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Switch to Forum Live View The Separation of Church and State
6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 11:55AM #1
Al-Fatihah
Posts: 1,348
Throughout history, the christian world would set up governments where they would incorporate their religion as the part of the law of the land. Today we see a separation of church and state. So why did the founding fathers decide to separate church and state? Did they really base this decision on freedom? Also, is this concept a teaching of christianity? Let's have a dialogue.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 1:37PM #2
REteach
Posts: 15,016
A good book on this topic is Founding Faiths.

The founding fathers separated church and state because of the abuses they saw.  People of one religion were being taxed to pay for ministers of a different religion. In addition to being unfair, it was also thought to promote crappy ministers, too.  Catholics fought in the Revolution but could not vote in several states.  Baptists could not marry members of their congregations in other states. 

Also, bear in mind that this was not that long after witch trials and people being banished for being the wrong (Christian) religion.

They saw what people were capable of doing in the name of religion, and they wanted to avoid it.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 4:19PM #3
peterthesplitfish
Posts: 1,609
Shalom Al-Fatihah,

Well let me start by first saying that the founding fathers were not Christians and that is often a bone of contention for many and many just can't accept that fact.

Peter M.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 4:28PM #4
Xristocharis
Posts: 5,051

Al-Fatihah wrote:

Throughout history, the christian world would set up governments where they would incorporate their religion as the part of the law of the land. Today we see a separation of church and state. So why did the founding fathers decide to separate church and state? Did they really base this decision on freedom? Also, is this concept a teaching of christianity? Let's have a dialogue.



The concept of a Christianized government really only evolved as a concept following the Edict of Milan, and even then it took another 80 years for Christianity to become the official religion of the Roman Empire.

State and Church were never confused together, as in both in the East and in the West various controversies pitted Church and State against one another in various capacities.

It wouldn't be until the rise of the modern nation state in the 16th and 17th centuries that religion and government became fused in new ways, often imitating Geneva's form of theocracy. The Anabaptists particularly resisted this new form of Protestant theocracy by refusing any participation with the State whatsoever.

It was within this mix, where nationalism and church fidelity existed together in a strange marriage that many European intellectuals began to challenge the status quo. The concept of government itself was challenged by various political philosophers, such as John Locke, which became foundational for the American founding fathers to propose a system of government very different than anything that existed back in Europe.

Nonconformist Christians such as Quakers and Mennonites found that they had a chance to survive in America in ways they didn't in the situation that Europe still largely found itself.

As someone who believes not only in the separation of Church and State, but who believes that the very concepts of "Church" and "State" are diametrically opposed to one another the idea of a "Christian nation" makes about as much sense to me as the idea of a square circle.

Church and State are not two spheres of authority, as has oftentimes been said, but are two completely opposite ways of comprehending human interpersonal activity. The State is an organization of power and glory, the Church is an organization of suffering and weakness.

The State, by its very existence, is opposite of Christ, His Kingdom and His Church; who teaches that "the greatest must be the least" and that mercy triumphs over retributive justice. Whose life in all that it encapsulates demonstrates the absolute and utter poverty of the powers and principalities and in His death He makes a mockery of them. The moment Caesar had Christ nailed to the tree he showed himself to be the loser--despite all his pomp and splendor, Caesar has failed. Caesar is fallen. Babylon is fallen, she is fallen and dead.

-Jon

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." - Dom Hélder Câmara
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 4:54PM #5
peterthesplitfish
Posts: 1,609
Shalom Xristocharis,

Your post reminded me of why Mozart left his home town of Salzburg for Vienna. It was the Prince Arch-Bishop Hieronymus Colleredo who refused to let Mozart work in the evenings composing music for the opera house or other such affairs. And yes that was the Prince Arch-Bishop...no separation of church and state there. Also Bach was put under house arrest because he refused to stop composing new music for the church he was working in just before he starting working for a Calvinist. The Calvinist didn't need music for church so Bach wrote the famous Brandenburg Concerti during that time.

I also recall, although the name escapes me at this time, that one of the many popes under the Medici clan was a boy of some 15 or 16 years of age. Now how's that for you? A bratty teen telling you how to interpret scripture?

Peter M.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 8:25PM #6
Al-Fatihah
Posts: 1,348
[QUOTE=peterthesplitfish;1000869]Shalom Al-Fatihah,

Well let me start by first saying that the founding fathers were not Christians and that is often a bone of contention for many and many just can't accept that fact.

Peter M.[/QUOTE]

Response: The founding fathers were not christians? Then what were they?
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 8:33PM #7
REteach
Posts: 15,016
It sounds like they mostly believed in God, but not all of them believed Jesus was divine, which is kind of considered to be important in Christianity--rightly or not.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 8:59PM #8
peterthesplitfish
Posts: 1,609
[QUOTE=Al-Fatihah;1001514]Response: The founding fathers were not christians? Then what were they?[/QUOTE]

Shalom Al-Fatihah,

Now if I gave you all the answers what would the point of self-improvement be? I'll give you a hint though, it does have to do with the Laws and a few very just souls. The Laws are still moving though because what they began they couldn't finish as in the slavery issue.

Peter M.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 9:57PM #9
hortonthrockmorton
Posts: 3,497
[QUOTE=Al-Fatihah;1001514]Response: The founding fathers were not christians? Then what were they?[/QUOTE]

Most were Christians of some stripe or another.  A few professed religious beliefs outside of Christian orthodoxy.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 06, 2009 - 10:40PM #10
Xristocharis
Posts: 5,051

Al-Fatihah wrote:

Response: The founding fathers were not christians? Then what were they?



As Horton noted, many were Christian of varying degrees of orthodoxy, but others held no particular religious stripe and still others, such as Jefferson, were Deists which is less a theological position and more a philosophical one.

About the only thing the founding fathers agreed upon was that it was necessary to break free from the British Crown and establish a government built upon democratic principles--though they heavily disagreed on how to implement such principles.

Some even wanted the new nation to be a monarchy.

-Jon

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." - Dom Hélder Câmara
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