By GHAZAL JAVAID
February 7, 2017
“The importance of the line between Church and state is to ensure the free will of the people and uphold the ideals of the nations as laid out by the Constitution. “
In light of recent events in the nation, it has become increasingly essential for all residents of the United States to keep themselves educated on topics circling the political and media circles. Particularly, the subject of separation of church and state, which has plagued our politics since our birth, but has accumulated significant attention in recent days.
The term ”separation of church and state” was first used by Thomas Jefferson while talking about the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitutions of the United States which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
This is the very amendment that President Trump and his administration are opposing. It was originally proposed by Senator Lyndon Johnson on July 2nd, 1954 and prohibits tax-exempt non-profit organizations, such as churches, from being involved in United States elections.
This ensures that no law in this country can be made to favor any group of faith, whether this is the prohibition, encouragement, or the punishment of certain acts and events.
The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause also ensure that no law can be made to prevent people of a certain faith from following their religion and acting accordingly socially, culturally, economically, politically, or in any aspect of life.
Another amendment important in creating the line between church and state is the Johnson amendment. This is the very amendment that President Trump and his administration are opposing. It was originally proposed by Senator Lyndon Johnson on July 2nd, 1954 and prohibits tax-exempt non-profit organizations, such as churches, from being involved in United States elections.
The Johnson amendment states that these organizations are not allowed to hold or fund political campaigns for or against any candidate running for a public office. The amendment does not prohibit unbiased involvement in voter education, voter registration, or get-out-the-vote drives. Violation of this amendment may result in organizations losing their tax-exemption status.
The Johnson Amendment further enforces and emphasizes the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitutions of the United States. The amendment exists to maintain a balance of power in the country regarding political ideas and their influences.
If organizations like churches started getting involved in politics, a certain religion would start shaping laws and practices and would prohibit people of other faiths from living their life as they please.
Those who support the church today still listen to the opinions of their church while voting, but they form their opinions on existing religiously unbiased policies, not policies already placed with religion at the forefront.
There are certain values that are debated between church and state. Religious leaders often oppose certain laws from being passed or argue that things be done a certain way if it is against religious ideals. This is a burden to those who may not share any faith or may not do so to the far extent.
However, to manage these differences, a balance has been created in many areas to cater to both church and state. For example, people of any faith can hold a marriage ceremony in any way and in any place they want, but the marriage has to then also be lawfully registered. So it is clear why the implementation of laws enforcing religion have been overwhelming received with outcry.
That includes abortions and LGBTQ rights.
Religious leaders and pro-life supporters oppose abortions because they believe that unborn babies are human life and it is immoral to end a life. Pro-choice supporters argue that life does not begin until a baby can sustain itself outside of his mother’s body and that a woman should be able to govern her body and decide what happens with it.
In 1973, the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade justified that the right to get an abortion was part of a woman’s right to privacy by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States.
Regarding LGBTQ+ rights, religious leaders argue that, Biblically, marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman while the LGBTQ+ community argues that marriage is a right to any two-person union.
On June 26, 2015, under the Obama administration, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages by the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has issued rulings on both these issues, debate and opposition grow. However, as proven by these cases and mandate of separation of church and state, the religious opposition cannot shape the laws of the country.
Laws cannot be made prohibiting free will of the people. Each person should decide for themselves what they can and cannot do. The idea of free will is one of the core values that helped build this nation. The option of any practice, even if it means no practice, cannot be taken away from people so may do as they please.
If someone is a person of a certain faith, they can choose not to get an abortion, to not marry someone of the same sex, to initiate a prayer at a public event, to voice their opinions, but they cannot take away another person’s choice to deny their beliefs nor can they punish anyone for denying their beliefs.
The importance of the line between Church and state is to ensure the free will of the people and uphold the ideals of the nations as laid out by the Constitution. The day we lose these values, is the day we lose our integrity and historic virtues.