Church and State

By Fred M. Fariss

In the United States, it is imperative to maintain a separation between church and state, because the philosophy of religion and the U. S. Constitution are incompatible. The basic philosophy of the U. S. Constitution is democratic. The basic philosophy of religion is totalitarianism.

In England, before the American Revolution, there was a marriage of government and religion - a union of totalitarianism - church and state. The King held a position of divine right - he was head of both the church and the government. The colonists, in America, in order to rebel against the tyranny of England, had to violate their own faith toward God - a democratic maneuver - it was not only an act of civil disobedience, it was also an act of religious disobedience. They took a great risk in relationship to the wrath of the king as well as the wrath of God. When the Founding Fathers, proposed a new form of government, what they engineered was a new and different philosophy which posed two parallel philosophies - religion in all of its forms of totalitarianism and government as a democratic operative. At this point, the Founding Fathers boldly took upon themselves, to defy and dismiss that which had been held to be so sacred, as though it were divinely appointed by God Himself. The Founding Fathers rejected a government of a monarchy - divine or secular. Are the social ills that exist today, the result of the abandonment of an association with a theocratic philosophy of government?

What is interesting to observe is that wherever in the world there is a coalition between totalitarian religion and government, the government will be also structured to be totalitarian. For example, the struggle in Palestine today, is more over religion than politics. To make it more complex, is the combined elements of the ethnic factor and religion. It is a flesh and blood issue that could indeed become a holy war! The instability of the Israeli government is present because of the conflict the government is having with the Orthodox Jewish element. It is a conflict over totalitarianism and democracy. If the Israeli government were to be controlled by the Orthodox Jewish faction, then the philosophy of the government would move from a democracy to totalitarianism. This would set the stage for a holy war between the Palestinian country - an Islamic totalitarian regent and Israel, a totalitarian regent. The struggle would become one that is purely religious. The democratic structure of the Israeli government would be lost to the synthesis of church and state. This kind of development could take place in any country in the world, including the United States. When any religion in any country of the world, becomes married to the state government, the first thing that will go is religious freedom. It is a reality, if Islam were to become the dominant religion in America, Christianity would not be tolerated as a coexistent, competitive religion. In time, Christianity would be blotted out. Asserted totalitarian religions allow no place for the democratic process whether it be religion or politics.

When forces in the United States seek to cross the barrier and violate the separation of church and state, they are setting the stage for holy war and combat for the future. "In God We Trust" is a nice romantic and comforting slogan. But the immediate question is: "Which God?" After the line of demarcation between government and religion is erased, the next compelling line is the one between religions. History is a record that religion as a system of thought is not satisfied to peacefully co-exist with other religions. Those religions who embrace the philosophy: "Our religion is the only way," will aggressively seek to evangelize the people of other religions. The method can be by speech or by force. History shows that as a religion gains momentum in size, it will be tempted, and often does, take over the political process. It is then, that force will be brought to bear to convert the masses over to the presiding religion in control at the time.

The Founding Fathers did a very unique thing when they wrote the Constitution. They created a form of government that was in principle and practice - democratic. They deliberately did not take an atheistic position toward God and religion. However, neither did they take a position on the form or tenets of religion. They set the issues of religion aside as a matter of private, personal concern.

In order to maintain the spirit of the Founding Fathers, it is imperative that we preserve the democratic, autonomy of the people, commonly called a free society and avoid surrendering to ecclesiastical totalitarianism. If we were to error at all, let it be towards democratic autonomy. Those who want to destroy that precious line between church and state, have the very attitude that purposed maintaining control over the people, rather than government by the people. Keep in mind, that the U. S. Constitution, in its design and intent, is in contradistinction to the spirit of a theocratic monarchy purposed by most world religions. To return America to the days before the American Revolution, would be to desecrate the great price that many paid in giving of their lives to free us from the tyranny of a theocratic monarchy. The cry before the American Revolution was: "God save the King." After the American Revolution, the cry became: "God bless America."

The issues about morality and moral standard are far more complex under the administration of a democratic autonomy. Whereas, under the totalitarianism of religion, the moral standard is more absolute, according to the interpretation of the religion's holy book. The gist of the moral standard indeed rest upon the leadership of authority in how they interpret the holy book.

Under democratic autonomy - the moral standard has its authority in the people (the government). It is a long and difficult process, for the people to work out a synthesis of their many different points of views which practically serve the majority for the common good. The moral standard will be relative in areas that seem contradictory to other applications in a different context. Much will depend upon the intellectual and emotional growth of the masses which will vary from place to place. It will take time for catch-up to occur in a area of issues. Even though the process is slow and difficult, nevertheless, it is necessary to keep the governing power with the people and not with the leadership.

The people in England, during the American Revolution, must have been horrified at the insurrection of the people in the colonies who wanted to overthrow the government which they believed was established by divine right of kings. The insurrection was not only against he King, but against God. The people of England felt justified in putting down the colonists because they were doing the work of God in the suppression of the colonists. Incidentally, their God was the one interpreted by King Henry 8th as he developed a new and different political/religious system when he pulled away from the Roman Catholic church and its political/religious system. All world religions are political/religious systems. What the Founding Fathers of the U. S. Constitution did was not only an act of treason and insurrection, it was also an act of heresy. What the Founding Fathers did was to divide the political/religious system into two separate systems that would reside with each other, in a respectful co-existence. They defined the political system to be the system of democratic autonomy - ruled by the masses - the people. The religious system was recognized as an entity unto itself as interpreted as a private matter with each individual - a democratic autonomy.

One thing for sure, whatever religion a person or persons might embrace, that religion could not violate the principles of government based upon democratic autonomy. As a result of this design set forth in the U. S. Constitution, we have a strange anomaly among us. We have a government of democratic autonomy existing along side of religious institutions that are totalitarian. The wall of separation is necessary, less we return to our former state and sacrifice our most precious legacy we received from our Founding Fathers. The risk the colonists took against England was the lost of their lives. If the colonists had lost the Revolutionary War, our history books would be filled with a long list of obituaries of those guilty of treason to the crown. Names like: George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and many others whom we revere would be listed. The freedom that we take so lightly would be gone. There would be one imposing religion - the religion of King Henry 8th, and we would have no other choice!

(C) 2001 Fred M. Fariss All Rights Reserved