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Archive for November, 2008

Essays: Church and State … There Can Be No Separation

by Dave “Doc” Rogers

 

There has arisen in recent years a resurgence of ‘anti’ Church rhetoric and that mainly surrounds the oft misquoted sources for the term ‘Separation of Church and State.’ That misquoting most notably starts with the US Supreme Court in their 1878 decision Reynolds v. United States whereby they misquote President Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists Association of Connecticut.

 

Litigants are typically not historians nor are they English majors. Preferentially, they will choose those bits of English stated commentary that best support their position rather than looking at the content and intent as a whole. The onus is upon the hearer or reader to validate intent and use rather than present their stated arguments in validation and contextual truth. It’s not lying if it is omission and it’s not lying if you don’t tell the whole story. It is deception through omission but that doesn’t get prosecuted too heavily.

 

What they do not tell you is the why things were written. What other missives were penned or pressed or lived that lead to the decisions made, voiced, penned, pressed. Sadly, American education seriously lacks in this area. Okay, caveat. Maybe it was just my educational experience that was sadly lacking through the institutions in whose classrooms I sat for instruction. But, I seriously do not think so. I have observed too many and discussed the processes with too many “students” to accept my experience as unique.

 

In this essay, I will explore what are Church, State, separations, why, and why it cannot be. It will be perspectives based but more broadly than most protagonists would like it to be. A chasing of truths rather than personal agenda, if you would allow.

 

Let us build a foundation, shall we? Let us start with Jefferson since most arguments like to use his statements as a head of state and co-penner of things constitutional or otherwise around the formative years of the United States of America.

 

Thomas Jefferson, the third POTUS, was an integral instrument in the language of the founding ideals of this country. He served Virginia, the Continental Congress, the Federation, and the United States well and in several roles. One of his roles was as Secretary of State under the Washington administration. This role was influential upon him as it had him traveling to Europe to interface with the kingdoms there to gain their support and recognition of the fledgling USA.

 

The state of Jefferson’s Europe was one divided by kingdoms, principalities, and churches. In some cases, the king and kingdom were subservient to the church and church leaders; in others, the king was titular head of the church. This is the world to which Jefferson was thrust and lived for a span of time. He saw first hand the effects of a ‘state’ that controlled the ‘church’ and a ‘church’ that controlled the ‘state.’ Neither situation was desirable.

 

At this point in human history, there really had not been a form of government like unto what was being put forward by the USA. Certainly, there had been forms of democracy but nothing to the order of the “Grand Experiment,” as the US’s government was being referred. Rather than having a singular sovereign or even a patron class, all citizens were considered equal. Yes, even in the original documents it was inferred all Man; however, economics and politics changed the verbiage to what would be acceptable for the fledgling nation to stay together. That last bit is a different argument for a different time.

 

Jefferson returned home more fully convinced our constitutional government was a correct form of government. His efforts as a statesman, governmental minister, Governor, Secretary of State, Vice President, and President bear that out.

 

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, famously known as one of the amendments within the Bill of Rights, 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 to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

We will key on the phrase ‘shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ This statement was included in the US Constitution due to the influence of the State in religious matters elsewhere in the world. Basically, in other countries if you were not of the ‘approved’ religion then you could be jailed or sentenced to death. And, that happened frequently in Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. So having the freedom of religion in the USA was keenly important to the people who lived within the fledgling nation. Burning or imprisoning heretics became illegal.

 

In the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, there is mentioned in Article 11 the statement that the USA “…is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen…” This statement was made due to the climate of the times. In recent memory of the Muslim people, the ‘christian nations’ of Europe declared holy war against the Muslim people, so the Muslim people were getting even. The ‘christian nations’ were those governed by the christian church that ordered them to go. The USA argument was it was not a ‘christian nation’ governed as those others were. It didn’t help. There was still war until Jefferson’s term as POTUS. But, the term ‘christian nation’ does not apply to the USA. Its government is not ‘christian.’ Its population is.

 

The treatment of individuals by a government is a concern for the citizens of the USA. Their relatives still in Europe are still being persecuted for their particular brand of religious belief; oddly enough, for variations in Christianity too. So, at the time of penning, the letter to the Danbury Baptists Association, there was still concern that the government would forego the commitments of the Constitution and institute a State religion as with most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America outside of the US. This Jefferson addresses in the main paragraph of his letter.

