ALESTLE VIEW: Separation of church and state is a necessity

Via Unsplash. 

Today in the U.S., it is no secret that politics have become more polarized. However, there will always be political issues that require no compromise — one is the separation of church and state.

The very first amendment of the Constitution, which is also the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This concept is spelled out in the very first addition made to the constitution.

Despite this, there has been a long-standing tradition in America of using religion to justify politics and political decisions. The most recent upsurge was the large amount of support Donald Trump received from evangelical Christians.

In a recent Madison County Board meeting, a representative from Granite City asked for the board to formalize a rule to start every meeting with a Christian prayer. Although the intentions may be pure, acts like this can ostracize members of the community with different faiths.

Studies have shown religion is more often used in politics by conservative politicians than liberal. Allen Hertzke, a professor emeritus in political science from the University of Oklahoma, found that when freedom of religion is ignored, it is most often done to marginalize groups that are already discriminated against and to enact regressive, conservative policies.

The group that is most often targeted by religious policies in the U.S. is the LGBTQ+ community. Until last year, one part of the official platform of the Republican party was to overturn gay marriage. Very frequently, when justifying those beliefs, conservatives in the U.S. refer to the Christian story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which some read as a condemnation of homosexuality.

Beyond the right to marriage, other facets of LGBTQ+ life have been targeted by religious politicians. Recently, there was a bakery in Colorado who declined to bake for a gay couple’s wedding. The case went to the Supreme Court and the case was highly publicized, and in the end, the bakery won and it was decided that business owners can decline business with someone based on their own beliefs. This came back to harm conservatives, when business owners could decline business based on refusal to wear a mask.

LGBTQ+ rights extend beyond same-sex couples. Transgender rights are also currently debated often. According to Pew Research Center, white Evangelical Americans are almost 15 percent more likely to oppose transgender rights than any other relgious group. They also found that less than half of atheists, agnostics and other non-religious people oppose transgender rights, whereas for every single religion surveyed, they were more than 50 percent likely to oppose trans rights.

These views have permeated into politics in many ways. Most famously, the anti-trans bills passed in the Texas state legislature have been a point of debate. These bills restrict children diagnosed with gender dysphoria from receiving gender-affirming care, and even criminalize doing so.

Despite there being a large group of politicians known as constitutional conservatives, the conservative wing of politics in this country tend to ignore the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

(3) comments

Jason Bryant

Yes, our founding fathers were all atheists and not at all influenced by their Christian beliefs.

Whatis Awoman

Whether ya'll like it or not, this country was built on judeo christian values. These values are what gave us things like freedom and drove us to end slavery less than 100 years after our countries conception whereas places like Asia, Africa and the Middle East took several hundred years. Concepts such as "treating others as you would like to be treated" also come straight from the Bible.

Cleetus Yeetus

LGBTQ ideology is also a religious worldview. To quote Bob Dylan, "everybody's gotta serve somebody."

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