I thought it fitting to close out the Blogathon by reprinting what Americans United for Separation of Church and State is all about:
- Why Separate Church and State?
Separation of church and state is the only principle that can ensure religious and philosophical freedom for all Americans. Church-state separation does not mean hostility toward religion. Rather, it means that the government will remain neutral on religious questions, leaving decisions about God, faith and house of worship attendance in the hands of its citizens.
The results of America’s policy of church-state separation can be seen all around us: thanks to separation of church and state, Americans enjoy an unparalleled amount of religious freedom. In some nations, churches remain dependent upon government for support and aid. Religious life in these nations is often devitalized, and many churches are near empty on Sundays. Other countries merge religion and government into theocracies. Religious liberty cannot flourish under that system either; attempts by the government to enforce a version of religious orthodoxy foster only repression. By contrast, religious liberty has flourished in America and separation of church and state can take the credit.
Our Founding Fathers understood that efforts by government to “help” religion usually end up hurting it in the long run. Thanks to their vision, America has struck the right balance. Religious groups are supported with voluntary contributions, not tax dollars. Houses of worship are free to seek new members and spread their religious messages but they must use their own resources to do so. Institutions that serve Americans of many religious faiths and none, such as public schools, are free from sectarian control. The government cannot force or coerce anyone to take part in religious worship or prayer services. Americans have the right to join whatever religious group they like or refrain from taking part in religion at all. No one can be forced to support, aid or fund religious groups.
This grand tradition of religious liberty has made America the envy of the world. In countries where religion is mandated or supported by the state, people look to the American model of church-state separation with longing. Church-state separation, a policy forged by great leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, is the expression of a mature and confident republic. It represents a promise of freedom that few countries have had the courage to fully embrace.
But America had that courage, and the results of that embrace have been nothing short of remarkable. Today we are an open and free society of nearly 300 million Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists and others. All live side by side in harmony. All have the freedom to proclaim their views. All enjoy the right to worship or not worship unmolested by government officials or state-appointed religious leaders. All are equal in the eyes of the government.
That is the legacy of our Founders’ grand experiment with separation of church and state. That is the result of keeping an official distance between religion and government. That is the principle Americans United for Separation of Church and State upholds every day boldly, proudly and without apology.
Thanks for lending your support.