writings to a church member.  The Church member was concerned that the
government would have an official church (not his) and thus not allow
him to attend his own church.  I think it was jefferson, who assured
the writer that there was a serperation of Church and State and there
wouldn't be an official state religion.

The Consitition says the congress won't make any laws to have an
official religion and it won't enact any laws to prevent people from
practicing their religion.  Too often the ACLU has interpretaed just
the first part and not the whole sentence and thus they work for the
banning of nativity scenes etc.

To me I have no problem with Minoras, or other religios symbols
(including Muslim symbols, Hindu symbols etc.) being displayed
properly and tastefully in public places as long as it is reasonably
equal treatement.  This includes displaying a nativity scene during
the Christmas season.  These things can be donated by the faithful if
it is public land and the state doesn't have to buy those items.  As
long as a reasonable attempt is made to be equal about it I say go for
it.  Europeans who came to this land initially did so for many
reasons.  One was religios persecution in their own land.  Lets not
repeat the same mistake they were trying to avoid.

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