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Separation of Church and State

News
  1. -Editorial: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation (New York Times - Meacham)
      "In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: 'the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.' "

      However, "the only acknowledgment of God in the original Constitution is a utilitarian one: the document is dated 'in the year of our Lord 1787.' Even the religion clause of the First Amendment is framed dryly and without reference to any particular faith. The Connecticut ratifying convention debated rewriting the preamble to take note of Godís authority, but the effort failed."

      "Thomas Jefferson said that his bill for religious liberty in Virginia was 'meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.' When George Washington was inaugurated in New York in April 1789, Gershom Seixas, the hazan of Shearith Israel, was listed among the cityís clergymen (there were 14 in New York at the time) ó a sign of acceptance and respect. The next year, Washington wrote the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., saying, 'happily the government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. ... Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.' " 10-07

Papers
  1. -John F. Kennedy's Speech on Separation of Church and State (AmericanRhetoric.com)
      "I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

      "Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice, where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind, and where Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral levels, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood." 02-12

  2. Activist Churches Flaunt IRS Rules on Not Supporting Political Candidates (MSNBC News)
      "IRS audits of churches must comply with strict rules designed to prevent undue governmental pressure. One is that a high-level IRS or Treasury Department official must authorize the audit." 06-12

  3. Arkansas Lawmakers Pass "Religious Freedom" Bill (Time.com)
      "Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a religious-freedom bill that has drawn sharp criticism from opponents who say it opens the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians." 03-15

  4. Catholic Churches Take a Strong Anti-Contraception Position (CBS News)
      "During church services on Sunday, Catholics around the country were read a blistering letter assailing the Obama administration for an 'assault on religious liberty' in the form of a coming requirement that most church-linked organizations - among them hospitals, schools and universities - offer birth control coverage as part of their health care plans." 01-12

  5. Editorial: Contraception Mandate Doesn't Protect Religious Liberty (US News)
      "Proponents of this federal HHS mandate would like you to believe the main question is whether and how to increase access to contraception. But the real question here is whether the government can force religious organizations to either pay for activity that contradicts their religious beliefs or pay government fines. The First Amendment exists to shield believers and their institutions from exactly this kind of brute force."

      "Constitutional prohibitions aside, the "access" argument advanced by HHS's defenders is thin. Affordable contraception is already available to the majority of Americans. In fact, the federal government already spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year funding free (or nearly free) family planning services under its Title X program. Incrementally increasing consumption rates may be a government policy objective, but that misses entirely the superseding constitutional point: Whom can the government force to pay to make it 'free.' "

      Editor's Note: The mandate was changed from having religious institutions pay for the contraception insurance services to requiring the insurance companies to offer the services for free. 02-12

  6. Editorial: Employees of Religious Institutions Should Have Access to Birth Control Coverage (US News)
      "Family planning results in better health outcomes for women and their childrenóa woman who has a planned pregnancy is more likely to be in better health when she gets pregnant and more likely to seek prenatal care, and children who are born at least two years apart are healthier. Family planning is also the most effective tool we have in reducing unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion."

      "Houses of worship are exempt under the Health and Human Services rule guaranteeing no-cost contraceptive coverage. But nonprofits, like hospitals, that serve the general public, employ people of all beliefs, and engage in secular, commercial activities must offer the same health benefits to their employees that any other business must provide. No right is absolute and this is a fair balancing of the competing interests at play." 02-12

  7. Editorial: Gingrich's Claim of a "War on Religion" (Time.com)
      "As ever, Newt Gingrich minced no words. 'I understand that thereís a war against religion,' Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Networkís David Brody last week, 'and I am prepared to actually fight back.' In the same conversation, Gingrich claimed that most journalists simply could not understand people of faith given the mediaís purported secularism. And so Gingrichís 'war' goes on."

      "The nonbelieving, not the believing, are the ones who should feel outnumbered. According to Gallup, 78% of American adults identify with some form of Christian religion. Jews make up less than 2%; Muslims form 1%; and 15% say their 'religious preference' is 'none/atheist/agnostic.' Ninety-five percent of Americans who say they are religious are thus Christians. The President of the United States routinely invokes Godís blessing on the nation. Washington and state and county and city buildings throughout the country use religious imagery. We open our congressional sessions and our inaugurations with prayers; chaplains receive publicly funded salaries. The pagans, therefore, are not exactly at the gates."

