Fast Company

On Retaining Separation of Church and State

In today's headlines, I see where Obama thinks it's a good idea for so-called faith-based organizations to get government money to work on "resolving social problems", and then he says in the next breath that he "firmly still believes" in the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State.

I say this is impossible, and is an extremely bad perspective.

First, there's the idiotic and utterly wrong that the U.S. was founded as a "Christian" nation.   The founders were too smart for that - they decreed that "there shall be NO RELIGION OF STATE". This concept is so important, they put it in the First Amendment - the Freedom of Religion clause.

It means that if you want to be an atheist, believing that there is no Supreme Power and the universe is all one big accident, that is your inalienable right. Similarly, if you want to be a Jew, a Muslim, a worshipper of purple gas pumps, or an ITI Traditional - and there are thousands of us, from several hundred Indigenous Traditional perspectives - that is our RightOur entirely equal Right to yours or anyone else's.

Prior to the development of the U.S. Constitution, it was illegal in many places to not go to the local church on Sunday.  Where everyone spent the day being harangued about the emminent arrival of "Hell and damnation" and what garbage we humans are - us females in particular - for the entire blessed day. 

Personally,  I know this to be total crap, but before the inception of the Constitution, this view would have gotten me locked in stocks, where the local "good Christians" would have pelted me and others like me with manure, rotten vegetables, and probably stones.  What sterling examples of how "loving" Christianity and its version of Diety are, hmm?

Luckily, people like Thomas Jefferson, who wrote most of the Constitution, were too smart to sucker for that kind of treatment for dissenters.  In short, they protected themselves - and in the process, the rest of us.  They were bigots in many ways, but in this, they were smart, and we should all be profoundly glad.

Jefferson, for example, was not a "Christian", he was a Deist.  That's Dee-ist..)  He believed in a Supreme Being, but not the Christian version - or any other "popular" version of the day. He believed that the  miracles in the Bible were "insulting to the modern scientific mind" (of the 1700's...) - and he took a scissors and cut themiracles out of a copy of the bible, preparatory to having a new version - without any miracles - printed and distributed.  The scissors and the bible are in the  Smithsonian, where they can be viewed at any time. I don't remember if he finished the project - but you can look it up.

In 2005, on whatever day "W" came to Fargo, ND, on a campaign swing, a bill came up for hearing before ND Senate Political Subdivisions Committee, chaired by "nodoby's Senator at all", Dwight Cook of Mandan, ND. This bill would have provided state tax monies to "faith-based" organizations to attack such problems as drug abuse in the state's youth.  I was the only person to testify against this bill, on two premises - it violates the Doctrine of Separaton of Church and State, and that the bill as written did not guarantee fair and equal consideration to non-christian faith-based organizations - particularly any that are of any Indigenous Traditional Way in orientation.

Early in my testimony, Senator Cook gavelled me with a full-arm swing; pointed at me with his arm fully extended, and bellowed, STOP! LEEEEAVE THIS ROOM!"  Only I stood still,  while  8 white people  leaped up and ran out  of the room, causing the Senator to shout at them, "No! Stop!  I didn't mean you!  I meant her!"  If it weren't for the rank insult to process and oath of office, not to mention the subject matter, it would have been funny.

The 8 white people babbled, "No.  that's OK!  We were going to testify, but we see how things are, and we dont' have to.  You have copies of our testimony." and they whooshed away. 

The Senator ordered me from the room in a calmer tone, and I responded, "Is the Senator from Mandan... attempting to violate MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT... to be heard...?  Senator? Hm?"

You  can imagine how quiet it was in there..  This sort of thing "just doesn't" happen.  Well, not in polite  society,anyway..  But as we are seeing, the Senator is (a) a bigot, (b) not polite, and (c) does not keep his Oath of Office,which specifies in part that he "will do everything in his power to protect and defend the Constitution of both the nation and the state against all enemies, foreign and domestic, on behalf of the citizens".  Of which I am one. 

He threatened to pick me up and carry me out, and I dared him, pointing out that (a) I stand 5'7" tall, (b) weigh 182 lbs., of which only 12% is fat, and (c) I can and would make so much noise, every journalist and security in the Capitol Building would come on the run. Then I repeated my question about my Constitutional  Right to be heard. 

There was further exchange, but eventually he told me to finish my testimony. Given how flat-out mad I was, I baited him and said  that was my intention and my expectation, and then I thanked him. He growled sullenly, "For what..."

I said, "For proving the thesis of my opposition to the bill as written - namely, that in its original form, there was no provision or protection for application by non-Christian "faith-based" organizations for the state monies - particularly any that were Native, abd especially if they be Traditional, in their orientation."  

Then I finished my testimony.  This entire "thing" was taped, by the way..  Sunshine laws require it, at least in ND. And I have a copy of the official tape recording; to which every citizen has a right, under law.

If anyone out there thinks - or worse, believes, that Senator Obama is not furthering "W"s idiotic and just plain destructive flirtation with totalitarianism and destruction of both the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State and of the Constitution itself, they are kidding themselves.

The idea of giving tax money to "faith-based" groups is one of those concepts that should be slapped down flat immediately, and every time some foolish person raises the matter.  Or, as I wrote on a t-shirt recently - "If you want to live in a country with an official religion of state, move to Iran!"  The Constitution and Bill of Rights are - and were - A-OK in their original forms.  Retention and strong defense of the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State are essential freedoms of a democracy.  Any other position is totalitarianism, and just plain bad business, on every level - including that of doing business.  Read how things are in places like  Iran, and you will see how right I am.

Think about it.  From a business point of view, as well as a personal one.  If a "religion of state" proclaims that a business or product is antithetical to its core view, how long will that business or product be allowed to continue?  About a nano-second, is my expectation..

 

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