Dueling Twins

Church & State

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The 'Dueling Twins'

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Enter the 'HALL' of the Dueling JAMES Twins!

A civilization is destroyed only when its gods are destroyed.
E. M. Cioran

Point:

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Keep "God" Out of Government
 
James Hall - From the Left

The events of 9/11 brought many people closer to their individual beliefs about God--attendance at church, synagogue, temple and mosque has been up.  Now we're being told it's a good idea to put up the slogan "In God We Trust" in public schools (Though every child carrying a coin or dollar already carries that motto), post the Ten Commandments (Which of the three versions--Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, we're not told.) in our courthouses, and use the good offices of the federal government to support faith-based initiatives.  Our president has just informed the godless Communists of China that "95% of Americans believe in God."

That's probably true.  The real question, though, is do all 95% believe in the same God?  Do all 95% share the same beliefs about God, the same belief in the authority of scripture (or even in the same scripture), and the same code of behavior?  The answer to that would have to be, "No."

America was the first nation in the world to conceive of and adopt the notion of religious liberty.  Not religious tolerance, mind you, where a majority allows a minority the right to worship a different way, so long as they don't malign the majority's public pantheon, but true liberty of conscience where each individual worships or not as he or she pleases.

Most of the 13 United Colonies, who became the United States had an established church at the time of American independence. These organized churches were variously represented--Catholicism in Maryland, Church of England in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, Congregationalism in Massachusetts, Baptists and Quakers in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, etc.  But the US Constitution (in which there is no mention of God) carefully outlawed the use of a religious test for federal office, and the First Amendment followed with an even more explicit ban on the establishment of a national religion--and supported each individual's right to believe.

Why such a ban?  Many of American colonists or their close ancestors had been religious refugees fleeing from events like the English Civil War (A war fought primarily on religious grounds, over whether the next English King would be Catholic or Protestant.), or because their religious beliefs made them "dissenters" from the established state church where they came from, and thus fair game for persecution.

This history had shown the founding fathers the real danger to personal freedom that state-sponsored churches created.  If each state had its own established church, then religious disputes could easily turn into political disputes.  What about the religious persecution of minority religions within a state?  And what of the territories--which church would each newly admitted state embrace as its state religion?  Religious conflicts could become civil war or persecution of minorities.

The brilliance of the founders was their decision to take the establishment of religion out of the political equation.  By separating the church from the state, we've managed to avoid the twin pitfalls of theocracy, where the church controls the state, and Caesaropapism, where the state controls the church.  In every American community churches of every faith and creed sit side by side in peace precisely because each citizen has the freedom of his or her conscience and the civil government remains out of any religious business, carefully neutral.

This neutrality is not without dispute.  The division between church and state was characterized as a "wall of separation" by Thomas Jefferson, but as "a line" by James Madison.  Some believers would like to use the power of government to reinforce their theological positions and sometimes succeed, especially in local areas where they are in the majority.  Thus in some areas, "blue laws" covering the production and drinking of alcohol are in effect, while in other places local governmental attempts to block the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution or block the practice of abortion are constantly struck down by courts defending the Constitution.

Some religionists have sought to get around the separation of church and state by making political/religious claims in the most general of terms; others by including all or most religions in an ecumenical way.  But generalities soon degenerate into specifics, which exclude minority beliefs, and ecumenism often runs counter to the beliefs of other faiths.

The major barrier for anyone wanting to lay claim to a national religion for America is how to address the founders' desire for no religious tests, no established national religion, and total freedom of the individual to worship or not according to his or her conscience.  If this is not Jefferson's "wall of separation," it is a very high bar indeed.

Besides the lengthy past history of religious conflict, the religious strife that we see today between Hindu and Muslim in India, between Hindu and Christian in India, between Muslim and Christian in Indonesia, between Jew and Muslim in the Middle East, and between Catholic and Protestant in Ireland all warn us of the dangers of confounding civil government and political power with religion.  America was founded in part to be a religious sanctuary, where dissenters could worship in peace alongside the practitioners of major religions, and a place where the individual could choose to believe in any faith or no faith at all.  Keep God out of governmental entanglements and let Him exist in the heart and mind of each believing individual as he or she desires.

