ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Myths About Church and State

Updated on August 2, 2015
ndrew Cartwright A.M.E. Zion Minsionary / American Colonization Society
ndrew Cartwright A.M.E. Zion Minsionary / American Colonization Society | Source

Separation or Cooperation

Myth number 1

Our founding fathers called for “separation between church and state.”

Truth: the constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

What the founding fathers were concerned about was the possibility of an “official” state church, which had been the norm in the past. This was partially based, I think, on practical grounds that there could be no agreement on which religion to establish. It was a risky experiment at the time because it was commonly believed that a tight relationship between Church and State was necessary to hold society together. Probably a belief still held by Muslims. Many early settlers came here to practice their own religion that they, in turn, thought should be the “official” religion. Some of the states did have official religions and the bill of rights was not meant to interfere with them.

Many people now do not understand the concept of an official state religion and what it meant. In effect, the church was a branch of government in some countries. Although people were sometimes free to practice their own religion, usually the state supported and favored the official religion. All others had to be supported by their members who also paid taxes for the official church. I believe the official church had a lot of influence on government and government had a lot of influence on the church.

The constitution was not meant to stifle religion but to avoid imposing a particular religion. Although we had no official religion, Protestantism was for a long time assumed as our religion. There were some practices that I would take exception to. The government sent Protestant preachers to Indian tribes to convert them. I have no problem with missionaries preaching to Indians, but I do have a problem with the government doing it. Public schools, for all practical purposes acted as Protestant schools, which caused Catholics to start their own schools at their own expense.

A later court decision introduced the idea of a “wall between Church and State” which I think was a distortion of what Thomas Jefferson said in a letter.

Myth 2: The founding fathers were atheist or agnostics.

Fact: most of the founding fathers were, in fact, religious and called on the Deity often. Some like Jefferson were Deists which was a popular belief at the time. It was somewhat a result of the “age of enlightenment” where Science was assumed to explain everything. Deism covers a fairly large range of beliefs but can probably be best related to Unitarianism in our day.

Myth 3:Church and state are enemies of each other.

Truth: There was always cooperation between religion and government. For example: Benjamin Franklin and Bishop John Carroll went to Canada together to enlist the support of the Canadians in the fight for Independence. Prayers were said in Congress. A Chaplain Corps was created.

I always thought the story of the Catholic Church wanting to appoint a Bishop in America illustrates what it is really all about. When England ruled, The Church had to ask permission of the authorities in England in order to appoint a Bishop. After the American Revolution the Church contacted the Continental Congress and asked permission. Benjamin Franklin replied that it is not within the power of our government to appoint bishops; that is for the church to do itself.

Theologian John Courtney Murray, SJ (1904-19670) ADVOCATED RELIGIOUS FREEDOM as defined and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. He argued that the Anglo-American West had developed a fuller truth about human dignity: the responsibility of all citizens to assume moral control over their own religious beliefs, wresting control from paternalistic states. These attitudes led to Murray having disputes within the Catholic Church but his ideas were official recognized by incorporation into the papers of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

I also believe that where church and state are joined in politics the function of religion gets distorted. I also believe that the founding fathers meant for COOPERATION between church and state but not interference.

Church and State

© 2009 Don A. Hoglund

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      The churches should not preach politics, but they do have a role in teaching right and wrong. We do have a President who knows the constitution and chooses to ignore it, I think. He must know it because he is identified as a Constitutional lawyer.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      We need to follow the constitution and find a President who has knowledge of it. I don't like that we have churches telling people or persuading people how to vote. I was shocked to see this happen in the last election. Religion is great but should not discuss politics. I hate that the supreme court justice has a lifetime job, we need limits for these people.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy W

      Thanks for commenting. Since writing this i have been even more concerned about he constitution and how there has been a disregard for it even by some supreme court justices. The have a term "living document" which seems to mean the law is what we say it is. However, if the want to change the constitution the vaklid way to do it is to have congress amend it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      The groups that are trying so hard to separate religion from government or church and state should go back to our founding father's beliefs and the Constitution. Thanks for helping to clarify things.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate your comment.I do think this subject is very central to arguments about freedom.

    • RunAbstract profile image

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is a very informative article. Well worth reading. It clears up much of the misrepresentation about church and state.

      Thank you so much!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate your comments. I'm lad that you found it useful.

    • freelancewriterva profile image

      freelancewriterva 

      7 years ago

      dahoglund I finally got around to reading this article. I founded very helpful. very well written. Thank you.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Joni Douglas

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.It doeseem like some odd things going on. I worry that church people are taken in by the idea of misplaced empathy.

    • Joni Douglas profile image

      Joni Douglas 

      8 years ago

      They sure switched it around to their own advantage didn't they. Now they are going to use the church to advance their agenda even more.

    • Harvey Stelman profile image

      Harvey Stelman 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      DA,

      I'm not very religious but I do understand freedom of religion was the basis of our country.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Harvey Stelman

      Thanks for reading this. Obviously the previous generations of leaders acknowledged religion as having a legitimate role in the life of the nation. Somehow, in recent years, that has been distorted.

    • Harvey Stelman profile image

      Harvey Stelman 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      DA,

      You can't get rid of G-D from the USA. Things I can mention.

      1- Government officials get sworn in with hand on bible.

      2- All money says; in G-D we trust.

      3- Witnesses are sworn in with hand on bible.

      4- So much more.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you. I have a hard time understanding groups such as the ACLU who want to "save" us from religion.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      dahogland,

      A very cogent analysis of the church and state coexistance as presented in The Constitution.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)