"Separate but equal" vs "separation of church and state"?

I was debating on another board earlier when I stated that I did not believe in "separate but equal" but I fully supported "separation of church and state". Somebody else asked me how I could support one, but not the other, because they both dealt with separation of some sort.

Could someone give me a good, simple explanation of the difference between the 2 so I can post the response for them? I just can't seem to get my point across in a way this other person can understand.

I need help. Thanks!!!

21 Answers

  • Kc
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Separate but equal is divisive. It's usually based on a superficial label, like blacks, gays, women, etc.

    Separation of church and state ensures that no one religion will be more respected than another.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think that the problem lies in the oversimplification of the two phrases... if you can summarize all the important beliefs and principles behind each statement you will have your answer.

    I would just sit down and right out what the purpose of each phrase is, what each phrase means and how it applies to society.

    Separate but equal - this was the idea that we should segregate society into different categories of people with different facilities and organizations to help them... this turned out to be, in practice, never an equal thing. People that are equal shouldn't be separated.

    Separation of church and state seems to mean whatever anybody wants. The original intention of the idea (though the phrase isn't found in the constitution or any amendment but in someones personal letter) was that the Govt. shouldn't enforce a religion. This was to free people to worship NOT to stifle the influence of religion in politics. That is the modern reinvention of the idea.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well first off, the same word being used does not mean they are similar. That's just stupid.

    Separate but equal = The same benefits for two groups of people, but divided. White schools and black schools, hetero marriage and homo civil unions. Even if they are exactly the same, you're still dividing one kind of human from another, and saying "they are not like me". It is a form of discrimination and a method that encourages prejudice.

    Separation of Church and State - The government and religion do not mix. Government cannot establish a national religion or favor one religion over another. It is meant to be secular and work in the interest of ALL people, regardless of their beliefs. Likewise, the government cannot tell and church what it is permitted to preach, or what the people should believe (freedom of speech).

  • 1 decade ago

    Just because two concepts have a common word does not in any way mean that they are conceptually correlated. If that were true then the right to life and the right to abortion would be equivalent because they both contain the words "Right To".

    Separation of church and state means that the government remains neutral in it's treatment of individual beliefs so as to remain fair to all beliefs and allow them to flourish or fail without government intervention. Separate but equal is a way to shield a privileged class from the concerns of non-privileged classes.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Those are apples and oranges. "Separate but equal" was the phrase used to defend having segregated schools prior to Brown V. The Board of Education. Separation of church and state is a principle that prohibits having a government sponsored religion. People have misused the term "separation of church and state" so much that it conveys more of a meaning than originally meant. Nowadays people think that moral principles have no place infiltrating government processes. What crap. Separation church and state - people think that it's in the Constitution - but it's not.

  • 1 decade ago

    KC answered it pretty well.

    The church and state are not equal, because religion is so incredibly subject to the opinion of the individual. The state is a fair system which governs over all and pertains to no particular religious belief and is decided based upon the best interest of the people.

    Separate but equal when referring to people (minorities) is another form of mild segregation. i.e. 'you're like us, just not the same. you can sit there, just not over there'

  • 1 decade ago

    The argument against Separate but Equal is that if facilities are separate, they are automatically not equal.

    Separation of Church and State, is a fallacy and not found in the US Constitution. It is, in theory, the idea of keeping church and government separate, so they are not able to unduly affect each other.

    So, the first Separation is designed to segregate people and the other is designed to hinder undo influence.

  • 1 decade ago

    they are completely different concepts.

    The supreme court ruled "separate but equal" is not in fact equal.

    And separation of church in state has nothing to do with equality, but keeping political matters between the government, and religious matters between the churches. Bad things happen when you mix the two. You cannot have a free society in which you base rules off of religious beliefs. Because not everyone follows the same religion.

    Our founding fathers knew this, that is why they put that in the first amendment. And reaffirmed it in the treaty of tripoli, article 11

  • Separate but equal is a Human rights issue.

    Separation of Church and State is a political/taxation issue.

  • 1 decade ago

    Separate but equal deals with discriminating against ppl for something they have no control over. Such as black, white, male, female etc. Separation of church and state means that "state" is not allowed to tell "church" what to believe, teach etc. Totally different.

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