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Rebuttal:

In order say that "The denial of religious freedom is clearly seen in the actions of the federal government," SARTRE must deny reality.  Nowhere in the world is religion more varied and more vigorous than in the United States of America.  Nowhere in the world are churches, synagogues, and mosques more able to settle side by side without conflict.  And nowhere is the individual freer to worship as he or she chooses than in America.  If religion is in better shape somewhere else, where is it?  Will SARTRE please tell us?

It is not "freedom from religion" that most of us seek--it is freedom from other people's ideas of religion, or the right to worship as we please.  Today most challenges to community practice based on the first amendment's establishment clause come not from atheists or agnostics, but the from the practitioners of minority religions who see their beliefs threatened by a majority faith's public displays of worship in schools, football games, graduation ceremonies, and other public spaces.

Why did the founding fathers write the First Amendment establishment clause that excludes the establishment of any state church if they wanted us to become a Christian Republic of America, the Jewish Republic of North America or the Islamic Republic of the United States?  Obviously, they did not wish this.  Why did they mandate that government not interfere with the individual's religious liberty if they wanted us all to be Buddhists or Hindus or Christians?

Undoubtedly many if not most of the founding fathers were Christians.  Others were Deists (an enlightenment religious viewpoint similar to modern Unitarianism) and still others agnostics and atheists.  But there is also no doubt that none of these gentlemen had any desire to create a government that imposed their religious point of view on anyone else.  If the founders felt that way, why does SARTRE wish to use government to impose his beliefs on the rest of us?

When SARTRE says the nation was founded on the belief in God, he's simply wrong.  It was founded on each citizen's right to believe as his or her conscience dictates.  To insist otherwise is to bring back the kind of political and religious tyranny that SARTRE himself fears so much--the kind of Church State or State Church that controls not only a citizen's body, but his mind and soul as well.

James Hall, From the Left

Counterpoint:

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Politics Involves God
Government Seeks to Deny God

Whenever the polemic is raised that the First Amendment implies a "wall of separation", reality is smashed. The denial of religious freedom is clearly seen in the actions of the federal government. Separation of church and state has come to mean the "freedom FROM religion". Only the charlatan would content that a religious movement or church seeks to establish a national religion that would impose and enforce worship upon citizens to observe.  Has language become so distorted that meaning is impossible to comprehend?

Contention that God is a neutral bystander in the saga of mankind, can only reside in the views of an atheist. For those who accept a "First Cause Creator", share a belief in the supernatural dominion of our originator. By what tortured pretext for logic could one conclude that politics is exempt from the realm of the spirit?

There are three very distinct positions:

 1) The agnostic or atheist that seeks no role of religion within politics. They see man as the measure of all things.

 2) The professed believer, who denies the supremacy of God in world affairs. They worship at the alter of a government deity.

3) The believer who accepts the primacy of a prime mover, respecting the conscience of each individual to express their devotion without restriction from the state.

There are variations among these perspectives and certainly abuses within any of them. But their essential divisions, require very contrasting viewpoints towards government. It is not important if each person worships God, through different doctrines. It really doesn't matter if an institutional denomination or congregation is even involved in one's belief. The cardinal issue is that each individual person be free to worship, without governmental interference. When a government is attributed a special power to choose, select or deny approval for worship; your result is not a "wall of separation", but a rule over all religious beliefs, under an illegitimate state authority.

James Hall from the Left seeks to deny the proper role of belief in God as the supreme right of the individual, and substitutes an adoration of government, in it's place. How could it be possible to allow any government to approve a tax exempt status for a religion? A virtual license that can be withdrawn for inappropriate behavior is not exactly a "wall of separation". For the Statist, religion must be relegated for regulation.

Our first example requires that no religion be allowed unfettered worship, since that might offend the non believer. The atheists wants the coercive power or the state to restrict and deny religious practice, when it comes in contact with the body politic. Their notion, that the believer must be forced to kneel to the "secular humanism" of the disbeliever; is more important than the freedom to the "free exercise thereof", that is protected within our Constitution.

The utter distractions of these false views from the fundamental intent and purpose of religious freedom is clear to any sincere reading of our history and it's founding. Religion can never be separated from political life. Let's face up to the reality of human existence and accept that the question of belief is inseparable from any political establishment. The consequences of denying the freedom of an unrestricted expression of the most basic generic idea of a Supreme Being, within governmental structures is repulsive to the soul of the nation. Is our prime devotion to God or do you pay homage to government, over God?

The ecumenical approach to accept government rule as the main and legitimate rule maker, is a formula for the tyranny of chaos - based upon the relativism and the whims of the despots. And we all know that the foremost despot is always the STATE.

Religious conflict is healthy in any society. Peace and tranquillity is not the objective, especially when a deceptive rendition is imposed at the cost of individual conscience. The invocation of Baal is the devotion of a false idol. When you exclude God from the public square, the viper cassock is worn by the ACLU. Atheists not Americans, Communists never Civil, Liberals opposing Liberty and Uniformity for a coerced Union.

America is a nation founded on belief in God. Because of divine inspiration and guidance, we have been blessed from providence to become the sanctuary for all - even the non-believer. Why is it so hard to accept that the only wall that separates is the one that man's false pride builds between himself and God? Our government is a subordinate of the people, and we are the servant of God.

For those who cannot live within this framework, why is it so important for them to destroy the purpose of the believer? A union can never exist, nor should it be sought, when this basic commitment is denied. It is the height of hubris to strive to impose government as a substitute god . . .  Deism denies the continuous intervention of the divine in the affairs of man. Can anyone accept that man can manage his own affairs without help from his maker? Accepting such an irrational belief requires that man can solve the ills of the world, manage his own future and create his own HOPE.

If you accept this man centered outlook, the question of separation of church and state has no significance. For you, only the STATE matters.

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

Well there you have it folks! "When SARTRE says the nation was founded on the belief in God, he's simply wrong." The final and definitive measure of the 'bad seed'. So America was founded under a belief in the supremacy of man? That sure would be news to the millions of Americans from our founding days to the present. If the reader ever had any doubts of the "social relativism" that embodies our commissar of the collectivism, they are dispelled. The only way to instill true tolerance of conscience is to humble oneself to the divine.

But for James Hall from the Left, only deception of intellectual integrity will do. Our argument is to allow the free devotion of God in all forms without government restriction. But our "situation ethic" practitioner wishes you to fear that we want to impose on you our beliefs using the power of coercive government. Just what fairy tale is he dreaming? Isn't it the common practice of current government regulation and law that forbids the free and unencumbered exercise of religion in modern America?

We have only retained the little Liberty that we presently enjoy because, as a nation our common bond has been a sincere acceptance of the almighty. James would want you to accept that conscience is destroyed if you surrender your will to God, no matter what vision you personally accept? How absurd it is to deny the only authority that grants your freedom. But the socialist is determined to rid the society of moral restraints so that their substitute state worship can be decreed upon your social life.

If we are wrong, history must be rewritten. James Hall has no problem with his form of deconstruction and revisionist distortions if they serve his master. But pray tell, present the facts the God fearing souls built America as the beacon of freedom for the rest of the world to attain, and we are condemned as heretics to the official STATISTS religion.

Let's get REAL! We have never said that government has a right to impose any religious belief. Our argument is that the State is currently violating the unfettered exercise of religion, with its 'PC' creed of keeping religion out of the public square of a free society. If the public is committed to a belief in God, His removal from sight by government is an affront to all.

The Mark of Cain is the sign of today's deviant central government. Homage to his lord means for James, that Alister Crowley sits on the supreme court. He prays for that kind of reality, to be ours as well . . . Do you really want to accept his America?

James Hall - 'The Right'


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The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles.
  John Adams

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