Why Religion and Politics Don’t Mix

Justin Rose
Staff Writer

On a Sunday morning, a friend of mine was flipping through the TV channels when he landed on the airing of a local church service on the ABC affiliate.

I looked up from the book I was reading to see churchgoers on the screen pledging their allegiance to the bible and Christian flag.

I watched this unfold as I was reading a biography about an American patriot, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote many letters, articles and documents that shaped our country.

In the year 1777, Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. The Virginia General Assembly later passed the bill in 1786.

This document served as a model for the first amendment, and it established a clear separation of church and state, which meant that the government could not establish a religion for our country, force anybody to worship or punish anybody for worshiping a specific religion.

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions,” Jefferson wrote. “Any more than our opinions on physics and geometry.”

Jefferson’s personal religious beliefs are up for debate. Some say he was an Atheist while others say he was a Deist.

What we do know is that he was a strict secularist. He believed that religion and government needed to be separated at all costs.

In no way am I suggesting that religious people should not hold political office.

But when I watched those church goers say the Christian pledge of allegiance, it raised a couple of questions in my head.

Can citizens that think of themselves as a Christian first and an American second be able to hold public office without letting their religious beliefs get in their way of upholding that wall of separation?

Would they even be able to push their religious beliefs to the side and protect civil rights for gay and lesbian couples who want to get married?

Time and time again, we see individuals in office who can’t seem to be able to do just that.

Three years ago, a Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, refused to issue same sex marriage licenses.

She said that for her to issue such licenses would violate her conscience and go against her religious beliefs. The court later jailed her for contempt.

At that time, two presidential hopefuls went to Kentucky to meet with Davis who was getting ready to be released from jail.

One of the two was former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee. In a rally celebrating Davis’ decisions and her release from jail, Huckabee spoke directly to the judge that sent her to jail.

“Lock me up if you think that’s how freedom is best served,” Huckabee said. “I want you to know I’m willing to spend the next eight years in jail, but I’m not willing to spend the next years in tyranny under people who think they can take our freedom and conscience away.”

The second presidential hopeful that went to meet with Davis was Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.

Cruz is a staunch evangelical. He has said many quotes over the years that have caused a lot of people to dislike him.

One quote in particular caught my eye: “I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth.”

Cruz is essentially saying that his loyalty first goes to his religion, then to the country that he is currently serving.

Learning that a sitting U.S. Senator actually thinks in this manner is frightening. I truly believe that this is not what the founding fathers had in mind.

If a person actually believes that his or her religious views are the be all end all for morality, then why wouldn’t that person pass laws that are supportive of their religious beliefs regardless if it helps his or her constituents?

It wasn’t until 1995 that Ireland finally removed the ban on divorce. It took them so long because the Catholic church had such an influence on the government and the population.

Think of all the women who were left in abusive relationships simply because the government of Ireland thought that it was morally wrong to get a divorce because of their religious beliefs.

I can’t wrap my head around their line of reasoning. Simply allowing people to get a divorce doesn’t mean that you are obligated to get a divorce yourself.

The religious people of your country are still able to follow their beliefs. Stop trying to control people that think differently.

I would hate for any religious beliefs to be thrust upon me and the people I love, by my government.

If our government were to act in that manner, then they would be going against the same things they claim to love, our founding fathers and the documents they created.

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