Day 277 Question 277 (A Long One but a Good One):
For you, what does the separation of church and state mean?
It should come as no surprise that I am bringing up the controversial topic of religion. I do expect to get some banter by my readers in return and I expect some of the banter to be not so friendly. The reason I brought this subject up is because yesterday on Facebook a friend of mine wrote a status that said: It really bothers me that the mb city auditor office has a giant ‘prayer board’ on display. This is a government building. Get that shit out! This one small statement stirred up some serious controversy and for the entire day dueling opinions and thoughts of multiple people went splashing up against his wall. I may just link all of the responses at this end of this post.
Although I would not have put a post like that on Facebook or worded it in quite that way in general, I do agree that the City Auditor’s office is no place for a public prayer board. I know people are going to tell me to just ignore or don’t look it but I can’t help but think about what Thomas Jefferson wrote: the 1st Amendment erected a “wall of separation” between the church and the state. In my personal interpretation (and let’s face it nowadays EVERYTHING can be misinterpreted or taken on out context) this means that the government should not establish, support or otherwise involve itself in any religion.
This is the reason I am always so confused. We are forced to live in a society ran by a government and we must live by certain sets of rules (do not murder, rape, vandalize, steal, etc.). These rules are implemented in order to avoid mass chaos in society. So, here is one of our founding fathers that designated separation of church and state (and I would assume he did this in order to avoid mass chaos as well) to respect the opinions and beliefs of the people of this country. We are a country that’s entire basis is built on freedom…freedom to think individually and not be forced to think a specific way. Before anyone flies off the handle, I have great respect for all religions. I admire people with such strong convictions. I do, however, believe that this country has fallen at the waist side when it comes to separating church and state. I do not believe that a prayer board should be hanging outside of a federal building. I have been called a hateful atheist because of this belief and I find that humorous because I am not an atheist. I am still on a journey to figure out where my beliefs really lie. I tend to believe more in Eastern philosophies than Western religions but I respect those that are Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Episcopal and so on and so forth. It may only be a few words written on a sign but in my opinion, that is forcing a particular belief onto people. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States (migrating down 10 years ago from NY) so it is difficult to be on this path of trying to figure out my beliefs when I reside amongst a great deal of devout Christians. It is not uncommon for me to be asked what church I attend and I always wonder why a person would assume that I am of a certain religion or attend church. I believe this country has progressed in great ways but this is one aspect I have a hard time with…probably because I am of the minority. I do not feel a natural connection to God, The Bible or to church and I think about it all of the time. I support the separation of church and state because to be honest I am uncomfortable with religion in any sort of public sector. I believe religion should be kept strictly in the church, home or at an event that is designated for that sort of topic. By doing this no one is being made to feel uncomfortable because of differing views and no one is feeling forced to believe a certain way or another. I don’t know maybe I am just naïve. I think about this stuff a lot and if any of you have read much of what I have ever had to say I constantly speak of doing what feels most natural to me. At this avenue religion is not a natural part of my life. I love the idea of a higher power and the possibility of heaven but it is something I am just very unsure of. I want to keep learning and asking the questions and being as diverse as I possibly can but I want to do it during my time and at a pace I am comfortable with. I never want to feel like it is forced upon me (which is has been many times) because to be completely honest, the more people force things on me the more I reject them.
I have now gone on a long rant and I wanted to include the thoughts of others from the Facebook thread that I mentioned earlier. As a reminder the initial post said: It really bothers me that the mb city auditor office has a giant ‘prayer board’ on display. This is a government building. Get that shit out!
These were all of the responses (remember that some were responses to others in the thread):
Shellie: Yeah. It irritates me.
Diane: Unfortunately there is no separation of church and state in this whole country. I went to a school board meeting and they started it with a prayer and I’m not an atheist but I don’t think it’s right to do…it’s not respectful of any other religions or beliefS.
Jasmine: What is it really hurting besides bothering you?
Lindsey: Leave it in!
Taylor: Well, obviously I’m not the only one its bothering
Kristen : wow… and I always really did like your updates frown
Casey: Shit is stupid. Have to love the religious belt in the south
Shellie: It bothers me, personally, because it is supporting one religion. We as a nation have freedom of religion. Yet, if they hung the Wiccan reed people would lose their minds. Or a Muslim prayer people would be angry. Yet we have freedom? If its a private business that’s is one thing, that is silly enough, but a gov. Building is unacceptable.
Jasmine:That’s not a st8 answer I was just wondering why it bothered you? Shellie had a good answer
Kimmie: What’s the difference between a prayer board and the back of your money which says “in God we trust”? Can’t pick and choose where it’s okay.
Shellie: I don’t believe it should be on our money either.
Kimmie: The nation was built on religion…is it supposed to change its foundation because so many in modern society no longer believe?
Shellie: Fact check. We were built on freedom of religion. That’s the point.
Jasmine: Politics and religion no one should talk about them never an agreement… Good thing you don’t drink… The south Is a strange place never lived somewhere that every mile there was a church it was more like a gym or Starbucks lol…
Kimmie: Exactly. Freedom of religion….exactly….
Woman Spends a Year Living According to the Bible
Rachel Held Evans, an evangelical blogger from Tennessee, has spent a whole year following the Bible’s commands for menstruating women
Shellie: Ok I’ll expand. Our nation does not , by its very constitution, endorse any one religion. Gov. Buildings should not have any religious affiliation. Neither should our money, our pledge, nothing gov. Related period. The in god we trust was added to our money in 1956. Under god was added in 1954. This is not what our founding fathers had in mind.
Diane: We all pick and choose….life is about freedom of choice. I just personally believe (again I say personally) that we should follow the constitution….but like anything else, the constitution can be interpreted in any way just like the Bible can. No one likes to admit that we are all a little screwy and weird in our own ways…..which I believe makes this world a diverse and beautiful place (as cheesy as that sounds). My dad is so right in saying that as long as there are 2 people in the world there will always be an argument. I completely respect people of all religions…I just feel uncomfortable when it is thrown in my face because I have yet to decide what I believe….and I do realize that living in the bible belt does not make it any easier.
Kimmie: Taylor said “prayer board”, pretty sure that doesn’t specifically narrow it down to one religion….just sayin.
Shellie: I’m pretty sure it did.
Kristen: omg Taylor really? look what you’ve started, now I’m stuck @ work (day already ruined cuz I find out a board bothered you) now I have to read how Shellie thinks she’a actually getting somewhere..bless your heart. This is the south honey, the Bible Belt, people are a certain way round here. Oh and the cat comment… not making up for it. lol
Kimmie: It doesn’t narrow it down at all. My Muslim friends pray for me, as I pray for them….Buddhists pray…although it may be of a different God, prayer is still lifted. Clearly, you have difficulty with religion. That’s fine…but to continuously bash others, is not ok. It’s not a matter of what religion it is. Due to your argument of freedom of religion which.I agree with you. You could open a store, for atheists only and that would be acceptable. I understand that you want the separation of government from religion, but there is not a nation that this is present. That’s reality.
Kimmie: Shellie can argue until she’s blue in the face, but reality is…. Every nation has a religious basis. Fact. Every nation’s government is based on religion. It doesn’t matter what you personally believe or what I believe. You could move anywhere around the world and your issue would still exist.
Shellie: Nah, trust me, I know arguing doesn’t change it. But I can try to educate people on the correct history. It’s futile I know. But I can try. By the way I haven’t bashed anyone. I’ve stated facts. I’m not an atheist. I actually have a religion, one that I am fully devoted to. I also already have a business, thanks. And actually, yes there is a country w/ the belief of separation of religion and gov. It is the United States. If some people don’t understand that, it’s just some lopsided view, they were most likely spoon fed.
Kimmie: It’s a gray area, I agree… But what area of government/law isn’t gray?
Diane: Dear can of worms, You have officially been opened up! smile
Shellie: It isn’t gray. It is a fact. The choice made to post any religious paraphernalia is against the constitution. I am all for personal beliefs. Regardless of what the religion is. I am all for gov. not referencing any religion or all religions. It simply is an area where legally we should not, as a nation, delve in to. Sadly it has happened. And it is encroaching on people’s rights. That is when I have an issue. No religion should be the basis of our legislation. No religion should be endorsed in our gov. buildings. I’m not bashing, just historically stating facts. We can choose to agree to disagree, but I haven’t made this personal, unlike the way certain people have chosen to try and call me out.
Taylor:For the record, the prayer board had crosses on it.
Shellie: I’ve seen it I know. Lol
Taylor: And Kristen, I’m a Southern boy from ’round here,’ and people are many different ‘certain ways,’ not just one.
Kenita: Prayer board sounds like a board for those who do believe, to post up family or friends they would like believers to put in their personal prayers .. There is nothing wrong with a “prayer board” if that’s what the purpose is .. All that religion and money talk is off, seeing as it was only about power of prayer and who needs them in that work place .. In my opinion ..
Shellie: If people need prayer in a work place, that’s fine. Privately. Not endorsed by a gov that probably paid for said prayer board w my tax money, and against the constitutional provisions of separation of church and state.
Taylor: It’s as simple as this: seperation of church and state is the law. The mb city auditors office is a government office, therefore making it illegal have any religious paraphernalia. The government, and any office representing it, has a responsibility to uphold the law as it is written.
Amber: Our money says in God we trust, bet you have no problem getting & spending it.. nobody is trying to push their beliefs on anyone.. If you don’t believe in God fine but why Bitch & throw fit? It bothers you that much that done people like to believe their lost loved ones are in a better place!? Freedom of speech right?!
Shellie: Hahaha. Bitch and throw a fit? Certainly doesn’t bother me that some people believe in anything. I think you missed a point. I have been respectful and I have not belittled anyone’s beliefs. I simply have stated facts. Historically accurate facts. Is it a pie in the sky dream? Maybe. But that doesn’t make it irrelevant nor less true.
Amber: I’m just saying it’s people like you that’s the reason my son can’t say the pledge in school like we did growing up.. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with kids these days, they have nothing to believe in
Taylor: there is plenty to believe in without it being forced on us
Taylor: “people like you” … don’t even get me started on that.
Kilgor: He is in a government office, there is no need for it. He displays it just like terrorist/Fanatics who truly beleive that it will instill fear. Displaying it makes him feel superior. MB city is being raped by christians fighting for control of it. long before they partner up with dominoes, build abig fence, a giant Jesus on the beach and guaranteed heaven, or maybe 40 virgins, who knows what these crack pot extremists think?
Shellie: Yup it’s my fault. Lol. All of the major changes in society happened because someone stood up and went against the status quo. Anti segregation, women being allowed to vote or own land, anti slavery I could go on and on. I may not speak a popular opinion in this area, but I speak an enlightened opinion. As far as giving kids something to believe in, I’ve taught my children to believe in their capabilities, to believe they can change the world. To believe they are special, important, and smart. And trust me my kids haven’t been an issue. They are contributing to society in a very positive way.
Amber: Whatever I know my sister is in heaven & none of y’all atheist fucks are gonna take that away from me so preach on!
Shellie: I’m not atheist. wink
Taylor: i am.
Shellie: I know. And I support you in that. I have many friends who are. I just laugh because people assume I am because I defend the constitution. For god sake, my husband is a totally different religion than I am. I believe it is a very personal choice. And every person makes that choice for themselves. I just feel no one has a right to push their beliefs on anyone else.
Shellie: I haven’t even brought up where I stand religiously in this thread.
Shellie: I will also say children in school should be allowed to say the pledge in school per circa 1954 when it was edited to insert religious propaganda.
Anne: The nation was indeed established as a christian nation. Persecution in Europe because of beliefs that deviated early on from the RCC precipitated this country being established as a christian nation but entailing a choice in one’s worship because of that very persecution practiced throughout history.I personally don’t know of any president,(such as nero,hitler,stalin.henryvll,get drunk,angry,prejudiced and command the military to gather up religious dissenters,hang them on poles,light them on fire,put them in concentration camps)The simple fact that we can write what has been written on this thread should tell us something.I have yet to see a buddist,wiccan,atheist,muslim,amish,scientologist,jew or jehovah witness convicted and imprisoned for the religion he is practicing.This country is established as a christian nation from its beginnings, with a foundation of religious freedom.That is one of the anomalies of America;we are a christian nation with acceptance of others’ choice of worship.
Anne: Implementation of religious freedom does not or should not undergirth the foundations of this country beginnings and continued growth..
Shellie: The writers of the constitution specifically stated separation of church and state. Shrugs. As for persecution. Salem witch trials for one. Also numerous convictions using pagan religions, satanism etc as “evidence” in the trials. Also profiling Muslims and arresting them as terrorist with no proof other than suspecting their religion. It’s public record.
Shellie: And Jefferson, who wrote most of the Declaration of Independence was a thiest.
Taylor: for the record, a majority of our founding fathers held to deism and Freemasonry tenets rather than to Christianity.
Taylor: the American Founding Fathers set up a government divorced from any religion. Their establishment of a secular government did not require a reflection to themselves of its origin; they knew this as a ubiquitous unspoken given. However, as the United States delved into international affairs, few foreign nations knew about the intentions of the U.S. For this reason, an insight from at a little known but legal document written in the late 1700s explicitly reveals the secular nature of the U.S. goverenment to a foreign nation. Officially called the “Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary,” most refer to it as simply the Treaty of Tripoli. In Article 11, it states:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
Shellie: History. Facts. However, a lot of people will still choose to believe things spoon fed to them from a more religious stand point than a historically accurate stand point.
Anne: In regard to Shelly’s comment”Yup,it’s my fault…”,I see you and I fall within the norm on the statistical bell curve…..most attempt to instill such qualities in their children.As the bell has shown,time and time again, it is the extreme fringes on the opposing ends of that curve that poses the problems.
Shellie: I would agree w the extremes posing an issue. For me I’ve always felt its the parent’s responsibility to teach and nurture their children. Too many people choose to allow school and society to instill its beliefs on their kids. If prayer, the pledge, or whatever is important to the parent. Teach it at home. People some times fail to realize morality is not necessarily religious based.
Amber: I personally don’t care what beliefs any of you have I just don’t think it’s right to attack people who believe something you don’t.. I mean it really bothers you that people pray for their loved ones? smh if ya don’t like it don’t take the time to stop look & read it, just keep on walking.. No reason to start a war over it.. #YouJustDoYouImmaDoMe! wink
Taylor J. Burt amber, honey, you have missed the point entirely.
Amber: No I get it, church & government are to be separated.. I just don’t see the big deal when nobody is forcing anyone to believe or go to church it’s just something else for people to Bitch about.. Have a good day Tay smile
Taylor: ok ill put it this way. you, as a christian, right? what if everyone you went there were things like ‘heaven isn’t real. your sister isn’t there’
Shellie: I have not attacked any one. Taylor has not attacked anyone. This is an intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful differing of opinion for the most part. I believe you should pray w/ and for your children, if that us your belief system. I also believe it is not part of our gov. To take a stand one way or another religiously. It isn’t a difficult concept in and of itself. Sadly people let their emotional knee jerk reaction come in to play. The reaction that if the gov. Doesn’t play a role in religion than the nation is going to hell. I don’t know how to explain it in any other way than to say a portion of society, regardless of how big or small should not be representative of our nation as a whole. At least not religiously.
Taylor: that is what it is like for us
Amber: Not the same.. By you saying that you just took something from me! cry My beliefs are not taking from you
Shellie: If someone doesn’t hold to Christian tenets they don’t believe in hell, yet biblical references in gov places would suggest that gov. endorses the idea that if it’s citizens do not buy in to that belief they would be going to hell. Is that fair? I also think Taylor was giving an example. Not stating your loved ones were not where you believe they are. This is what I meant by emotional knee jerk.
