Saturday, September 27, 2008

Short US History Of Church & State

All citizens should be reminded that, before the Revolution, there were in the UK and the "Colonies" established, government supported, churches which could call upon taxing powers for their own benefit and to the exclusion of other churches. They also were able to direct what pastors said and were forbidden to say and, in theory, require all residents to attend their services.

After the revolution the First Amendment was written so that the Federal Government would not be able to establish such churches (Some states retained them for some years) AND that the Federal government would place no limits on worship, such being the "free exercise of religion" noted in the Bill Of Rights. Of course, many public officials (Including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln) were, for many years, free and expected to call upon God in their public declarations. This was NOT changed by Thomas Jefferson's private letter to a private organization which spoke of some sort of "wall of separation" between church and state.

For many years thereafter, the churches did not hesitate to attack or defend political issues or those involved in them. The clearest case of such is the religious base of the abolutionist movement which led underground-railroad movement, the transfer of military weapons ie "Beecher's Bibles") to anti-slavery advocates and the Civil War and resultant emacipation of Black slaves from their White, Native American and Black owners.

For most of this nation's history, there was public recognition of the Christian basis of our laws and customs, with ongoing public prayers and other religious-based activities at public events in public buildings. Christianity is still the "majority religion" in the USA.

Since about 1948 there has been a steady and growing attack on the religious history and practices of the American People, with special assaults being made on Christianity (Although not on the Jewish Faith or, especially, the newer and aggressive followers of Islam). (Two of the stranger aspects of this is the approval of Jewish and Muslim symbols in the New York City schools while Christian symbols are excluded AND the removal of Christmas from public schools while California students are required to practice Islamic rituals in class.)

At this time religious leaders are forbidden to use their facilities to declare the orthodoxy or moral standing or social-worth of political candidates, organizations and parties or face punishment by having tax-exempt status removed. This, in essence, is a limitation on the "free exercise of religion" and the establishment of an "anti-religious/secular/atheist state church" with the power to tax and to limit what is considered religious teaching. Such limits and government practices are forbidden by the First Amendment.

The proclaimed initiative of Pastor Luke Emnich of West Bend and others across the USA to challenge the tax code punishments of free speech and free exercise of religion are to be applauded and defended.

I only wish that my Church would join in on this issue.

No comments: