The first constitution amendment stipulated that the congress could not exercise any form of authority in establishing any form of religion or prohibit the exercise of religion. However, is religion considered as an independent entity? Has religion been segregated from the civic and public spheres? This essay seeks to examine these issues. Moreover, this essay seeks to highlight the current perception of the church’s separation from the state and the odds at which this perception is perceived especially in a democratic nation such as the United States. Religion played an important role in the founding of America. It is worth noting that religious principles that are constituted in the founding of America originated from Christianity and Judaism creeds.
Historic scholars claim that the solid political prosperity exercised in America can be attributed to the indispensable supports of religion, reason, faith and morality. In reference to President Jefferson’s sentiments, no nation can exist or be governed without the influence of religion (Washington, 1796). The American leadership can be termed as the kind that highly regards religion. For instance, the American congress of September 1774 introduced an Act that ensured that a prayer and a religious reading from the book of Psalms were pronounced prior to the normal proceedings. Moreover, December 11, 1776 was declared a day of prayer and fasting in order to solicit God’s providence and forgiveness. It is therefore evident that since time immemorial religion has been in the heart of America (Novak, 2006). In this study, it is crucial for us examine religious liberty in America in order for us to gain an incisive understanding of the role of religion in the founding of America.
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Religious liberty can be perceived as the separation of the state from the church. Founding leaders of America greatly discouraged the establishment of a national or state church. They did this in order to separate the two entities. On the other hand, they encouraged the state’s involvement in supporting religious projects such as the building of schools, hospitals and other public utilities. Undeniably, the separation of the church from state affairs encourages religious freedom. (Patton, 1991).
It also provides an autonomous source of authority and moral reasoning. Some analysts accentuate that Americas standing is not determined by shared theology but rather it is build on shared morality. Nonetheless, in the present society the connection between religion and the state is formidably deficient. In fact religion is in conflict with a number of constitutional endorsements (Spadling, 2007). In recent times, the American judiciary has gradually embraced the separation between the church and the state as a virtual rule though this indictment is not stipulated in the American stipulation. Nonetheless, the American Supreme Court is faced with the challenge of interpreting the initial amendments of law prohibition that respect the establishment of religion. In reference to Jefferson’s sentiments, the initial constitution amendments were legislated so as to erect a wall that separates the church form the state. Additionally, in present times the erected wall is regarded as an emblem of separating dogmatic religious influences that are intolerant especially in the public sphere from governance.
On the other hand, state courts have used the concept of wall separation to validate their censorship of religious expression such as stripping and Christmas creches among many other practices (Dreiscach, 2007). Arguments for and against the issue of separating the church from the state have provoked different responses. For instance, James Madison, one of the founders of the American constitution claims that that the intention of separating the church and the state is basically geared towards keeping away from the continuous strife buried with blood in the European soil. Madison implies that the implications of holy wars are indeed devastating. On the contrary, Antonin Scalia, a justice in the American Supreme Court, argues that the Ten Commandments symbolize the notion that the government gets its authority from God and thus leadership should be in line with religion.
In some areas, religious books have been used to justify discrimination against women, black people and atheists. George Bush’s administration was seen as one that was trying to create close ranks with certain religious groups that tend to transform secular democracy into a creeping theocracy. Many have termed this as a method of perverting the American value system. It is preferred that America should be committed towards applying reason, science and historic experience rather than using religion (Silverman, 1942). A key advantage of religion lies in the fact that religion has the ability to inspire principles that are considered diametrically contrary. Nations that are governed on the basis of religion are naturally strong.
Democratic nations on the other hand are considerably weak. It is however undeniable that the manifestation of religious influence is present in civic and public spheres (Tocqueville, 1835).For instance, the 1990’s witnessed the supreme courts allowing the introduction of bible and prayer clubs in public institutions. There exist propositions that religious values concur and support American values. In reference to Madison’s sentiments, the future of Americas expected civilization is not determined by the governments’ power but rather depends on the capacity of every person to sustain themselves in accordance to the commandments of God (Loconte, 2000).
Dreiscach, L. (2007). The mythical wall of separation: How a misused metaphor changed church .
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Spadling, M. (2007). The meaning of religious liberty. New York: Word Press. Silverman, H. (1942). American Religion undermines American values. New York: Heritage Publishers.
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