Anne: Separation of church and state is the antithesis of history’s previous practices.This does not mean that a belief in God was disregarded in the government’s establishment.Study,rather than a quick google,will give you a more complete character of thought of each of the early establishing principles and idealogies..In edition,referencing the extreme tragedies that have happened(ie salem witch trials)such things are prejudices that happen when an individual’s power,influence and fear take over.Thankfully,I have not seen that as a norm,have you?None of my wiccan or new age friends have been threatened with fire or chains..The attack on this country was the reason for muslims’ imprisoned.However,logic would dictate that most new, adverse,extreme,deadly situations may go overboard in trying to stop any other deadly occurance.However,those injustices have been and are continuing to be rectified.It is interesting that extreme incidents are always exampled even if the actions are not generally practiced..
Anne: @ AMBER,I do not think you have missed the point!
Shellie: Not generally practiced. But documented. Day to day life in a religion beyond christianity. Is one full of judgments, and hate directed at you. Maybe not by the gov. daily but by society. And it is a regular occurrence for Wiccans, Pagans, Satanist to have their religion inserted into a trial as evidence against them. If the “founding fathers” had wanted us to be a religious nation based on one religion, I doubt they would have taken time to state otherwise. And I have researched this. Most of my adult life. I didn’t do a quick google search for my answers. I have a question, how does it injure a christian to have a court house or DMV not have a bible verse on it? Or a prayer board, or manger, or cross or whatever? Would you be ok with a gov building having the Wiccan Reede? A Koran verse?
Brandy: WOW! History lesson in this thread, lol! I’m a Christian. However, I do understand your point. Shellie, as always, you know your stuff. You do. Plain and simple fact. I just wonder, if it bothers you (Taylor) as much as it seems to, why not bring it to the attention of the correct officials? Or just look the other way if they refuse to do anything about it? It doesn’t bother me, but I’m rarely bothered by things like this that directly do not affect me or my family. I pick and choose my battles and this one, unless you try to do something to change it, is one that will continue to “bother” you. I’m quite sure, with as busy a person as you are, that you have many other things on your plate to deal with other than a “prayer board”. But, as I said, if it is causing a lack of sleep, go to the proper people, and petition to have it removed. I just have too many other things in my life to worry about than that, as I’m sure you do too. But again, Shellie, you do have your facts straight! smile Have a good day everyone! grin
Brandy: And as a Christian, I have many friends that are Wiccan, Atheist, Muslim, Jewish, etc. I believe the differences in everyone are what make this country as beautiful as it is. I respect everyone’s right to their religion, or lack of, as I expect them to respect mine. I do like to learn about different religions so that I’m not uneducated and narrow-minded as well. To each their own. Love errrrbody! ;P
Shellie: Brandy, we have differing beliefs but we respect each other. I don’t look down on you for your personal choice nor you mine. I can’t speak for Taylor, but for myself I do try to change things. Through educating, voting etc. but you already know I’m politically active lol
Amber: Y’all trying to take God out of everything is taking from us who believe.. My question to you is what are we taking from you by it being there??? I don’t have to research shit to know what I believe and I don’t care for all your technical BS cuz that’s all it is! Get a life & stop trying to shatter other peoples beliefs!
Shellie: Wow. I’m not even advocating shattering anyone’s beliefs. I’m not even angry or emotional about this thread. I enjoy intellectually stimulating discussions. Your posts have all been angry,amber. If you believe what you believe that us great. I don’t see why someone having a differing option angers or hurts or shatters you confused. As for a life, trust me I have a great one. It is very fulfilling to me and I am extremely happy. If you’re so hurt and angry there’s most likely a little x on the left hand side where you can close the Internet until you feel better?
