Monday, January 11, 2010

Christian Nation or Nation of Mostly Christian Believers?

Catherine Beyer, who does the Alternative Religions guide for, had an excellent piece about the difference between the two in her newsletter, but I can't find it on the site so am quoting it in full here:

"Certainly we have a lot of Christians in the United States. No one is arguing that. But a nation full of Christians is not a Christian Nation. A Christian Nation would be a theocracy, similar to Islamic countries in the Middle East, where government upholds religious law and often legislates what religions people can follow.

We are the opposite of that. Our Constitution ensures that. Should the government show favoritism toward one religion, that would be a blatant violation of the first amendment. I confess, I don't understand why supporters of the "Christian Nation" idea don't understand the ramifications of the first amendment.

What they do like doing is pointing out that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution, which entirely true. That doesnt mean the concept doesn't exist in the Constitution, or that the phrase was coined to summarize that Constitutional concept."

I confess that I, too, have trouble with Christian Nation types not understanding that separation of church and state protects them as well.  Remember, at the time of the American Revolution, all the colonies, later states, had established religions.  Evangelical Christians were then highly in favor of separation of church and state, because their denominations were not the established religion in any of the states, and they were jailed, beaten, and fined for not following the established religions.  Suppose one religion were favored by law in the U.S.  Who gets to define it?  What do you do about people who don't follow that religion?


Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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