Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Separation of Church and State?

As I've noted before, I don't believe that there is any "separation of Church and State" clause implied in the Constitution. However, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that there is. To see what this would mean, let's define the terms:

State: a political establishment
Church: a religious establishment

Thus, Virginia and the United States are States, and the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church are Churches. The first arises from political will, and the second from religious will. To separate Church and State is to say that there cannot be an Episcopal Church Party candidate for Senate and that a speed limit of 55mph is not essential doctrine for the United Church of Christ. However, there is nothing saying that religion and society may not mix with each other. Furthermore, there is nothing saying that religion may not influence that State or that society may not influence the Church. If a person wants to make it part of their religious beliefs that jaywalking is a sin because it is forbidden by their State, there's nothing wrong with that. Likewise, if a person decides that abortion is wrong because their Church says so, this is also acceptable. Since I'm about to stray into very controversial territory, I'll start a new paragraph (I'll start out less controversially and work my way up).
Society may influence the Church. In the 19th Century, it was due to the pressure of the members' political beliefs that many Churches decided that slavery was immoral. It became a matter of Church doctrine, and so far as I know, there was no outcry against this, except in the American South, where society did not subscribe to this belief. Likewise, religion may influence the State. If the majority votes that the Lord's Prayer should be said instead of or after the Pledge of Allegiance, this does not violate Church and State. It is religion in the State, but so long as we're not pledging to "obey the Doctrines of the Presbyterian Church," the Church isn't involved. Thus, statements on State items such as "In God We Trust" are perfectly legal.
It is the will of the majority which must be followed in any Lockean society, of which we are one. However, the rights of the minority must not be infringed. Implied in the rights of life, liberty, and property is a right to be tolerated. However, this is not a right to make policy, but merely to not have this policy enforced upon them at the expense of their rights. Just as there is no requirement to say the Pledge of Allegiance (which I don't, since I think it's socialist claptrap and I'm a little offended that I'm expected to have to actually say that I owe my allegiance to my country when it should be understood), there could be no requirement to say the Lord's Prayer in school, though time could be set aside to do so and the disruption of such time could legally be punishable.
"Wait," you say, "my taxes go to fund schools, so my property rights are being violated by this prayer business!" And you'd be wrong. You owe taxes to The Man, aka the government to which you're, tacitly or explicitly, bound. Once you've paid those taxes, the money is no longer yours individually, but that of society's as a whole, and subject to the will of the majority. If the majority decides that tax revenue should be spent to lengthen the school day by a minute in order to accomodate this prayer in school, then there should be no problem so long as no one is actually forced to say the official or any prayer.

Can you tell that I had my Political Theory test on Locke and Rousseau today?

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