Sunday, May 12, 2013

Facebook Faith # 16 - Church and State Go Good Together

This meme takes many forms. It is usually posted by someone who believes that America becomes a better nation as it enforces more Christian law and language on its citizens - and will break down evermore tragically as it ceases to do these things.

The most obvious flaw occurs at the end:
"It was intended to protect the church from the state, not the other way around."  
Let's say that in a forward direction, so we can hear it properly,
"the state should not have any protection from the church." 
Ergo, the church should be able to do to the state (citizens) as it likes.

Of course, anyone trumpeting this meme would object and obfuscate that interpretation. So then, we should ask if they are lying? Or just given to brazen, meaningless hyperbole? Either answer would fit with most proclamations of religion.

The other, not so obvious, flaw is its self serving argument. Though the statement sounds broad, its execution would be most narrow. The writer may claim to want religion at the helm, but in truth, it is not meant to be that general. Give the reins of government to any "church" other than the writer's own, and listen to the howling commence.

This is why the original phrase was written - Jefferson was assuring a group of Baptists that a majority religion would not use governmental powers to infringe on their rights. Religion, generally speaking, wants to multiply. It wants to convert everyone. Part of government's job is to give you the freedom to say no to religion's desire to assimilate you. Government cannot do that if it too has been assimilated.

However, the writer of this meme, and those who post it are of a different opinion. Assured of their rightness, they see no harm in using governmental powers to nudge you in their direction. In their view it is to your benefit - to everyone's benefit - to see religion and life from their point of view. They believe that under the right circumstances- their circumstances - church and state harmony is a good thing.


Bill said...

And it is ironic that the descendants of those Baptists (who in Mr. Jefferson's time were a minority religious group subject to persecution by the state and being forced to pay taxes to support religious institutions they opposed) are not among the most likely to be circulating memes like this.

Bill said...

My typo renders the comment nonsensical.

The word "not" is supposed to be "now."

Jon said...

Yes, I'm with Bill. But it always helps to mingle a little truth in with your nonsense. After the reformation, freedom of religion laws were indeed intended to protect the church from the State, but this was because church and state were bound together, so if you were a member of a religion other than the State one, you got persecuted. Protestant states persecuted Catholics, Catholic states persecuted Protestants, everyone persecuted non-conformists and Jews. Not sure any of the people who post this meme would really want to go back to that,

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