Losing the Separation of Church and State

One of the unique aspects of our form of government is that throughout the fall, winter, and early spring our Supreme Court hears a variety of cases but we only hear the verdicts in late spring.

There are several critical cases before the court this session and many are quite concerned considering the rulings that came out last spring which included the end of a woman’s protected right to an abortion. It wasn’t only this case that was so startling. The court also ruled in many ways that chipped away at the separation of church and state.

The conservative majority ruled that Maine could not withhold taxpayer-funded aid from religious schools and in favor of a football coach in Washington who had his team pray on the 50-yard line. And that’s not to mention the ruling against the city of Boston when it refused to fly a religious flag over city hall.

The separation of church and state has always been of vital importance but no more so than now. This is the case because there is a growing Christian nationalist movement that believes our country should be an overtly Christian nation regardless of our religious plurality.

In fact, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said recently that she is “tired” of the long-standing separation between church and state in the U.S., adding that she believes “the church is supposed to direct the government.” This, despite the fact that the Bill of Rights clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

As a Christian, you might think that having our country become a Christian nation would be a good thing. The problem, of course, is twofold: Firstly, there is dwindling consensus on exactly what constitutes Christian principles by which to live (with the arch of our faith careening wildly toward rightwing fanaticism), and, secondly, other religious traditions are meant to be celebrated in this country, not just tolerated or, worse, excluded.

Our church and our denomination play an unbelievably important role in this current climate. We are not only those who uphold the value of the separation of church and state, we are also those who provide an open, progressive, and radically welcoming definition of the Christian faith.

These are principles we need to own and amplify regardless of how strong the headwinds may be now and in the days ahead.

See you in church,
–Rev. Dominic