      "It is true that traditional Christianity is losing some of its appeal among Americans, but that is a religious, not political, matter. It is worth remembering that the Jeffersonian 'wall of separation' between church and state has always been intended to protect the church from the state as much as the state from the church. And evangelism is about winning souls more than it is about winning votes. For many serious believers, thatís the real war. And itís not the one Gingrich thinks is unfolding." 02-12

  8. Editorial: Limits on Separation of Church and State (Truth-Out.org)
      "Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow at Political Research Associates, notes that the issues surrounding church-state separation and religious freedom remain somewhat thorny. 'A guy like Tom Monahan does not get to rewrite the Constitution in accordance with his religious or political viewpoint,' he says. 'But a bunch of people can get together to form an intentional community. The question then becomes to what extent can a person give up his or her individual rights?' "

      "For me, the real question is one that Thomas Jefferson asked: Are you as free to go out of a church as you are to go into one?" 11-14

  9. Editorial: What Was Lost in the Debate on Birth Control (Time.com)
      "With this hysteria at a fever pitch, itís easy to forget a few simple truths. Taxpayers spend more than $11 billion each year (in 2001 dollars) on costs associated with unintended pregnancy. Itís a conservative figure that only includes public insurance costs and not the larger financial burden of bringing unwanted children into the world."

      "An estimated half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended according to an analysis by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute and published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, and of those unplanned pregnancies, a further half end in abortion. Thatís an awful lot of unwanted children and fetuses. By age 45, more than 40% of all American women will have had at least one abortion, a rate almost twice that of Western Europe. A comprehensive study by the World Health Organization confirmed that abortion rates in countries that prohibit or restrict legal abortion are no different than abortion rates in countries with liberal abortion laws; the only reliable way to reduce abortion is through the provision of affordable, accessible contraception."

      "Why should an employerís right to reject birth-control coverage trump a societyís collective imperative to reduce unintended pregnancy?" 02-12

  10. Editorial: Why Mennonites Don't Sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' (CNN News)
      "Mennonite beliefs and practices seem bizarre to some and offensive to others. But itís life in this strange tribe that keeps me faithful to what I believe. I love my country, but I sing my loyalty and pledge my allegiance to Jesus alone." 06-11

  11. John F. Kennedy's Speech on Separation of Church and State (AmericanRhetoric.com)
      "I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

      "Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not to attend the church of his choice, where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind, and where Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral levels, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood." 02-12

  12. Politics, Religion, and the State (CrossCurrents.org)
      Provides cross-cultural observations on how religion, politics, and the state interact in a variety of countries.

      "Few will be surprised to learn that campaigning politicians everywhere tend to invoke local religious themes and symbols as sources of legitimacy and what Demerath and Rhys Williams have called 'cultural power' (1992). What may be more surprising is the frequent tendency for governmental regimes and their officials to try to keep religion at arm's length. While religion is often an ally in the pursuit of power, once power has been secured, religion can become an unwelcome constraint in the quite different processes of state administration."

      "Demerath developed this point in an earlier article (1991), arguing that, while few countries have the kind of formal, legal 'separation of church and state' that characterizes the U.S., an informal de facto separation is almost a commonplace. The most conspicuous exceptions here are not 'religious states' but rather 'state religions' in which the government seeks to control religion. Strangely enough, this often involves state support for religion in an effort to coopt and nullify it as an independent power-base." 11-04

  13. Rick Santorum's Speech on Separation of Church and State (Christian Post)
      " 'I don't believe in America the separation of church and state is absolute,' Santorum told host George Stephanopoulos. 'The idea that the church can have no influence or involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says "free exercise of religion," that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated a vision saying faith is not allowed in the public square.' "br>Editor's Note: Please see John F. Kennedy's Speech on Separation of Church and State to judge for yourself whether Kennedy actually said (or implied) that "faith is not allowed in the public square." 02-12

  14. Rick Santorum's Speech on Separation of Church and State (Christian Post)
      " 'I don't believe in America the separation of church and state is absolute,' Santorum told host George Stephanopoulos. 'The idea that the church can have no influence or involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says "free exercise of religion," that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated a vision saying faith is not allowed in the public square.' "br>Editor's Note: Please see John F. Kennedy's Speech on Separation of Church and State to judge for yourself whether Kennedy actually said (or implied) that "faith is not allowed in the public square." 02-12

  15. Separation of Church and State (PBS.org - Moyers)
      " 'Separation of church and state' is probably a familiar phrase. While it's one of the most frequently debated issues about the Constitution, those exact words don't even appear in the original document. How well do you know the history of God and government in the United States? Learn about it below." 11-04

  16. The Law: Can Atheists Be Parents? (Time.com)
      "In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata denied the Burkes' right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes' 'high moral and ethical standards,' he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that 'no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience.' Despite Eleanor Katherine's tender years, he continued, 'the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being.' "

      "If they fail in their appeal, Eleanor Katherine may have to leave the only family she has ever known and await adoption by another couple whose religious convictions satisfy the State of New Jersey." 08-09

   
   


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