 

“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 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. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

 

Reference:

Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists, source Library of Congress

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

 

The ‘separation’ so mentioned was to keep the State out of the Church; not keep the Church out of the State. You would never be able to convince a bunch of Baptists that they have no part and parcel in their government, but Jefferson could convince them as POTUS that the government would have no part or parcel in the directing and controlling of the Church; or in their case, Baptists in Connecticut.

 

That has sense been misinterpreted.

 

There is a well funded, vocal, vociferous, minority segment of the US that opposes in the strongest terms possible Christianity. I am not certain of the sources of these animosities, in majority. They probably predate me anyways. Suffice it to say that they do not like the Judeo-Christian god and they think it is ‘cool’ to bash, naysay, negatively prey upon, and generally deride anything that has to do with this Judeo-Christian god. I really think it has a lot to do with the basic tenants as stated in the Judeo-Christian Bible more than anything else. That is a different argument for a different time.

 

The vocal minority would have everyone believe that most of the founding fathers of the USA were atheists, agnostics, deists … anything but Christians. They are actually wrong, but believe by volume they can shout down their opposition and rewrite history to their versions. I have discovered that those who protest too much are compensating. Me? I just refuse to be shut up anymore. You are going to have to deal with that, not me.

 

David Barton and his partners at Wall Builders [http://www.wallbuilders.com] are working to clarify some of those misinformed, partially mentioned, or completely overlooked statements.

 

Now we get to the Church and why there can be no separation from government … no separation of the Church in government but yes to separation from Government in the Church.

 

First, what is the Church? At the outset, it is not an international organization headed from a far with oversight of earthly governments. That doesn’t play so well in the USA. What it is is people. Bad English but it clarifies.

 

When we as a people forget that the Church is the people, we fail. There is a parallel and I think therein lies part of the confusion.

 

The Government is the people. The Church is the people. But … this is important … the Church is not the Government and the Government is not the Church. Whew… chew on that for a bit.

 

To better understand the Christian concept of Church, you have to look at the sources of the etymology … word usage. The word ‘church’ shows up in the New Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible. It is the word ekklesia. This word denotes a called out or called up group of equals who sit in decision and nominate/elect their leaders. Without this turning into a Bible Study, one of the aspects of the Messiah was that the government would be on his shoulders; hence he had an ekklesia of his own. As Jesus said, his government was not of this world, so his ekklesia was not for this world either. There is another aspect to Judeo-Christian theology. They were given a mandate at the outset of Man to rule, reign, and have dominion over this world. If you get enough of these people together, they will need earthly organization or government.

 

For the purposes of this essay, the Church is one body of people whose membership can also be within the body of people who provide oversight and governance. Therefore, I argue there can be no separation of Church & State. The State has no right or authority over the Church by the mandates of its constitutional amendments. The authority of the Church consists and is limited to the rights of its individual membership to seek out and pursue governance for themselves; and within the USA that governance is in accordance with the Constitution, its individual and entirety Amendments; and the Constitutions and or Charters of individual States within the entirety of the USA, its municipalities, frontiers, territories, and commonwealths.

 

As Abraham Lincoln famously closed his Gettysburg Address, “…; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 

 

Source:

Library of Congress Online

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits.gadd/gadrft.html

 

For establishments of argument, the Church is a body of believers of a religious practice and not an alien governmental body influenced by an external, earthly head of an alien state or governing body. In like manner, the Government is not an instrument unto itself but is respondent, accountable, and consistent of its legal citizenry regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or national origin. The dictates of governmental documents hold those many and individual citizenry serving within the Government at the same liberty and constraint that it provides and withholds to all its citizenry. The Church can be in the Government. The Government cannot be in the Church. The Church does not have rule over the Government except by those individual and severally members exercising their due processes as ordained to them through this Constitution of the USA; and the Constitutions and or Charters of individual States within the entirety of the USA, its municipalities, frontiers, territories, and commonwealths.

 

With that said, the Church is not, cannot be, separate from the Government of these United States of America. Anything contrary to this position is actually unconstitutional by USA constitutional standards.

 

Accept it.

 

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In feudal, fiefal, aristocratic, and monarchial societies there are kings & princes, queens & princesses. These positions are for the select few who by birth, selection, or might of arm have attained them. They are lords and ladies over government. They govern by right, by might, by leave of those governed. But to desire their position by covetousness or jealousy is to sit upon Damocles’ thrown with a threat held back by a hair thin thread. What if it was different?

What if, from the beginning, it was decided that YOU were to be trained to rule and reign?

What if, from the beginning, it was decided that YOU had to overcome problems, to become skilled in the use of Wisdom, to be skilled in the identification of the roots of problems, to find equitable solutions that work and produce profitable results?

