Seattle Multi-Faith examiner is always concerned about how faith plays an important role in society. Today, there is a threat against those who wish to practice their beliefs, worship and believe accordingly. The United States Constitution, as framed by our founding fathers, made it a point to place the most prominent and fundamental freedom of humanity at number one. Let us briefly examine the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This is very straightforward. The obvious question that is begged here is this: if religion and politics are to be separated out, why did the writers of the US Constitution establish a political government that ought to protect the freedom of religious expression and practice? Think about this, when a person prays in public, and those who take offense and then utilizes the legal system of the US to prevent them from exercising their freedom to religious expression, is this not violating the first amendment? Is it not dictating a position of where the Government becomes invested in the belief system of the people to where it determines what a person can and cannot do in public when it comes to the expression and practice of their religious belief systems? When we talk about the separation of Church and state, many who utilize this against those of the faith community do not fully realize the meaning behind this. They have a misguided and misconception of understanding. In reality, it is not a separation of church and state where the Church should remain separate from any and all political issues. It is a separation of Church and State where the American people are promised that there is not ever to be a State recognized Religion. That is the sole basis for the purpose of the concept behind the separation of Church and State.
In our American culture and society today, we have differing religious views, differing religious cultures and identities. Many people enjoy the freedom they have to worship how, when, where, and in what manner they so choose. Yet, such freedoms are slowly becoming non-existent. Special interest groups are motivating and utilizing the Government to remove the freedom of religious expression from some groups of individuals, while bolstering the position of those who disagree with a particular religion. This has become dangerously apparent in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and even more so with the candidacy announcement of two prominent Mormon Politicians.
On the left side of the political arena, there are those who view Mormonism as a religious corporation that is trying to create a theocratic government. What many people do not realize that when they go back and study the true history and founding principles of the United States. Our country was founded upon Theocratic principles. The government was founded upon a concept of theocracy within the republic of the people. Many who came to the shores of America, did so to escape the severe religious persecutions that were going on in Europe. Within this theocracy, there is the spirit of freedom and liberty of religious preference, persuasion and belief that compels the health and vibrancy of the culture and society.
John Fiske wrote this:
No class of people in England ever acquired such control of the whole society as the clergy acquired in Spain. In the worst days of English history attempts have been made to crush individuality of thought and to put a stop to the free discussion of religious and political questions. But such attempts have been feeble and sporadic; no such policy has ever prevailed. The history of religious persecution in England affords a most suggestive illustration (Finkle; pp. 567-68)
This persecution carried over into the thirteen colonies where a person was arrested for speaking out against the King of England; but since the King removed himself from the Catholic Church, not only he instituted his own State Religion and anyone who spoke against the King spoke heresy. This state religion is still in existence and is the Church of England established by King Henry the VIII:
The Church of England traces its roots back to the early church, but its specifically Anglican identity and its links to the State date back to the Reformation.
Henry VIII started the process of creating the Church of England after his split with the Pope in the 1530s. Henry was anxious to ensure a male heir after his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had borne him only a daughter. He wanted his marriage annulled in order to remarry. In 1534 after several attempts to persuade the Pope to grant an annulment, Henry passed the Act of Succession and then the Act of Supremacy. These recognised that the King was “the only supreme head of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia”. Henry adopted the title given to him by the Pope in 1521, that of Defender of the Faith.
Thus, when we become enlightened and knowledgeable about our own American Heritage and History, we come to the full understanding of what the original intent of the Constitution states. The First Amendment is the very first principle of a theocratic government in that it states there is to be no recognizable, or no favored religious preference established by the Government. This is the heart and soul of what one refers to when they say there is to be a separation of Church and State. Despite this understanding, many individuals will still cause an offense by stating that religious roles in the political affairs of the government and governing people should be kept separate. Religion should not dictate to the government what it can and cannot do as far as the laws of the land are concerned. Yet, it is just the opposite.
According to the Cambridge Platform of 1658, we read the following from chapter seventeen on the Civil Magistrate’s Power in matters of Ecclesiastical:
2. Church government stands in no opposition to civil government of commonwealths, nor any intrenches upon the authority of civil magistrates in their jurisdictions; nor any whit weakens their hands in governing, but rather strengthens them, and furthers the people in yielding more hearty and conscionable obedience unto them, whatsoever some ill affected persons to the ways of Christ have suggested, to alienate the affections of kings and princes from the ordinances of Christ; as if the kingdom of Christ in his church could not rise and stand, without the falling and weakening of their government, which is also of Christ; whereas the contrary is most true, that they may both stand together and flourish, the one being helpful unto the other, in their distinct and due administrations.
