Do you believe in separation of church and state?
A question Libra V posted about an atheist becoming president got me thinking.
If it is a requirement for the president of the United States to be sworn in to office by placing his hand over the Bible doesn't that mean we don't really have freedom of religion? I mean, its basically saying that you have to be a Christian to become president.
It is a superfluous and unconstitutional predisposition that favors one particular religion in this country.
Do you think this is right or not? Do you believe we have actual separation of church and state in the U.S.?
- LananiLv 61 decade agoFavorite Answer
Well, it depends what you mean by separation. The first Amendment clearly says that there is to be no established state religion (Establishment clause) AND that individuals should have the freedom to practice as they choose. (Free Exercise clause.) So yes, I think church and state should stay separate.
When it comes to questions about, say, hanging the ten commandments in a courthouse, or using a Bible in a swearing-in ceremony, I would be more likely to say that those things are just part of the cultural legacy of our political/judicial system than a per se state endorsement of any one religion, but not everyone sees it that way. It's largely a matter of interpretation.
Here in Minnesota, Congressman Keith Ellison was sworn in using a Qu'ran. There's no formal requirement that the Bible be used.
I don't think it's unreasonable to suppose that a non-religious person would either acquiesce to using the Bible out of a sense of the shared cultural legacy of the process, use a different document, or decline to use one at all--all of which are reasonable options.
- 4 years ago
I do for the following reason, not all people believe in the same things, and thus having a church in state would not truly represent the whole. Also, it would force in public schools the teaching of a system of beliefs that would offend a majority of people, as not even people with in the same religion can agree on how to teach it. Currently, there is nothing I have seen taught in school where I live that would be offense to anyone, as we do have a separation, instead of church in state. Anything they claim, can and has been proven to be true, using one method or another, and it is an equal field, where none are lost due to a difference of faith. It if fair, just, and even, as well it should be. Also, I AM religious, and still feel this way.
- Mike KLv 71 decade ago
To a point. We seem to be in a catch-22 situation here.
If the state listens to a church's view regarding certain morals and I do not agree with the particular moral issue as dictated by the church, like Gay marriage last week, then I am furious and choked and want to see 100% separation of the two. If on the other hand a bunch of powerful klansmen and other white supremacists got into power and influence by some fluke and wanted to disenfranchise the Afro - Americans, bring back the Joe Crow laws, mine the Mexican border etc then I am sure there would be many who would be furious if the Churches did not speak out against such a travesty of justice.
I still have not forgotten the daily criticisms the Catholic church gets every day in YA accusing it that it did not speak out or do enough against the legitimate Nazi and Fascist parties in the time of Pius XII.
So in other words we have to pee pee or get off the pot on this or allow some sort of leeway.
- Pull My FingerLv 71 decade ago
I don't think it's right, and I don't think we have a full separation of church and state - just look at "faith-based" programs under Bush, which Obama says he will continue (with some changes, but still not strictly observing the church and state division).
It's technically not a requirement to swear on the Bible. There's not supposed to be any religious test for public office. It's just a tradition that's been taken for granted because the separation of church and state has never been taken too seriously by most Americans.
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- Michael KLv 71 decade ago
"... a requirement for the president of the United States to be sworn in to office by placing his hand over the Bible..."
That's NOT a requirement. The president may be sworn in with anything or nothing at all.
Yes, we do have a separation of Church and State. However, if the church denies or goes out of bounds of law, it can be punished through state or federal law.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Yes I do believe in the seperation of Church and State. When the founding fathers came to America it was a progressive movement for religious freedom. While they were Puritans and of a Christian background they were still progressive for their time. (So the argument we are supposed to be a Christian nation does not fly with me). I do think we need ethical norms and standards in our politics/government (standards). But not biased standards towards one specific religious belief.
I am especially against bringing religion into public schools. Unless every religion is being taught unbiasedly and openly. And we know that is not very feesable. Religion is to be taught by the family not a school or government system.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Yes, I do. No, we do not have complete separation of church and state, but is that really surprising? Our government is a democratic republic, so our laws reflect (well, should reflect) the voices of the people. If most of the people belong to a certain religion, certain laws are bound to reflect the beliefs of said religion. The laws will reflect the majority.
I don't think they *have* to swear on the Bible... I think they can swear on another book if they want to. I'm not sure.
- 1 decade ago
First, he does not have to use a Bible. He could use the dictionary if he wished.
Second, what I believe about the "separation of church and state" does not matter. What matters is what is written in the constitution:
1) The Constitution provides religion freedom from state interference not vice versa. Just read it and if you have the reading comprehension skills of a forth grader you will see this.
2) The concept that we cling to as a country was never ratified as constitutional law but was simply the personal views of Thomas Jefferson as outlined in his personal letters to the Danbury Baptists.
edit -- Let's use the current issue with Prop 8 and the LDS church as an example.
If indeed the LDS church used it influence and money to become involved in this government issue, it would be unconstitutional for the government to pass any legislation to stop them. They have every right under the constitution to exercise what they believe freely.
This is true even if that means being involved in government. Next question.
edit -- It is truly amazing to see the answers of people who are unable to remove the lens of presupposition and ignorance when discussion what the 1st Amendment actually says. Try just reading it without reading what you "wish" it says.
What is confusing about:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."
VERY CLEAR to any sentient being with more cognitive ability than a radish.
- redLv 71 decade ago
It's a difficult situation as the country was founded on Christian principles. One is not FORCED to place one's hand on the Bible during innaguration. Pilgrims came here not to enjoy freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion. I don't believe we have as much separation between church as state and some would like.
- 1 decade ago
Just a couple years ago we had a congressman sworn in with his hand on the Qur'an (Koran) The reaason all presidents to date have been sworn in on the Holy Bible is because all American Presidents to date have been Christian of one denomination or another.