(Tim) One of the lines of error Darryl Hart was pursuing in a recent comment string here on Baylyblog was that emanation from a penumbra commonly referred to as "separation of church and state." Undoubtedly, Dr Hart and his two kingdom compatriots will judge this correction as an effort to restore those halcyon days of old when women were good looking, men were strong, children were just average, and America was Trinitarian Theist. Nothing could be further from the the truth.
We just don't want bad history to go uncorrected--even if it's bad history in the furtherance of a Lutheran cause. This, then, from a ruling elder named Brian Bailey.
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"...our constitution does not recognize God, requires no religious belief for holding office, and separates church and state. How do you live in the U.S.A.?" -Darryl Hart
Dear Dr. Hart,
Which constitution are you referring to? If to the U.S. Constitution, it actually does recognize God: “Done in the Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven . . . .” (U.S. Const. art. VII.) Only one God could fit that description. But let's assume that's mere pious formalism...
In Indiana, the preamble to the modern state constitution expresses gratitude to "ALMIGHTY GOD" for the right to choose a form of government. Likewise, the people of Indiana are "secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD." (Ind. Const. art. I, section 2.)
As for separating church and state, the U.S. Constitution does nothing of the kind. The First Amendment, as written and understood for over a century and a half, doesn’t separate church and state: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .” “[R]especting an establishment” meant that Congress had no authority to establish a national religion; nor could Congress interfere with establishments of the Christian religion that existed in some states at the time the First Amendment was ratified. For example, the Massachusetts Constitution (1780) required “the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.” (Part the First, Art. III.) Congress had no power to supplant, interfere with, or abolish the established religion of Massachusetts.
Writing in 1833, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Harvard law professor Joseph Story hit the mark:
The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution, (the vice and pest of former ages,) and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the Apostles to the present age. (Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Section 1871.)
He also wrote of the First Amendment:
Probably [at the time of the First Amendment's adoption] the general, if not universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation. (Id. section 1868.)
What the Framers and Ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions couldn’t have gotten away with, modern judges through the guise of interpretation have managed to pull off. And I’m not referring to the formal establishment or dis-establishment of religion. I’m referring to the tendentious misuse of the Establishment Clause to attempt to expel Christians and Christianity from the public square. One notable example was a 2005 federal court order that forbade the Indiana General Assembly from invoking the name of Jesus Christ during official prayers.
If only those judges had the honesty to admit they are busy imposing their own conception of enlightened public policy in a pluralistic society. Separation of church and state, as expounded and decreed by the modern court, is a sinister fiction. That Christian intellectuals tolerate or propagate such fiction is baffling.