Why we have Separation of Church and State

There is constantly a huge discussion about the Separation of Church and State here in the US. This discussion resolves around many issues ranging from major items like the removal of state sanctioned prayer by students in public schools, Roe v. Wade and the teaching of evolution in public schools to stupid issues like removal of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, removal of the cross on Mount Soledad and restricting Christmas decorations on public property.

The more devout among us seem to regard the idea of Separation of Church and State as an affront to our Creator. They consider a godless government as a sure-fire path to destruction. While that stance may have some validity, an article on the front page of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal really struck a chord – reminding me why the Freedom of Religion is a good thing.

Russian President Vladmir Putin, by all accounts, is a downright scary man. Some would consider him borderline evil. He has brought stability to a Russia that has been in chaos since the end of the cold war – but at what price. Putin has little regard for civil liberties, been accused of orchestrating assasinations on foriegn soil and is oddly remeniscent of his bolshevik predecessors.

Putin and Alexei

One thing Putin knows, that escaped the Communists, was the power of the Church. Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church with open arms, even receiving a public blessing for his heir-appearant First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Using one’s personal religious beliefs to bolster public support (a tactic President Bush has been accused of using), while suspect, is fairly common and accepted. Using the head of a country’s largest religous institution, in this case Patriarch Alexy II f the Russian Orthodox Church, to receive an endorsement from God himself is a step beyond.

Separation of Church and State may not be a perfect policy when it comes to the public morality, but it is much preferred to the alternative. Any time the heads of the Church and the heads of Government begin to collude and abuse their power over the public we are reminded of how great the American Constitution is. We may constantly fight over these issues… but at least we are free to fight.

Rosie scared of Christians

Not sure how I missed this, but a couple of weeks ago on the View, new host Rosie O’Donnell addressed the threat of Radical Christians.

Rosie thinks that

Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state.

What???? OK, so she’s probably upset that she can’t marry her girlfriend, but opposing Gay Marriage is a long way from bombing, riots and murder.

Rosie went on to add

“…we are bombing innocent people in other countries. True or false?”

So she is holding the Radical Chrisitian community responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq? This is not just wrong, it’s delusional. It is a FACT that the vast majority congress, liberals and conservative, have repeatedly supported the war effort. In our last presidential election, John Kerry, who was definitely NOT supported by the christian community, did not ONCE come out and publicly promise to end the war. He danced around the issue like a little girl, critizing President Bush’s actions, but offering no real alternative.

Since it’s beginning, the majority of Americans (religious or not) have to some degree supported the war. Anti-war efforts have been limited to people like Cindy Sheehan who are on the fringe of society. Few have had the conviction to speak out against it publicly like Sheehan has, and most of them have been ridiculed. O’Donnell’s attempt to blame Radical Christians for bombing Iraq is just a pathetic attempt to rewrite history, place blame on a group she dosen’t personally like and associate that group with Muslim terrorists.

Mohammed’s head on a plate

Earlier this week, Berlin’s German Opera removed an interpretation of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” from it’s schedule due to fear of Islamic attacks on this opera. The reason for these fears, the closing scene of the opera depicts the decapitated heads of Jesus Christ, Buddha, the Greek god Poseidon and, of course, Mohammed.

Now, as a Christian, I personally find the idea of this ending distasteful, offensive and perhaps even blasphemous, but I’m not going to attack the Opera to stop it. In fact, I think they should continue with the show. As long as I don’t have to support it, they should be able produce anything they want. I’m not going to attack the Opera, or Germany. To my knowledge no Christian groups have threatened to attack the Opera. In fact there is no concern of physical action by Buddhists or Poseidon worshipers either. Amazing how this so called “religion of peace” has everyone scared to death.

Fortunately, there is a voice of reason. German officials are encouraging the Opera to continue with their show. In fact, culture minister Bernd Neumann is quoted as saying:

“If worries about possible protests lead to self-censorship, that threatens democratic culture. It requires tolerance and courage from us all: tolerance in the face of uncomfortable opinions and courage in the face of controversy. You cannot solve problems by being silent.”

Bow To Allah

Ok, one last comment on the whole Pope/Muslim thing. I found a couple very astute comments that really bring up a great point that I overlooked.

