One of the fundamental principles put forth by the United States Constitution is that it is important for the church and state to remain completely separate. The First Amendment is often regarded, particularly by the religious right, as a protection for religion. It, of course, does protect religion- however it also protects others from religion. It also asserts that government should not establish any one religion over another. When “strict constitutionalist” politicians like former presidential candidate Ted Cruz argue that the United States is a Christian nation, I find myself at a loss.
This post isn’t an attempt to dissuade religious people from their faith. Rather, this post seeks to set the record straight regarding religion, particularly Christianity in the United States. The Constitution isn’t based on religious tenets; in fact, many of the founders of the document were strictly secularist. Establishing a religion can create a de facto theocracy which as a governmental system has historically failed in upholding human rights. We’ve seen Christian doctrine affect laws in contemporary politics with states like North Carolina and Mississippi, and this has been the case throughout American history.
Religion is a personal value system and a communal establishment, but it shouldn’t interfere with government. Many religious groups are heavily involved in politics while churches remain tax free, religion influences policy, and political office holders are expected to be religious. It is my opinion that a true division of church and state is necessary in order to work towards true progressive values.