The notion of the “separation of church and state” has been bothering me lately. Where did this come from and why does it exist? Upon further inspection, it turns out that this phrase appears nowhere in our U.S. Constitution. To quote this document’s First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
What we see and experience today is a twisting of the original intent of this amendment. While some push for “under God” to be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance due to the “religious nature” of the phrase, others are offended that this established ritual would be questioned on such grounds. I stand with the latter group. Why should someone, because they claim to have their rights violated, have the federal government ban everyone else from doing something they deem right and good? It’s getting ridiculous.
The original intent of the First Amendment was to protect the states’ jurisdiction over religious matters from any federal interference. It was to protect the practice of religious freedom. Today, an agenda has risen up that seeks to squelch the voice of Christians in America. We, as Christians, face the prospect of ridicule and persecution because of our beliefs. The Word of God addresses this and warns us to expect it in Revelations 2. Paul teaches us that “trouble or hardship or persecution” shall not “separate us from the love of Christ.” We are only seeing the beginnings of this hatred against Jesus and His people in this day and age.
Instead of there being a “separation of church and state” so that churches can operate and function without interference from our government, we are being told what we can and cannot do or say in public, in regard to God. Because personal rights come first in the America, these “rights” can be offended and hurt. This is a guise for those who seek to have no religion whatsoever present in their daily lives.
If someone takes a belief in God with any grain of seriousness and validity, it’s absurd to relegate the reality of God to church activities on Sunday for a few hours. To truly separate church life from real life is to advocate hypocrisy! Are Christians to be stuck in an eternal catch 22, where they must separate religion from all other activities because it’s “unconstitutional” to do otherwise, but also walk the talk and live as Christ would? When one becomes a follower of Christ, it only follows a logical course that that person’s life and decisions would be affected on all levels by this relationship. Christ will seep into real life, as he should, and actually cause change that makes life full of hope, faith and love.
The problem comes because those who seek to shut down Christianity believe some assumptions. They come from a place where God doesn’t exist. If God doesn’t exist, Christians are deluded fools who don’t need to push their beliefs on everyone else. If that were true, I could agree. Christianity would be an annoyance at best. But, if Jesus is who He claims He is, then He will permeate the lives of everyone in relationship with Him. You see, Christians are not a group of people who follow a code of rules. We are painted that way many times, sometimes for valid reason. However, at the core of this set of values is a relationship. Everything springs from the passionate love between Christ and His Church. We can’t help but express our love and devotion to Him, even if it is in public, on display in a government building or heard in a pledge to a flag.
Christians are told when something offensive comes on TV, to just turn it off and not watch. Why can’t someone who doesn’t like the Ten Commandments or “under God” just turn away and not participate? Why does their offense gain an audience with the likes of the Supreme Court? There is much more at stake. The enemy of God wants us to be as far from God as possible. If he can drive a wedge between us and anything related to God, we will soon become a “godless” nation. In essence, we won’t really be a nation that upholds the “separation of church and state” but a nation of people who have willfully decided to keep God out of their lives. There comes a time when the costs of surrendering to God become too expensive and those who want self-rule will fight back at any cost.
As Christians, we can take solace that our relationship can never be taken away from us. Even if our “right” to practice a religion was forbidden one day, no one could stop us from having a relationship with God. That is untouchable! As we increase in trust and truth, those around us will be drawn to the life within us. As this world spins out of control and things fall apart, who will show the way of peace and life? We, who are connected to God by our passionate pursuit of Jesus, will be “rooted and grounded in love,” anchors for all who are tossed to and fro by the fickle and vicious winds of this world.