One thing that’s been on my mind lately is the idea of separation of church and state. It may not be a surprise that I come across the theme on my own, considering my interests. In particular I listen to the podcast of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s radio show, Freethought Radio. As a radio show I find it annoying at times but I agree with the message of keeping religion out of our government. But I also often come across the idea through historical books and podcasts as well. Currently I’m reading a book about the life of Otto Von Bismarck. I’m in the middle of the chapter in which he has to deal with trying to separate Germany from the Catholic church.
Of course as an atheist I want religion out of the government to stop the encouragement of religion, especially amongst children. But even aside from my anti-religious feelings I still encourage the separation of church and state. Even with the case in Germany the general feeling against the church controlling the government wasn’t interested with those who believed with the theology. The opponents of the church simply wanted to keep it out of controlling the government. Even if I prayed, I wouldn’t want prayer in schools or at the beginning of government meetings. I wouldn’t want ten commandments posted on classroom walls. Religion works best when it controls people in their personal lives, but not their civic ones.
I still consider this a moot point, however. Religion has no place in the government because it has no place anywhere. Don’t think this means that I’m going to hate you if you believe in some religion. Like I said before I get along with a lot of people who’s behavior I don’t condone. Even if I look at disdain at parents dragging their children to the brainwashing camps (i.e., churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) I don’t say anything to them about it personally. But when the issue enters the public spectrum something must be done.
Remember the Salem witch trials? That’s what happens when you let superstition into your laws and courts. People are being executed worldwide because their beliefs aren’t held by those in charge. Yet supposedly in this country we have the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment. Now, I don’t always fall back on the Constitution as the end-all-be-all of an argument of what’s right and what’s wrong. But it is there, and is constantly having to be enforced across the country.
I’m glad that there are groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation keeping check on government officials who are letting religious dogma into places where it shouldn’t be. I just wish that the public at large was more involved in the issue. Even those who personally believe in something should speak up and say anything. After all, it’s not in any religion that I can tell that the religion has to interfere with the government. For a religious person to speak out against the church influencing the government isn’t conflicting with their beliefs.
Now, if the government should outright make religion illegal, however… then I won’t complain.