Separation of Church and State
Righty: America was settled by Christians, its Founding Fathers were Christians, and the vast majority of Americans today are Christians. So why should we cater to a tiny minority of vicious heathens who would trample our rights and force us to remove all signs of our faith from schools and public spaces? We must protect our religion against all those who would take it from us. You have to agree that something is seriously wrong when public schools teach our kids about homosexuality while banishing any reference to God and the Bible. You know the world has gone mad when we can’t even mention the word “Christmas” in public without incurring somebody’s wrath. (“Holiday tree,” indeed! You can have your holiday tree, Lefty, but don’t you dare touch my CHRISTMAS tree! That’s CHRISTmas! Merry CHRISTmas, you goddamn atheist!) The Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they knew how successfully the anti-Christian forces in America have used the Bill of Rights to justify their crusade against God. We must turn the tide and take back this nation for Christ.
Lefty: The Bill of Rights guarantees the separation of church and state. The fact that Christians constitute a majority does not entitle them to impose their beliefs on the rest of the nation. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment. We must prohibit the expression of religious beliefs in all public institutions and venues. That means no Christmas carols, no menorahs, no Ten Commandments plaques on court houses, no prayers at presidential inaugurations. “In God We Trust” should come off U.S. coins out of respect for those of us who don’t trust in God, and likewise we must delete the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance — everyone knows it was inserted there during the McCarthy hysteria. The majority of America’s Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians; they spoke of God only in the abstract sense of “Providence” and certainly didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus or the inerrancy of the Bible. We must honor their wise decision to keep religion out of the public arena. Nyah, nyah, Righty!
The New Moderate:
I’ve looked in vain for any phrase resembling “separation of church and state” in the U.S. Bill of Rights. With regard to religion, the First Amendment actually states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s it. Surprised? The wording might be a little vague, but the Founding Fathers were simply saying that when it comes to religion, Congress won’t meddle. No official state religion… no prohibition of religion. Have it your way, those noble Dead White Males were telling us. Worship Yahweh or Quetzalcoatl or nobody at all. Congress won’t tell you what to believe.
How this wise and benign concept morphed into the secularist catchphrase “separation of church and state” is a matter for serious scholars of American history to ponder. The New Moderate isn’t quite serious or scholarly enough to attempt it here. All I have going for me is a documented 99th percentile aptitude for verbal reasoning (don’t ask about my mechanical reasoning score). Based on that aptitude, I can assert with relative confidence that the public dismantling of religion is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind (remember, they refused to prohibit “the free exercise thereof”).
For example, the First Amendment appears to be powerless to ban God from public schools, since those schools are run by local governments, not by Congress. Neither can it ban nativity scenes or Ten Commandments plaques from public squares, because those squares, like the schools, fall under the dominion of local governments, not Congress.
Like the Founding Fathers, The New Moderate adamantly opposes any form of theocracy. I don’t want the Holy Bible to be the law of the land (for starters, we’d have to execute people who work on the Sabbath). But I have to conclude that the left has been distorting the First Amendment to promote a secularist agenda, that the Supreme Court has been a willing accomplice, and that the rest of the country has been seriously snookered.
But that’s not the end of our argument: in a New Moderate utopia, nobody would impose religious (or irreligious) beliefs on anyone else. This is a simple matter of civility, not legality. The right-leaning Christian majority in this utopia would be considerate enough to acknowledge that not everyone submits to their creed (or needs to). They’d never force nonbelievers to participate in a Christmas pageant or expect them to intone the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. But non-Christians would be open-minded enough to participate in that Christmas pageant out of sheer good will. They’d still be non-Christians after all is said and done.
A personal note: Back in grade school, many decades ago, I stepped in for an absent Jewish friend during the Hanukkah segment of our holiday pageant. I recited a story about the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Reciting those words didn’t make me Jewish, but for some reason it made me feel good to the core.
Summary: The Bill of Rights made no provision for “separation of church and state;” on the contrary, it defended the “free exercise” of religious beliefs. Secularists cannot point to the First Amendment to justify their anti-religious campaigns. The New Moderate supports the free expression of religion in a civil and non-coercive manner, but theocracy has no place in American life.