the goddamn apple
By Jerry Quill
February 25, 2004
One of the biggest obstacles to advancing democracy
in the world, especially in the Middle East will be the issue of
separation of church and state. But there
are some very strong moral and logical arguments to do so.
George Washington said, "Do not let any one claim
to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from
politics." And John Quinsy
Adams said, "The Declaration of Independence first organized the social
compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth [and] laid the
cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity."
America's founding fathers were devout Christians
that had every intention of bringing their Christian values to
their new nation. But why then did they
go to such links to ensure a separation of church and state in the US constitution,
which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.", the very first words
of the Bill of Rights?
It's important to understand why civil law and
religious law must remain separated. Civil law deals with man's relationship
to man and religious law deals with man's relationship to God.
It's the story of genesis where God first grants
man the freedom of choice. He could have simply withheld the apple
from Adam and Eve, but he allowed
them to choose. In the end, we are all ultimately judged individually
by God as a
result of the choices we make throughout our lives.
Any attempt to codify
religious tenants, which always leads to enforcement by coercive
force, interferes with
God's will to grant us the free choice that gives him the means to judge
our moral character.
Religious clergy of every kind are there to be teachers
and guides to assist their followers to a purer relationship with
followers have an obligation
to only follow a leader that is worthy of his position in the eyes of God.
The instant a cleric attempts to codify religion
through government, he defies God's
will and automatically disqualifies himself as a moral representative in
the eyes of God. The mullahs in Iran have crossed this line.
use of oppressive means to enforce Islamic law denies individuals their
by God and therefore they forfeit the moral purity to be worthy as representatives
of God. They also lose their secular authority because they no longer
morally and legitimately represent the true values of Islam,
which they claim to
derive their authority from.
God recognizes the mullah's impurity, therefore
creating the obligation of every single Muslim to rectify this contradiction
to God's will by rejecting the cleric's legitimacy.
As the power of any religious leader grows, the
temptation towards corruption that all power brings causes many
to succumb. The freedom for his followers
to abandon him and his corruption is vital. Each individual is obligated
and not to the protection of another human being's power base.
But by no means is religion meant to be absent from
politics. On the contrary the separation of church and state strengthens
insulating it from the corrupting forces of secular power. The shared
moral purity of
a religion's members then becomes a positive influence to the integrity
of secular civil law.
Also, when civil law protects the freedom of
individuals to voluntarily join or leave a particular religious
sect, it forces the
religious hierarchy to earn the respect of it's membership through
of its actions and not through physical force. The more ethical the
religion, the higher the standards it can demand of it's individual
in turn strengthens the moral character of the civil law they create.
The concepts behind the separation of church and
state are complex and the lure of an Islamic state or any other
religious based government
seductive on the surface, but as the mullahs in Iran have shown,
these forms of government
ultimately insult the religion they were meant to honor.
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