Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day: No Kings = No God in Government

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, today, we declared ourselves independent of the British Empire. We further declared we, as a people, had no need for aristocracy and that we would govern ourselves.

Eleven years later, in Philadelphia, we recomposed our government in the form of the Constitution. This amazing document unified the states under a strong federal government and made two amazing laws (of many, many amazing laws):
  1. The First Amendment
  2. The "No Religious Test" Clause
It is no coincidence that we cut both church and king out of any involvement in our government. We cannot depose one without deposing the other.

And how is that?

The European model for governance (for several centuries) worked like this: the church of the nation (typically Catholic) would declare God's support for the king, granting him divine right over his subjects; in turn, the king would see to it a healthy chunk of change from his tax base would divert to the church's coffers.

A nice, symbiotic relationship, eh?

If you don't believe me, consider this: when Henry VIII of England didn't get his way when he wanted to divorce and remarry, he did not just cut ties with Rome... he established his own church. He needed divine legitimacy to keep his seat of power, otherwise, the Vatican would have started pressing other nations to replace him with someone more suitable (for their own pockets, that is). Kings need divine backing for their subjects to buy into their right to govern. Churches need Kings (or some other form of political figurehead) to keep the money flowing in... because sometimes passing the plate just isn't enough to "pay the bills."

And just look at what is happening today. We have a "man of God" in the White House, and he's making sure our tax money is funneled to religious organizations. And men like Dobson of Focus on the Family are given legitimacy by men like President Bush... and in turn, men like Dobson are treated like they have a right to be political pundits, picking and choosing who is more "suitable" to administrate the United State of America.

And next thing you know, too many people are claiming there is no such thing as "separation of church and state," despite the fact it is written as the first item on the Bill of Rights!

Everyone: if you love your country (as I do), read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. Read the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists. Keeping religion out of government is more than about taxes and affiliations: it's about keeping dictatorship at bay.

As long as all human beings in this nation may believe (or not, in many cases) as they wish, then no one may persecute them for disagreeing. The atheist and the theist can co-exist, as long as each group is managed by a completely secular government; one devoid of interest in showing preferential treatment for one group over another.

And is that not the greatest thing of all?

Keep America's system of government great.

Keep it secular.

No comments: