|Words and Photo by F LoBuono|
One of the more common, and PASSIONATE, debates to be found on Facebook involves the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the so-called separation of church and state clause. In addition to protecting our right to free speech, a free press, and peaceful assembly, the 1st Amendment prohibits the establishment of a single religion to represent the Federal Government as well as guarantees our freedom to practice ANY religion of our choosing. It is written as such: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Now, it's within the language that the debate arises. You'll notice that it does not specifically say that there is to be a separation of church and state. Proponents of some sort of "State sponsored" religion argue that, once again, the liberal media, has brainwashed the populous into believing that the law says separation of church and state when it actually does not. And this is, in fairness, accurate - at least on the surface. However, they are relying on semantics rather than facts to make their case. Most of these people are devout Christians who would like to see Christianity as the official "State religion". But the language is clearly, and readily, interpreted to mean separation of church and state: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . It does mean freedom of religion, but, just as importantly, it means freedom FROM religion.
Writing for the majority in Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687, 1994, Supreme Court Justice David Souter may have summarized it best when he wrote: "Government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion".
Justice Souter's opinion echoes many others throughout our history that confirm the importance of the separation of church and state. And this is NOT a bad thing. In fact, to the contrary, it's a very good thing - a very AMERICAN thing. It means freedom OF religion for you and freedom FROM religion for me.