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What does “Separation of Church and State” Really Mean?

In modern American culture, there seems to be a vast misunderstanding regarding the purpose and application of “separation of church and state.” The moment a politician mentions their religious beliefs, such as Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, outrage ensues. Johnson was called a “religious fanatic” and “Christian nationalist” and deemed unfit for office by the radical Left, all due to his Christianity and his so-called violation of “separation of church and state.” They were baffled he would “bring Jesus to work with him” and not leave his Christianity at the door of his government office. Any mention of religion from members of the judicial system draws similar outrage. We saw this following the Alabama Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding IVF, which ruled that human embryos are human beings, whether they are created by IVF or not, and they have equal protection under the law.

Following the decision in Alabama, many on social media angrily declared that religion, moral values, and God should have nothing to do with politics or decisions made in the judicial system, and that decisions like these violated the “separation of church and state.” This is nothing more than the uninformed opinion of an areligious, amoral society, devoid of the truth of God. They took issue with Chief Justice Parker’s concurring opinion which discussed the Bible and the views of historical theologians in order to determine what “sanctity of life” means – a phrase which is used in Alabama’s state constitution. It seems many of these critics, shockingly, failed to do actual research on the details of the case, or had an objection to the examination of history and legal precedence in Supreme Court cases – a bizarre stance to take, at the very least.

Furthermore, our own Declaration of Independence states, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (emphasis added) 

Our founding documents point to the fact that this is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, which cannot be ignored in court rulings, especially those regarding the sanctity of life. Human rights are not a political concept—they are endowed by the Creator, not government. 

“Critics of the Alabama decision may have a deeper problem than their dislike of the Alabama court’s decision,” lawyer and historian Lael Weinberger writes. “For if they ultimately object to the Bible’s influence on American law, they have a lot of history to unwind. Law reflects moral values. Moral values are shaped by religious faith. For most of the history of American law—and of the common law of England, from which much of our law was drawn—that religious faith was Christianity.

It was the Bible, and Jewish and Christian thought about the Bible and ethics and human nature, that shaped fundamental concepts in law—not just the importance and sanctity of life, but other fundamental legal concepts like fault, guilt, proportional punishment, unbiased judging, the requirement of witnesses, the importance of oaths, and much more. If one objects to Christianity’s influence on American law, it’s not just the “sanctity of life” that must be excised.”

What all of these critics fail to comprehend is that the separation of church and state was never about keeping the church out of politics; it was about protecting the church from government intrusion. Nowhere in our founding documents or current laws does it remotely suggest public officials must divorce their foundational religious beliefs in order to hold office or inform their decisions, nor does it say judges must ignore all Biblical principles found in history, court precedence, or our founding documents when crafting majority, dissenting or concurring opinions. This would not only be intellectually dishonest, but it would marginalize the majority of the nation which still holds traditional Christian principles.  

Every person – religious or not – has a worldview centered on something that informs their decision. For some, this may be atheism, or agnosticism, or hedonism, or Judaism, or any of the other many religions in the world. Amid all the cries for Christians to renounce their beliefs in order to hold office, we have heard not one cry for an atheist or a Muslim to forgo their beliefs in order to hold office, because it is preposterous and the antithesis of democracy. 

Men and women are elected for their character, judgment, and above all, their belief system which equip them to make decisions representative of the constituents who elected them for that very reason. Why should they be stripped of the very element which they were elected for? Christian men and women usually want Christians representing them in office, just like members of the LGBT community might want another member of the LGBT community representing them in office so they can be “seen and heard” in the legislative branch. The double standards of the Left are at an all-time high: anyone whose beliefs they don’t like must renounce those beliefs at the door to the Capitol, but everyone else is free to walk around with their anti-Christian worldview and shout it from the rooftops. 

Christians need to reclaim the narrative on “separation of church and state,” a phrase which was meant for the protection of our religious institutions, but is being used as a way to push our values out of government and the public square entirely. Will you stand with us and DEFEND conservative, Christian principles? 

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