Fun Facts of Lent, Day Twenty-Five: The Separation of Church and State

This is another one of those topics I almost don’t want to address because it seems so silly to me.

I believe in the separation of church and state. While our country and its laws may have been inspired by Christian teaching and theology, I see no reason to force Christ into the government. In fact, that seems a very unnatural place to put him, as Christ was a political dissonant himself.

I don’t think faith of any kind should be a pre-requisite for political office, and I certainly don’t think Christians should get some sort of preferential treatment in elections. I hate the idea that we’ve basically told agnostics they must lie about their faith if they want to hold political office. I don’t see any reason to keep “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and I’m not particularly concerned with having “In God we trust” on our money (though I have a much bigger problem with having Andrew Jackson on our money). I think it’s weird that people want to put the ten commandments in front of courthouses, since not all of the commandments translate into actual laws.

I don’t particularly mind traditions like the White House Prayer Breakfast or Easter egg hunts on the White House lawn, in the same way I don’t mind when the president and first lady host passover dinners with Jewish leaders or visit mosques during their travels. However I understand that Christianity has a real home field advantage in this regard, and if there was a push to remove these religious traditions from the government, I wouldn’t fight it.

In short, I am in favor of a secular government that only acknowledges and supports religion as it relates to the popular customs of the people. The other direction – how much religion should address politics – is a bit trickier. More on that tomorrow.