Nowhere in our Constitution or Bill of Rights does it say that our safeguard against a fate similar to what 16th Century England experienced is to prohibit interaction between the Church and the State. Rather, that the control of either must be avoided.
To think that one ought to control the other is a small-minded and narrow train of thought. We know the State should not be controlled by a church or any religious organization. And we know that the Church should not be controlled or dominated by the affairs and regulations of the State. So what, then, is the solution? What was the First Amendment aiming for?
The goal of the First Amendment was to avoid the State controlling the Church and using her as an instrument for the manipulation of the people (as she was in England). This Bill was created to protect the freedoms and rights of the Church. The goal was not separation. The goal was freedom.
William E. Simon, in his book A Time For Truth, says, “Freedom…isn’t a presence, but it is an absence of governmental restraint” (pg 6).
These laws were to enable the Church and the State to maneuver freely for the well being of the people without the interference of one trying to dominate the other. This philosophy was to avoid control. Not justify it.
According to Webster’s Dictionary (merriam-webster.com), religion is: (1) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. (2) Scrupulous conformity; conscientiousness. (3) A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Based on these simple definitions we see to separate these from the State is nearly impossible. Religion (the Church) is a way of life. Religion is “A cause, principle, or system of beliefs”. Religions are merely personal convictions and “practices”. It is impossible to exist and not have principles, beliefs, practices or a cause of any sort. This can never be truly separated from the State.
Rather, these convictions, principles and causes should be the framework, the driving force, the infrastructure for all of the States functions. What good is a government with out a cause for which to stand? What good are a people with out a government by which their cause can be sustained and furthered?
In other words: the Church and the State are to work together as a team. The Church should not dominate the affairs of State. But the convictions of citizens (religion) must dominate the affairs of the State. The Church enables the affairs of the State to truly better the people. And likewise, the State enables the functions of the Church to also better the people. They work together, independent while interdependent.
Yet today it seems that an ever-growing state silences an ever-shrinking church. The reason for this is simple: The Church stopped doing what it was supposed to do! So now the State is forced to make up for it! Gary DeMar, in God and Government (pg 110), says, “If our main political and economic problems today are with the huge, impersonal and ever expanding bureaucratic State, then we must be prepared to take over many of the State’s activities”.
Basically, the Church used to run the orphanages and hospitals. The Church used to take care of the widows, the sick and the poor. The Church used to be Christ’s “hands and feet”. In short: the Church used to be the welfare system!
C.J. Ryle said, “The world before and the world after the introduction of Christianity were as different worlds as light and dark, night and day. It was Christianity that stopped gladiatorial combats, elevated the position of women, raised the whole tone of morality, and improved the condition of children and the poor” (DeMar, pg 210).
But as the “separation of church and state” became a wider and wider gap these benefits of the Church to society began to fall away and the State was forced to pick them up.
Due to misinterpretation of the First Amendment, the State began to enforce unnecessary separation between herself and the Church. This also caused the Church to begin to separate herself from her role in assisting the State in all those many ways. Hence the Church’s system was smothered and the need arose for the welfare system to be run by the State.
Now the Church feels displaced and the State feels overwhelmed. If only they could work together as intended! Not one dictating the rights of the other. If only they would allow each other to play their part in society, culture and the lives of men. Side by side they could do so much for the furtherance of goodness and justice. What a beautiful sound; the sound of two great institutions coming together for one goal.
Yet today in America the song has a different tune. We see politicians removed from office due to the expression of their religions convictions. We see Bibles prohibited in schools and Ten Commandment plaques banned from public squares.
Stalin once said, “Anti-religious ideas are molded by organized action. We must aim to eliminate the social roots of religion” (Skousen, pg 309). He went on to slowly choke out religious expression and conviction. Little by little these regimes laid the foundation they needed to launch the world into the crisis of communism.
These party schemes went on to successfully get the public to criticize religion. Over time, religion became that of the few and far between. And so the path was paved for communism to takes its toll on Earth.
Is America repeating this same scheme? How could we be so careless to run over the rights we’ve so proudly upheld? Rights that we have loved so dear!
Hopefully the fog is growing thin and the danger becoming clear. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights was developed as a safeguard against America’s churches becoming the suffocating and government-controlled fiend that the Church of England became. It was this very problem that drove so many thousands to pursue sanctuary in the New World. And it is for this cause that our First Amendment issues such strong protection of.
Yet today we find this principle being ignored and violated everyday in America. How could so great an error be committed even after the erection of so strong a defense! Impossible! Tragic! Yet this is reality today. America is becoming slave to the very monster that she was created, designed and populated to escape! A monster that crushes the rights and freedoms of religion.
Rights have been craved by mankind since the dawn of time. Rights have been dreamed of, fought for, chased after and desired on every level of society, with every depth of emotion, through every era of time.
Time has held a drama of agony over the rights of mankind. Wars scattered throughout the centuries have speckled the globe with histories of bloodshed. Victims wail their plea in the books, movies and photos of our time. The cries of the African Americans, women, Jews, children, churches, parents, and slaves of all kind are heard.
Violated rights have even left their scars in the new and bright pages of American history books. Even in the “land of the free” we see the grim and ongoing struggle of man to keep his “inalienable”, God given rights. Yet America has been a bright beacon of hope in this dark and wretched fight.
But now this beacon of hope dims. Dusk settles on the rights we’ve justly won. And in doing so the night of communism has subtly worked its first notes in to the melody of American history.
This is not a tune of freedom, civil liberties and human rights. It is not a song that echoes the glories of the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. It is a reprise of an old tune, a tune that has swept the masses into its slippery grave. A song whose singers wail from the graveyards of nations past. Yet has crept its way into nations present.
The song: communism. The nation: America. The outcome: unknown. The prediction: tragedy.