...
Church State and, Power

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 which 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 and State.

Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and 3rd President of the United States

“You could believe you were living virtuously and also murder people if you were a fanatic. Fanatics thought that murdering people was virtuous, or murdering certain people.”

Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic

America the country is almost ruined with pious white people: such pious politicians as we have just before elections, such pious goings on in all departments of church and state, that a fellow does not know who’ll cheat him next.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, American Author Uncle Tom’s Cabin

“Prosecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religious, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

Thomas Paine, American Political Philosopher, author of Rights of Man

“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.”

Martin Luther King Jr. American Civil Rights Leader

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.”

Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War General and 18th President of the United States


Introduction

Church State and, Power

Church state, and power explores the relationship between the power of the state and the influence on the state of beliefs not shared by the majority of the population. Only around 14% of the US population consists of evangelical Christians. This is a number that is shrinking significantly according to the 2020 US Census report. Yet it exerts pressure on both Congress and state legislatures to bind Christianity to the functions of the state. The Republican House recently elected a new Speaker, Mike Johnson. His legislative agenda is openly influenced by his evangelical beliefs. This relationship is, I argue, contrary to the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The First Amendment, a beacon for the separation of church and state. Yet it now faces a formidable challenge as evangelical Christian influence casts a long shadow over American politics. This analysis delves deeper into the repercussions of this influence on pivotal issues. I unravel its impact on abortion laws, public school practices, and the taxation status of religious institutions.

Church State, and Power: Evangelical Influence on Abortion Laws

In the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court’s decision to devolve abortion regulation to individual states raises a pressing concern. Does this ostensibly principled move towards states’ autonomy open the floodgates for the imposition of anti-abortion laws steeped in evangelical beliefs? The potential erosion of the core principle—keeping religious doctrines separate from legislative decisions—demands urgent reflection.

Expanding Religious Influence in Public Schools

The recent Supreme Court ruling permitting prayer on a high school football field marks a profound shift in the equilibrium between secular and religious influences in public education. Beyond the endorsement of religious practices in schools. This decision triggers alarm about the gradual dilution of the secular US character. That character has been a cornerstone of American public education.

Church State, and Power: Tuition Assistance for Religious Schools

The Court’s recent decision obliging states to fund tuition assistance for religious schools adds layers of complexity to the relationship between church and state. As public funds potentially flow into institutions with specific religious affiliations, the lines blur, prompting pertinent questions about the preservation of an education system genuinely committed to secular neutrality.

Christmas as a National Holiday

While Christmas holds cultural significance for many, its designation as a national holiday raises questions about inclusivity. Nearly a third of the U.S. population identifies as non-Christian. The imposition of a religious holiday as a national celebration necessitates scrutiny. How can a diverse nation authentically celebrate inclusivity? Observing a holiday that infringes upon the beliefs of a substantial portion of its citizens fails to honor diversity.

Evangelical Political Power and Taxation

The substantial influence of white Christians constituted 44% of the population. 14% identify as Evangelical. Christian influence in American politics provokes scrutiny. The active political engagement of the 14% evangelical Protestant demographic warrants a critical examination of the tax-exempt status extended to religious institutions actively involved in political matters. Political figures like MAGA Mike Johnson epitomize the intertwining of evangelical beliefs and legislative pursuits. These conditions compel a reassessment of the tax benefits afforded to such entities.

Call for Change

As evangelical beliefs permeate political decisions, the fundamental tenets of a secular government are under tangible threat. Urgent reassessment of the delicate balance between religious influence and governance is imperative. This will ensure that the principles of a secular state endure amidst the evolving tapestry of American politics. Striking a balance that respects individual beliefs while preserving the secular foundation of the United States is not merely a suggestion! It is a pressing necessity for the continued integrity of American democracy.

Continued Call for Reflection

In a nation that proudly upholds diversity and values freedom of belief, the escalating influence of evangelical Christianity in politics demands unyielding scrutiny. Now more than ever, citizens and policymakers alike must reassess the intricate interplay between religion and governance, recommitting to a secular state that embraces diverse beliefs while steadfastly upholding the principles upon which the United States was built. Only through conscientious reflection and purposeful action can we ensure that the democratic fabric of the nation remains resilient in the face of evolving religious and political dynamics. The heart of American democracy must beat true to its secular core, respecting the rich tapestry of beliefs that makes the nation truly exceptional.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

One thought on “Church State, and Power: Evangelical Influence in US Politics”
  1. […] Religious power in politics is becoming a major point of disagreement across the political spectrum …. Never mind that the Constitution, through the establishment and practice clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution that prohibit Congress from establishing a state religion and guarantee the free practice of religion, thereby allowing both the freedom to choose one’s preferred manner of worshiping as well as the freedom to refuse practice of any religious views. Unfortunately, the author of the first amendment did not extend specific prohibitions to the Supreme Court, whose six Catholic Justices choose to ignore both the establishment and free practice clauses to force the nation into following the Justices religious views especially when concerning abortion, cake baking and the right to refuse service…much like Jim Crow laws found in the Southern United States that held that race segregation was just fine. […]

Leave a Reply