Separation of Church and State Benefits (almost) Everyone June 11, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, church state separation, freethought, law, media, politics, religion, skepticism.
The separation of church and state is not a theist versus non-theist issue, though it is often portrayed that way in the major American media outlets, and among those that oppose or demonize it.
This clause in the first amendment to the US Constitution was intended to create (in Thomas Jefferson’s words) a “wall of separation between church and state”: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” This has come to be known as the “Establishment Clause”.
The purpose of the Establishment Clause was never to promote atheism or any kind of non-theism. The purpose if to prevent any religion or religious organization from using the power or resources of the government to push their religion on others. So if you are protestant and live in a Catholic majority community they cannot use public resource to the benefit of Catholicism and detriment of your church. The Mormon church which may be a large majority of the people in parts of Utah cannot use government resources to enforce their stringent ideas of morality on non-Mormons.
Its intent is not to attack religions in favor of further atheism. The intent is to limit the power of the more popular religions to dominate the minority religions. By favoring no particular religion and remaining neutral on religious issues the government can foster an environment where the people feel free to exercise and express their personal religious views.
I originally did not even think that the “almost” in the title was necessary, but then I though well there is one group of people that the Establishment Clause does not benefit. It strictly limits those who wish to force their religion or religious practices on others; (Not that they haven’t made some in-roads despite it) those who wish to force students in school to perform an official prayer led by their teachers regardless of the students religion, those who wish to use public resources to erect and maintain religious monuments on public land regardless of the religion of the tax payers, those who are so afraid of communism that they insist on sticking “In God We Trust” everywhere and making it the official motto of the United States regardless of the Americans atheists who have no such trust.
If you ever feel the need to expound against the separation of church and state or its advocates take a second and think what your thoughts might be if you were a Christian in a majority Muslim country. Would you want such a law to be there to protect you then?