The US Constitution was ratified by the 13 states in 1789. Realizing the original Constitution failed to protect individual liberties, the Bill of Rights, or the first ten Amendments, were introduced to Congress in the same year, and came into effect on December 15, 1791. The first Amendment, as Thomas Jefferson described it, built a “wall of separation between Church and State” (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).
Even so, many fundamental Christians feel that the United States is a Christian nation and prayer should be mandated in public schools; creationism should be taught to children; and the 10 commandments should adorn public buildings. And they have taken over the Republican Party. That gives the Fundamentalist power to pursue their agenda: to rid the country of secularism.
We only need to look at the legislation passed in previous eight last years to know that this is true. George Bush won the war on the very unbiblical taxes by cutting taxes on the wealthy, which passed in the House at 1:56 am on a Friday in May, under the cloak of darkness. Those proponents of the flat tax—they are proponents of the Biblical tax, the only tax mentioned in the Bible. To fundamentalists, the free market rewards good Christian behavior and punishes the unrepentant. And so the Republicans did their bidding and cut regulations on corporations. Then of course, George Bush’s abstinence only sex education program, where lots of government funds were given to faith-based programs. Also there were multiple calls for an Amendment to the Constitution making marriage only between “one man and one woman”, to keep the Biblical definition of marriage law of the land.
The past eight years clearly chipped away at the wall between church and state. Even for the most devout Christian, this should be alarming. We only need to look at theocracies like Iran and Afghanistan under Taliban rule to see what we could become. The most literal interpretations of our Bible would put our society backwards 2000 years. Women, Jews, gays, Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists would all become second class citizens. Science would not have the place it does in our society today. We must remember that this country was founded by men and women escaping the tyranny of the Church of England; and Nazi Germany was led by a very religious man wishing to rid its country of moral decay.
We need to rebuild the wall. As a nation, we need to understand that a marriage under the law is not the same as a marriage in the Church. We need to understand that faith-based programs have their place, but not in government. We need to understand that science does not necessarily preclude the supernatural. We should know that someone else’s beliefs, or lack thereof, do not in any way diminish our own beliefs. Most of all, we should know that our salvation can not be legislated or coerced.
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. In neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. – Thomas Jefferson