Thursday, October 20, 2016

And Here is Why I Feel the Separation of Church and State is Important!

Caught this one a while back but had some other things keeping me from finishing my post:

What also got me was one of the comments, it said:

"I'm a lifelong Atheist but in all fairness some churches do some good, be they Satanic, Christian, Muslim or Spaghetti."
What it raised to me was that when a theist gets defensive about their beliefs, they start spouting off about all the good works their church does, like build hospitals or feed the hungry.  What I have to ask is what does the belief set and good works really have to do with each other?

Here's my  . . . well  . . . dilemma I guess is the best word.  You see, it doesn't seem to matter to me what a belief set includes, good works are not measures against your belief set, but against society's standard of good works.  So building a hospital, for example, is considered a good work, but are religious organizations the only ones who build hospitals?  No!  Plus even building a hospital under the cover of a 'religious good work' is no guarantee that the hospital will remain a going concern.  I know of two hospitals in my local area that both had 'St' in their names that eventually closed.

I guess what I am trying to say, the social activities of a church group are separate from the religious activities of the same group and any cross-over is more accidental than deliberate.  Oh they might voice their religion as justification for doing something society considers good, but the reality is that justification is more rationalization than anything.  All sort of community groups can decide to use some of their resources to do things society considers 'good', many groups have done the exact same thing without the need to invoke a deity.  Does the deity really make a difference in medical care?  Sure doesn't look like it, does it?  Theists still get hurt and sick on par with the rest of the human population.

Now what does this have to do with the Separation of Church and State.  If you read the above article you probably had as good a laugh about it as I did.  The Satanic Temple did the invocation at a local government meeting.  Well I say GOOD!  I mean if you are going to practice religion, you should be open to any and all recognized religions.  Sooner or later I imagine a Jedi will be doing a benediction!  What I have to wonder is how many people did the temple piss off?

Here is one of my major pet peeves about most theists.  While they often give lip service to freedom of religion, they don't really mean it.  What they usually mean is freedom for their religion and everyone else gets to sit in the back of the bus.

One of John F. Kennedy's most famous quotes is:
"If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."
There is also this quote:
"‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ " Attributed to Voltaire, although the wording varies a bit.
Here is where most theists fall short of any sort of ideal.  It is also why I think the separation of Church and State is an important concept.   As I have been told over and over again, "It's not in the Constitution", my response is "So what?"  There are great many things not mentioned in the Constitution, like the 'Separation of Powers' between out three branches of government, but have become part of our everyday lives.

The phrase "separation of church and state" is generally traced to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote:
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."(January 1, 1802, letter by Thomas Jefferson, addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association)"

So when the author of the Declaration of Independence states that the intent of the Freedom of Religion part of the Constitution was to build this wall  . . . then the fact the phrase itself isn't in the Constitution isn't that big a deal.

Good deeds are good deeds and trying to claim that your religion is the driver of doing good deeds seems . . . shall we say a bit disingenuous.  I mean take a look at "Whipped, hit and locked in closets: Life inside some religious day cares".  Here the exact opposite, what would be criminal behavior in a secular day care is granted a legal exemption if it's a religious day care. 

But there is why the separation should be maintained.  When your religion expects or even allows you to behave is ways contrary to societies concept of good and bad, you really need to rethink your religion!  Look at this one example from North Carolina:
"In the ’90s, [Maymie] Page operated a secular day care in North Carolina, where she wasn’t allowed to use any type of corporal punishment, even if her Christian faith encouraged it. But she didn’t let that get in her way.
She ran into legal problems in 1997 for being too rough with children and again in 1999 after she smacked a child in the head. She was arrested the following year after she pulled down a boy’s pants in front of his classmates and spanked him so hard on his bottom and arms that he developed bruises and welts. 
That was too much for North Carolina day care regulators. The state used its ultimate weapon and revoked Page’s day care license in May 2000, saying that “children were getting hurt on a regular basis,” according to a news release.
Page soon found a workaround. 
Eight months after the state shut her down, Page requested permission to reopen her day care as a religious one, affiliated with the church where her husband was a pastor, Faith Tabernacle Holiness Church of God in Winston-Salem. 
Now that Page’s day care is recognized as religious, it has the state’s blessing to spank children – the very offense that shut her down in the first place."
See what I mean?  Using religion to justify child abuse!  I am sure some theist will say 'their religion doesn't condone that', but that's point.  If you can rationalize good deeds because of your religion, you can also easily rationalize bad deeds because of your religious beliefs.

Religions should not be a weapon to discriminate nor should it be a cover for anything illegal, especially where it comes to the welfare of children.  A while back I address a question as to whether or not Creationism is a form of Child Abuse.  I am re-thinking a bit of my answer.  In a vacuum, Creationism may not be a specific example of abuse, but it's not operating in a vacuum.  It's part and parcel of a larger belief set and many aspects of various religious beliefs certainly appear to be forms of abuse.  All the good works in the world can't erase that, just ask the Catholic Church.  Also, when you think about it, how many children have to die at the hands of theists parents who refuse medical care before we get serious about separating church and state!

If your religion permits, encourages, or even demands something against the law, theists should remember that it's not the religion that gets held accountable, but the practitioners who committed the crime! In any event, as long as your belief set doesn't infringe on the rights of other people, and as long as it complies with the law, enjoy!  But there must be a limit, and that limit is the law!


  1. Hospitals are a great example of religious "good works" that are, in fact, a growing evil in this country. If there were no religiously-affiliated hospitals in the U.S., the private and public sectors would step in to fill the gap. Unfortunately, religious organizations (particularly catholic) have a proliferation of control over hospitals in this country, giving them an unethical (and in many cases, illegal) degree of control over our medical care. This is an issue of "control" not "good works", as the ACLU has learned:

  2. Thanks for the example and the link. You've certainly illustrated my point! The law has to be above religious beliefs, it has to apply to everyone. Look at all the examples when we let any special interest circumvent the law, we end up with a system that is impossible to manage and does not retain even the hint of fairness or equality.