From the beginning, before the foundations of the world, it was decided that YOU would rule and reign, but only if you did it right. Your progenitor, Adam, has put in your hands the choice to do good or evil, to do that which is right and wise or to do that which is wrong and leads to death. Heady decisions for one so young. Life and death have been given over to your hand. Your words are the executors of your judgments.

The first affected by your words or actions is YOU. As your ancestors have faced the decisions of life and death, to choose wisely or foolishly, so will you. In the moment of the crisis of decision, will you chose life or death? They are within the power of your tongue to speak, within the power of your hand to act. YOU chose life or death and the results thereof.

Do not be surprised or dismayed that you find yourself in diverse problems. That is what ROYALTY is there to resolve. Leaders of government are there to resolve difficulties, to find resolution to problems. A quick fix will result in a quick resolution but it is trimming the verge and not rooting out the problem. It will be faced again and again until resolved correctly.

The God of Adam, Noah, & Moses decided a long time ago to make a people like Himself; in His image and likeness He made Adam. Adam decided poorly, going against the Wisdom of God, and reaped the fruit of his decision.

It was not until the arrival of Yshua Ha Massiach [aka Jesus, the Messiah] that realization of who we should be started to make serious impact. From Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abram, from Abraham to Moses and onward, we ‘humans’ were like so many ants crawling across the face of the Earth. To borrow from Shakespeare, strutting and fretting our hour upon the stage, the sound and the fury signifying nothing, then heard of no more.

Jesus taught that we ‘humans’ are the children of God, the god spoken of by Adam through Noah, from Noah to Moses and beyond. That God, the God of Israel – if we are His children, then we are destined to rule and reign with Him. But what wise king would allow a fool like a jester to rule his kingdom? If a wise king would not, how much more so the Creator of the Universe not allow one not truly prepared to rule to rule? He would not.

How would one prepare a son to be a prince? A daughter a princess? Through instruction and wise counsel, through teaching what is good and profitable, and through teaching what is not.

When the princeling comes to an age of understanding, they are given more responsibilities and allowed to be a prince or princess. If they do well, they maintain their state; if they do not, what was given is taken back.

YOU and I are destined to rule and reign with Christ Jesus. It is so. Just accept that. If you are not prepared for this destiny, you will fail and you may not even be allowed to enter into this grace.

The God of the Universe has been speaking to YOU from before you were in your mother’s womb. He has been counseling you, advising you, telling you what is good and profitable or what is bad and will result in loss. Many chose, as Adam did, not to listen to God and fail. Some listen but do not act. Few listen and respond.

BE WISE!

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and YOU will be saved from a judgment to come.

Do what He has said YOU should do, according to His Words and according to His Counsel.

LISTEN to His Counsel that things might be well with you.

You are destined to rule and reign.

You will have problems in this life; and in the life to come.

Be prepared!

Dave Doc Rogers
A word of warning to those that will take it.

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Yes folks, I have been elected. I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Creekside at Preston Home Owners Association. Woohoo!

Actually, a bigger deal than first appears. Not only are these people my neighbors who live just down the street but there are about 800 families that I represent. So, I am taking this serious.

But, who woulda thunk it? Me, an elected official.

It certainly felt strange and sobering to look into the faces of so many people and see that look of expectant hope and me not wanting to fail them.

“We’re counting on you.”

What a weighty phrase when someone places their trust in you, makes a point of coming up to you after the public election to tell you too. Hmmm. Weighty in deed.

How is it that so many politicians can disregard those faces, those words, those stares of expectant hope? How is it those faces are forgotten for personal agenda? This bothers me… greatly actually.

Well, there’s my sharing.

Dave Doc Rogers
Project 2012 Mastermind

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[oooooh, a word editor right here. That’s convenient…]

The Bible Said there are none so blind as those that will not see and none so deaf as those that will not hear. Hmmm.

To be honest that bothered me for quite some time. I didn’t understand it at all … until I got older and saw it in living examples over and over and over again. I think what bothered me the most was I was one of them too! Living my life with blinders on.

Hmm?? What’s that? What are blinders? It’s horse talk. Horses get spooked really easily. Too minimize this, horsemen and teamsters would make shields that would block the horse’s vision so that all they could see was whatever was directly in front of them. It worked well and became an analogy for a person who either did not or could not see beyond what was directly in front of them. They gave no notice to anything else. It was as if they were blind … somewhat.

… distracted … I’ll come back to this. D.

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