This isn’t about getting the Pope to realize he was wrong, or to realize he hurt Muslims’ feelings. It’s about making the world’s most prominent Christian leader appear subservient to Islam.

For more evidence of this look at this picture.

Classic Islamic law stipulates that Christians may live in peace in Islamic societies as long as they accept second-class status as dhimmis, which involves living within certain limits: not holding authority over Muslims, paying the jizya tax, not building new churches or repairing old ones, and…not insulting Allah or Muhammad. If they believe that a Christian has insulted them in some way, even inadvertently, his contract of protection — dhimma — is voided.

I know I REFUSE to be any of those freak’s dhimma.

Religion of peace

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last week or so you have heard about the Pope’s offensive remarks about Islam. Recently in speech the Pope

referred to criticism of the Prophet Muhammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the prophet brought was evil “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Muslim groups had this response to the Pope’s statement, in which he was only quoting a historical document not directly denouncing Islam himself:

Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq vowed war on “worshippers of the cross” and protesters burned a papal effigy…

Muslim fundamentalists, and western organizations like the New York Times, who are appearantly sympathetic to radical Muslims, have been begging Pope Benedict for a retraction of his statement. Sunday, the Pope addressed the matter but did not retract his statements. In fact, he reiterated his point that we should all reject religiously motivated violence.

To me, this whole issue is insane and ironic for the following reasons.

  1. Islam and Christianity are, and always have been, incompatible. Muslims continually point at the Christians (and Jews) as being evil, but when a Christian leader points out the same opinions about Islam worldwide riots erupt.
  2. The New York Times is defending Islam. Barely five years ago the city this newspaper represents was attacked by militian Muslims, but now the paper is leaping to their defense? How crazy is that?
  3. Islam is by it’s very nature violent. The Koran actively encourages it’s followers to spread the religion by the sword. This is not a myth, this is not a misinterpretation, this is a fact and it has been a method of operation for Muslims for thousands of years. There are many Muslims that don’t take this literally, but at it’s heart Islam is rooted in violence. Conversely, the Christian gospels constantly renounce violence. Christ made it clear that he did not advocate violent action in any way. Not that many wars haven’t been fought in the name of the Chrisitan God, but many times those wars were initiated by corrupt church officials not following the words of Christ.
  4. Declaring War on “worshippers of the cross” is neither new or peaceful. How are these people convincing anyone they are peaceful when every time they get offended they start killing people? How are all these liberal groups defending a religion that is committing violent crimes every time someone makes a statement they don’t like?

The only thing I understand less than the actions of Muslims on a worldwide scale is the readiness of social and political groups everywhere to constantly defend them. While I believe that, at least here in the US, Muslims have (and should continue to have) the right to peacefully worship in any way they wish, I also believe that there is a significant segment of Muslims worldwide that take the text of their religion to heart. These people are violent and dangerous because of Islam. The sooner we recognize and admit this the better off we will be.

Did we evolve?

Doc Rampage has an interesting post on the currently popular topic of how evolution fits with Christianity. I have to admit, I’m in much the same place Doc is. I am a Christian and believe in creation, but there is scientific evidence that definitely makes a young-earth creation more difficult to believe in. While, unlike Doc, I’m not ready to question the canon there are some unanswered questions I have.

I’m never one to shy from a debate, but there are some difficulties in this topic, as I have experienced lately in discussions on Mano Singham’s blog. This is largely a question of philosophy. It seems that, for most people, the science doesn’t decide the question one way or the other. It’s actually the belief (or disbelief) in a omiscient creator that creates the starting ground and the discussion is polarized based on an individual’s beliefs. Often the discussion breaks down more into ‘who should prove what’ than any discussion weighing the actual evidence.

There is one thing I think gets lost in all of this discussion. For much of the scientific community creation or evolution is meaningless. In either case man, and all other leaving things, reached a point some 6,000 years ago where he was uniquely suited for his environment. If we were created by God it’s reasonable to assume that our minds and bodies were created to function in the cultures that existed at that time. If we evolved it’s also reasonable to assume that we adapted to our particular situation. This means for sociology, psychology, medicine, archeology and most anthropological studies evolution is a non-issue. If we start at recorded history and work from the idea that we are uniquely suited to live on this planet in the social groups that existed at the time all science is minimally impacted. All that’s left are the biologists and the philosophers duking it out.