Brandy: Yes ma’am, I am fully aware of your activism and support it 100%! We need to use our voices, and you certainly use yours. I respect that greatly. If you don’t work for what you want, don’t cry when it doesn’t happen! That was my point with trying to speak to the proper people to have it removed if it is that great of a distraction or negative thing for you personally (Taylor or you). But freedom of speech IS ALLOWED, like what he says or not, he’s allowed to say it. And the fact that he is standing up (and Shellie) for something HE believes in, is admirable to me, in itself. Again, I am a Christian, but I also believe in using your voice to get your point across and to get what you believe should be done. Period.
Shellie : Anne, I’m guessing that is directed to Taylor, as all my posts have been typed out on my little keyboard on my phone. I actually respect your posts. I may disagree but I can tell we are similar that we both research and believe in what we say, even from opposite view points smile
Brandy:Well, this was educational!
After rereading this I was absolutely amazed to see how divided human beings can truly be. I find that to be so interesting and intriguing.
I completely agree with you, Diane about the separation between church and state. My boss and I were talking about this Christian group of pastors (http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/) that were going to start endorsing candidates for the upcoming election. We felt that the churches these pastors represent should be taken off of the tax exempt list because churches should not be endorsing political candidates.
I am totally RT’g this and sharing it on FB! xo
Yay 🙂 You should add me on FB. You can find me under firstname.lastname@example.org
Just as an FYI, legally, they should lose the tax-exempt status as soon as the IRS is made aware of the situation. Tax law (as I understand it) prohibits churches with tax-exempt status from speaking politically as that falls under a different ruling of tax-law.
As a Buddhist I see the lack of “Freedom” you speak of in Romney’s declaration that we are “all children of the same God.”
State is State and religion is religion the twain should not meet.
Expect a friend request. 🙂
What extremely interesting post Diane. Some very valid comments have been made by a lot of people with ‘different views’. I agree there should be a line drawn between the two………however that is easier said than done. I believe things go a lot deeper than this. As we are all well aware a great number of wars across the world over the centuries have been caused by religious beliefs and political beliefs. The governments, any governments involved, step in to take control of the war situation and in a sense believe that religion plays a significant part in guiding their path to the final outcome by the politicians who make these decisions. But then that’s just as easy as saying if things go wrong blame God, if things turn out right the politicians and government made the right decisions!! All politics and religion go hand in hand!!
Our monarchy in this country are very religious, and our Queen and her family have always believed and maintained that God guides her in her duties to the state and it’s people, as do our government and her politicians.
Overall, such as is the case with your post, I guess that regardless of what the building is or what it represents showing an aspect of religion is a sign of ‘respect’, and I think sometimes it’s put there as a reminder to people who work or visit these places that religion does play a significant part in any governance.
In recent years in the UK there have been headlines news made regarding people who wear a small inconspicuous crucifix around their necks, at their place of employment, not just because it is a piece of jewellery, but because it also represents their individual religious beliefs………..and yet certain institutions dictate that to wear a crucifix in certain working environments causes disrespect to other religions and people who have different religious beliefs or views, and who also work in that same environment. But surely everyone is entitled see some aspect of their religious beliefs no matter where they go. At the end of the day I am C of E (Church of England) a Christian, and like you I am still finding out what I truly believe in, however it does not stop me from respecting what others already believe in and why they choose to believe in it.
It means good sense. Nobody can force anybody else what to believe, not a king, not an emperor or a pharaoh. Let people decide for themselves. I choose no religion.
Personally, I have no problems with the faith a person espouses as long as they do not harm me or those around me. I do believe in a separation of Church and State for the simple matter that this country was founded on the concept of Religious Freedom. The government that is founded on that religious freedom should, in no way shape or form be condoning or denying any one faith or the lack thereof. Additionally, when you are working for a government that consists of and is supposed to be working for so many people of differing faiths and backgrounds, you cannot help but offend people as soon as religion is brought into the picture. Additionally, you cannot help but abrogate the religious rights of a person when you start basing governmental decisions on a single religion.
I concur with your opinion 100%. I don’t have the stomach to read all those other responses right now. Great post.