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Separation Of Church And State Benefits Everyone

1117 words - 4 pages

Two of America’s well known thinkers, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, created the precedent for how political and ecclesiastical groups would exist autonomously in order to guarantee a favorable outcome for both. To allow for proper functioning and success, an entity must be able to act independently without reliance on another. If one party is disadvantaged, those disadvantages way on both sides. If one party is successful but to the point of dominance, the other becomes weakened and its needs placed in the shadow. Because of this, separation of the church from the state allows for both groups to function at their fullest without fear of being suppressed by greatness or burdened by the others vulnerabilities.
The word of God would not be what is ruling our souls but instead it would be the opinion of men if the state were to be dominant. Jefferson gave commentary on this factor in “The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom”, written in 1786. He explained how the nature of men can tend to lead to a reign of hypocrisy and malice which departs from the true nature of God. God created men to think independently and any attempt to alter or coerce the mind, including governmental punishments and burdens, deviates from this religious design. Coercion is unacceptable, presumably because any leaders that begin to have dominion over the faith of citizens and who act without a connection or valid instruction from God could lead to godless opinions taking the place of the only true word. According to the word of God as understood by the then dominant Christian faith, the Lord chose not to propagate our decisions by coercion and neither should men, because man should not be able to hold such power. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) If the opinion of political officials were placed as the ultimate word by which all men should dictate their religious paths, and citizens lived by those words, creation of a false religion would surely follow. This infringement by the government, the gaining of total dominance over the church, puts the citizens in a vulnerable position that could lead to a lack of opinion in what some consider the most important aspect of their life, faith.
Clearly, Jefferson sought to protect the fundamental values of church. However, his intentions in keeping the church and state separate also aimed at protecting the fundamental truth of what it meant to live in a democracy. “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical,” Jefferson wrote as part of The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. “That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him...

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