Why Seperation of Church and State Matters
The Confusion of Religion Today
It is hard to not watch any discussion about and not become easily annoyed. Most of the arguments that you are going to find are more of a perversion of the safe guards found within the constitution than they are anything else. Since the 1980s, church and state the term Christian has become a blanket term that is used to describe any one that follows Christianity instead of viewing each sect as a different entity. While some of the core beliefs might be the same, there is still a high level of diversity and a history of extreme violence between these different systems. This is one of the reasons why when the United States was first founded, religious freedom without state intervention was the first thing that was put on paper.
There are many people who would argue that the founding fathers wanted a Christian nation and that with Christianity there wouldn't be any country at all. In truth, this is a fallacy. It is hard for people who are alive today to envision the world that this country was born in. It wasn't a peaceful time and besides the violence that came from colonialism, secterain violence (like what we are seeing in the middle east) was a very real threat for many people. This movement for making sure that "god" stays part of this country is a fairly new concept that first got it's roots in McCarthyism and was later reinforced by Ronald Reagan. It has very little basis in history or any facts.
A Fallacy That Is Still Affecting Policy
Joseph Goebbels and the Half Truth Method
Fascism, like Communism, is something that while most people fear, very few understand. Both of them are oppressive forms of government that borrow from one another. The separation really comes in when you look at the tools and methods that are used to bring either one of them into power. Communism, which is generally viewed as being "godless" tends to be more of a re-branding of a culture than anything else. If the Orthodox church was willing to work with Stalin, it is a fair assumption that he would have left the institute a lone.
on the other hand, tends to work hand in hand with different religious organizations. There is a long history of the FascismCatholic church helping fascist and even praising them despite the inhuman treatment that many have suffered at its hands. One of the worst things that have come out of fascism however, is effective propaganda. Goebbels perfected his messages using half truths. A half truth is when a true statement is used, either out of context or by not including the rest of the statement or fact. With the pro-Christian America movement, many of these messages are spread by using half truths. The quote above from Ronald Reagan falls into this grouping.
While the first amendment does allow for you to pray any you like, it also states that the government is not allowed to favor one religion over the other. If for example, the United States decided that it was going to be a Catholic nation, given the time period, it is a logical step to assume that the Protestant population would like at is a threat and try to over throw it. Today, the United States is one of the few countries that doesn't experience a real threat of sectarian violence due in part to having a secular government in power. By only focusing in on certain phrases and keeping the messages short, it is easier to get people to agree with you. By repeating the same simple half truth time and time again, the general public becomes complacent and in some cases, defensive when someone challenges the given message. The video below better illustrates this method in action.
The Wonders Of Calvin and Hobbes
The Half-Truth Method in Action
The Violence of the Church of England
The Church of England, link many other religious institutes, has a leader that, while still being a human, controls the lives of its followers. A common argument that you are going to find from people who are pushing for the United States to be a Christian nation, is that the founding fathers didn't want another Church of England. This is that half truth message in action. It is true that they didn't want that institute in the new world, but it doesn't address the important part which is why.
Sectarian violence in the UK is something that they are still dealing with to this day. With infamous groups like the IRA and UDL exchanging blows, while marching through each other's neighborhood, it isn't difficult to see the division hat the Church of England has caused for the island nation. When ever a member of the royal family who happened to be a different sect of Christianity took over, there was normally a high level of violence that followed afterwards. This was something that happened time and time again. The seeds of hatred that this trend has planted is why it seems like Northern Ireland is always bursting at the seems.
To make sure that this kind of cycle didn't happen in the newly formed republic, the founding fathers made sure that the government and religious institutes where separate. While the exact wording isn't there (an argument you generally find with fundamentalists), the Treaty of Tripoli as well as numerous supreme court rulings have reinforced this fact and made sure the wall was there.
Discrimination From Religious Institutes Is Inherent
Apartheid Like States
One thing that tends to be common with overly theocratic governments, is that there is almost always an Apartheid like system in place. In many Muslim countries that have a religious figure as its leader, other religions or sects are allowed to live and practice how they choice, but they have to pay a high tax and give up their land if a proper believer happens to be in need of it. In other cases, other denominations find themselves having to live in ghettos or similar neighborhoods for simply finding themselves of being a different faith.
For Christianity, the diversity that exists within its systems has lead to numerous cases of sectarian segregation and even systematic killings at times. You have Catholics being pushing in ghettos by protestants, Nazis (Catholic) pushing Jews into ghettos, Mormons being hunted in the United States, Mormons extracting revenge, and the list goes on and on. While the United States does have a spotted past with religious feuds such as the Puritans stranglehold on Massachusetts, the Mormons exodus across the country, the land scape that we facing today is a lot different. With the creation of the current Christian voting block we are seeing a shift from these old feuds into one that seems to be hostile to groups out side of this block.
The Temple of Satan and the views that many people hold about atheists shows this similar apartheid style attitude starting to find root and growing. For groups that wish to see a theocracy installed, these two groups don't just belong, but they are painted as being evil. When it comes to holding a position of power or in some cases just trying to live in a nice neighborhood, generally you are going to find some form of hate speech or slander coming in your direction. This kind of behavior tends to be justified using some form of holy book with a half true version of history.