The first amendment of the United States Constitution tells us, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I thought about this a lot after a young man stopped by my apartment and asked, “Is my church separated from the state under law?”
Perhaps, once upon a time, when I was younger and dumber I might have answered, “Yes.” However, liking to think I’m older and wiser, I had to honestly answer the young man’s question with a resounding, “No.”
“Churches in the United States Of America are not separate from the rest of the country under law.” Admittedly; there are many folks who will argue that this is only because government continually takes more and more rights away from religious organizations and individuals alike. However, the fact of the matter is, “There is no legal separation of church and state other than what the First Amendment of the United States Constitution states.”
Now, if you feel like your shorts are starting to knot up in a bunch in some very uncomfortable places after having read this far, “Hang ten for a second before you seriously hurt yourself.” And, “Yes,” it’s true that we have the right to practice religion here in America. However, it is not our right to demand that the government write laws that cater to our religion specifically. Nor do we have the right to thumb our noses at the laws of the land in which we reside.
Even The Bible tells us that we have an obligation to follow the government’s rules, stating in 1 Peter Chapter 2:13-17 (KJV), “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
There are probably other places in The Bible that say things to drive the above quote home even deeper. However, for the purpose of this post, 1 Peter 2:13-17 readily came to mind while writing. So, the quote from the King James Bible is the one I’m running with to make my point.
While we Christians may not like the laws of America these days we do not have the write to break them. Nor do we have the right to twist our own religion in a fashion that makes us appear to be the victims of government, simply because they have passed laws that do not fit our tastes.
If government passes laws that truly do violate our faith, impacting our right to practice our religion freely, then we have no recourse other than to duke it out in court; handling things like any other intelligent human being would do who lives in a democracy. However, we don’t have the write to break the laws we don’t like, just because “we think” the bible says we should.
“Sure!” As Christians living in the modern era, we do need to sharpen our swords. However, this means making sure we “as individuals” fully understand our own doctrine, “Before we go on the defensive.”
We don’t want to be walking around with blinders on; trusting that the people who lead our churches have done their homework in dealing with certain social issues of modern day America. These days, with corruption being what it is, even in the modern day churches of America, we as individual Christians need to make it a point to do our own homework; particularly where matters of law seem to be encroaching upon our religious freedoms.
So, like I explained to the young man that asked me about the legal separation of church and state, beyond the fact that…
- Our constitution guarantees that Laws with respect to an establishment of religion cannot be passed; meaning that the government will not force us to practice a religion of its choosing.
- Our constitution guarantees that we have the right to freely practice our religion.
We do not have the right to “force” our own religious ideals upon anyone else “living around us” in the United States of America. Even attempting to forcefully impose our own ideals upon others would be catastrophic to our faith overall.
In short; churches are still subject to the laws of the land. They can fight those laws that they feel are too restrictive in the court room. But, they are by no means separate from government/state.
Before we attempt to start teaching our younger generations our own twisted views of the law, we as Christians would do well to remember; the United States of America was founded so that “everyone” would have liberty, freedom and justice. We should also remember, too, that we live in the United States of America and not The United “Christian State” of America.
Thank you for reading this. If you get what I’m saying, “God bless.” If you don’t get what I’m saying here, “God bless you anyway.”