Separation of Church and State NOT Written in the Constitution-Does it Matter? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Separation of Church and State NOT Written in the Constitution-Does it Matter?

23 October 2010 at 10:22:17 AM

I was raised as a Southern Baptist, which group believed in separation of churcn and state until the reliigion was hijacked by extremists in the mid 1980's. I also am am erstwhile history buff and agree with the idea that there would be religious freedom and reasonable thought in our own country (just look at the King Henry VIII's time period, for example, for an excellent example of why there should be clear divisions between government and church).

I read a little bit about Christine O'Donnell, who appears to want to be the next Sarah Palin, and made her own "I'm Not  A Witch" video (heh). And seemed amazed, recently that the Constitution DOES say that there would be no establishment of religion.

I came across an excellent article that talks about a variety of structures and phrases that also aren't in the constitution or jurisprudence, and asks, does it matter if it's not explicitly written therein?

The phrase "the separation of church and state" is a metaphor. It is a shorthand description of a much more complicated interpretation of the constitutional text. As such, whether it appears literally in the words of the Constitution's text is not terribly important. What is important is whether this metaphor accurately captures the meaning of the constitutional guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

There are numerous other metaphors and shorthand phrases that are conventionally, and usually helpfully, used to describe constitutional provisions. The fact that none of these terms is actually used in the text is largely irrelevant to the question of whether they are accurately communicating what the Constitution means.

For example, we all know that we live in a "federalist" system and that "federalism" is an important constitutional principle. But the term "federalism" never appears in the Constitution's text. No one thinks that the absence of this precise word undermines the idea that the Constitution creates a federalist system in which both the state and national governments exercise important powers.

In the same vein, every schoolchild learns about "the separation of powers" and the system of "checks and balances" that control the operation of the three branches of government-- the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. But neither of these phrases appears in the constitutional text. So what? The important question is whether they correctly describe or characterize the government structure that is created by the Constitution.

The article goes on to talk about how difficult it is sometimes to determine what the Constitution means.

....perhaps the best that can be said in brief about the separation of church and state is this: The Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering with religious belief and practice in some settings. The Establishment Clause prohibits government from subsidizing or promoting religion up to a point. If government cannot interfere with religion and cannot promote religion, then government pretty much has to be separate from religion. Accordingly, to the extent that the Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering with religion and the Establishment Clause prohibits government from promoting religion -- but only to that extent -- the First Amendment requires the separation of church and state.

And it's usually up to the courts to decide whether this principle is being upheld and how.



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1 - APGifts   27 Nov 2010 @ 2:26:22 PM 


While I am NOT a "churchgoer" (if that is what they

are called) and likely will NEVER become one ---

I do feel a strong need to note that the phrase of

"separation of church and state" is NOT found

ANYWHERE at all WITHIN 'THE American

CONSTITUTION' (or ANY of its Amendments).


The Phrase of "Separation of Church and

State" is a statement that was taken out

of 'The Federalist Papers' (which, by the

way, are NOT the governing documents

of the United States of America) --- and it

was actually based on a Biblical teaching

of Jesus Christ in His statement about

"rendering" (i.e. "separating") things

unto 'Caesar' (i.e. the government)

that belong to 'Caesar' and things

unto 'God' (i.e. "religion")

that belong unto 'God'.)]


In today's modern world, the phrase of

"Separation of Church and State" has

now become an over-used statement

that's more akin to a worn-out cliché

that's preferred by uninformed people who ...


1) are unaware that 'European History and

Eurocentric Viewpoints" simply do NOT

represent every group on the planet.


[i.e. Everyone on the planet has NOT experienced

being "Persecuted" by 'The Church' of Europe -- but

rather -- some of the rest of us have been (and are yet

still being) "persecuted" by 'the mosque', 'the temple',

etc. systems -- that are found elsewhere on earth and

everything does NOT revolve around the history,

viewpoints and experiences of the Europeans.]


2) by "SINGLING OUT" the so-called "church"

(rather than by simply using a more generic, neutral

and, dare I to even say, a more culturally-inclusive

phrase such as that of "Religion") --- it REVEALS

(especially to anyone who is a not a "christian)

that one is quite solely, specifically, and directly

'TARGETING' the 'Christian' faith for "separation"

-- and THAT is a form of DOUBLE-STANDARD

and HYPOCRITICAL BIGOTRY that rivals that

of the radical "religious right" found worldwide.


3) by "SINGLING OUT" the so-called "church" for

"separation" -- it opens the door for non-christian

religions to add their religious practices into the

American government system by using the simple

"recant" of "we are not part of "the church" and thus,

you cannot target us for "separation" from 'the state'”.


As a result of this convenient '”recant", many American

public schools and government offices have now found

themselves being required to add "religious" symbols

(ex. 'muslim prayer rooms') due to the 'convenient' fact

that they are not associated as being 'church'-related.


This is just one of the many reasons that I feel that

certain Americans really need to understand that ---

their action of singling-out 'a symbol' (the "church")

of a specific religious group ('christianity') for being

THE specific 'Target' of "Separation" (much to the

exclusion of the many other religious groups found

in the nation) ---- 1) comes across to many people

as being BOTH an overbearing attempt to try to

enforce a "freedom" FROM religion AND also as

a type of "persecution" (if I dare say) against that

specific religious faith, practice and teaching AND

2) it also leads to many of the non-'church' religious

groups feeling as if they have a 'loophole' in which

they can force their practices onto the government

(i.e. "we are NOT 'a church', so we CAN do this").


Currently, in parts of Europe, the Muslim faith is THE

specific TARGET of secularization --- and in America,

clearly the Christian faith is THE TARGET of the same.


Sadly, all of this TARGETING (against specific religious

groups and teachings) is being done "in the name of our

secular freedom" (just as in the past, 'secular freedom'

was targeted by some religions "in the name of God and

holiness"); it makes the TARGETED group look and feel

as if they are being "persecuted"; and, it is simply leads

to a hatred and contempt for the targeted religious group

(which can lead to 'reactionary-radicalization' and / or

even a sympathy-led "push" for "privileged treatment").


So how about ... if we all just PLEASE try to STOP using

the overworn, worn-out, clichéd (and dare I to even say

BIGOTED) phrase of "Separation of Church and State"

-- and let's all try to, instead, use a more inclusive

(and less "targeted" or "biased") phrase such as



Seriously, I feel we should all work together in order

to learn how to STOP THE religious-TARGETING;

to neutralize the terms; to let people practice as

they belive; to keep RELIGION and GOVERNMENT

(and NOT JUST 'church' and 'state') separate; and

let everyone live and let live -- without ANY group

being hassled and / or specifically singled-out.

2 - salon   27 Nov 2010 @ 3:14:06 PM 

As the article says, that phrase is not in the constitution so we are in agreement. However, the establishment clause is. I don't think that anyone is specifically targeting only christianity but ALL religions/faiths that need to remain separate from government. What that means to me is that we respect those who want to teach their families and friends the religious ideas they have, regardless of what religion is represented, but that it's done outside of secular government where public institutions are being funded by taxpayers of all stripes and faiths.

The gate on being targeted swings both ways. I understand that there are some religions who believe that by getting a push back on making public schools do religious activities, that they are being persecuted or targeted. But the same can be said for those who do not want those ideas pushed on them and may feel targeted or persecuted because they don't share the same beliefs and don't want to be subjected to them in a captive environment.

I do understand the desire to *live and let live* but as long as there are groups that wish to push religious activities into law, that's never going to happen.

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