The religious conviction of early American society was not to hinder the political governance of the People, but to strengthen and support the political governance of the people. Here, both politics and religion stand and fall with one another to the point that if one becomes corrupt; it will surely affect and corrupt the other. Throughout recorded history, we have seen how political machinations have utilized state religious preference to oppress individuals. Furthermore, as one reads this early American document, one will find that the magistrate had a duty to uphold and protect the religious freedom, insomuch that the religious and faithful community of colonial America did not stand in need of reproof from the government, but that it is the religious belief system that stands to correct, reprove, rebuke, and guide the government of America. In this sense, Religious freedom and liberty includes the power and dominion to declare that when our Government ventures out into those areas where morality and unrighteousness prevail, the faith community has a duty and responsibility to call back those in position of power to repent, and to fortify the religious liberty.
In the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the wife and mother made a statement as to her relationship with her husband. While he retained his patriarchal order of the house, and the wife submits herself over to his direction, guidance, and care, she comments that even though he is the head, she is the neck and without the neck, the head could not receive support. It is the neck muscles that move the head. Thus, with this analogy, religion and politics are easily identified as one being the head and the other being the neck. Religion is the neck to the Government of the United States. It is religion that controls the Government in a sense. Without religion, the government would falter, and the people would become oppressed. However, because of religion, the government is controlled to the point where religious freedoms are enjoyed by all without preference or persuasion. Members of the differing faith communities are able to worship when, where, how and in what manner they wish. It is because of religious freedom and liberty, the government receives greater support and strength to the vitality and well-being of our nation and national security.
Despite this, many today do not see it this way. Many today see religion as an unnecessary product of society. Groups and organizations want to rewrite our history, want to persuade the American people that our society, culture, and individual freedom’s can be done without religious influence. Sadly, because of this, we are seeing the slow manipulation of our Government toward the oppression of religious freedom and expression. Our government is being influenced to dictate to the faith community that they are to be separate, that they are not to speak out against issues of morality that will bring about enslavement and harm to society. Here are some examples of what special interests groups and government officials have succeeded in removing religious expression from the American People:
- Prayer does not belong in school or in a place of business
- The passage of Roe vs. Wade and the sanctity of human life
- Homosexuality and the post-modern civil unrest of redefining the traditional family
- Disintegration of the family unit
- Inquiry to remove tax exempt status of religious belief systems who motivate their congregations to vote in a particular manner against issues of morality that affect the fiber and well-being of society
- Refusal to uphold the true principles of laws in protecting the weak, innocent, frail, and poor; instead, punishing them and oppressing them.
- Censoring and creating laws to prevent the preaching, distribution, and discussion of religious topics; as well as religious topics that relate to significant and important political issues.
- Criminalizing those with religious convictions, calling them terrorists, and marginalizing them (this is not to say that there are those who take their religious convictions to the more extreme and actually do engage in acts of violence toward fellow members of society; but it is in reference to the modern marginalizing of Christians, Jews, and Muslims who live out their faith and are not part of the more fundamental extremists of their respective faiths).
- Creating laws to where a person of a religious faith and belief system can’t even freely speak and share their opinion on certain topics that are relevant by calling such speech hate speech and punishable by law.
- Establishing and exerting a position of authority over the faith community through political machinations to where religious freedom is no longer protected, but hindered, oppressed and in direct violation of the First Amendment.
These ten areas are affecting the Faith community. What then are we to do? How are we to stand against this tyranny and disillusion? Simple, we exert our faith in a manner where we stand our ground. We stand our ground against religious persecution, against religious oppression, and remind our society that it is the Government that ought to step out of the ring of dominion over religion because it is not to influence the religious belief systems that our country was founded upon. Many will disagree with this, many will come against this article, however, as Charles Dickens wrote in his book Hard Times we live in a society today where people need to stand up and teach the facts, nothing but the facts. Far too many have become caught up in this disillusion of what American Society should be, instead of realizing what it ought to be. America was founded upon a theocratic ideology of religious liberty and freedom. Today, I share with you that we need to rise up in the Seattle Area and make our local civil government, State government, and National government aware that it is the ability of religious freedom where we can better affect the vitality of our culture and society. Without religion, there is oppression, abuse, wickedness, and slavery.