Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress. Where was the separation of Church and State?
There has been much made about the separation of Church and State in recent months. Where is the line that separates Church and State?
I will try to answer your question with another- What has happened to our entire Constitution and rule of law?
Pope Francis addressed Congress as an important global spiritual leader, but also as the head of state of Vatican City, which is technically a sovereign, independent state. So he is an 'outside' voice.
The purpose of the separation of Church and State is to avoid any religious discrimination or favoritism on the part of federal or state government. Remember, the Consititution (including the first few Amendments) was written in the late 18th century, when the historical backdrop featured protracted religious war in Europe; when Britain herself had an established state religion, Anglicanism, to which many of the Founders did not adhere; and when the various Colonies forming the new nation had very different religious traditions. (Puritanism was important in New England; Pennsylvania was associated with the Quaker faith; while Maryland was founded by Catholic gentry and their Anglican servants, with the latter group eventually overturning the religious toleration of the early decades to 'establish' an official state Anglican church.)
The federal and state governments are to avoid endorsing any one religion, however popular it may be among the American population at large. There's little hint that, in allowing Pope Francis to address them, Congress was officially 'endorsing' his faith. Therefore, the 'wall of separation' wasn't breached by his address.
Just to clarify, I'm talking about the 'Establishment Clause' here:
Doc, a person addressing our congress is a GUEST! He is not a MEMBER of congress! So there is no mixing of church and state going on. He's a guest speaker, just like Netanyahu was when he spoke to congress.
Pope Francis was addressing Congress as a head of state, like our President, or the Queen of England. He's the ruler of Vatican City, which is its own city state. He is also the head of the Catholic Church, in the same way that Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Church of England.
The separation here is that he delivered a speech to Congress as a head of state, but did not hold Mass there as a priest.
There always seems to be confusion about the "separation of church and state" doctrine. To be clear, there is nothing in the Constitution about this particular doctrine. It may have been an implied desire of the founders, but those specific words do not appear in the Constitution.
The modern doctrine stems from a Supreme Court decision in 1947, but it only applies to decision-making in Congress...it does not apply at all when heads of state address our governing bodies.
The law of the state and the law of religion should remain separate and within a country, the law of state should outrank the law of religion, just like state law out rank city law and federal law should outrank state law.
People have the right to religion freedom, therefore, therefore the law of nation should not be use to force people to follow law of any religion.
It's been acknowledged that the Pope is a head of state.
Secondly it was Republican John Boehner who has been proactively trying to get a pope to speak to congress for over 20 years.
A lot of conservatives feel stronger about the right to bare arms than they do about separation of church and state. They see no conflict.
Many want both their bibles and guns to be mainstays in government.
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