The Freedom of Religion otherwise known as separation of Church and State

The separation of Church and State is an issue in each of our respective countries.  The meaning of this principle is not as claimed by the atheists and others who have an issue against Christians.  By this I mean that this principle has nothing to do with the notion that the State must not allow anything with religious overtones, except it seems if it has something to do with Islam.

What I am getting at here is that there is a lot of hypocrisy by people who are opposed to Christians. This becomes obvious when the State is insisting that Christians who have certain moral values must for example allow gay “marriages” to take place on their premises, or they must bake cakes for gays who are “getting married”. In such cases the people making the complaint could have either accessed other facilities or used other bakers, yet they decided to oppress the Christian owners of their businesses.  This of course means that the State is in fact denying the principle of separation of Church and State by punishing the owners of these businesses.

Here in Australia the latest affront to Catholics is in Victoria where the Victorian Opposition Leader has announced that if he becomes Premier then he will punish the Catholic Church and force the Catholic Schools to take on individuals as teachers who do not in fact follow the practices of the Catholic Church. This is a very grave affront to Catholics for the simple reason that such an effort is indeed total hypocrisy….. and it has nothing to do with separation of Church and State.

Let me reiterate once again the true meaning of this principle, and a little bit of the history behind why the U.S. founding fathers thought that it is important. The principle is “the State must not enact a religion over any other religion” or in simpler terms the State must not establish a religion. What this should mean to the people is that the State cannot establish, for example the Anglican or Episcopalians as the main religion of the State. At the same time it means that Islam cannot become the religion of State.

As I thought about writing this post, one thing that was uppermost in my mind was the way in which the study of Islam is being foisted on students in public schools whilst the Christian religion is being punished or banned. In some areas of the USA, and in the UK for example, people are not even allowed to outwardly display their Christianity. They cannot pray before a football or a baseball match, or at the school assembly and these are just a few examples of State oppression against Christians. In the same vein as these examples, the State trying to force a Catholic School Administration to take atheists or people of other “faiths” does indeed go against the very principle of separation of Church and State.

I remind you of some of the history behind this principle, because it goes back to ancient times. In the period of the Maccabees the Jews were forced to worship the Greek god that was placed in the temple or die. The story of the woman and her 7 sons exemplifies those who are willing to sacrifice their lives rather than worship idols. However, during that same period there were many who agreed to worship the Greek god rather than remain faithful to the One True God. When the Romans took over from the Greeks, they were insisting that the people treat the Roman emperor as though he was a God. Thousands of Christians died because they were not willing to make sacrifices to the Roman Emperor. They were persecuted for their faith. Eventually, under Constantine the Christian religion became the religion of the State, but after Constantine there were other Emperors who had other ideas, and they worshiped idols, thus the Christians once again faced being persecuted and death. Some emperors attempted to interfere in the running of the Church, going as far as removing a Pope who did not agree with them…. history is littered with many examples of this form of interference. This brings me up to the time of Henry VIII who made himself the head of the Church in England. Once again Catholics were being oppressed in the name of the State. Queen Mary in turn persecuted some who were opposed to her Catholicism. Then along came Queen Elizabeth 1, and once again Catholics were persecuted. After this reign and after King James,  the Roundheads gained control of the Parliament and once again Catholics were persecuted and martyred.

I am concentrating here on a bit of English history because a lot of the early settlers in the USA were English. They were people who were fleeing persecution (even though their sect had been doing the persecution in England at the time). They understood the need to be free to form their own ideas. For this reason, the various sects within Christianity, including the cults such as Scientology, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians and others have been allowed to exist without persecution.

What has happened here is that the principle of Separation of Church and State has become warped and it no longer operates as was intended by those who did not want the State interfering in their religious beliefs. If a State Government attempts to force certain things on a Church school system, then that is a violation of a fundamental right of freedom of religion and it sets up a war between that Church group and the State.


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