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God V The Government: The Showdown

1553 words - 6 pages

In 1787, the newly autonomous United States search for a legislative foundation; a foundation they found within the astute and forward-thinking minds of our founding fathers. These courageous men set up guidelines for which all American citizens were to conduct themselves. These stipulations, detailed in the United State Constitution and further defined in the Bill of Rights (1788), were obligatory for all American citizens. The Bill of Rights first Amendment states:
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.
The idea of "making no law respecting an establishment of religion" was revolutionary for the time. The concept of separation of church and state is never explicitly claimed in any Founding document, rather it stems from the ideology of John Locke. Furthermore, it is later addressed in an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson written to the Danbury Baptists stating:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, That the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation Between Church & State."
The first Constitutional Amendment cemented into place this divisional stance regarding government and church and would set a legislative precedent from that day forward. Why then do many find it necessary to interject religion into the government?
Our ancestors, the "first" settlers of this country came here to escape religious persecution. Often in past European societies, churches were pawns used by governments to scare citizens, gather damaging information and advance government ideologies. Even today, many countries such as Iran continue to use these oppressive devices. Moreover, it is commonplace in the Middle East for religious extremists to use Mosques to recruit terrorist and spread their anti-western message. In historical Europe, those who condemn the English Church were referred to as separatist. These separatist, our ancestors, left England to establish a country based on the principles of religious freedom. If we were to instill any one religion as the upholding ideologies of our country, we would fail to uphold our founding principles. The Church of England eventually recognized the flaws in a single-religion-based government and reformed the church, due to Charles II, to be the "middle ground religion" of English society. We must learn from history and not make the mistakes of our forefathers.
As a child, I grew up in what is known in...

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