Archive for Friday, March 9, 2012

Wall or hedge?

March 9, 2012


I strongly protest politicians advocating an “absolute wall of separation between church and state.”  Probably I do not know — nor has it been explicit — what an “absolute wall” means.

The phrase “wall of separation” was in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists in 1802. Roger Williams in 1644 had advocated a “hedge or wall of separation.” There is a difference between a wall and a hedge — penetrability and visibility. (Once I heard that Jefferson spoke of “a line of separation between church and state,” but I could not find the citation.)

One cannot bifurcate one’s civic self from religious self — and I hope no one tries. As a voter, I value knowing what the candidate is and believes. Such data informs my choices. Candidate John F. Kennedy provided significant understanding, which I expect (almost) all candidates to affirm publicly and personally. 

A “line of separation between church and state” for me means there is an institutional separation and a functional interaction between church and state. A “wall” is impossible and prohibitive. And an “absolute wall”? 


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

The reason Mr. Don Conrad was not able to find a quotation for Thomas Jefferson mentioning “a line of separation between church and state” is for the simple reason that he did not say that, it is a very slight misquotation. Here it is, correctly:

"in an 1802 letter to a group of New England Baptists, Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment creates a “high wall of separation between church and state.”"


Bruce Springsteen 2 years, 1 month ago

"A civil ruler dabbling in religion is as reprehensible as a clergyman dabbling in politics. Both render themselves odious as well as ridiculous." - James Cardinal Gibbons, 1834-1921, second American to be made a Catholic cardinal.


Bruce Springsteen 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, and why shouldn't a vegetarian who takes a job a McDonald's refuse to serve burgers? Because promoting vegetarianism isn't any part of the job, and giving people meat is. Promoting religion and enacting dogma is no part of the job in secular government. Politicians have no authority to impose their supernatural speculations in the performance of the public business. In fact they are specifically warned not to do so in the Constitution.

John F. Kennedy - "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."

John Adams- “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”


its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

"......bifurcate...." hey Don, cool word---I like that!

bi·fur·cate: divide into two branches

Things have actually worked pretty well regarding the separation of church and state for the past 230 years. Although now, the lunatical left though has screamed and kicked and cried for so long now that everyone is endlessly ruminating about it.

We just need good leadership in government, that's all. Right now, we severely lack good leadership at the national level. Brownback is a doer---a leader---this kills the uncorked local left.


jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Conrad seems to misunderstand JFK's comments on this issue.

In a speech to Baptist ministers, JFK discussed the issue of church and state, and made it quite clear that he expected presidents and legislators to follow the Constitution, not their religious beliefs, when engaged in political decisions.

That means that regardless of one's religious belief, one uses the Constitution, not the Bible and one's understanding of it.


Ragingbear 2 years, 1 month ago

True peace will never be achieved until the last king is strangled using the entrails of the last priest.


Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 1 month ago

Excellent letter. Good point, too!


Commenting has been disabled for this item.