What does it mean to separate religion and government? The separation of church and state is a growing issue in the United States today. There are as many interpretations of this separation as there are religions and belief systems in the country. Everyone has their own ideas on how it should be put in place and what the main religion of the country should be if any religion at all. Some speak of a total secular society, with no spirituality included in anything; others speak of a Christian dominated society, with no room for other faiths, believing other faiths are spiritually dangerous to their society. Both extremes can take a dangerous path, if put into law.
History has shown that when a government enforces one religion over all others, minority faiths and their people suffer greatly. This is proven by the Inquisition in Spain during the thirteenth century by the Roman Catholic Church. Jews and Muslims, who would not convert to Christianity, were tortured, murdered and those who survived were expelled from Spain in 1492. A total secular run country can also be as dangerous to its citizens and their freedom. Communist Russia, of the past is one example, and North Korea today is another. Where a government controls what can be taught and believed, treating their people as things without spirit, with no legal protection to express their spiritual needs. Isolating them in a world of darkness and hopelessness, and punishing them with imprisonment or death if they are caught worshiping in anyway. Both these paths of government are without balance and are dangerous to the people under their rule.
The First Amendment defines the separation of church and state as the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”This state’s clearly that the United States will not establish a nationwide religion. That having a faith or not having a faith is protected by our Constitution. That we can worship in our own way, without fear of discrimination or threat by our government, and express those faiths without fear of imprisonment or death as long as our faith is not breaking common laws, like drug use or harming another person. This is not discriminating against any faith, but honoring all faiths, and giving a space of public life that is free of a government promoted religious proselytizing. This is one factor of our government that makes it possible to live in a diverse society. This separation is metaphorical in many ways, religion influences government and government influences religion. Though at times confusing and easily twisted by religious leaders, the separation of church and state here in United States is balanced and fair to all.
Separation of religion and government is very important due to the fact that the United States is a diverse country with many different religions and belief systems. We have the freedom of religion and the freedom from religion. Many argue that church and state should never be separated, forgetting that there is more than one religion or belief system in the country. To be fair we would have to include all religious doctrine in our educational and governmental systems, honoring and teaching all religious doctrine in our schools and including all religions’ rules and regulations in our government. Putting more pressure and work load on those who are employed in these jobs. Especially, in the public school classroom, imagine how much time and effort it would take to have an equal prayer time for every religious child in the classroom. Then imagine parents being upset because their child was learning about another person’s faith, which was against their beliefs. This in fact could become a legal nightmare. Private religious schools getting federal funding may sound like a good idea. But will the parents want the government interfering in their child’s education? Because when tax dollars are used, government is more involved in what is going on in the school, as it should be when public tax dollars are involved, monitoring what is happening in a place that once was private. In a perfect world honoring all faiths, in all public forums might work, but since we do not live in a perfect world, this would only cause chaos (both legally and spiritually). The separation of church and state protects everyone, religious and nonreligious alike, and should always be recognized and protected.